With a campaign slogan like “A woman’s place is in the house — the House of Representatives,” who wouldn’t elect Bella Abzug? Abzug was “born yelling” in New York City in 1920, and went on to become an influential player in the civil rights and women’s movements, a social activist, and a congressperson for the 20th district of New York in the US House of Representatives. She helped found the National Women’s Political Caucus, and was an avid advocate for peace and protest. She was a driven, exceptionally charismatic and passionate woman who stood her ground even when it signaled defeat.
Hear her speak here. The Jewish Women’s Archive also has a wonderful resource where you can hear longer speeches on the gender gap, feminism, and being a female lawyer during the McCarthy era, as well as read a more in depth history.
There is little video of Abzug in her prime, but watch her below as she recounts how she helped propose and pass legislation so women could apply and sign for their own credit cards. This was in 1974. Let me repeat, women were barred from applying for credit cards without their husbands’ permission up until 1974. While this seems a little infomercial-ish, her commitment to women’s liberties is clear. Plus, she just seems like a lady who gets shit done. And I love that.
Bella Abzug was an inspirational woman who founded countless organizations and conferences. She gave her final speech at the UN in 1999 and died shortly after. After listening to her speak, I wish we had about 10,000 of her in Congress today.