Women on the March: “We’re a Movement Now!” (Sep. 1970)


“… Mrs. Dorothy Pitman, the chairman of the Committee for Community Controlled Day Care, was busy telling reporters how centers like the one on West 80th Street could free welfare mothers to go back to work. Lucy Komisar, the famous and constant gadfly in the haunts of men, would later petulantly accuse Deputy Mayor Richard Aurelio of paying attention to the day care needs of poor women alone. And Betty Friedan was to drop a couple of comments about the rich women who’d joined the demonstrators because ‘they know that all women are poor.’ But the day began with West 80th Street hold­ing its own on behalf of poor mothers. Soon the not-so-poor mothers began wandering into the park. They were young women like Mrs. Carolyn Marshall McKee, mothers educated enough to feel frustrated in domesticity but also poor enough to have to drag their young progeny along on their own adventures. Mrs. McKee wore her son, age one-and-three-quarters (‘by last count’) strapped to her back. In her blue workshirt and bell bottom pants, she looked ready for action on the front, wherever that was. And she kept repeating the phrase, ‘I’m ready.’ A pretty young woman, she explained that she had had her ambitions ‘shot down’ twice in her short life, once at Mount Holyoke College, where she had been studying pre-med, and the second time when she had learned she was pregnant. … Mrs. McKee went on to explain that she’d been doing some ‘consciousness raising’ with the Radical Feminists. She had learned that there were ‘two fronts you have to fight on,’ one within yourself and the other with the outside world. ‘It’s as sort of a sense of the future,’ she said, looking thoughtful. ‘Now it’s really coming back.’ Breaking into a smile, she looked around at the beginnings of the Women’s Strike. Which is what every demonstrator who was asked about her feelings would repeat throughout the day. There was no great unity of styles or goals in the Women’s National Strike for Equality. There were the three basic demands: free abortion on demand, 24-hour day care for all mothers, and employment, pay and promotion opportunities for women equal to those for men. But no one seems to harp much on these demands. The common bond was the demonstration itself, their presence in the streets together, sharing defiant sisterhood. …”
Voice (Sep. 1970)

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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