EVENT OCTOBER 28th and 29th, 2011|
VFA held an extraordinary
event at Rollins college in Orlando, Florida, the weekend of
October 28th and 29th. For the first time in our 20 years of
existence, instead of “borrowing” college space to hold events
where we honored pioneer feminists and documented the history
of a certain facet of the Movement, we were the guests and
co-participants in a celebration of the Feminist Movement, and
shared the stage and interacted with the students and college
personnel. From the opening event Friday evening, the
appreciation, love and respect from the students, teachers and
personnel for the Second Wave’s accomplishments and for all
veteran feminists permeated the atmosphere.
Rollins College students and Gloria
photo by: Dori Jacobson
began in October 2010, when Muriel Fox, VFA Chair, was guest
speaker at Rollins College, where she had been a student for
two years before transferring to Barnard College in New York
City. October 29, 2011 would mark the 45th anniversary of the
founding of NOW and the birth of the modern Feminist Movement,
so Muriel suggested that Rollins host a celebration of the
Movement. She also proposed that 12 Rollins students be linked
with pioneer feminists from Veteran Feminists of America, all
members of VFA’s board . Rollins leaders–especially their
supportive president Lewis Duncan, Winter Park Institute
director Gail Sinclair, and faculty members Wendy Brandon and
Ryan Musgrave—agreed. Thus began a year of work to make it
The planning was intense.
We reached feminist activists from all over Florida, including
some who would receive VFA’s medal of honor; we were
interviewed by phone and email by Rollins students and
teachers; sold tickets for the event and the closing dinner
session; and most specially, organizing a Silent Auction,
Muriel’s great idea to raise money for VFA. Judy Kaplan, VFA’s
vice president of history and a resident of Orlando, was the
on-the-scene planner with co-president Sheila Tobias
organizing the awards and the printed program from Tucson,
while I, Barbara Love and Eleanor Pam assisted from Arizona,
Connecticut and New York. Muriel, also from New York, was
Judy Kaplan (left) with Toni VanPelt
photo by: Dori
After a lovely reception Friday
evening, we met bright and early Saturday for the “Day of
Dialogues With Feminist Heroes.” Muriel and Drs. Wendy Brandon
and Ryan Musgrave welcomed us and introduced the first
panelists, Heather Booth, Sally Lunt, Zoe Nicholson, Kathy
Rand and Virginia Watkins. With two Rollins students, they
talked about the Direct and Indirect Responses to Injustice.
The second panel, featuring Muriel, Mary Jean Collins, and
Mary Ann Lupa joined by college women, discussed
“Coalitions.”. The final panel, “Leaving a Legacy,” introduced
Amy Hackett, Judith Kaplan, Sheila Tobias and me. We regaled
the audience with stories of feminist actions of the past--the
serious and the sometimes comedic demonstrations. A highlight
was a dialogue between Gloria Steinem and former Congresswoman
Patricia Schroeder with Muriel moderating, discussing the past
and future of the Movement.
The Guerilla Girls
photo by: Dori
The session ended
with an amusing performance by The Guerilla Girls. (The
Guerilla girls who with song and dance expose racism, sexism
In the meantime, the Silent Auction
had been set up in a room across from the auditorium. Mary
Stanley, indefatigable fundraiser of The National Women’s
Political Caucus and a VFA board member, ran it with the help
of my daughter, Michele Ceballos ; board members Barbara Love,
Eleanor Pam, Sally Lunt and James Lewis, a friend of board
member from Chicago, Dori Jacobson who saved the day by taking
charge of the till. There were over 50 items on sale,
including paintings by artists Linda Stein, Kate Millett and
Diana Kurz; autographed posters by Judy Chicago; historical
documents and photos autographed by Gloria Steinem, Jill
Ruckelshaus, Barbara Boxer and Nancy Pelosi. It was an
incredible feminist store, including a Safari trip organized
by Barbara Love, and a week’s stay at Mary Stanley’s lovely
home in Matzatlan, Mexico.
The highlight of the
evening was the VFA Gala Awards Dinner, with Gloria Steinem
graciously serving as M.C. and former Congresswoman Patricia
Schroeder with Muriel moderating, discussed the past and
future of the Movement. Gloria and Sheila then helped award
the VFA medals of honor to several Florida feminists.(See
their names below). The Lifetime Service Awards went to
Barbara Love, NOW’s president Terry O’Neill and Sherrill
Redmon, Director of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women’s
History Archives at Smith College, the nation’s oldest such
repository. And the first-ever Kate Millett Award, founded
this year on September 14th, Kate’s 77th birthday, was
presented to Eleanor Pam. Included below is Eleanor’s
wonderful speech lauding Kate.
Patricia Schroeder, Gloria Steinem ,
photo by: Dori Jacobson
Friday evening Gloria
addressed a cheering crowd of 2,500 women and men and talked
brilliantly about current events as relating to feminism and
the future of the Movement. I couldn’t help but wonder what we
would do when Gloria leaves this planet, but she said she
hopes to live to be 100 – so she’ll outlive many of us!
Our Rollins visit was a joy especially because of the
attention and help we got from Gail Sinclair and Wendy
Brandon. and Maureen Mäensivu, the Assistant Director of
Foundation Relations for Institutional Advancement. We left
Rollins with a new purpose and new friends .
FLORIDA AWARDEES - for their extraordinary
contributions to the feminist cause: Judge Alice Blackwell,
Rita Bornstein, Becky Cherney, Jaime Dison, Adele Guadalupe,
Sue Idensohn, Jeanne Linders, Diedre Macnab, Monica Mendez,
Meredith Ockman, Judith Setzer, Donna Slutiak, Joanne Sterner,
Toni Van Pelt, Carol Wick and Kay
Thanks to these who gave
priceless items for our successful Silent Auction:
June Blum, Shirley
Boccaccio,Judy Chicago, Penny Colman, Dori Jacobson, Diane
Kurz, Barbara Love, Jeanne McGill, Kate Millett, Dianne Post,
Susan Schwalb, Mary Stanley- and through Mary, Senator Diane
Feinstein & Nancy Pelosi, Linda Stein, Al Sutton, Grace
Welch. (Please let us know if we forgot anyone. )
EXCERPTS FROM ELEANOR PAM'S KATE
MILLETT AWARD ACCEPTANCE SPEECH
I am expecially honored and
delighted to receive VFA’s first Kate Millett award. Kate is a
foremother and leader of the women’s movement – and one of its
most important activists and scholars.
photo by Dori
I am so very proud of
her as I accept this award in her name, and thrilled that
there now is an award in her name -- thanks to VFA -- because
she does so deserve to be celebrated as one of our
generation’s greatest women – and not coincidentally –
possessed of one of its finest minds.
contributions to our movement are deep and long. She was at
the head of the line during the famous August 26, 1970 march
down Fifth Avenue celebrating the 50th anniversary of women
getting the vote.
That was the day we early feminists
of the 2nd save began to comprehend the strength, reach,
resolve, appeal – and most of all – the power of this evolving
and controversial new idea about equal rights for
Kate Millett grasped more than the microphone
that day as she addressed the crowd of many thousands. She
grasped the meaning and implications of what was unfolding
Triumphant -- and with the most exquisite
simplicity, she declared to the excited and emotional crowd,
“Now we are a movement!”
Kate had supplied the words as
well as the mandate. She told us who we were and what we were
charged to do. We heard, and stormed into history – and we
never looked back!
Earlier in that same year Kate gave
us the Bible of Feminism , Sexual Politics, the first of
eleven books she’s written.
Politics defined and
analyzed patriarchy in its many forms – as a system adverse to
females in which the entire culture supports masculine
authority in every area of life – within and outside of the
That bold and brilliant book took on many sacred
cows – in life and in literature – as she shone a beacon of
light into gender darkness, changing the lives of girls and
women irrevocably, and causing Andrea Dworkin to observe, “The
world was sleeping and Kate Millett woke it
Doubleday called it one of the ten most important
books the company published in its 100 year existence.
Kate and I were friends, yes, but we were also
comrades in the movement. She and I – a committee of
two—served together on NOW”S first education committee.
In those days everything was up for grabs: media,
health, mental health, sexuality, politics, publishing,
advertizing , employment, custody, abortion
feminists were trying to realign the world, change values,
overcome negative images and self images.
and hoped to change, enduring and systemic problems of
stereotyping, bias, male entitlement and entrenched interests
in every area of our society.
Our lens was on
everything. It was both telescope and microscope, looking
outwards, looking inwards.
Kate and I have always been
passionately interested in issues of women and violence.
Her sympathies are especially with those she feels
have been unfairly confined – whether in prisions, mental
hospitals, nursing homes or even a family basement.
Kate Millett and Eleanor Pam
I have been deeply
involved in the rescue of particular individuals from the
shackles of their victimization – rape, domestic violence,
sexual harassment and unfair incarceration.
day, cruelty against girls and women abounds, morphs,
proliferates, and continues. We have, both, in different ways,
been warriors in that fight, and still are …
VFA for creating this annual Kate Millett Award – which will
now, in perpetuity, recognize and pay tribute to Kate as a
feminist hero – and to her extraordinary life and work.
Finally, heartfelt thanks and gratitude to VFA for
choosing me as its first recipient – connecting my friend and
I to each other-- and serving as a natural marker in our lives
– a kind of sweet bookending.
It’s been a special
privilege and pleasure to be here with you on this memorable,
moving and marvelous evening.
Eleanor Pam .
October 29, 2011
A few of the many comments we received
after our event:
An outstanding event!
Beautifully planned and a model for other parts of the
country. The matching of veteran feminists with college
students was a brilliant idea, implemented impressively by
students through Rollins' womens studies program and VFA. I'm
grateful to Rollins college and their Women's Studies program
for preserving the Legacy of modern women's history through
their Oral history project. Their plan to archive the stories
of modern feminists will hopefully have a lasting impact on
future generations. I was touched by my student partner, Liza
who wanted to know how I became an activist for human rights.
Liza also gave me hope for our future by sharing her present
day activism as a feminist. Mary-Ann Lupa, Chicago
I have great words of praise
for Rollins and the people who made our event successful. I
thought we were treated as VIPs by everyone. The campus is
beautiful and I am thrillled that so many students were
excited about our visit. This was the best event ever, and
also the most complex. It could never have been done without
the skills and caring of Rollins staff and faculty. I
reconfirmed my opinion that Gloria Steinem is the most
gracious and humble celebrity in the world. I was so fortunate
as to run into three old friends from the early NOW days in
the Midwest; Mary Jean Collins, Kathy Rand, and Mary-Ann Lupa,
as I arrived at the hotel. We had lively conversation. With
the Rollins experience, I am finally encouraged about the
future of the women's movement. A very diverse group of people
were involved. Men were well represented. I think we are
really onto something with visiting college campuses.
Virginia Watkins (of
MN - VFA’s secretary)
This was a joyous, rewarding,
memorable, experience. I am glad to have been part of it!
Being surrounded by other feminist friends always make for a
warm, happy time. The weekend at Rollins was wonderful with
many highlights. Thanks to all who helped make it possible.
……. And thank you Muriel, for
bringing the VFA women to campus. Your organization brought
many wonderful stories, and I believe they inspired our young
women. Neither these women, nor I, were fully aware of the
history, "herstory," and some of the grassroots fights that
were waged by your generation. The stories were amazing, and I
look with eagerness to see how our campus will build upon this
and truly carry the torch into the future. Thank you and the
VFA for lighting our way. Thank you also for the terrific
book, "Feminists Who Changed America" identifying those many
women and men upon whose legacy we now stand. I will cherish
it and feel even more inspired by their stories.
|Gloria Steinem at Rollins College: 'It
is not a post-feminist era'|
October 28, 2011|By Joseph Freeman,
Gloria Steinem speaking at Rollins
College (David Noe/Rollins College)
WINTER PARK — In
between sips of herbal tea to ward off the flu, longtime
feminist Gloria Steinem explained why the women's movement
will be around for a while.
"If something is going to
last and be absorbed by society, it's going to last a
century," said Steinem in an interview Friday at Rollins
College in Winter Park, where she is participating in events
for the 45th anniversary of the National Organization for
At 77, Steinem can hold forth on any number of
topics thrown at her. She contended that former Alaska Gov.
Sarah Palin represents men's interests more than women's
concerns, and she described the difference between her protest
days and the Occupy Wall Street-inspired demonstrations, which
"It's great. The protests of the '60s on
campuses were related to the draft. This has much wider
implications because they are much more popular," she
Since she first went undercover as a Playboy
Bunny in 1963 for a magazine article, Steinem never has really
retired from life as an activist. She co-founded Ms. Magazine.
She has campaigned for civil and women's rights; she has
spoken out against child abuse and the death penalty; and she
has denounced the proliferation of pornography. The causes she
has supported read like a story of social debates in the 20th
In recent years, Steinem has trained her
sights on collecting history of the women's movement, and she
appeared in an HBO documentary called "Gloria: In Her Own
Though the heyday of her fight may be long
gone, Rollins students say Steinem still is a symbol in the
broader struggle to eliminate inequality across race, class
and gender lines.
"The word 'feminist' is more of an
umbrella term today," said Roxanne Szal, 20, a junior and
political science major. Szal joined other students in the
past couple months interviewing feminist activists from the
1960s and 1970s. They are presenting their work Saturday on
Classmate Jamie Pennington, a 21-year-old
philosophy major, said that Steinem was more prominent in her
"I fully believe women my age are
ignorant to what Gloria Steinem and others had to go through
to get where they are," she said.
Before a packed house
Friday inside Rollins' Alfond Sports Center, Steinem was at
times funny, irreverent and impassioned. She ticked off
outstanding issues facing women today, such as their
disproportionate numbers in Congress, and her view that women
are hurt more by student-loan debt because they earn less over
the course of their lifetimes.
"But they don't tell us
that when we're getting our education and paying the same for
it," she said.
In a question-and-answer period, one
woman related what her 10-year-old said to her as she left for
Steinem's speech: "Does Daddy know that you're going?" "I
said, 'I make my own decisions, sweetie.'
Comments to: Jacqui Ceballos -