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Bella Abzug

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Speaking at her Alma Mater, Columbia University, Abzug Tells What it Was Like to be a Lawyer During the McCarthy Era

Bella was "born yelling" in 1920. A daughter of Russian immigrants, she grew up poor in the Bronx. By the age of thirteen, she was already giving her first speeches and defying convention at her family's synagogue. At tuition free Hunter College, Bella was student body president, and on scholarship at Columbia she was one of only a minuscule number of women law students across the nation.

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Abzug Explains her View of Feminism as a Vision of what We Love

Abzug then worked as a lawyer for the next twenty five years, specializing in labor and tenants’ rights, and civil rights and liberties cases. During the McCarthy era she was one of the few attorneys willing to fight against the House Un-American Activities Committee. While she ran her own practice, she was also raising two daughters together with her husband Martin.

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Abzug Talks About the Gender Gap at a National Women's Political Caucus Convention

In the 1960’s, Abzug helped start the nationwide Women Strike For Peace (WSP), in response to U.S.and Soviet nuclear testing, and soon became an important voice against the Vietnam War.

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Abzug Speaks to the Huge Crowd Gathered for the March for Women's Lives in Washington D.C.

At the age of 50, Abzug ran for congress in Manhattan and won on a strong feminist and peace platform. She quickly became a nationally known legislator, one of only 12 women in the House. Her record of accomplishments in Congress continually demonstrated her unshakable convictions as an anti-war activist and as a fighter for social and economic justice.

After three terms in Congress, Abzug gave up her seat in 1976 to run for an all male Senate, but lost the democratic primary by less than one percent. In an increasingly conservative political climate, Abzug also lost later bids for city mayor and for Congress.

In 1977, she presided over the historic first National Women's Conference in Houston. She then headed President Carter's National Advisory Committee on Women until she was abruptly fired for criticizing the administration's economic policies in 1979.

In response, Abzug founded Women USA, a grassroots political action organization. At the same time, she was playing a major role at the UN International Women's Conferences, practicing law, publishing and lecturing. In 1986 she suffered the loss of her greatest supporter, her husband Martin.

In 1990, Bella moved on to co-found the Women's Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), an international activist and advocacy network. As WEDO president, Abzug became an influential leader at the United Nations and at UN world conferences, working to empower women around the globe.

Abzug gave her final public speech before the UN in March of 1998, and died soon after, at the age of 77. Her death is still being mourned in this country and around the world.

Live and Let Live Meat Market

"Sometimes I'm asked when I became a feminist, and I usually answer, 'The day I was born.' If I was born a rebel, I attribute it to my family heritage. My father, Emanuel Savitzky, fled to the United States from Czarist Russia when the Russo-Japanese War of 1905 broke out. He hated war. Once he told me how depressed he felt when America entered World War I. While President Wilson was proclaiming his 14-point peace settlement, my father painted his own one-point peace plank outside his butcher shop on Ninth Avenue in Manhattan. He renamed it 'The Live and Let Live Meat Market.'

"My father did not do very well in business: 'Live and Let Live' is not exactly a formula for commercial success. An extraordinarily sweet-tempered man, his real love was music. On Friday nights, after the big traditional Sabbath meal, he would sing Yiddish and Russian folk songs for us in his fine tenor. My sister, Helena, would play the piano. I scraped bravely away at the violin. (An interviewer once asked my mother what she thought of my political career. 'Oh. I knew Bella would be a success,' she said, 'because she always did her homework and practiced her violin.'"

Notes:

  1. Entire quote from Bella Abzug, "Bella on Bella," Moment, vol. 1.7 (1976) 26.

An Early Blow for Liberation

Even as a little girl, Bella was attuned to inequality in her religious heritage. "We were a religious family. My grandfather went to the synagogue twice a day, and whenever I wasn't in school, he took me along. I learned to recite the solemn Hebrew prayers like such a wizard that he always made it a point to show me off to his friends.... It was during these visits to the synagogue that I think I had my first thoughts as a feminist rebel. I didn't like the fact that women were consigned to the back rows of the balcony."

When her father died Bella was only 12. Although the custom of saying Kaddish is traditionally reserved for sons, she stood by herself in synagogue each day for a year to say the mourning prayer. "In retrospect, I describe that as one of the early blows for the liberation of Jewish women. But in fact, no one could have stopped me from performing the duty traditionally reserved for a son, from honoring the man who had taught me to love peace, who had educated me in Jewish values. So it was lucky that no one ever tried."

Notes:

  1. "We were a religious family..." quote from Bella Abzug, Bella!: Ms. Abzug Goes to Washington, Mel Ziegler, ed (New York : Saturday Review Press, 1972) 85.
  2. "When my father's weak heart..." quote from Bella Abzug, "Bella on Bella," Moment, vol. 1.7 (1976) 26-7.

Five Cents on the Subway

"When I was young, it wasn't easy to challenge the traditions of Harvard Law School. When I was ten, I had decided that I wanted to be a lawyer, and at the all-women Walton High School and at Hunter College I had been elected student body president, good training for the law. Everyone told me that if I wanted to be accepted as a lawyer, I should go to the best law school, but when I applied to Harvard, I received a letter stating that it did not admit women.

"In 1942 only 3 percent of the nation's lawyers were women. I was outraged (I've always had a decent sense of outrage), so I turned to my mother. In those days there was no women's movement, so you turned to your mother for help. 'Why do you want to go to Harvard, anyway?' she asked. 'It's far away and you can't afford the carfare. Go to Columbia University. They'll probably give you a scholarship, and it's only five cents to get there on the subway.'

Columbia did give me a scholarship, the subway did cost only five cents in those days, and that's how I became an advocate of low-cost public transportation."

Notes:

  1. Entire quote from Bella Abzug, Gender Gap: Bella Abzug's Guide to Political Power for American Women, with Mim Kelber (Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1984) 158-9.

An Unconventional Courtship

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Abzug Jokes About her Family to Students at Kingsborough Community College

"While I was at Columbia, my future husband, Martin Abzug, courted me in an unconventional manner. He typed my term papers while I studied in the library, and before we married we had long discussions about who would do what. It was agreed that I would work at my legal career even after we had children... Our informal understanding of respect for each other's work has endured throughout our marriage…"

Bella Savitsky met Martin Abzug in 1942 while on vacation in Florida. But it was back in New York that he won her heart, not only with his typing, but with his deep respect for her and the role she hoped to play in the world. Martin and Bella raised two children—Eve Gail, born in 1949, and Isobel Jo (Liz), born in 1952. While Bella practiced law, Martin wrote novels and worked as a stockbroker. Together they weathered a pervasive hostility against families with working mothers.

Over the years, Bella pointed repeatedly to Martin's support as her crucial foundation in a hostile world. And as she later liked to say, "I think he even voted for me."

Notes:

  1. "While I was at Columbia..." quote from Bella Abzug, Gender Gap: Bella Abzug's Guide to Political Power forAmerican Women, with Mim Kelber (Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1984) 159.

Mississippi Bus Station

"I became involved in my first civil rights case [as chief counsel of appeals proceedings in 1950]. The man I defended—Willie McGee—was accused of raping a white woman, even though he and the woman had had a long-standing sexual relationship. That fact, of course, only made the crime all the more heinous to the Mississippi jury, and McGee was sentenced to death. Challenging the traditional practice of excluding blacks from the jury and arguing that Southern judges and juries reserved the death penalty for 'rape' as a cruel and inhuman punishment for blacks only, I managed to get the Supreme Court to stay the execution twice."

Yet the Supreme Court refused to rule on the case, and McGee's execution date approached once again. In the final few days, Abzug traveled to Jackson, Mississippi for a last minute clemency hearing. Local whites were incensed and had been threatening violence throughout the trials and appeals. When she arrived in town she found that no hotel would take her. Alone, and also pregnant, Abzug spent the night awake in the locked bathroom stall of a bus station to avoid the Ku Klux Klan.

The next day Abzug argued before the state Governor for six hours, but despite extensive publicity and protests organized by the Civil Rights Congress, McGee was executed in 1951.

Notes:

  1. "I became involved in my first civil rights case..." quote from Bella Abzug, Bella! : Ms. Abzug Goes to Washington, Mel Ziegler, ed (New York : Saturday Review Press, 1972) 86.
  2. On the McGee trial and Abzug in Mississippi see Papers of the Civil Rights Congress: microfilm collection part 1, reels 10-11, Willie McGee clippings and fact sheets, Jessica Mitford, A Fine Old Conflict (New York: Knopf, 1977), Sarah Hart Brown, Standing Against Dragons: Three Southern Lawyers in an Era of Fear (Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press, 1998), Liz and Eve Abzug, Speeches, "Celebrating Bella," Congregation B'nai Jeshurun, New York, 13 March 1999 and Blanche Weisen Cook, "Bella Abzug," Jewish Women In America, vol. 1, eds. Paula E. Hyman and Deborah Dash Moore (New York : Routledge, 1997) 7-8.

Women Across the Country

"It all started when the Soviet Union and the United States resumed nuclear testing. Almost overnight [in 1961], women across the country, I among them, began to protest. We founded Women Strike for Peace… Calling for a ban on the bomb, we warned of the danger of radioactive contamination in our children's milk resulting from nuclear test fallout....We held one demonstration after another at the UN and at the White House, and we lobbied in Congress. I served as both political action director and legislative director for WSP.

"In 1963 the limited nuclear test ban treaty gave us a limited victory. Testing of hydrogen bombs in the atmosphere was outlawed. But underground testing continued... and the arms race just continued to mount and mount."

WSP's peace work, "flowed naturally into the campaign to get U.S. troops out of Vietnam," and Abzug was active both nationally—lobbying and leading WSP delegations to Washington—and locally. In Manhattan, she organized peace action committees and built coalitions among "the peace movement, liberal Democrats and Republicans, women's groups, poor people, blacks and other minorities, and young people" to pressure candidates to adopt anti-Vietnam stances. Abzug continued her influential political work for peace throughout the sixties, until finally, in 1970, she decided to run for office herself.

Notes:

  1. "It all started..." quote, first two paragraphs, and "the peace movement, liberal..." quote, third paragraph, both from Bella Abzug, Bella! : Ms. Abzug Goes to Washington, Mel Ziegler, ed (New York : Saturday Review Press, 1972) 86-7.
  2. "flowed naturally" quote from Bella Abzug, Gender Gap: Bella Abzug's Guide to Political Power for American Women, with Mim Kelber (Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1984) 160.

Passionate Politics

Tossing aside the conventional advice that newcomers ought to keep quiet, Congresswoman Abzug was an outspoken advocate and activist from the start. On just her first day in office, she introduced a resolution demanding a set date for withdrawal from Vietnam. With her passionate politics and famous hats, the charismatic Abzug immediately captured the nation's attention. But with that fame often came a furious backlash, and many in the press claimed she was too "irritating" and "brash," too unwomanly to be effective.

Abzug's reputation inside Congress was an entirely different story. "Without a doubt, the hardest working Member," she was always prepared on the issues. She built strong coalitions and developed "brilliant, effective—and winning" strategies, particularly through her mastery of the arcane Rules of the House. Abzug won even her staunchest enemies respect with her dedication and determination. By her third term, she had become one of the most powerful members of the House, and was voted third more influential Congressperson by her colleagues- behind only Speaker Carl Albert and Majority Whip Tip O'Neill.

Notes:

  1. "Without a doubt..." quote from Tip O’Neill, "Special Order Tributes to Bella Abzug," Congressional Record, 94th Congress, Second Session, Vol. 122, 30 Sept. 1976, no. 150, part III, 34267–72.
  2. "brilliant, effective—and winning" quote from Herman Badillo, "Special Order Tribute."
  3. US News and World Report vote for Abzug as third most influential Congresswoman cited in "Congresswoman Bella S. Abzug," Personal Bio from Administrative Files, Sept. 1976, Bella Abzug Papers, Columbia University.

Congress's Hardest Working Member

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Abzug Describes her Own Experiences with Nixon's Corrupt Practices During a Speech at Cooper Union

A leader of the women's movement, Abzug was a vigilant sponsor of the Equal Rights Amendment and continually struggled to pass legislation on issues like childcare and abortion. She succeeded in pushing through a number of feminist amendments and bills including the Equal Credit Act, providing women with fair access to consumer credit, Title IX regulations, and the enforcing equal opportunity for women in federally funded educational institutions. Abzug was also one of the founders of the National Women's Political Caucus.

When she was not fighting for an end to the Vietnam War or for women's rights, Abzug was making other important contributions. A committed environmentalist, she co-authored the Water Pollution Act of 1972, and was a staunch supporter of affordable public transportation. She called for freedom for Soviet Jewry, supported aid to Israel, and led the fight to condemn the UN General Assembly's 1975 resolution equating "Zionism with Racism." In 1974, Abzug introduced the first Federal bill to support gay and lesbian civil rights. She co-authored the groundbreaking Freedom of Information Act as well as other landmark legislation to guard against Federal agencies' abuse of power. She was also the first to call for the impeachment of President Nixon. And in her six years as Congresswoman, she brought a total of almost 6 billion dollars in funding to New York state.

Notes:

  1. For more information on Abzug's work in Congress, see "Major Legislative Accomplishments 1971-1976," Abzug Scrapbook, Bella Abzug Papers, Columbia University.

The Spirit of Houston

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Bella Abzug Explains Woman Power for a Documentary

On November 18, 1977, 20,000 women, men and children gathered in Houston to witness an unprecedented event: the first federally-funded National Women's Conference.

Over the course of three days, a diverse group of 2,000 delegates ratified a National Plan of Action dealing with everything from the Equal Rights Amendment to Civil Rights to disarmament. This set of recommendations was then presented to the White House and to Congress.

Two years earlier, Abzug had paved the way for the conference by authoring a bill which provided its funding. With a 5 million dollar budget (less than a nickel for each female in the country), regional meetings were then held in each state to choose delegates and to vote on potential planks for inclusion in the National Plan.

Because the bill which created the "Spirit of Houston" event mandated "special emphasis on the representation of low-income women, members of diverse racial, ethnic, and religious groups, and women of all ages," a large portion of funding was spent on grants enabling women to attend. The result was one of the few truly representative national gatherings in U.S. history.

Notes:

  1. For more on the conference see United States National Commission on the Observance of International Women's Year, The Spirit of Houston: The First National Women's Conference: An Official Report to the President, the Congress and the People of the United Stated (Washington: National Commission on the Observance of International Women's Year, 1978) 9-12.
  2. On the conference's diversity, see Gloria Steinem, Speech, "Celebrating Bella," Congregation B'nai Jeshurun, New York, 13 March 1999 and Lindsy Van Gelder, "Four Days That Changed the World," Ms., March, 1978.

WEDO

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Abzug Discusses Why She Formed WEDO

"Concerned about a rising incidence of environmental calamities around the world," Abzug came together with an international group of activists to form WEDO in 1990. That year she was shocked to find that documents for the upcoming United Nations "Earth Summit" made no connection between protecting the planet and empowering women. In response, WEDO created the first World Women's Congress for a Healthy Planet where, in 1991, 1,500 women from 83 developed and developing countries met to create their own agenda. WEDO then organized a strong caucus of women advocates at the Earth Summit itself, successfully ensuring that the official documents included key segments of the women’s agenda.

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Abzug Discusses International Feminism at a Meeting of the National Organization of Women

Demanding that the UN no longer function without "a strong voice for women," WEDO then began organizing the Women’s Caucus and preparing documents for every UN meeting. And while WEDO continued to push for commitments on paper, it also vigilantly monitored governments on their actions. As Abzug often said, "We’ve had a lot of words on equality. Now we want the music, which is action." From the Beijing World Conference on Women to co-sponsoring the First World Conference on Breast Cancer, WEDO, with Bella’s leadership, became a powerful international network, working on both global and grassroots levels to empower women.

Notes:

  1. "Concerned about a rising incidence..." quote from Bella Abzug, Undated, Untitled Article for the Latin American Alliance, <http://www.latinsynergy.org/unifem2.htm>.
  2. "a strong voice for women..." quote and general information from Bella Abzug, "Proposed Text to be Printed in Colloquy Highlights—Women’s Empowerment: the United Nation’s Role, sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia Education Fund," in Abzug file at WEDO, 6 May 1995.
  3. "We’ve had a lot of words on equality. Now want the music, which is action," quoted in "A Battalion of Bellas," New Yorker 4 September 1995 <www.wedo.org>.

For more info see WEDO News and Views vol. 11, no 2 "Special Memorial Issue," June 1998, 2-13.

Passing the Torch

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Abzug Talks About Women Being on the Frontlines of Activism

Tributes to Abzug included an unprecedented memorial meeting in the UN General Assembly chamber. There Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General, pledged to ensure that the doors Bella had opened would, "remain open from this day forth. Bella's legacy shall endure."

At Abzug's funeral, Geraldine Ferraro phrased it another way— "She didn't knock politely on the door. She didn't even push it open or batter it down. She took it off the hinges forever."

Remembrances from both friends and enemies filled the press. Hillary Clinton told of women around the world introducing themselves as, "the Bella Abzug of Russia, or... the Bella Abzug of Uganda," while her husband commented that, "Our society is more just and compassionate," because Abzug, "lived and worked among us.

In Kenya, Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement, memorialized Bella as "a pioneer" who, "dared to walk into the unknown..." In the U.S., Gloria Steinem remembered her as not just, "the woman who fought the revolution. She was the woman we want to be after the revolution." And many recalled one often repeated quote: "In a perfectly just republic," wrote John Kenneth Galbraith in 1984, "Bella Abzug would be president."

Notes:

  1. Kofi Annan, President Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and Wangari Maathai all quoted in WEDO News and Views vol. 11, no 2 "Special Memorial Issue," June 1998, 2-13.
  2. Steinem and Ferraro quotes from Verena Dobnik, "Bella Abzug Remembered," Associated Press 3 April 1998 <http://abcnews.go.com/sections/us/DailyNews/abzug0331.html>.
  3. John Kenneth Galbraith quoted on book jacket of Bella Abzug, Gender Gap: Bella Abzug's Guide to Political Power for American Women, with Mim Kelber (Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1984).

Timeline

1920

Born in the Bronx, New York on July 24 to Esther (Tanklefsky) and Emanuel Savitsky

1933

Father dies; defies convention at their Orthodox synagogue by saying Kaddish for him

1942

Graduates with degree in Political Science from Hunter College

1944

Marries Martin Abzug; they have two children: Eve and Liz

1945

Graduates from Columbia Law School where she was an editor of Columbia Law Review

1947

Begins twenty-five years of practicing law, specializing in labor law, tenants rights, civil rights and civil liberties cases

1950

Fights for an appeal for Willie McGee, an African-American man from Mississippi sentenced to death on false charges of raping a white woman

1961

Helps found the nationwide organization Women Strike For Peace

1970

Wins election to Congress representing Manhattan's 19th Congressional District; serves for three terms as a highly effective and nationally known representative

1971

Co-founds the National Women’s Political Caucus

1972

Publishes Bella!: Ms. Abzug Goes to Washington, a diary of her first year in office

1973

Returns to Congress after difficult re-election campaign

1975

Plays important role at the first United Nations’ Decade of Women conference as well as at both succeeding conferences

1976

Gives up Congressional seat to run for all-male Senate; loses democratic primary race by one percent

1977

Presides over first National Women's Conference; loses close race for New York City mayor

1978

Appointed co-chair of President Carter's National Advisory Committee on Women

1979

Fired by President Carter from co-chair position for criticizing administration; co-founds Women USA

1980

Resumes private law practice

1986

Husband Martin dies; defeated in bid for Congress in Westchester County, NY

1990

Co-founds the international Women's Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) and serves as president

1995

Plays leading role at milestone United Nation's Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing

1998

Dies of complications following heart surgery in New York City on March 31st at age 77

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Abzug, Bella. "Abortion: The Right to Choose." Dimensions. March 1972. 6.

——. Abzug at a conference for the National Organization of Women. Audiotape. Bella Abzug papers, Columbia Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia U, New York.

——. Abzug at a National Women's Political Caucus Convention. Rec. 17 July 1984. Audiotape. Bella Abzug papers, Columbia Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia U, New York.

——. Abzug giving a speech in San Francisco during the Regan years. Audiotape. Bella Abzug papers, Columbia Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia U, New York.

——. Abzug speaking at Columbia University about Women in Politics. Audiotape. Bella Abzug papers, Columbia Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia U, New York.

——. Abzug speaking at Cooper Union just before a presidential election. Rec. 1972. Audiotape. Bella Abzug papers, Columbia Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia U, New York.

——. Abzug speaking at the March for Women's Lives in Washington, D.C. Rec. 9 March 1986. Audiotape. Bella Abzug papers, Columbia Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia U, New York.

——. Abzug speaking to students at Kingsborough Community College. Rec. 1985. Audiotape. Bella Abzug papers, Columbia Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia U, New York.

——. Bella! : Ms. Abzug Goes to Washington. Mel Ziegler, ed. New York : Saturday Review Press, 1972.

——. "Bella on Bella." Moment. Vol. 1.7 (1976):26-9.

——. "Breast Cancer and Genetic Testing," Jewish Women Coalition on Breast Cancer, 25 September 1997, Emanuel Synagogue, West Hartford, Connecticut.

——. "Contract with Women of the USA." Womansword, May 1996: <www.feminist.com/resources/artspeech/poli/bel.htm> (Full text of contract at www.centerwomenpolicy.org/programs/contract/)

——. "Did You See A Revolution Go By? Part 3: An Interview with Bella Abzug." Nickel Review, no issue number or date: 15-7, clipping in Bella Abzug Papers Columbia University.

——. "The Equal Rights Amendment Statement of Congresswoman Abzug." 6 Oct. 1971. Bella Abzug Papers, Columbia University.

——. "Final Words." World Conference on Breast Cancer. Kingston, Ontario, Canada. 13 July 1997 <http://www.pacifica.org/programs/breast>

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——. "I'll Take Manhattan." Rolling Stone 6 October 1977: 54-7.

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——. Opening Ceremony Remarks at the World Conference on Breast Cancer, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, July 13, 1997.

——. Opening Plenary Remarks at the World Conference on Breast Cancer, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, July 13, 1997.

——. "Plenary Speech." Fourth World Conference On Women. Beijing, China . 12 Sept. 1995 <http://gos.sbc.edu/a/abzug.html>

——. "Proposed Text to be Printed in Colloquy Highlights -- Women's Empowerment: the United Nation's Role, sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia Education Fund," in Abzug file at WEDO. 6 May 1995.

——. Remarks at Forty-Second Session of UN Commission on Status of Women. 16 March 1998 <www.wedo.org>

——. Remarks at International Public Hearing at World Conference on Breast Cancer. Kingston, Ontario, Canada, 17 July 1997.

——. "Remarks Introducing Resolution for Investigation of FBI." House of Representatives, 7 April 1971. FBI folder, Bella Abzug Papers, Columbia University.

——. Remarks at National Women's Political Caucus, Nashville, Tennessee, 5 August 1995.

——. Remarks at The Nation Forum on the 60's, 1 May 1997.

——. Remarks at Public Hearing on Women Health and the Environment. San Francisco, California, 11 August 1995.

——. Remarks at World Summit on Social Development Copenhagen, March 8, 1995.

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——. Undated, Untitled Article for the Latin American Alliance <http://www.latinsynergy.org/unifem2.htm>.

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Bracker, Milton. "4 More Witnesses Defy House Group onLinks to Reds." New York Times 17 Aug 1955: 1+.

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Brown, Sarah Hart. Standing Against Dragons: ThreeSouthern Lawyers in an Era of Fear. Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press, 1998.

Burstein, Patricia. "The Full-Throttle, High Decibel Life of Bella Abzug." People 1975: 8-10.

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Cook, Blanche Weisen. "Bella Abzug." Jewish Women In America. Vol. 1. Eds. Paula E. Hyman and Deborah Dash Moore. New York : Routledge, 1997. 6-10.

Dobnik, Verena. "Bella Abzug Remembered." Associated Press. 3 April 1998 <http://abcnews.go.com/sections/us/DailyNews/abzug0331.html>.

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If Women Had a Foreign Policy: 6 Strategists Answer a Very New Question." Ms. March 1985: 45-9

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Lederer, Edith. "Bell's Legacy: Bella Abzug Left Global Vision of Women's Equality" Associated Press <www.wedo.org>

Levine, Suzanne and Harriet Lyons, eds. The Decade of Women: A Ms. History of the Seventies In Words and Pictures. New York: Putnam, 1980.

MacPherson, Myra. "Bella Abzug, Champion of Women." Washington Post 2 April 1998: B1.

"Major Legislative Accomplishments 1971-1976." Abzug Scrapbook. Bella Abzug Papers, Columbia University.

Mitford, Jessica. A Fine Old Conflict. New York: Knopf, 1977.

National Organization for Women. "Chronology Of The Equal Rights Amendment 1923-1996." <www.now.org/issues/economic/cea/history.html#1975>.

Nies, Judith. "The Abzug Campaign." Ms. Feb. 1973: 76-9+.

"Now Women Talk Back." Life 9 June 1972: 46-50.

Olert, Chris. "Former Congresswoman Bella Abzug Dead at 77." Associated Press 31 March 1998 <www.nando.net/newsroom/ntn/top/033198/topstory_28176_noframes.html>.

Papers of the Civil Rights Congress: microfilm collection part 1, reels 10-11, Willie McGee clippings and fact sheets.

Pomerantz, Charlotte, ed. A Quarter-Century of Un-Americana, 1938-1963. New York: Marzani &amp; Munsell, 1963.

Popham, John N. "Mississippi Arrests 41 at Capitol as Willie McGee Plea is Studied," New York Times 6 May 1951: 1+.

Popham, John N. "McGee Dies in Mississippi Chair; Final Plea to Justice Vinson Vain." New York Times 8 May 1951: 1+.

Raymond, Harry. Save Willie McGee. New York : New Century Publishers, 1951.

"She Wages a Zany Fight for a Seat in Congress." The National Observer. 19 October 1970. No page number, clipping in Bella Abzug Papers, Columbia University.

Special Memorial Issue: Bella Abzug. Spec. issue of WEDO News and Views vol. 11, no 2 June 1998.

"Special Order Tributes to Bella Abzug." Congressional Record. 94th Congress, Second Session, Vol. 122, 30 Sept. 1976, no. 150, part III. 34267 -- 72.

Steinem, Gloria. "Bella Abzug." Ms. Jan.-Feb. 1996: 63-4.

Steinem, Gloria. Speech. "Celebrating Bella," Congregation B'nai Jeshurun, New York, 13 March 1999.

Swerdlow, Amy. "Ladies' Day at the Capitol: Women Strike for Peace Versus HUAC." Unequal Sisters: A Multicultural Reader in U.S. Women's History. Eds. Vicki L. Ruiz and Ellen Carol DuBois. New York: Routledge, 1994. 479-96.

Swerdlow, Amy. "'State of the Congress' Message by our Woman in Washington or Bella Gives 'Em Hell." Memo, nd. Women Strike for Peace Papers, Peace Collection, Swarthmore College.

Swerdlow, Amy. Women Strike for Peace : Traditional Motherhood and Radical Politics in the 1960s. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.

Taylor, Ethel Barol. We Made a Difference: My Personal Journey with Women Strike for Peace. Philadelphia, PA: Camino Books, 1998.

The Last Decade. Produced by Prudence Hill for the Women's Environment and Development Organization.

"There Are Only 12 of Us in Congress." Interview. Asbury Park Sunday Press 5 March 1972. No page number, clipping in Bella Abzug Papers, Columbia University.

Trussell, C.P. "27 Entertainers Face Red Inquiry." New York Times 11 Aug 1955: 1+.

"Twenty Years Later Activists Relive Spirit of Houston." WEDO News and Views vol. 11, no 2 January 1998. 5-6.

United States National Commission on the Observance of International Women's Year. American Women on the Move! Washington: National Commission on the Observance of International Women's Year, 1977.

United States National Commission on the Observance of International Women's Year. The Spirit of Houston: The First National Women's Conference: An Official Report to the President, the Congress and the People of the United States. Washington: National Commission on the Observance of International Women's Year, 1978.

United States National Commission on the Observance of International Women's Year. "... to form a more perfect union ...": Justice for American Women : Report of the National Commission on the Observance of International Women's Year. Washington : Dept. of State, 1976.

Van Gelder, Lindsy. "Four Days That Changed the World," Ms. March 1978. 52-56+.

Weinberg, Nancy and Pauline Jennings. "Bella S. Abzug: Democratic Representative from New York." Citizens Look at Congress. Washington, D.C. : Grossman Publishers, 1972.

"Women, Globalization and Beijing." Democracy NOW! Pacifica Radio. 2 March 1998 <>

Woman alive!, Introduction. WNET/13 New York, 1975.

For Other Articles consulted on McGee Case, see: Daily Worker: 21 July 1950; 27 July 1950; 6 May 1951. New York Times: 20 July 1950: 27; 23 July 1950: 60; 25 July 1950: 23; 26 July 1950: 50; 27 July 1950: 48; 16 Jan; 1951: 33; 18 Jan; 1951: 10; 9 Mar; 1951: 22; 14 Mar; 1951: 68; 16 Mar; 1951: 23 21 Mar; 1951: 19; 27 Mar; 1951: 20; 30 Mar; 1951: 15; 10 Apr; 1951: 25; 14 Apr; 1951: 14; 26 Apr; 1951: 20; 13 May, 1951: IV:2.

Media

Title Institution Publication Type
Abzug on the Cover of Life Magazine      
Abzug's Speech at the Fourth World Conference On Women - September 12, 1995 - Beijing, People's Republic Of China      
Remarks by Bella Abzug at the 42nd Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women      
Abzug Describes her Own Experiences with Nixon's Corrupt Practices During a Speech at Cooper Union Columbia University - Rare Book and Manuscript Library   audio/mpeg
Abzug Discusses International Feminism at a Meeting of the National Organization of Women Columbia University - Rare Book and Manuscript Library   audio/mpeg
Abzug Explains her View of Feminism as a Vision of what We Love Columbia University - Rare Book and Manuscript Library   audio/mpeg
Abzug Jokes About her Family to Students at Kingsborough Community College Columbia University - Rare Book and Manuscript Library   audio/mpeg
Abzug Speaks to the Huge Crowd Gathered for the March for Women's Lives in Washington D.C. Columbia University - Rare Book and Manuscript Library   audio/mpeg
Abzug Talks About the Gender Gap at a National Women's Political Caucus Convention Columbia University - Rare Book and Manuscript Library   audio/mpeg
Speaking at her Alma Mater, Columbia University, Abzug Tells What it Was Like to be a Lawyer During the McCarthy Era Columbia University - Rare Book and Manuscript Library   audio/mpeg
A Few of Abzug's Hats Diana Mara Henry   image/jpeg
A Women Strike for Peace March in New York Dorothy Marder   image/jpeg
Abzug Addressing the Plenary Meeting of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing UN/DPI Photo   image/jpeg
Abzug at a New York City Rally Diana Mara Henry   image/jpeg
Abzug at a New York Press Conference Diana Mara Henry   image/jpeg
Abzug at a Press Conference Diana Mara Henry   image/jpeg
Abzug at a Women's Equality Day March in New York City Bettye Lane   image/jpeg
Abzug at Hunter College Liz and Eve Abzug   image/jpeg
Abzug at National Democratic Coalition Meeting After Their Endorsement for her Senate Campaign Diana Mara Henry   image/jpeg
Abzug at Rally to Impeach Nixon Dorothy Marder   image/jpeg
Abzug at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing John R. G. Stanley   image/jpeg
Abzug at the United Nations Women's Environment and Development Organization   image/jpeg
Abzug at the Women's Seder with Phyllis Chesler and Letty Cottin Pogrebin Joan Roth   image/jpeg
Abzug at the World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen with Hilary Clinton Women's Environment and Development Organization   image/jpeg
Abzug at Women Strike for Peace Protest Dorothy Marder   image/jpeg
Abzug before leaving on a tour to announce her candidacy for U.S. Senate Diana Mara Henry   image/jpeg
Abzug campaign pin Carole Pittelman   image/jpeg
Abzug Campaigning in Manhattan Columbia University - Rare Book and Manuscript Library   image/jpeg
Abzug During her Law School Years Liz and Eve Abzug   image/jpeg
Abzug en route upstate to announce her candidacy for the U.S. Senate Diana Mara Henry   image/jpeg
Abzug in Beijing at the Fourth World Conference on Women Joan Roth   image/jpeg
Abzug joins in passing the torch to young feminists at the 20th anniversary of the Spirit of Houston: (from left to right) Melissa Poe, Selhinah Hamlin, Kate Haubenreich, Courtney Alexander, Tali Edut, Alexandra Lockett receive the torch from Bella Abzug, Joan Roth   image/jpeg
Abzug on a Fact-Finding Mission in Cambodia Columbia University - Rare Book and Manuscript Library   image/jpeg
Abzug on the Cover of Life Magazine     image/jpeg
Abzug Speaking at Women Bettye Lane   image/jpeg
Abzug Speaking to Construction Workers Bettye Lane   image/jpeg
Abzug Speaking with Constituents Diana Mara Henry   image/jpeg
Abzug with Rabbi Jacob Goldberg and Mr. Harold Maizer Signing a Declaration of Freedom for Russian Jews Columbia University - Rare Book and Manuscript Library   image/jpeg
Abzug with WSP, Demonstrating in Front of the White House Dorothy Marder   image/jpeg
Abzug's Campaign Poster The Library of Congress - Manuscripts Division   image/jpeg
Bella Abzug as a child Liz and Eve Abzug   image/jpeg
Bella Abzug with her Grandfather, Wolf Tanklefsky Liz and Eve Abzug   image/jpeg
Bella Abzug with her Parents Esther and Emanuel Savitsy Liz and Eve Abzug   image/jpeg
Bella and Her Ever-Supportive mother, Esther Savitsky Liz and Eve Abzug   image/jpeg
Bella and Martin Abzug Liz and Eve Abzug   image/jpeg
Bella and Martin Abzug Liz and Eve Abzug   image/jpeg
Bella and Martin on Their Wedding Day Liz and Eve Abzug   image/jpeg
Bella Azbug at Zionist Camp Achvah Liz and Eve Abzug   image/jpeg
Congresswoman Barbara Jordan Speaking at the National Women's Conference with Bella Abzug and Rosalynn Carter Seated to her Right Dorothy Marder   image/jpeg
Cover for Pamphlet on Willie McGee     image/jpeg
Group portrait during preparations for NY State Women's Meeting Diana Mara Henry   image/jpeg
In a Purim play at the Kingsbridge Heights Jewish Center, the Bronx--Bella is in the Top Right Corner Liz and Eve Abzug   image/jpeg
International Women's Year Conference in Mexico City Columbia University - Rare Book and Manuscript Library   image/jpeg
Mailing on National Women's Conference     image/jpeg
Martin, Liz, Eve and Bella Abzug During the Congressional Campaign Liz and Eve Abzug   image/jpeg
Meeting in a hotel room to discuss strategy during the National Women's Convention Diana Mara Henry   image/jpeg
New York City March to Support the ERA Diana Mara Henry   image/jpeg
Pin from Abzug's Mayorial Campaign Carole Pittelman   image/jpeg
Press conference following Carter's firing of Abzug Diana Mara Henry   image/jpeg
The March into the National Women's Conference (left to right) Billy Jean King, Susan B. Anthony II, Bella Abzug, Sylvia Ortiz, Peggy Kokernot, Michele Cearcy, Betty Friedan Diana Mara Henry   image/jpeg
When Eleanor Roosevelt Came to Visit Hunter College, Student Body President Abzug was on Stage to Greet Her. Liz and Eve Abzug   image/jpeg
Women Protesting the Dissolution of Abzug's 19th Congressional District Dorothy Marder   image/jpeg
Abzug Discusses Why She Formed WEDO Women's Environment and Development Organization   video/x-flv
Abzug Talks About Women Being on the Frontlines of Activism Women's Environment and Development Organization   video/x-flv
Bella Abzug Explains Woman Power for a Documentary Thirteen/WNET New York   video/x-flv
Abzug at a New York City Rally
Full image
Abzug noted this quick conversation with an elderly woman at the airport in 1971:

"'Well, I want you to know, Mrs. Abzug, that I don't want to be liberated. I like it just the way it is.'
'You do, huh? Do you work?'
'Yes.'
'How much do you make?'
'Seventy-five bucks a week.'
'Did a man ever have your job?'
'Yes.'
'Do you happen to know how much he made?'
'Yes, come to think of it, I heard he made $10,000 a year.'
'Well, you see, that has something to do with liberation. We think women should get equal pay for equal work. Do you have any kids?'
'Grandchildren - but I take care of them.'
'Are they pre-school age?'
'Yes.'
'Do you leave them at a free child care center when you go to work?'
'Are you kidding? I have to pay somebody to watch them.'
'That's another thing women's liberation is all about.'
'Mrs. Abzug,' she said. 'Can I have your telephone number?'"


Notes
1. Quote from Bella Abzug, Bella! : Ms. Abzug Goes to Washington, Mel Ziegler, ed (New York :Saturday Review Press, 1972) 275.

Copyright © Diana Mara Henry/ www.dianamarahenry.com

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Bella Abzug." (Viewed on October 2, 2014) <http://jwa.org/womenofvalor/abzug>.

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