Thursday, August 26, 2010

Forty Years Ago Today in City Hall Park: The Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration of Women's Suffrage

Here are a couple of pictures we took at City Hall Park exactly forty years ago today, on the morning of Wednesday, August 26, 1970, the fiftieth anniversary celebration of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment guaranteeing women's suffrage. It was a historic day and it opens Gail Collins' recent magisterial history of the American women's movement.

Here's fiery Manhattan Congresswoman Bella Abzug, well known for her floppy hats and her fighting liberalism.

Abzug would never win her primaries for mayor or senator but remained in Congress for a number of years. Next to Speaker Tip O'Neill, she was probably the most well-known member of the House.

In the pic above, she's talking to New York City Consumer Affairs Commissioner Elinor Guggenheimer (who the previous year had finished fifth in the primary for city council president, managing to beat only Norman Mailer's ticket-mate, the incomparable writer Jimmy Breslin).

Above is Guggenheimer talking to the press (Ralph Penza of WCBS-TV and others) in City Hall Park at the start of the rally. New York Mayor John Lindsay (for whom we'd worked the previous year, in his unsuccessful June Republican primary and for his winning general election campaign as candidate of the Liberal Party) refused to grant a permit for a march up Fifth Avenue at first, and there was a standoff that later got resolved. The march went on, as in the photo on top of this post, but we didn't stay for it. Hey, we were only a stupid teenage boy.

To Guggenheimer's right in the last photo of the rally you may recognize Betty Friedan, whose book The Feminine Mystique, in which she discussed "the problem with no name" that American women faced, really launched second-wave feminism in this country.

The lady below seemed to be fighting for her own rights, though we're not sure of the relevance to women's liberation:

Here's a protester more in the spirit of the day::

We can remember that placard really well: Male Chauvinist, You Better Start Shakin', Today's Pig is Tomorrow's Bacon!

We've got our diary entry for that day in our book, Summer in Brooklyn: 1969-1975, as well as the collected Brooklyn Diaries. Lots has changed, in Brooklyn and the world, since those days, but we feel privileged to have been even just a witness at 1970's Women's Liberation Day.

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