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Women’s activists Bella Abzug and Dagmar Wilson founded Women Strike for Peace in 1961, in opposition to nuclear prolifeation. 1 that year consisted of protests against nuclear weapons in 60 cities by some 50,000 primarily middle-class women.
Black students from A&T State University in Greensboro, North Carolina kicked off the Sixties with a sit-in at Woolworths on Feb. The protests spread to Chattanooga, Nashville and other cities.
The pace picked up the next year with the first Freedom Rides to protest segregation in Southern interstate transportation started by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).
It is important to note that most working women in those years wanted more time at home with their children and saw the lives of housewives as privileged.
Working-class women faced discrimination in the workplace and suffered from the absence of family benefits that would have made it possible to hold down a full-time job without causing great hardship to their families.
Unfortunately, this has left a somewhat distorted picture in the minds of many of today’s activists, who are unaware that there was such a large left-wing and revolutionary sector.
This is a glance at the activity and goals of some of the constituencies that were active in the 1960s-70s, and that had a continuing influence in the following decades.
Once hired, women not only had to contend with discriminatory wages but also with the lack of maternity leave, child care and other family services that were becoming routine in the social democratic societies of Europe.
Child care, which had been provided by the state for women workers in the defense industry, was taken away after the war.
During the Vietnam War they initiated anti-draft counseling programs. Some activists moved from one issue to another, and those who were once on the sidelines joined in.
A number of leading women gained experience in the early years of the civil rights struggle and brought that knowledge to the women’s uprising.