The National Organization for Women was founded in Washington, DC on this date in 1966, at a meeting in Betty Friedan‘s hotel room during the Third National Conference of Commissions on the Status of Women. Friedan, already well-known for writing The Feminine Mystique, attended the conference “as a writer and observer,” says the NOW website, “and had been closely watching the efforts . . . to enforce Title VII” — a part of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that prohibited discrimination based on sex. “Friedan has said that both commissioners and EEOC [Equal Employment Opportunity Commissioner] attorney Sonia Pressman Fuentes were ‘privately suggesting the need for an organization to speak on behalf of women in the way civil rights groups had done for Blacks.’” Twenty-eight women signed on to form the organization, and by October, when NOW was formally launched, 300 women and men were charter members. (For a complete list of NOW’s founders, including at the official launch in October, 1966, click here.) Today, NOW has half a million members in 550 chapters in all 50 states. As far as JEWDAYO can determine, Betty Friedan was the only Jew among eleven NOW presidents who have served so far.
“NOW stands against all oppression, recognizing that racism, sexism, and homophobia are interrelated, that other forms of oppression such as classism and ableism work together with these three to keep power and privilege concentrated in the hands of a few.” —National Organization for Women pamphlet