Veteran Feminists of America and
FEMINISTS WHO CHANGED
FLORIDA · APRIL 20, 2009 · A SMASHING
Ireland to Florida Feminists: "Our work is
far from done"
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
For more information call Eleanor
Pam, Master of Ceremonies and Co-Chair 561-278-1967;
E-Mail Eleanor Pam: firstname.lastname@example.org
THERE's MORE! Click Here for Honoree Bios and