Veteran Feminists of America Celebrations



Veteran Feminists of America and FEMINISTS WHO CHANGED AMERICA

Celebration in...

Ireland to Florida Feminists: "Our work is far from done"

Yes, we did it! Again! What was to be a small event to honor pioneer and contemporary activists in Florida showed early signs that the café

Pat Ireland Wows Audience

reserved for 35 would not be adequate. It turned out that 170 showed up! We owe this sensational success to Eleanor Pam and to her friend and co-chair Barbara Love, editor of the fabulous Feminists Who Changed America 1963-1975.

Eleanor, a snowbird from Long Island, emceed the event and from the first welcome established an air of celebration. And indeed, the guests acted as if they were at a joyous reunion--proving once more how important VFA events are to keep feminists together and actively involved in our great cause.

The room was decorated with great memories. Two slide shows flashed pictures of early feminist actions and heroes on the wall next to the podium in a continuous loop; the famed Women's quilt made of T-shirts from early demonstrations hung near the stage; memorabilia from the 1960s and 1970s was arrayed on tables. And special guest , Elizabeth Cady Stanton ( actor Elizabeth Perry) inspired us as she recited the Women's Bill of Rights she‘d given at the first women‘s rights convention in Seneca Falls in 1948.

“Our work isn't over,” said Pat Ireland, the longest-term president of NOW who served from 1991 to 2001, inspiring all with her exciting talk. "Two out of nine is not half," she'd told President Bill Clinton at a White House reception in reference to the sorry makeup of the Supreme Court. “Clinton got it," she said.

VFA'S MEDAL OF HONOR FOR exceptional contributions to improving the lives of women and girls was given to 40 women and one man, Barry Silver, a lawyer and rabbi, who served in the Florida Legislature and successfully sued Jerry Falwell and his Operation Rescue to stop the blockading of health and abortion clinics.

Barry Silver with Barbara Love, Eleanor Pam

In an important departure from the past VFA honored contemporary feminists , an important departure from the past which was much appreciated by activist leaders of today.

THE JOYCE WARSHOW AWARD, presented by her partner, Dorothy Sander in memory of the late psychologist, author and filmmaker was given to Barbara Love for her work in feminism and feminist history, and especially for her chef d'oeuvre, Feminists Who Changed America.

It was a very emotional moment when Ryan Cox stepped forward to accept an award for her late mother, Linda Cox, founder of Broward County NOW and member of the Florida House of Representatives. Among guests were former state representatives, who'd remembered that

a quilt made of feminist tee shirts from former demonstrations

Ryan was the first baby born to a Florida legislator while in office..

CALLS TO ACTION-- A petition was circulated to save the Women's Studies program at Florida Atlantic University. Josephine Beoku-Betts, Interim Director, was one of the honorees.

A "PASS THE TORCH" CEREMONY was emotional as Eleanor called for the oldest and youngest woman in the room to speak on behalf of their respective generations. To great applause, 90-year-old transferred a blazing candle to her 26-year-old counterpart, along with the symbolic responsibility for carrying forward the feminist agenda.

WELL-KNOWN GUESTS included Rep. Elaine Bloom, former Speaker, Pro-tempore, Florida State Legislature; Janet Canterbury, three time president of Dade County NOW and Florida state NOW; Sally Heyman, County Commissioner, Miami-Dade; and Gwen Margolis, former Florida State Senator; Ann Fonfa, co-president, North Palm Beach County NOW; and Pam O'Brien, Executive Director of Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse, Palm Beach County.

Closing Moments with Barbara Love and Eleanor Pam

This was VFA's second outstanding showing in Florida. In 2002 we co-sponsored a conference at Florida Atlantic University with Atlantic's Women's Studies Department and South Palm Beach NOW.

VFA's primary goal is to document the history of the Second Wave and to honor all who made it happen, which we've been doing for the past 19 years, mostly in major cities. This was one of the few celebrations given in “the interior.” Why? Because no one from a smaller town has ever came forward to handle the event. But this one may have been a good sign. Two more are being planned, one in Stockton, CA with Beverly McCarthy at the helm; and another in Dallas (certainly a major city) hosted by Bonnie Wheeler. See articles below for progress on these.

VFA made a nice little profit from this event, in spite of the low cost of the luncheon, thanks to Eleanor's planning. And again our thanks to her and Barbara Love and the inspirational “Feminists Who Changed America” for keeping VFA alive and lively!

For more information call Eleanor Pam, Master of Ceremonies and Co-Chair 561-278-1967; cell 516-526-2689

E-Mail Eleanor Pam:

THERE's MORE! Click Here for Honoree Bios and more

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