VFA TO SALUTE FEMINIST LAWYERS 1963-1975
Joan Michel: Joan@lawyers.vetfems.org
From the handful who guided the government and helped change antiquated laws.
To the thousands who continued that work and challenged the profession.
The Salute honored the women who launched the first feminist law firm in NYC; the women who brought the essential cases to guarantee employment rights, access to men-only bars and clubs; the woman who won the right for teachers to continue to work while pregnant; the woman who led the case stewardesses brought against their airline employers to allow them to stay on the job after age 35. Before she was a Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg founded the ACLU's Women's Rights Project, and the feminist lawyers she worked with and some of the interns she mentored were on hand to share their stories.
Panel conveners included Cynthia Fuchs Epstein, author Women in Law and Karen DeCrow, author of Sexist Justice, each book a first in its field. Looking to the future, Judge Emily Goodman moderated a panel of younger women attorneys.
Our honorees, including Justice Ginsburg, were on hand to accept a VFA medal and to tell their history-making stories to our video recorder. Some participated on the three panels.
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|Activist lawyer Jean Ledwith King saluted
Posted by Liz Cobbs | The Ann Arbor News June 06, 2008 23:21PM
Contact Liz Cobbs: email@example.com or 734-994-6810.
Attorney Jean Ledwith King, who has practiced law in Ann Arbor since 1971, will add yet another award for her years of advocating for women's civil rights. King was among 30 women lawyers being honored Monday by the Veteran Feminists of America at the Harvard Club in New York City. The feminist lawyers were being recognized for working from 1963 to 1975, forcing changes in the law and making contributions toward gender equity. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the guest of honor and will also be honored for her advocacy for women.
"It's pretty special because the other attorneys are extremely well-known and some are famous, and it's nice to be included," King said Friday.
This year, the VFA honored "the lawyers, without whom, I don't know where we would be," said Jacqui Ceballos, founder of the nonprofit organizations for veterans of the second wave of the feminist movement - considered to have started in the 1960s and lasted through the late 1970s. The VFA has cited King for breaking ground and for what it called winning numerous victories for women and girls in nearly 40 years of feminist legal and political activism.
In 1970, King co-founded Focus on Equal Employment for Women and the Michigan Democratic Party Women's Caucus. She advocated for a change to Democratic Party rules to require half of the state's delegates be women. King and Focus filed the first major sex discrimination complaint with the federal Department of Health, Education and Welfare against the University of Michigan in May 1970. The complaint was settled that December.
The challenge to University of Michigan's employment practices for women resulted in University of Michigan female faculty members receiving double their salaries in January 1971. In that same year, King was one of 100 women who founded the National Women's Political Caucus, which met in Washington, D.C.
King also was noted for taking on cases involving Title IX, a federal law that required gender equity in schools. In 1979, King challenged Michigan State University for providing women basketball players with lower per diems and travel accommodations not equitable to those for men. The practice was stopped, and MSU was forced to provide equal treatment.
Ann Arbor News staff reporter John Mulcahy contributed to this story.
|A life of standing up for women
Sonia Pressman Fuentes has never shrunk from battle when rights are at stake
By Bill Hutchinson
Published Monday, June 9, 2008
That she is to be honored today in New York for her pioneering work as a feminist attorney does not mean that Sonia Pressman Fuentes is above a little smack-down over a pickle.
At 80, as she says, "all my stories are long stories." Ask what drew her to the law, or feminism, or to Florida, and you might as well send out for a sandwich and settle into the faded floral sofa in her little condo in The Meadows. The answer may take a while.
The pickle affair, though, is a relatively brief tale: Her chicken salad sandwich from a local deli last week was fine, as was the potato salad. The pickle, not so much -- as she made known to the deli proprietor in a spirited telephone discussion of dills and sours and half-sours."If I see something is wrong," says Fuentes, "I have to mention it."
Hence her long lifetime of active feminism, beginning with a paper she wrote in the early 1960s about equal pay for women, which resulted in her appointment as general counsel to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 1965, which led to that agency expanding its attention beyond inequalities of race to inequalities of gender, which led to a conversation with the legendary Betty Friedan, which led to the formation of the National Organization for Women in 1966.
Her work as one of 50 charter organizers of NOW is why she is among the select group being honored at the Harvard Club today -- along with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg -- by the Veteran Feminists of America, a group that gave Fuentes its medal of honor a decade ago. Read the entire article! Click here SONIA STAND UP FOR WOMEN