Walmart Once Banned a T-Shirt Because It Said ‘A Woman Will Be President’

Wal-Mart Posts 21 Percent Drop In Q4 Profit
Photograph by Justin Sullivan — Getty Images

Twenty-one years ago, a woman by the name of Ann Moliver Ruben designed a t-shirt featuring the curly-haired Margaret, a comic strip friend of Dennis the Menace, with a simple empowering message: “Someday a woman will be PRESIDENT!”

The t-shirts were originally sold at a Walmart (WMT) in Florida and sought to inspire young girls. But shortly after their debut, the t-shirts were deemed “offensive” and pulled from the shelves. According to the original Miami Herald piece from 1995, Walmart told Ruben that, “the message went against their philosophy of family values.”

“It’s a tragedy,” she told the Herald at the time. “I think it’s a barometer of the prejudices against females in our society.”

Following a nationwide uproar, Walmart put them back.

“A few customers complained about the political nature of the shirts, and we overreacted,” Jay Allen, a spokesman for Walmart, told the Miami Herald in 1995. “We should have never pulled the shirts from the shelves in the first place.”


Flash forward to 2016. The original Herald story has resurfaced after Hillary Clinton cracked the grass ceiling on Tuesday evening when she became the Democratic presidential nominee and the first-ever woman lead to a major political party.

“Wow, it still pains us that we made this mistake 20 years ago,” a Walmart spokesperson told Fortune. “We’re proud of the fact that our country – and our company – has made so much progress in advancing women in the workplace, and in society.”

Ruben, who is a Hillary supporter, has created a new version of the shirts. Although they still feature the same front, Ruben has added “Someday is now” on the back.

Over the decades, Ruben has broken her own glass ceilings, too. She received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Pittsburgh, getting a college degree at a time when most women didn’t. She then received a master’s in counseling and psychology, and a doctorate in higher education and psychology, according to her website.


Ruben said her ambitions derived from her father’s support and encouragement, and her desire to see a woman as president in the United States dates back to when she was eight years old and her male cousin told her a woman could never be president.

“I’ve been waiting 83 years to see what happened yesterday,” she told the Washington Post on Wednesday. “This is a wonderful time in our history, and I thank God I’ve lived to see it happen.”

Fortune has reached out to Ruben for comment and will update the story if she responds.

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