Thanks so much to those of you who attended the first event for Feminism in Philadelphia: The Glory Years, 1968-1982 at Giovanni’s Room. At that event, I focused on the Philadelphia chapter’s history as a staunch, unwavering supporter of lesbian rights and as the first NOW chapter to elect an out lesbian as its president.
On Wed. October 30 at 7:00pm, my friend Pedro Rodriguez has arranged for a reading at The Imperfect Gallery. At this event, I will focus on a more troubled part of Philadelphia NOW’s history—the struggle to build a multi-racial, multi-ethnic feminist movement.
This part of the story has a Germantown dimension. Unhappy with Philadelphia NOW’s failure to address the interconnections of sexism and racism, Jocelyn Morris formed a Northwest Philadelphia chapter, Germantown NOW in 1980. The chapter was short-lived, but Morris and other members of Germantown NOW (such as Barbara Mitchell and Betsy Parziale) had an impact on Philadelphia NOW, Pennsylvania NOW, and national NOW. It is an important part of Germantown’s recent history which had disappeared from the memory of local feminists until I did the research for Feminism in Philadelphia.
When Phila NOW in 1998 first ran its committeeperson project to encourage women to get involved in grassroots politics, we thought we were doing something new and different, but the exact same project was initiated in 1971! The organizational genius behind the political education effort was Florence Cohen who wore several hats; she was a member both of Philadelphia NOW and of Philadelphia Women’s Political Caucus and a group she formed called the New Democratic Coalition. She organized a series of political education workshops which dealt with the basics of the political structure in order to get as she put it “a new type of woman — an independent woman — involved in politics.”
The feminist movement of the late 1960’s and 70’s is largely remembered in terms of national leaders such as Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem,and Eleanor Smeal, but it would never have changed so many hearts and minds,would never have transformed our society without the efforts of so many women in local communities working tirelessly for gender justice.
Please pass information about these two events along to anyone you think might be interested in attending.
Visit this Facebook page for more info about Feminism in Philadelphia, which contains reviews of the book by academics and activists, a description of the book’s contents, and photos of Philadelphia NOW activists.