OCTOBER 18, 2000 - VFA CELEBRATES the 30th Anniversry
of WOMEN'S STRIKE FOR EQUALITY
A BRIEF STORY 0F STRIKE 1970
Jacqui Ceballos and Joan Michel
Yes, we moved mountains, changed the course of rivers-but we also lost a lot. We lost high heels, tight bras and girdles and fashion-certified hemlines. We lost the need to have a man cosign our leases and credit cards. We lost the obligation to follow society's dictates about the kinds of careers we could aspire to, at having to accept lower wages that compromised our dignity. We lost being defined by our marriage-or-not state, by our sexual orientation. We lost the fear of lawyers and courts who left us in poverty after divorce. And, as Robin Morgan put it so well, "Goodbye to All That."
Goodbye to limited career opportunities, to quotas in medical schools and other male-only domains. To men-only restaurants, bars, executive airline flights, clubs, college libraries. To skimpy support (if any at all) for women's sports. To disbelief, disregard and disdain of sexual harassment in the workplace, to sexual abuse of young girls and children, to wife battering. To back- alley abortion mills.
To ridicule at our demand for equality, dignity, independence and equal pay. To being accused of ruining our children. For being blamed for every one of society's ills. That's a lot of losing. So come. Come reunite with your sisters in joyful celebration of all the things we unloaded in the 70s.
It is the decade of the 70's. Watergate. The Beatles.
After which our small movement sweeps boldly across the country. Women's Liberation groups and NOW chapters spring up in cities and towns, colleges and universities. Caucuses form in every field, in government, law, medicine, sociology, psychology. Throughout the days and throughout the nights, in lofts, apartments, in mansions and offices from east to west, from north to south, women find new strengths. They are seen and heard on the streets, in houses of worship, in Congress, in the courts and the clubs, hotel dining rooms, bars, doctors' offices, lawyers' dens. They are out to change the world.
We celebrate these soldiers of the 70s. Some are on longer with us; many have burned out. While we continue to search, we honor all. As we find the missing, we add them to the Directory of Pioneer Feminists and our symbolic Feminist Wall. We urge you to send us the names and addresses of these women in the wings so we can honor them front and center.
1970 NYC Fifth Avenue
BETTY FRIEDAN - THE FIRE
When in 1970 Betty Friedan completed her term as president of NOW and announced she would lead a national strike on the 50th anniversary of suffrage, Aileen Hernandez, the new president, was stunned. How could NOW take on this immense project? But unbeatable Betty took it on, and while the Strike didn't paralyze the nation, it made us a grassroots movement.
That is well documented. What is not documented is the role played by a small group of women in making the national Strike, especially the march and other NY events, the mindblowers they were.
Most of these women are not here tonight. Being honored is not such a big deal for them; the growth and development of feminism was thanks enough. But VFNs goal is to write them into the history books so future generations will know their names, and what they did, and understand that serving feminism is as noble a cause as fighting for one's country. And even better than apple pie.
We dedicate this evening to these unsung heroes who helped make us a movement.
Betty was wise to name Karen DeCrow National Strike coordinator. Karen handled the press and revved up the formation of NOW chapters across the country.
But if the march was to happen, it had to happen in the Big Apple. How would Betty do it? In 1970, she wasn't too popular with most New York feminists in the city. Lesbians were demanding their rights within the movement, and Betty didn't handle that too well, She could bring in the YWCA, the League of Women Voters, the Human Rights Commission, but no way could she do it without the feminists, the passionate crusaders on a mission to change the world.
Women's Liberation groups were hesitant to get on the bandwagon. Nor would New York NOW's president cooperate (until just two weeks before the great day, when Strike fever was raging). How could I ignore so spectacular a chance to promote our movement? I knew just about everyone, and I knew independent feminists, the Young Socialists and new members of NOW would be the first to answer the call. I took things into my own hands and got on the phone.
The first to answer the call were independents Anne Haziewood Brady and Marjorie DeFazio, and Ruthann Miller and Rosemary Gafney of the Young Socialists. Along with Ruth Chaney, they took the reins as planners and organizers.
There were others, some there from Day One, who came in as the excitement mounted: Jill Ward, Mary Vasiliades, Joyce Vinson, Jo Hazleton, Mary Scully, Carole DeSaram. The Strike Coalition was a going thing, so as its liaison to the Coalition and Strike coordinator I concentrated on NY NOW. My enthusiastic committee probed for ideas for demonstrations that would attract the 50,000 marchers we'd quoted to the press.
"Let's take over the Statue of Liberty," Patricia Lawrence said. "The Puerto Ricans did it last year." With Marian Gannet, Pat strategized the event. And so 40-foot banners-"Women of the World Unite" and "March on August 26 for Equality"- --were hung on Ms. Liberty's balconies a few days before the 26th, and the shot was heard around the world.
A few weeks before the big day I had taken charge of the press conference when Betty Friedan, stuck on the Long Island Railroad, didn't show up. I told reporters (looking at their watches and threatening to leave) that not only would thousands march, we'd distribute our own newspaper, we'd place plaques around the city to mark where statues of great women would be erected, give "Barefoot and Pregnant Awards" to ad agencies for their sexist commercials. Now we had to make it happen.
By now the excitement quotient had blown off the Richter scale and every feminist group in town was planning actions. The NOW YORK TIMES was done in less than two weeks by Deborah Beale, Nancy Borman, Ivy Boftini, Tiffany Holmes, Jillian Mulvihill, Rose Atamian, Maria Malero, Sharon Rost, Clara DeMiha. Some wrote articles under pen names like Judith Capulet, who authored "Marriage Legalized as a Career." (Guess you know Betty Barry of the Marriage and Divorce Committee was Judith!) The New York Radical Feminists, The Feminists, Redstookings, Media Women, every group in town planned demonstrations for the 26th and helped swell the ranks of marchers.
All these great soldiers who ran the coalition, planned the demonstrations, organized the march and the rally, we honor them now and forever.
A SALUTE TO A FEMINIST FUTURE AND VFA'S ROLE
LOOK WHAT WE STARTED! American women are fighting to help women around the globe, to ftee them from poverty, rape, genital mutilation, marital abuse, "honor 'killings, eternal pregnancies --you remember it, you name it. We will continue until every woman has access to education, employment, marital equity, birthcontrol, healthbenefits. We here know our movement can only claim success when women around the world have human rights. And this could take centuries.
Our vision is the VFA will be a support for future generations of veterans. We are now reaching out to veterans of 1976 to 1985. Though I'll work with VFA as long as I'm able, my hope is that we will have a New York office with at least one paid assistant, and active committees to help with public relations, fundraising, membership, etc. To do this we need to be set up on a solid footing, and we need our members to help. What can you do?
E-mail Jacqui at address: email@example.com. Get busy and put us on the map!
SUSAN BROWNMILLER - A civil rights activist in the'60s, Susan, a writer, was sent to report on women's liberation in 1967. She joined the cause and became a member of the New York Radical Feminists. A great orchestrator, she planned the Ladies Home Journal Sit-in in 1969. She also organized a force against pornography and probably is responsible for getting pom off Broadway. She s written for many newspapers and several books. Among them "Against Our Will," about rape, and her latest book "in Our Time," the story of the second wave of the feminist movement.
JACQUI CEBALLOS -Joined NYNOW in 1967. headed the public relations committee and speakers bureau and cofounded and did PR for Anselma Dell Olio's New Feminist Theatre. She helped organize the Strike Coalition and was Strike Coordinator for the chapter in 1970. She was the chapter president in '71 and Eastern Regional Director in '72. She helped Befty Friedan found the National Women's Political Caucus, ran as a delegate for Shirley Chisholm for President and was a founder and Exec Director of the Women's Forum. With Jane Field and Dell Williams, she ran a speakers bureau and PR firm. In 1990 she did interviews for the Schlesinger Library's History of NOW project funded by Mary Jean Tully and founded the Veteran Feminists of America in '92.
KAREN DECROW - Besides being National Strike Coordinator, Karen founded Syracuse New York NOW, was Eastern Regional Director and President of national NOW for two terms. She organized the first political conference in Seneca Falls in 1971, is a founder of the NY and National Women's Political Caucus. Karen has written several books on feminism. She writes a syndicated column on current issues and practices law in Syracuse.
CAROLE DESARAM - joined NOW in 1970 and helped carry the banner "Women of the World Unite" down Fifth Avenue 8/26/1970 and with other feminists climbed up the side of the NY Public Library with the banner at the end of the march, and, in 1972 hung it on the Statue of Liberty. She headed up zap actions, closing down the Stock Exchange, Citi Bank and other institutions that discriminated against women. She created the FBI poster (Feminist Bureau of Investigation) along with Nancy Borman and Doris Rush with pictures of CEO's who discriminated against women. She started the national movement to end discrimination in giving women credit. She also chaired several committees locally and nationally, became President of the NYC Chapter in 1974 and served on the National Board of NOW.
JANICE LAROUCHE - In 1969 Janice impressed three NYNOW members at the Albert Ellis Institute when she refuted the allegations of the speaker (topic -"The New Woman"). they invited her head the speakers-bureau. She joined NY NOW and was on the. board. Aware of women's need to learn how to succeed in the business world, she started a study group that developed into the Career Workshops for Women. "Women were raised to be housewives- Strategies for success in business was not on their horizon, they couldn't deal with money, and needed assertiveness training. She studied psychology and added this dimension to the Career Workshops. A founder of VFA, for the first year she held feminist soirees at her apartment, where Kate Millett, Evelyn Cunningham, Barbara Seaman, Phyllis Chesler, Letty Cottin Pogrebin and other veterans held sway. Janice still gives career training classes and does consulting for corporations and businesses.
KATE MILLETT - Was a member of NYCITY NOW since 1967. As head of the chapters education committee she wrote Token Leaming, a booklet which exposed the seven sister colleges - (to educate young women to be wives and mothers). Her doctoral thesis was published as a book Sexual Politics in 1970 and caused an immediate sensation. Among her other books - Flying and The Loony Bin. An artist of note, her tree farm in upstate New York is also an women's art colony.
JENNIE BATLEY - Princeton, NJ, NYC. After the events of 1970, Simone de Beauvoir's "The Sex" become even more meaningful. Upon finishing my Ph.D. at Columbia University in the Department of French and Romance Philology, In 1977 I taught French language and literature at Princeton U., a fierce bastion of male chauvinism. During my first year of tenure my colleagues labeled me a 'feminist', a derogatory term. But some students were interested in the new currents of ideas, and for them I compiled a reading list of French women authors, tracing the roots of feminism to a medieval French poetess. Thanks to what happened in 1970, 1 felt support in my search for the feminine voice and gained enough confidence to oppose some males of the Old Boy Network. Condescendence and arrogance was only a cover up for their insecurity. Their common goal then was to control women, neutralize our power and cancel our eagerness to be a vibrant part of the intellectual community. But thanks to the sisters who opened a breach in the stoned wall of male dominion, who courageously lead us, I found the courage to become, in 1977, the isolated bearer of a feminist torch in the underworld of Princeton University megalomanic all-maleness.
ANNE HAZLEWOOD BRADY moved to the city from New Jersey around 1969. A poet and writer starting a new life after raising four sons, she became active at the Women's Center in Manhattan. A freelance feminist, she was the first one to answer the call. At the first meeting (somewhere in Soho), Anne plunked down the vital $1,000 for an office. The exuberance of the march is captured in her beautiful poem on our cover, We took to the streets like a river. She's published books of poetry on her own and with Marjorie DeFazio. In the early 1970s, Anne moved to Maine, where she continues writing when not climbing Machu Picchu or canoeing through the Grand Canyon.
DOROTHY CROUCH - was an active member of NOW NY from 1969 to 1974, serving on the Membership Task Force, as chair of the board, in 1972 as president and later as a member of the Advisory Council. Today she is DC Comic's vp of licensed publishing and associate publisher of MAD Magazine. She is also the founder and president of Crouch International, which provides publishing-related services to clients on three continents. Previously, Dorothy had been vp, general manager and vp? International for Warner Books and vp, International for Warner Publisher Services. Dorothy is also active on the American Arbitration Association's commercial panel of arbitrators, and is the author of the book "Entertaining Without Alcoho
MARJORIE DEFAZIO - Living on the Upper West Side with her husband and three sons, Marjorie heard the call. Aware of the writer's need for "A Room of One's Own," she split her huge apartment in two--her husband and sons on one end, she on the other-and switched priorities; housekeeping time was now writing time.
She helped out at the Women's Center and was one of the Strike's principal organizers. A poet, playwright and director, Marjorie compiled and edited with Anne Raising Our Voices, Women Through the Ages, poetry about women by women. Later, with Patricia Horan she wrote, directed and acted in What Time of Night It Is, the story of the 19th century feminist movement performed for NOWs national conference in 1972. In 1975, again with Patricia, she wrote and directed the story of women's progress in the US as seen through their underwear; it was presented at the Hotel Pierre with Colleen Dewhurst as narrator to an audience of distinguished feminists and the press. Today she lives on a farm in upstate New York.
ELEANOR FOA DIENSTAG -New York City. The march was the first major step in my becoming an outspoken activist. I had recently moved - reluctantly - from New York City to Rochester. Back in New York for a visit, pushing my baby in a stroller, I came upon 'The March', and absolutely had to be a part of it, so I handed the baby and stroller over to my mother, told her I'd see her later, gota 'WomenUnite' shoppingbag (now framed and on my wall)and marched. l had already contributed to 'Ms.' magazine, but the event galvanized me to further action. Back in Rochester I joined NOW and wrote, Whither Thou Goest: The Story of an Uprooted Wife. The book made me 'notorious' in upstate New York. My children and I even got hate phonecalls. So I would say that the march was the first major step in my becoming an outspoken activitist. The feminist movement, and my participation transformed my life as a wife, mother, sister, writer and person, in every way. I think of the 1970s as a golden age for women of my generation - a fabulous time to be a woman. It was not only personally empowering but it began to change the workplace, so that after leaving my marriage I could earn a living and support my children (two boys), who have turned out to be wonderfully feminist husbands and fathers.
SYD BEINER-NYC - I joined the NYCity chcipter of NOW (where it all began) in response to the '71 'lesbian purge.' I was an active reporter on the early feminist newspaper Majority Report; was editor of the NOW-NY Chapter Newsletter from 1972to 1975 and was Chairperson of the NOW-NY Chapter Board in 1974. 1 was an active NOW-NY member from 1971 until 1980. Since 1981 1 have been, and still am, a NOW-East End Chapter member. 515 E 85 St 10G - NYNY 10028
CONSTANCE COMER -NYC Constance Comer was a 'housewife and mother' Manhattan style when she heard about the women's movement and decided the "problem that had no name' was her problem, too.
She joined NYNOW and changed her life. She was soon lobbying in Washington for the ERA, and sitting on the steps of the Capitol in an "all night vigil' holding ERA signs.
In 1970 she was the .priestess' who led the dedication of the park where statues of Susan B. Anthony and Sojourner Truth would hopefully be erected. Her photo reading the dedication is on this event's invitation. Connie is a teacher and a partner in Business Training Seminars. 70 West 95 St NYC 10025
JUDITH HENNESSEE - The movement crystalized so much that I'd thought all my life, and the march was my opportunityto do somrthing about it. It was the most thrilling thing in the world. I joined New York-NOW and began working on a license challenge to WABC-TV, a long project that focused on sexism in the media and forced the station to sit down and deal with us and make changes. Thirty years later I wrote a biography of Betty Friedan, 'Betty Friedan: Her Life' published lost year by Random House. Recalling those wild, wonderful days, I'm so very proud of the history we made.
TIFFANY HOLMES - NYC - Joining NOW just a few months before the strike, I was soon caught up in the fever-pitch excitement of its preparations. As part of that, I jined those who were producing the parody of the Times: The Now York Times.
Some of us even went out at night to sneak copies of it into newsstands' copies of the real thing, giving unsuspecting buyers a bonus with their morning coffee. We also distributed copies on THE day, August 26, 1970. In fact, we had so much fun with this that we produced the paper for two more years! My other main contribution to feminism; writing the book WOMAN'S ASTROLOGY-. Your Astrological Guide to a Future Worth Having, debunking the sexist programming that SO many horoscope articles - and individual readings! - provided. I am an editor by profession and write mystery stories. 100 Beeker St 7G NYNY 10038
JUDITH KAPLAN - NYC, Boca Raton, FL - Joined NYC NOW in 1970 and served as treasurer and fundraiser. She organized a Monte Carlo night, was active on the Image Committee, lobbied, demonstrated, created and sold a women's history collectible series, "the Women's History Series of First Day Covers by NOW-NY." She salvaged historic material from the 'Second Wave" including New York NOW newsletters, announcements and magazines.
It is all cataloged and listed and available to students and teachers. Since the mid 1960's she's promoted women's history as the cornerstone to the advancement of our sex. She's published articles on women in history, and women on stamps in the philatelic and non- philatelic press. She wrote 'Women Suffrage on First Day Covers" depicting how stamps told the story of the Suffrage Movement, collected autographed letters, documents, books, memorabilia about women's history, especially of the early feminist movement and donated the collection to the Central Florida Community College in Ocala, Florida. Called the Kaplan Women's History Collection, it is on permanent display and is in a traveling exhibit yearly. Judith has had her my own business since 1974. In 1980 she, her husband (also a collector) and two children moved to Florida, where she offered her business facilities for the Palm Beach NOW chapter. Her phone was the Rape Crisis and the Support ERA hot line. In '85 she represented the state as the Small Business Person For Florida. Today she is a Trustee of the Feminist Scholarship Foundation in Boca Raton, an advisor to the Kaplan Women's History Collection and to the National Museum of Women's History, which is establishing a comprehensive Women's History Museum in Washington, DC.
ANN JULIANO JAWIN - My first real "action" was being part of the l970 march in NYC. I felt exhiliarated by being part of the women demonstrating for their rights. I was also sobered by seeing the anger and hostile looks and words some on the sidelines threw at us. I joined the Task Force on Education and Employment and the rest is "herstory!"
I stayed with the Task Force for almost ten years. During that time, edited the last two of the NYC Reports on Sex Bias in the N.Y.Public Schools Series l973 to l979. Report and testimony led to the Bd of Education adopting policy for equal opportunity and appointing a Title IX Coordinator for each school. Filed Class Action law suit against Bd. of Ed. discrimination against women supervisors resulting in court monitoring appointment practices. Designed and taught first Inservice Course in Women's Rights required for new teachers.
Published one of the first full resource books for women, A WOMAN'S GUIDE TO CAREER PREPARATION, Scholarships, Grants and Loans, Anchor Press, 1979.
Ran for public office of N.Y.S. Assembly and N.Y.S. Senate. Held Democratic Party office of District Leader and State Committeewoman.
Founded Queens Women's Center, a full resource center for women in l987. Established lst office in office space donated in Queens Borough Hall and in l998, granted occupancy in landmark building in decommissioned Army Base at Ft. Totten, Bayside, Queens to become the first women's full service women's center in New York City.
Recognized by NOW, NYC, Susan B. Anthony Award. Nominated to Hunter College Hall of Fame. Received the Ralph Bunche Award for Human Rights, Queens Chapter of the U.N. Assn, Queens Chapter. Mayor's Volunteer Service Award. Most of these awards were given in recognition of the work I was doing for women.
JUDITH LORBER - I came into the women's movement in 1971 when I finished my Ph.D. Women's rights and gender equality were the most important questions of my time, as far as I was concerned. I'd been a "latent feminist' since I was 14 years old (way before the movement was in the public view).
I began to develop and teach women's studies courses in sociology and then in the new women's studies program at Brooklyn College in New York City. I was the first Coordinator of the CUNY Graduate School Women's Studies Certificate Program (1988-1991).
When Sociologists for Women in Society was organized in 1972, 1 was one of its first members. I was president in 1981-82 and Founding Editor in 1987 of its new official journal, Gender & Society. All of my professional work has been in feminism - my books - Paradoxes of Gender (Yale 1994) and Gender Inequality: Feminist Theories and Politics (Roxbury, 1998), my research on women and medicine, published as Gender and the Social Construction of Illness (Sage 1997) and Women Physicians: Careers, Status, and Power (Tovistock 1984), and my teaching in the US and in other countries. In 1996, 1 received the American Sociological Association Jessie Bernard Career Award for my contributions to feminist scholarship. I am just as proud to have raised a son (now 32 years old) to be a feminist who is going to marry a feminist next June.
BARBARA MARTIN - Greenwich, CT - A librarian, Barbara joined NOW in 1970, and was president of Greenwich NOW in '71 and Asst State Coordinator in '75. She worked to repeal sexist legislation and on passing the ERA in CT she wrote a book list on women's history which was distributed nationwide; lectured and did general consciousness-raising, especially among suburban women, for many years. She was active in community affairs . Today she is still works part time at the Greenwich library. She recently reunited with the son she gave up for adoption 36 years ago and says that is the most satisfying and important thing in her life. Her son, his wife and their son are moving to Greenwich to be near her. 54 Putman Park Greenwich, CT 06830
ELAINE MERKLIN, NYC - lt was the beginning of the'70s. Vacationing in Provincetown I was on my way to the beach, when I saw a woman thumbing a ride in my direction. That day, I picked up my one and only hitch-hiker - Mary Vasiliodes - and this singular action changed my life forever. Mary introduced me to NOW NEW YORK and all the wonderful women she knew; eventually, this led to knowing Dolores Alexander's mother - Sally DeCario - a dear and warm woman who helped me during a difficult time.
Mary also gave a name and voice to thoughts and feelings I had had all my life. Marching, picketing, attending (Can you believe it!) proud Lesbian- feminist meetings, devouring womens' histories, and photographing events became a way of life, sweetened by occasional dinners at Mother Courage. It is nearly 30 years later, and my beliefs and values have only strenghtened with time. I now live quietly on Cape Cod - knowing that I am one woman among many women from countless generations of women - all of worth cind with a story to tell. Blessed be Mary V. and blessed be you all, Elaine Margaret (after my dear grandmother) Merklin. 61 Newport Rd. Brewster, MA 02631
JOAN MICHEL - NYC - Guess you could say I was sort-of like the wife.... did my thing behind the scenes, never in the spotlight, never to the roar of the crowd. I helped the beautiful (too-soon gone) Pat McQuillan organize the first-ever Marriage and Divorce conference, which in effect legitimized the movement for a lot of women-they called them housewives then-who were unsophisticated about feminism. I remember that rainy night well .... it was early enough to make the evening news, and excited women come running in off the streets. My activist journey started in 1971, when I rode the bus from Riverdale-I even had to borrow the $1 fare from Irma Diamond (Newmark) -to the NOW office. Jacqui was president and swamped with paperwork (someone had to stuff the envelopes) and inquires ('What is it you women want?') From then on I did the desk (licked the stamps & answered the phones) and helped with the Women's Forum, the Politcal Caucus and wrote press releases out of Jacqui's apartment. Kept at it slow and steady since then, doing what I could when I could to burn the sexism out of language (does everyone know that Hero was a woman?). I was one of the founders in 1992 of the VFA and have been VP of PR ever since. These days I help Jacqui with some big do's. I'm a writer and editor (for Hadossch magazine) and a food writer and editor (freelance) for several publications and cookbook writers. I have three sons and twelve grandchildren so for. Not bad for a late bloomer!
IRMA DIAMOND NEWMARK -NYC, Pompano Beach, FL - I was a suburban housewife when I first heard Jacqui speak and was immediately galvanized to enter NYC NOW where I was active on the Image and the Employment committees. I participated in the 'Fly Me' campaign and delivered ' Barefoot and Pregnant' awards to advertizers on August 26 in New York City. It was exciting, as we were trying to change womens inferior image in the media. During this time drvorced, worked on my Ph.D (in Sociology) and formed the first Bronx NOW chapter.
I then at several colleges, including Iona in New Rochelle and the NYC, Bronx branch of Continuing Education. My daughter and son were always very supportive, even proud of my work. In '75 I married, and moved with my husband and his three children to Israel, where we lived for several years. There I continued my work in Sociology and, with my dentist husband, formed Dentists of the World. We spent several years in Japan as consultants to Japanese businesses. We returned to NYC in '91 where I become active with with the Status of Women Committee at the United Notions and was a co-founder of the VFA. Today I live in South Florida and am in touch with the NOW chapters in that area.
GRACIA MOLINA PICK - San Diego, CA - Gracia began her activism as a teenager in her native Mexico in the fight for the vote for Mexican women. She earned her B.A. from the Feminist University of Mexico City, School of Diplomatic Low, married Richard Pick and moved to San Diego. While caring for her three children, she got her M.A. from Son Diego State U, and began her doctoral studies in comparitive literature and Education Administration. She was on the faculty at UCSD, UCR, UCSS and Mesa College.
She's worked with Cesar Chavez's Grape Pickers union On August 26, 1970 Gracia and the Organizacion Feminil and the Chicano activists were preparing to march in the Chicano Moratorium, the largest non-violent latino protest against the Vietnam. (Latina losses were near the total American casualties in WWII). In the early 1970's she formed the first Latina Women's Liberation group and invited Gloria Steinem to help celebrate. In 1975 she represented her group at the United Nations Conference on Women in Mexico. Gracia has worked tirelessly on behalf of Democratic candidates, and helped with the first successful effort to begin the grossroots integration of minorities into the State Democratic Party For years she has helped register new citizens at the Naturcilization Ceremony in Son Diego, and in 1996, along with her colleagues, registered 14,500 new voters. All the while, she volunteers at hospitals and serves the homeless on Sundays .
Invited to take part in our celebration of Gloria Steinem in 1994, Gracia first learned of VFA, and has been one of our chief volunteers since then. She is now our West Coast Vice President.
1016 New Kirk Dr. La Jolla, CA 92037
LEE BLEDA OLIVER - NYC - I walked into Central Park on August 26, 1970 and found that the marchers had nearly reached the West Side. The "Feminist Mystique' showed me how normal I really was! In the '60's I worked in the Civil Rights Movement, but the Civil Rights Movement never worked for me, or for other women who had a right to expect a better way of life. I joined NOW and was a member of the board in 1971.
Nancy Gordon and I were joint chairs of the Political Affairs Committee and produced a booklet called 'Women and the City: How to Use the Machinery.' In '71-- I was one of the founding members of the Women's Advocacy Committee and with help from women who worked for the City of New York we formed a resume bank. We issued a report called "A Study on The Women in New York City Government: Clerical Workers.' It showed that women received lower pay, needed more education, received less promotions and got fewer options than men in similar job categories. In the years following, I picketed, made lobbying trips to Washington for the ERA and tried to make life uncomfortable for politicians and firms who discriminated against women. Pat Korbet, MaryVasiliades and I formed 'Women's lnterprises,' a mail-order catolog of women's products. Recently at the Church of the Holy Trinity I addressed a group and distributed a report called 'Women: Issues of Yesterday, Today and the Future.'
FLORENCE RUSH - In 1970 Florence become involved with New York Radical Feminists. She wrote and published 'Best Kept Secret: Sexual Abuse of Children.' She helped organize OWL (Older Women's Liberation) was a media representative in NYNOW and Women Against Pornography.' She lectures on women's issues, Freudian influences, rape, etc..and is now an AIDS activist related to women and children.
LAURA SCHARF - NYC Laura joined NOW around 1970 and worked with Midge Kovacs and the Image Committee on the Public Service campaign. (Among other things, the committee did television monitoring of every station for two weeks, and filed a petition to deny the license renewal of WABC-TV). A board member, she headed the Sexuality Committee and, with Dell Williams, organized two sexuality conferences. She remembers never ending meetings, high visibility for all NOW actions and those famous sexuality conferences, the first ever held. She later moved to Cortland Manor, NY with her husband and children and refocused her priorities into the non-profit sector, starting her own business public relations, fund-raising, organizing and writing.
279 Sprout Brook Rd Cortdiant Manor, NY 10566
DOROTHY SENERCHIA -NYC The co-founder of Veteran Feminists of America, Dorothy was active from 1969 to 1974. A member of NewYorkNOW, she was a supporter of the New Feminist Theater led by Anselma Dell'Olio, a frequent marcher for abortion rights and other issues (when she could get away from her position on Urban Planning for the City of New York), on the Strike Coalition in New York and counselor for Big Sisters program.
She remembers meetings in church basements, the 1970 march down Fifth Avenue and Mother Courage, a feminist hang-out in the Village (run by Dolores Alexander and Jill Word) . In 1980 she made a film, "The Funeral. " After an illness doctors couldn't diagnose, she wrote 'Silent Menace' a book on signs and treatment of chronic candidiasis. Starting life as a violinist, today she studies piano and supports theater groups. She is on the board of VFA and is Dining Room Coordinator for VFA banquets.
1161 York Ave NYNY 1 0021
ELAYNE SNYDER -NYC - Elayne stepped into the street and into women's history on August 26, 1970 during the Great March . She joined NOW immediately. Believing everyone should join and work for equality, she began as Membership Coordinator for the New York chapter and the roll went up to 1500. President of the chapter in '74, she promoted women in business along with NOW issues, and created the NOW Christmas Fairs, where women entrepreneurs sold their wares and advertised their businesses. She ran the Women's Chair Memorial, a chapter fund raiser, where people honored women in history by buying a chair with names of their hero (or their names) stenciled on the chair.
The over 100 sold are still in use today. She started a Public Speaking class to help the women to better communicate the issues and found her career path. She then taught "Effective Communication Skills for Women " at the Woman School, one of the first continuing education colleges addressing women's new needs. Today she teaches at New York University and at the American Management Association and conducts a speech consulting business. She has authored two books on public speaking, Speak for Yourself With Confidence, the first of its kind to use the word SHE Elayne Snyder exclusively, and Persuasive Business Speaking. This last, and her Random House Audio Tape, The Persuasive Speaker, are still available. She is a founder of the Veteran Feminists of America.
ALETA STYERS - Chicago (now in NYC) - VFA!s head of our newly formed Financial Committee is the founder and first president of the Chicago NOW chapter. She led the chapter in efforts to desexigrate the Chicago Tribune and local restaurants, to repeal discriminatory employment laws and to gain access for women to trade schools. She raised funds for efforts to support the Martin Marietta case and to prevent Senate ratification of Judge Carswell's appointment to the Supreme Court.
The first woman in the management program of Paine Webber holds a B.A. from New York U and graduate degrees from Yale and Northwestern.
She's been a Foreign Service Officer of the Dept. of State, an International Economist for the Harris Bank, and a Corporate Manager of Economic Planning at Babcock & Wilcox. While at B & W she was named one of the ten leading American women in manufacturing. Today she lives and runs her own business in New York City. One of the early women members of the Yale Club of New York, she's held several official positions with the Club. The second woman to serve a full term on the Council, the governing body, she's also served on the Planning and the Finance Committees.
VIRGINIA SMITH WATKINS - Des Moines, IO & Minneapolis, MN - Prior to 1970 1 had read the Feminine Mystique and knew it spoke to me. I lived in Des Moines at the time and joined NOW as a national member. I was inspired by NOW Acts and all the news of what was going on. I decided that I must get active, so I convened the Des Moines NOW Chapter. I moved to Minneapolis where I immediately plunged into feminist activities which eventually culminated into 6 years of service on the NOW National Board. While I worked on many issues within NOW, I also worked for feminism via my career in social services. I am specifically gratified that in the latter context I was responsible for passage of the first Child Care Sliding Fee legislation in Minnesota, 5841 Whited Av., Minnetonka MN 55345 Phone 952-934-2525 Email: VirginiaWatkins@MSN.com
GRACE WELCH - lslandia, NY - On the day I saw that banner headline about the Women's Strike March down Fifth Avenue in the NEW YORK DAILY NEWS I called the New York NOW office, was put in touch with Nassau NOW and joined on the spot and immediately became active. I handled public relations for the chapter, attended board meetings, and helped form the first Long Island Feminist Coalition press conference at Hofstra University with an action against the Colonie Hill Hotel in Hauppauge and the American Red Cross for sex discrimination. In 1973 nine women and one man, (my husband, Frank) convened the South Shore NOW chapter. I served as Chapter President for two terms, 1974 to 1976. We held the first Human Sexuality Conference on Long Island at Dowling College in 1974, the first Assertiveness Training Classes in Oakdale, L.I., the first co-ed Consciousness Raising Groups, the first Masculine Mystique consciousness-raising - meeting with editors of NEWSDAY, the first 'Women's Image in Advertising' at the Long Island Advertising Club. We challenged (successfully) Little League discriminating against girls joining. In 1 973 1 ran for Central Islip School Board on a Title IX platform. My research revealed that the sports budget for male students was $43,000, and the girls' $300! My years as a feminist activist have been the most rewarding experiences of my life, and continues to sustain and energize me. I've been secretary and treasurer of VFA for three years and am working in Hillary's campaign. Note: Grace is also a yoga teacher. 67 Scotch Pine Rd Islandia, NY II 722
FRANK WELCH - Islandia, NY - Frank Prince Welch, husband of Grace, was Treasurer of the Long Island chapter of NOW in 1975. He was always there to schlep, deliver, paste, post, drive, you name it, says Grace.
DELL WI LLIAMS - New York City - On August 26, 1970 I was working as on account executive in a Fifth Avenue firm when I saw the women lined up to march down the avenue. I joined them, and joined NOW, immediately becoming active in many areas. I organized fund raising and celebratory events for the chapter. That year, 1972, I co- founded one of the first feminist businesses, New Feminist Talent, a speakers bureau, with Jacqui Ceballos and Jane Field, to supply the demand for feminist speakers . Still active in the chapter, Judy Wenning, the president in 1973, asked me to organize a conference on women's sexuality. My life really changed radically then. The theme was to "explore, expand and calibrate our sexuality. It was the first sexuality conference in the world, and I believe it started the women's sexuality movement. For the women who attended, in many ways it changed their lives. I organized a second conference a year or so later, and then founded the first women's sexuality boutique, EVE's GARDEN, a mail-order business to destribute products and information and to assist women on their path to sexual liberation. I ran the business for twenty years.
In 1992, I was a co-founder of the Veteran Feminists of America and have been on the board since then. I was born in the Bronx and started my professional life as a singer and actress . During WWII -- I was in the Army and traveled with a theatre group to entertain the troups. Today I am making commercials and looking to do more acting.
MARGALO ASHLEY FARRAND - Pittsburgh, NYC, L.A A NOW member since 1970, she was on the founding board of Pennsylvania NOW, convenor i president of East Hills Pittsburgh chapter, and Co-coordinator of Eastern Regional NOW Convention. In '73 she was legal assistant to NOW lawyer, Sylvia Roberts, helping with Title Vil individual and class action suits against the U. of Pittsburgh. In New York in '73 she negotiated agreements with KABC-TV and KNBC- TV- filed petitions to deny the licenses of KNXT, KTLA, KTTV & KCOP. Graduated from NYU Cum Laude in 1978 in Poiities and Mass Media/Journalism, she moved to California, graduated from Southwestern U School of Law and has been a practicing attorney since 1981 in Family Law. She was president of the Pasadena Interracial Women's Club, Co- president, Hollywood NOW, convenor/ coordinator of Los Angeles Women's Coalition. She researched Constitutional issues for a sex discrimination suit against the 1984 Olympics and proposed civil rights legislation, which helped win women right to compete in marathon and other sports in '84 Olympics. She was a candidate for Los Angeles County Supervisor, 5th District, '92 and for California Assembly, 59th District in 1994.
SHERRY ROGERS - Forest Hills, NY. I lived in Schenectady during the 1970 march. I became aware of the Women's movement when I heard Shirley Chisholm announce her candidacy for President in Albany, NY in January, 1972. 1 got into a CR group and it changed my life. Actually, it saved my life! I became active because we were busy ferrying women down to NYC from the Albany area to get safe abortions and wanted to change the laws so they could have safe legal abortions closer to home. I moved to Forest Hills later, and was president of the Brooklyn chapter in the mid 70s. I was elected while on vacation.. No one else wanted the job! I'm currently active in getting ERA passed into low! It's my priority before I die!
SANDY WARSHAW - Honored by NYCNOW with the Susan B. Anthony award in 1994, Sandy has been an activist in OWL, served two terms on the board and is currently on the steering committee of the Greater New York Chapter. She was in the Peace Movement, helped open alternate schools in New York during integration battles, was founding vice-president of SHARE ( Self Help Experience for Women with Breast and Ovarian Cancer. She is on the Executive Committee of the World Congress of Gay and Lesbian and Bisexual Jewish Organizations and is Director of the Dept of Policy, Education and Community Organzing for SAGE - Senior Action in the Gay Environment.
MARY VASILIADES - New York City A public relations executive in early 1970, Mary was intrigued by the news coming from the feminist movement. As a board member of the Publicity Club of New York she organized a panel discussion on women's liberation, inviting Jacqui Cebellos from NOW, and Mindo Bickman and Diane Caruthers of New York Radical Feminists. Jacqui recruited her to help organize the strike and become active in NOW. She attended coalition meetings, wrote copy for flyers and worked on the Statue of Liberty action. The following year she again worked on the August 26th march, writing press releases and speeches. She was elected to the NOW board and also became active with NY Radical Feminists. She lobbied in DC for the ERA, worked on the NYRF's Rape Prevention Conference, and with the Manhattan Women's Political Caucus. She ran as a delegate in the Shirley Chisholm presidential campaign and wrote for the feminist newspaper, Majority Report and was a partner in a feminist mail order business, Women Enterprises. Mary's photographs of many of these and other events are included in her slide show, Memoirs of a New York Feminist.
NOTE: Ann Hazlewood Brady, Marjorie DeFazto, Dorothy Senerchia and Aleta Styers have all been active since 1969, or before. They are included with this post-I 970 group because of their Strike actions and because we missed them in 1996 and 1997 celebrations of NOW and the Women's Liberation Movement.
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