The women's movement lost a tireless champion last October, when Toni Carabillo died after a long battle with cancer. Toni was such an integral part of this organization, and of our history, that her life and work touched each of us in ways we may not even know. Her political strategies impacted the shape and future of NOW.
I first met Toni at a NOW Conference — over 22 years ago — when she was a national vice president and one of the leaders of an internal movement to make NOW a more activist organization. Their slogan for that conference, held in Philadelphia as we entered the country's bicentennial year, was "Out of the mainstream, into the revolution."
NOW's national newspaper, then called Do It NOW, was co-edited and published by Toni with her life partner, Judith Meuli, out of their home in Los Angeles. Their home was also a focus of creative inspiration — for example, our distinctive logo was sketched by member Ivy Bottini and designed in Toni's living room.
Toni filled countless NOW roles over the years, both official and unofficial, from Los Angeles chapter founder and mentor to national officer, from graphic artist to historian and author. Her book, "The Feminist Chronicles," with co-authors Judith Meuli and June Bundy Csida, is an important history of NOW's first decades and a timeline of feminist advances during that time.
Her longtime friend and "co-conspirator," with whom she founded the Feminist Majority and the Feminist Majority Foundation, Eleanor Smeal, described Toni's passion for our history:
"She believed it was important to learn the history of the feminist movement – what past feminists have done – because the same tactics used to foil early feminists and suffragists are being used against us now. She also believed we should report on our own work, because too many third-person observers rely on media reports that are inaccurate or biased against us."
Toni was truly a warrior for women — a fiercely loyal and devoted friend, and a formidable opponent to those who would trample on our rights. She will be sorely missed.