With one foot firmly planted in the past, and an eye on the future, the National Organization for Women, the world’s largest feminist group, convened its three day national conference and vision summit aimed at self-analysis and a renewed mission for the feminist movement in the 21st Century. Everyone from Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal to Gubernatorial candidate Geraldine Ferraro stressed continued support for a National Women’s Equality Act, a blueprint for a NOW Declaration of Sentiments, and increased numbers of women in government. “There’s never been a good time to challenge power but, as Frederick Douglass reminded us, power conceded nothing without a demand, ” commented NOW president Patricia Ireland. “We must make that demand. We must shake people out of any sense of complacency or fear.”
Following in the footsteps of great women’s rights advocates Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, NOW had more than 700 attendees at its Rochester, NY conference, with speakers that included poet Sonya Sanchez and author Barbara Smith. The conference preceded a week long celebration in Seneca Falls, NY the 150th anniversary of the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention and Declaration of Women’s Rights.