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The Equal Rights Amendment: Shifting Meanings in American Politics

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The Equal Rights Amendment: Shifting Meanings in American Politics

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Thursday, May 26, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1J0178
This online program is presented on Zoom.
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Materials for this program

In 1923, the Equal Rights Amendment debuted in Congress. Introduced only three years after the Woman Suffrage Amendment was ratified, the ERA aimed to eradicate laws that discriminated against women. In the crosshairs of this proposed amendment to the Constitution were, for instance, state laws that closed jury service to women, prevented married women from establishing residence separate from their husbands, granted fathers sole custody of children, or barred women from jobs requiring night work.

Proponents of the Equal Rights Amendment claimed in 1923 and continue to insist that it will help American women achieve full equality with men. But the turbulent history of the ERA reveals deep skepticism about the claim: Between 1923 and the late 1960s, most progressive feminists opposed the ERA. Not until the early 1970s did most feminists rally around it. Having at that point gained widespread support from progressives, it passed through Congress with substantial bipartisan support. Most observers agreed that the ERA would sail to ratification; instead, a conservative opposition swelled and stopped the amendment in its tracks.

The ERA survives today as a cherished goal of many feminists, though some remain cool, and conservative opposition continues. Join historian Robyn Muncy as she explains the wild twists and turns in the story of the Equal Rights Amendment from 1923 to 2022.

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American Women's History Initiative