In the 1980s – the Reagan years, the ERA had neglected and feminists were dubbed Feminazis by a few. Though, as always, guys were honored for their contributions to society, the feminists who had changed America were practically disdained. The NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund a flourishing reality, was excited about an oral history project to the Schlesinger library between the history of NOW and Betty Friedan.
To a woman, they expressed a desire to return. With the help from New Feminist Theater, and the Women’s Health Movement, a committee was organized to undertake the preparation of a reunion. Remembering how men met regularly with their war friends, a group of women involved in the first years of the Women’s Movement requested themselves to believe outside just one reunion and toward a company to record the Movement’s history and inspire future feminists.
In May 1993, a first reunion was arranged in honour of Catherine East of Washington D.C., the girl Betty Friedan called “the midwife of the feminist movement.” Over 250 came to New York to honor the beloved Catherine. After that glorious event, Catherine and D.C. Mary Eastwood, both founders of NOW, desired to honor different Pioneers, beginning with Congresswoman Martha Griffiths, who made it feasible to include “sex” in Title VII; Virginia Allen, Director of the Women’s Bureau under President Nixon; and Phineas Indritz, the lawyer who had advised feminists.
In Spring 1994, these girls were honored, along with other greats, right at the early Sewall Belmont House. Barbara Love’s monumental Feminists Who Changed America 1963-1975, published in 2006, has created more local parties of pioneer feminists. Future events will honor athletes, the women’s health movement, women journalists, and women in business and finance. DVDs of those events are, or will, be housed at important Women’s History libraries.
It’s hoped that these events will continue to provide support and camaraderie to leaders of feminism’s Second Wave and offer the recognition, honor and respect they so richly deserve. Many activists feel that, while we have done nearly everything we set out to perform, both goals we’ve not fully achieved are “to pass the torch” and also to recruit new activists for feminism among younger men and women. But now that we have honored thousands of pioneer feminists in 34 events across the country, and now that Feminists Who Changed America is printed, and now that our documents are archived at Duke University, we could spend more time mentoring and learning from our daughters, granddaughters and friends. And also, from our sons and grandsons and their friends.