May 2020 Program: Getting ERA in the U.S. Constitution

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution designed to guarantee equal legal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex. First introduced by Alice Paul and Crystal Eastman in 1923, It seeks to end the legal distinctions between men and women in matters of divorce, property, employment, and other issues. The recent passage of the ERA in Virginia made it the 38th state to ratify and achieved the threshold of  ¾ of the  American states  required to add an amendment to the constitution.  While our hearts were buoyed by this long awaited step, the battle  may not be over yet.

We have invited four activists to talk about the background, support, and final steps to enshrine the ERA in the US constitution:

Bettina Hager, the DC Director and COO of the ERA Coalition ( and Fund for Women’s Equality, has extensive background in preparing advocacy materials  and training  lobbyists on the issues of constitutional equality.  Bettina will provide the background of the ERA and the ERA Coalition’s  work that has moved it forward to be placed in the Constitution in the United States.  She will explain the three-state ratification strategy legislation sponsored by Sen. Cardin in April, 2014 and how it has gotten us to this point.

We have invited Kim Cummings and Anna Bradley, members of the Virginia Social Action Task Force of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated( The Task Force is made up of representatives of the 46 chapers (30 Alumnae and 16 Collegiate) in the Commonwealth of Virginia. They will speak about the Delta’s  critical support role in the Virginia passage of ERA. The Deltas- noted for their bright red suits and civic and community engagement works – are an organization of college educated women committed to the constructive development of its members and to public service with a primary focus on the Black community.  An integral part in the earlier passage of the 19th amendmentwhich gave all women the right to vote, they have thrown their influence and energy in characteristic fashion to ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.

Ellie Smeal, current president of Feminist Majority and Feminist Majority Foundation ( and )  and past president of the National Organization for Women, has fought on the frontlines for women’s equality for more than three decades. In the 1970s, as president of the National Organization for Women (NOW), she spearheaded the drive to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, the largest nationwide grassroots and lobbying campaign in the history of the modern women’s movement. Smeal also pioneered the use of the Internet as a feminist organizing and research tool by launching the Feminist Majority Foundation Online in 1995.  Always the organizer and practical realist, she will speak about the steps that need to be covered to get the ERA finally placed in the US Constitution in the United States.

As always, questions and discussion are a welcome part of the meeting, after the speakers have finished their presentations.

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