August 26, 1970 - Women's Strike for Equality
Women’s Rights Rally, San Francisco
On the 50th anniversary of women winning the vote, Betty Friedan and the National Organization of Women (NOW) spearheaded the Women’s Strike for Equality, a call for feminists around the country to organize, make our presence known and our demands heard. It was up to individual Women's Rights Movement groups to choose what they wanted to do. Women in New York, Washington DC, and Boston held marches. In San Francisco feminists organized a noon rally in Union Square.
 It turned out to be one of the largest women’s movement rallies in the country that day, but in the lead up to the event we hadn’t known what to expect. The San Francisco Chronicle had vehemently denounced the event for weeks beforehand and published a scathing editorial condemning the rally hours before it even began.
 To our amazement, an enthusiastic crowd of 2,000 crammed into Union Square to hear about the importance of accessible child care, decriminalizing abortion and ensuring women’s reproductive rights, the toxic intersection of sexism and racism in the lives of women of color, the need to recognize the contribution lesbians made in the fight for equality and ensure laws banning discrimination changed for all. The audience also received an open invitation from Aileen Hernandez, the new national president of NOW. She called for men as well as women to stand with the Women's Rights Movement in imaging and creating a future with more equality and flexible gender roles.
Every speaker drew cheers and applause. The audience chanted with some presenters at recurring refrains and acknowledged their support of others with raised fists. But when a local feminist, Judy Brady Syfers, gave the first public reading of her later-to-be-famous satirical essay, "I Want A Wife," the crowd roared with delight.
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