Whole Life Magazine

February/March 2020

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8 wholelifetimes.com J uly 1, 1982, I woke up to a world unexpected. I had just ended a 37-day public fast for the Equal Rights Amendment. Every day living on water only, I believed, we all believed, the ending would be victorious. One must believe in victory to continue to sit in public, fasting for a cause. June 30, 1982, the U.S. Congress had arbitrarily set as a deadline for passage of this constitutional amendment. It was particularly infuriating, as none of the adopted 26 amendments had a deadline — only the amendment on women's rights had a deadline. And so, the 100,000 women who had been working for 10 years dispersed — exhausted, disillusioned, deflated. Women across the country, in particular Illinois and Florida, went home empty-handed. Rising like wildflowers in the pavement, a handful continued, me among them. I served on the small ERA Roundtable for more than 20 years. Persistent women worked against all evidence to the contrary to put forth congressional bills to keep Equal Rights for All advancing. The bills never made it out of committee. One woman, one sole woman, began walking across American for the ERA — Helene. She answered the dying wish of her mother-in-law, to ratify the ERA. Along her years of travel, Helene met women in Nevada and told her story. One State Senator took it on, Pat Spearman, Retired Lieutenant Colonel. Pat mobilized to elect women, to turn the legislatures blue and, beyond all predictions, make Nevada the 36th state to ratify the ERA. On March 22, 2017, the Nevada Legislature became the first state in 40 years to ratify the ERA. Illinois became #37, May 30, 2018. Now the goal was in sight, moving to ratify in Virginia, completing the task required by the US Constitution, a Super Majority vote Yes. January 27, 2020, Virginia became #38. A Super Majority, 38 states ratified the ERA! Through destiny, fate, karma, good luck, or simply a holy interruption, the President of Nevada NOW (National Organization for Women) and her husband invited me to Virginia. It was entirely out of my imagination, my budget, my wildest dream but we flew across the entire North American continent to sit in a gallery and witness Equality Under the Law for All. Not only that miracle, but the week coincided with the D.C. Women's March 2020. In the snow and rain, I stood in front of the White House with dazzling chanting protestors. This is the Women's Movement of 2020. This is the #MeToo movement, all grown up. 2020 has been a lighthouse in the distance for many American women. We have been preparing for years. This is the Centennial for the 19th Amendment which granted the vote to all regardless of sex. We may think of it as women winning the vote but 1) it was earned, not won and 2) the amendment does not mention "women" or "men." August 18, 1920, Tennessee ratified the 19th Amendment and, though it was not accessible to all for decades, it fulfilled the required 36 states at that time. In all 50 states, parks, libraries, schools, classrooms, galleries, publishers, there are vivid Centennial Celebrations. Even the 2020 Rose Parade featured Suffrage. Statues of women are being installed in cities large and small. The first will be unveiled in Central Park this summer. Today I return to Long Beach where women met in 1911 to demand the right to vote. CA women earned the right to vote, October 10, 1911. I am the Director of the Long Beach Suffrage 100. We are celebrating the Centennial all year. Most importantly, we are teaching our city the importance of the VOTE. Zoe Nicholson is a Performer, Author, and Activist. To learn more, visit ZoeNicholson.com. community Photos: Gene Burton Equality Under the Law for All ACTIVISM AND THE ERA By Zoe Nicholson Above: The author, Zoe Nicholson, at the D.C. Women's March 2020. Left: Zoe Nicholson with a statue of Alice Paul, a woman's rights activist, in the Lucy Burns Museum, Lorton, VA.

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