Friday, February 4, 2011

In History: Rosa Parks, Betty Friedan, and Isabel Martínez de Perón

This is the 63rd post in a weekly feature here at Spare Candy, called "In History." Some posts might be little more than a photo, others full on features. If you have any suggestions for a person or event that should be featured, or would like to submit a guest post or cross post, e-mail me at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com.

Happy birthday to Rosa Parks, Betty Friedan, and Isabel Martínez de Perón, all of whom were born on this day, Feb. 4.

Rosa Parks (born 1913; pictured)
Parks was an African American civil rights activist, whom the U.S. Congress later called "the first lady of civil rights", and "the mother of the freedom movement."

On Dec. 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Ala., Parks, age 42, refused to obey bus driver James Blake's order that she give up her seat to make room for a white passenger. Her action was not the first of its kind. Irene Morgan in 1946, and Sarah Louise Keys in 1955, had won rulings before the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Interstate Commerce Commission, respectively, in the area of interstate bus travel. Nine months before Parks refused to give up her seat, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin refused to move from her seat on the same bus system. In New York City, in 1854, Lizzie Jennings engaged in similar activity, leading to the desegregation of the horsecars and horse-drawn omnibuses of that city. But unlike these previous individual actions of civil disobedience, Parks' action sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Parks' act of defiance became an important symbol of the modern Civil Rights Movement and Parks became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation. She organized and collaborated with civil rights leaders, including boycott leader Martin Luther King, Jr., helping to launch him to national prominence in the civil rights movement.

At the time of her action, Parks was secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP and had recently attended the Highlander Folk School, a Tennessee center for workers' rights and racial equality. Although widely honored in later years for her action, she suffered for it, losing her job as a seamstress in a local department store. Eventually, she moved to Detroit, where she found similar work. From 1965 to 1988 she served as secretary and receptionist to African-American U.S. Rep. John Conyers. After retirement from this position, she wrote an autobiography and lived a largely private life in Detroit.

Parks eventually received many honors ranging from the 1979 Spingarn Medal to the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal and a posthumous statue in the United States Capitol's National Statuary Hall. When she died in 2005, she was granted the posthumous honor of lying in honor at the Capitol Rotunda.

Betty Friedan (born 1921)
Friedan was an American writer, activist, and feminist.

A leading figure in the "second wave" of the U.S. women's movement, her 1963 book "The Feminine Mystique" is sometimes credited with sparking the "second wave" of feminism. Friedan co-founded National Organization for Women in 1966, which aimed to bring women "into the mainstream of American society now [in] fully equal partnership with men".

In 1970, after stepping down as NOW's first president in 1969, Friedan organized the nation-wide Women's Strike for Equality on Aug. 26, the 50th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting women the right to vote. The national strike was successful beyond expectations in broadening the feminist movement. The New York City march alone attracted over 50,000 women.

Friedan joined other leading feminists (including Gloria Steinem, Shirley Chisholm, Fannie Lou Hamer, Bella Abzug, and Myrlie Evers-Williams) in founding the National Women's Political Caucus in 1971. In 1977 she joined some of the movement's most visible and influential leaders, and 20,000 other women, at the International Women's Year federally-funded convention, the National Women's Conference, a legislative conference that sent a report to President Jimmy Carter, Congress, and all the states on how to achieve equality.

Friedan was a strong proponent of the repeal of abortion laws, founding the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, which after abortion was legalized in 1973, became the National Abortion Rights Action League. She was also a strong supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution and of abortion rights.

Friedan died on Feb. 4, 2006, her 85th birthday.

Isabel Martínez de Perón (born 1931)
María Estela Martínez Cartas de Perón, better known as Isabel Martínez de Perón or Isabel Perón, is a former President of Argentina. She was also the third wife of another former president, Juan Perón. During her husband's third term as president, Perón served as vice president and following her husband's death in office, Perón served as president from July 1, 1974 to March 24, 1976. She was the first non-royal female head of state and head of government in the Western Hemisphere.

In 2007, an Argentine judge ordered the arrest of Isabel Perón over the forced disappearance of an activist in February 1976, on the grounds that the disappearance was authorized by her signing of decrees allowing Argentina's armed forces to take action against "subversives". She was arrested near her home in Spain on 12 January 2007. Spanish courts subsequently rejected her extradition to Argentina.

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