Women Across the Country
Bella Abzug, 1920 - 1998
"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.
- "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.
- "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.