HONORED BY THE NATIONAL WOMEN'S HALL OF FAME AND PRESENTED WITH "KEEPER OF
THE FLAME" STATUETTE
On August 21, 2010, one hundred and sixty- two years after
Elizabeth Cady Stanton convened the first Women s Convention, the
descendents of Elizabeth s legacy -- the Veteran Feminists of America --
were honored by the National Women s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, NY.
Planned by the young Executive Director Chris Moulton and her assistant
Amanda Bishop, the unique and joyous celebration took place only a block
from the 1848 convention site and is certain to go down in VFA
In May 1851, there was a chance encounter on the
streets of Seneca Falls which forever altered the struggle for women's
rights. Amelia Jenkins Bloomer introduced Susan B. Anthony to Elizabeth
Cady Stanton. The friendship that was forged between Stanton and Anthony
gave direction and momentum to the seventy-two year struggle for women's
suffrage which culminated on August 26, 1920 in the passage of the 19th
Ammendment to the United States Constitution. Neither woman lived to see
Until the birth of the Second
Wave the lovely little village of Seneca Falls was better known as the
setting for the Xmas classic It s a
Wonderful Life, rather than the home of Elizabeth Cady Stanton
and the birth site of the feminist movement. Great historic figures such
as Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass,
who had attended the first convention, seemed to have been forgotten, as
were the gains they had achieved for women.
In 1971 Karen DeCrow,
then president of Syracuse NOW, convened a political conference in Seneca
Falls. I attended with Connie Comer and Tina Santi from New York NOW.
Nowhere were there signs of the town s historic background. Our group was
photographed in front of the laundromat that replaced the church where the
historic convention was held. What else would replace a women s historical
site but a laundromat! someone remarked.
But with the new feminist
movement, interest in the 19th century movement was renewed. The National
Women's Hall of Fame was established in 1969. Later, the late Senator
Patrick Moynihan helped revive the town as a national historic site. The
laundromat was torn down and a nice plaque now graces the spot where the
church once was. Cady Stanton s house and other historic spots were
cleaned and the Women s Rights Park and the National Women s Hall of Fame
The Hall of Fame honors women from all
professions, but Seneca Falls is famous because Elizabeth Cady Stanton
held the first feminist conference in the local Methodist Church, so some
of us feel that special attention should be given to Second Wave feminists
who made all this possible. Yes, Betty Friedan, Catherine East, Gloria
Steinem, Bella Abzug, Charlotte Bunch, Karen DeCrow and a few others have
been initiated into the Hall, but every pioneer feminist who worked so
hard to achieve equal rights for our sex deserves to be honored. Many have
been nominated but not selected, though they very much deserved to be.
Without the new feminist movement, there would be no Hall of Fame. So one
day I was inspired to call the Hall.
I m Jacqui Ceballos, I said,
president of Veteran Feminists of America.
Amanda Bishop, the Hall
s deputy director, knew who I am and excitedly called Chris Moulton, the
executive director, to the phone. Both sounded very happy to hear from
I dove right in. Almost every pioneer feminist deserves to be
in the Hall of Fame, I said. It is impossible to honor them separately,
but why not honor them as a group? Then I added, Many are in their 80 s
and 90 s so it should be soon. Both thought it a great idea and promised
to get back to me.
A few weeks later Chris called. We have a date
for an event and we
d love to honor VFA. There are places for 100
guests, with 10 complimentary tickets for you and other pioneer feminists.
I immediately sent the word out and the responses poured in. Most
couldn t go at this late date. Our Chair and Co-President had plans for
that day so it was very important that I, and Barbara Love, author of
Feminists Who Changed
Along with Barbara, other board members who attended were
VFA VP Gracia Molina Pick of San Diego, cofounders Dell Williams and Sandy
Zwerling of NY and Carole De Saram, Ann Jawin also of NY; Jean King and
Mavra Stark of Philadelphia. Cindy Judd Hill, who d suffered a stroke a
few weeks before, came from Pittsburgh with handwritten notes as she so
wanted to share that she d attended the first NOW meeting with Betty
Friedan in Washington DC in 1967. Judy Pickering, whom I'd not seen in 40
years, came from Connecticut. Other pioneer feminist attendees are listed
It is not easy to get to Seneca Falls. Gracia and I had to fly
into Syracuse the day before in order to arrive in time. We were met by
Chris and driven the hour or so to Seneca Falls and treated to dinner. The
next morning they took us to the site of the first convention, where a
nice building replaced the ugly laundromat, and we were photographed
beneath the sign which announced that this was the site of the first
feminist convention. We then visited the statue of Stanton, Amelia Bloomer
and Anthony and were photographed alongside these great
THE EVENT: Women were pouring
in for the reception at 5:30. There was much animated greeting, as many
had not seen one another in years. The room at the Hotel Clarence held
only 100, and every seat was taken. The place was abuzz, cameras
flashing--but there was no videotaping, no filming. I ran around asking if
anyone had a camera. Yes, said Katherine Pffieffer Pross, her husband had
one in their car. And Jack Pross ran out for the camera, set it up and
A band was playing in the background making
it hard to hear anyone talk. Could we not have the band? I asked Chris.
I can t do that, Jacqui, she said. I have to say that Chris was a
warm, most gracious host, who obviously appreciated the pioneer feminists,
as were Amanda and the young intern, Marrisa Garcia. We couldn't have been
treated better. But I later heard our event was underwritten by a
business, and they hired the band.
Myra Kovary, a classical
harpist, regretted that she hadn t offered to play the harp, which would
have been perfect background music. She is offering her artistry for
The plan was that Chris would introduce me, I would
talk for a half hour and that was it.
I must introduce the
feminist guests, I said, and each one should be allowed to speak. And I
proposed that we begin during dinner.
That wasn t possible, I was
told. You may introduce them, but there is no time for them to
After dinner Chris gave a lovely introduction and presented
me (for VFA of course) with an elegant glass statuette dedicated To the
Veteran Feminists of America, Keepers of the Flame.
I accepted, I hope graciously. I d had a
bit too much wine and was a little high on all the excitement. I told the
story of VFA s founding, how we decided If no one would honor us, we d
honor ourselves, which got a few laughs, and mentioned that the renewal of
Seneca Falls was because of the new feminist movement. This may have
embarrassed Chris and upset the board women, but I was on a roll. I d
meant not to do more than introduce VFA members, but what the hell&
this would never happen again!
First I called Barbara, who came up with
Changed America; then Cindy Judd Hill, who trembled as
she told about the first meeting of NOW. Betty Friedan had heard that she
d been fired because she was pregnant and invited her there to tell her
story. Said Cindy, "I signed in as Mrs. Robert Hill, and Betty Friedan
told me that s not your name!
Pickering told how she and NOW president Wilma Scott Heide had run around
the country dressed as Susan and Elizabeth, talking to women about the
importance of suffrage. Dell Williams, founder of Eve s Garden, amused the
audience with stories of helping women achieve sexual liberation. She
brought down the house with her ending: I have a pin that says, An orgasm
a day keeps the doctor away.
Jean King, who d
fought hard for Title VII with Bunny Sandler, spoke of handling legal
cases for women. Carole DeSaram reported on the joy of leading the Fifth
Avenue March of 1970, helping carry the WOMEN OF THE WORLD UNITE banner.
I was getting signals from Chris, so it was time to wrap it up.
Before doing so I called Sally Roesch Wagner, head of the nearby Matilda
Gage Foundation, who had to be introduced!
The place was closing,
so the other pioneer feminists guests weren t able to talk! Before
leaving, we gathered for group photos. I led the singing of Ruth
Hershberger s The Battle Hymn of
Freedom to the tune of The Battle Hymn of
Our eyes have seen the future and rejoice at what
s to be,
Every woman in position to achieve equality
We will vote
ourselves in power by our own majority
For it s liberation
WHO'S IN THE GROUP PHOTO?
Row: Skip Drum is the first person standing on the
left (blue dress holding papers on right hand). Anita Marcos, is third
person on the back (left to right) looking up. Gracia Molina Pick, VFA VP,
Jacqui Ceballos, Helen Pearl of CT, Sandy Zwerling of NYC, Ann Jawin of
Queens, NY. 2nd Row: Sandy
Silverman Souder standing right behind Jacqui in beige suit with white
trim and sunglasses on her head. Dell Williams is 3rd from left, Cindy
Judd Hill of Pittsburg is in black w/red pin, next to her is Mavra Stark
in green from Pittsburgh, then Judy Pickering of CT, Barbara Love of CT,
Jean King of Ann Arbor and Sybil Shainwald is talking to Maureen Nappi
(her face is turned) 3rd Row:
From left in background is Trudy Mason of NY and
somewhere Carole DeSaram of NY
morning we were driven to Syracuse for the train to New York by Trudy
Mason, who had graciously risen very early to accommodate us, so early
that we had no opportunity to say goodbye to our friends. And after two
days in New York Gracia and I left together and took our flights to
Phoenix and San Diego.
Thus ended what I know was a historic
event: the recognition of all pioneer feminists into the National Women s
Hall of Fame, though I don t think the board and women who run the Hall of
Fame realize this. I feel it left VFA with another goal--to hopefully get
the National Women s Hall of Fame to realize the importance of the
feminist movement--and to initiate a special section of honorees in the
Hall of Fame: THE FEMINIST HALL OF FAME.