THE BATTLE FOR EOUALITY
Mary Calk, President, Texas State NOW
Suffrage Celebration, August 26, 1981
We have gathered here today to commemorate
"Woman's Equality Day" - August 26, 1920 - the day
women won the right to vote. Yes, won the right to
vote - and a hard fought battle it was.
It was a long struggle from the first women's
right's convention in 1848, until, realizing the
necessity of joining together in a unified effort, The
National Woman's Suffrage Association was formed in
1869 under the guidance of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and
Susan B. Anthony. Within this Association the troops
formed and fought for another 50+ years. How many
women must have fallen from the ranks within that
time! Undoubtedly there were those who grew weary
from the struggle, those who withdrew because of
family pressures or out of fear of reprisal because of
their participation. There had to be many who were
too apathetic to join in the struggle. Yet there were
those with enough courage of their convictions of what
was just and fair, and enough belief in their cause
that finally, on August 26, 1920, 72 years after the
first demand for equality, the nineteenth amendment to
the United States Constitution, the women's right to
vote, was ratified.
The rest from the battle for Equality was short
lived. Three years later, in 1923, the Equal Rights
Amendment was introduced in Congress. And here we are
50+ years later entering the countdown year for the
ratification of the E. R. A. Between today and next
June 30 the fate of the efforts of the last 58 years
will be decided. We are so near to victory and yet so
close to defeat. In the next 10 months a virtual hand
full of people will decide the fate of the millions.
The amendment itself is probably the most misunderstood and mis-interpreted 24 words in existence today.
Only 24 words which state:
"Equality of Rights under the law shall not be
abridged or denied by the United States or by any
State on account of sex."
Thirty-five states representing 72% of the population
have ratified the E. R. A. and three more are needed
to make it a part of the constitution.
Why do we need the E. R. A.? Under current federal "deregulation" schemes, there is being proposed
repeal of equal credit and affirmative action
regulations - removal of enforcement procedures for
equal employment laws and dilution of Equal Education
Laws. The E. R. A. is necessary in order to establish
a national policy and to set a standard for the elimination of discrimination based on sex.
I could go into numerous explanations of how the
E. R. A. will benefit Employed women, Minority Women,
Homemakers and Men also. And I shall be happy to
discuss it with anyone who would like to contact me
after the rally. But for today, I'd just like to say
that one of the greatest reasons for the fight against
passage of the E. R. A. is probably the 59 cents wage
gap. Employed women are paid only 59 cents for every
$1 paid to men. If this be true, and the government
says it is, then WHO GETS THE OTHER 41 CENTS? It is
no wonder that those who profit from the cheap labor
force oppose the E. R. A.
Yes, we are here today to commemorate an historic
event of 60 years ago but we are living out perhaps an
even more historic time in the growth of our country.
Neither Susan B. Anthony nor Elizabeth Cady
Stanton lived to see their dream of Woman's Suffrage
become a reality. I trust those of us who are working
so desperately toward the fulfillment of our dreams of
Justice and Equality will see it come to pass in our
A yery dear friend of mine once asked me: "Where
were you during the Civil Rights movement of the
60's?" I had to admit, with quite a lot of guilt, I
was here in South Texas, in my ignorance, and did
nothing to help in that struggle.
When your daughters, nieces, or granddaughters ask
you, "Where were you during the feminist movement of
the 80's?" what will your answer be? It can't be
ignorance - because here today, your presence proves
you are aware of the struggle. Will you stand with
pride and say:
I was there, right on the front lines, and By God,
I gave it everything I had."
READ YOUR LABEL!
If the label on this newsletter has a CC by your name,
you have received a Courtesy Copy. People receive a
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Anyone with a U of H mailing address can continue to
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continue to send courtesy copies indefinitely. The
best way to keep receiving our newsletter is, of
course, to join us. When you join NOW you will also
receive the National NOW Times every month, and soon
there will be a Texas State NOW Newsletter, to keep
you up on national and state events and legislation of
concern to feminists. See form below.
Members should note that their label has numbers on it
near their names - e.g. 6/82-pn#390. This is the date
of membership expiration, folowed by a precinct
number, if we know it. (If we don't, the date will
be followed by -pn#000.) Please call JoAnn Evansgardner (741-4009) with this information if you are a
registered voter. (If you are not, call Carl Smith,
Harris County Tax Assessor, 224-1919x310, who will
send out a postage paid form; 30 days after you mail
it in, you will be a registered voter!)
ANY ADDRESS CHANGES OR CORRECTIONS SHOULD BE REPORTED
TO JO ANN EVANSGARDNER ASAP.
Ten months and five days to win justice and fairness. It can be done but it will take the e fforts of
all careing persons, Men and Women, to make this dream
of Equality a reality. We need your help. There is
no individual anywhere who cannot be a part of this
great movement if only they care enough to make the
What can you as an individual do? Many things.
Volunteers are needed to go to unratified states
and work. We must form more letter writing campaigns
to inform the legislators of the vast support for the
E. R. A. There is an urgent need for financial
donations. You are urged to join with us in the
National Organization for Women. Not of women, for
women. We have a great number of members who are men.
Any of the NOW members who are here today can tell you
how to become a member.
I-m-IUTES.OP AUGUST 25th MEEEIHQ OP
uo'.i - uttversity: op Houston chapter
7:pO P. II. Meeting called to order by Convenor,
Jo .nn _?vansnardner. Copies of agenda were distributed and discussed as to order of business.
The election of officers was discussed and a motion was made by Nancy George that nominations
be accepted up until the September 1st meeting,
giving notice accordingly in a mailing in keeping with the required 10 day notice. Elections
then to be held on the occasion of our September 22nd meeting. Motion seconded and approved.