To continue the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, we would like to honor The Honorable Bella Abzug (D-NY, 1971-1977).
Congresswoman Bella Abzug was an activist her entire life, beginning in early adolescence when she delivered impassioned speeches in the subways for causes she championed. After an acclaimed career as a civil rights lawyer, peace activist and political organizer, the Hunter College and Columbia Law School graduate sought public office for the first time at age 50 under her famous slogan: “This woman’s place is in the House – the House of Representatives.” She decisively won election to Congress in 1970 beating an 18-year incumbent to represent Manhattan’s West Side and Lower East Side. Bella helped to bring billions of dollars in public works and transportation funding to New York City and New York State and authored or co-authored several historic bills, including Title IX, a bill prohibiting sex discrimination in educational opportunities by schools receiving Federal funding assistance (though Title IX did not mention athletics, it became known most prominently for its impact on high school and college sports), the Freedom of Information Act, and the first law banning discrimination against women with respect to obtaining credit.
Congresswoman Abzug was the first woman to run for the U.S. Senate from New York. After losing the Senate race to Patrick Moynihan in 1976 (by less than 1 percent!), Bella ran for Mayor of New York City in 1977, becoming the first woman ever to run for that office. As a result of her groundbreaking campaigns for higher office, Bella is often credited with paving the way for women aspiring to even higher levels of office, and opening doors to power for all women and especially to generations of women leaders in politics and government. Increasingly influential on the national and world stages, Bella went on to serve as Chairwoman of President Carter’s National Women’s Advisory Council. In that capacity, Bella, among other accomplishments, presided over the first National Conference on Women in Houston in 1977 where 2,000 elected delegates from every state and territory in the U.S. and 18,000 observers attended and developed a precedent-setting National Platform of Action for women.