LAST summer, I shook Sen. Hillary Clinton's hand and gave her my card when she met with a group of black columnists. I wished her well. Ever since, I've received e-mails from her, Bill and Chelsea promoting her historic run for the Oval Office. I hadn't replied until now.

Dear Sen. Clinton:

I have greatly appreciated all of the e-mails. I have only two words to share with you about your valiant quest to become the 44th president of the U.S. and the first woman to hold the highest office in the land:

Don't quit.

A ton of pundits and political operatives have asked you to give up. Ignore them.

They've asked you to step aside for the good of the party and let Sen. Obama stand as the presumptive nominee. His rise to that post would be historic, too, making him the first African-American to go that far.

The pundits and political operatives have repeatedly said that you'd be doing more harm than good to the party if you don't surrender now. But for all of your supporters, the country and our way of life, I say don't quit.

It doesn't matter if women in the U.S. have seen you in person, heard you in the debates or voted for you in the primaries. What matters is every woman who believes in America needs you to stay in the race all the way to the convention in Denver. Every girl needs you to go the distance.

You've come too far to fold now.

For the sake of every woman and girl, don't quit. Men and boys need to see your perseverance, too, and know that the force of your will is in the hearts and minds of every female. Such drive, determination, duty and character have helped to make this country a superpower.

Even though no woman has been president up to now, every woman has given endless amounts of sweat, blood and true grit to make this nation what it is today. There would be no America if women had folded under the strain of childbirth or if women hadn't endured the misery of scratching out a living from the land, traveling across the vastness of our countryside.

Women have been treated like chattel and second-class citizens, working in sweatshops, remaining in the shadows endlessly serving others and maintaining the home front while their sons come home from the wars. Still, women make only 77 cents for every dollar that men earn.

Don't quit. Our men and boys need to see you go the distance.

Many other countries have had female leaders - Germany, Israel, Argentina, India, the Philippines, Great Britain, Pakistan.

For the sake of women and men all over the world, don't quit.

After eight long horribly regressive years of George W. Bush as president, the world needs to see a better image of America. They need to see how progressive the people of this country truly are. For their sake and ours, don't quit.

People need to see a real convention with all the political wrangling and elbowing. So many conventions in the last 30 years have been neatly staged.

The power elite control the outcome. Give the convention back to the people. They need to see politics being made like sausage from the squeal to the plate.

For America's sake and our way of life, don't quit. *

Lewis W. Diuguid is a member of the editorial board of the Kansas City Star, where this first appeared. E-mail him at