National NOW Times >> Summer, 2001 >> Article
Excitement in Philadelphia: 2001 National NOW
by Sommer Spector, Conference
National Organization for Women is gearing up for the 2001 National NOW
Conference, Not For Ourselves Alone, in Philadelphia, PA, June 29 through
July 1, 2001.
In the Cradle of Democracy, chapter activists will
concentrate on strategies and skills building to counter the Bush
Administration, including a focus on electoral organizing at the second
national NOW PAC Political Institute. Activists will also refine NOW’s
campaign to prevent packing of the courts, especially the U.S. Supreme
Court, with anti-women’s rights nominees. Despite official denials from
the Supreme Court spokesperson, rumors of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s
imminent retirement persist, and activists will be ready for immediate
action at and after the conference.
SONiA of disappear fear and
blues icon-in-the-making Mary Shaver, who offered a taste of their talent
at the Emergency Action for Women’s Lives, will perform in concert at the
plenary Friday evening following opening ceremonies and presentation of a
Woman of Courage award to Olympic medal-winning weight lifter Cheryl
Haworth (see article Spring 2001 issue of the NNT). Deejay Camille Weiss,
who energized the Emergency Action with her a capella rap, will perform at
the dance Saturday night.
Courage in the Face of Political
Maryanne Connelly, former mayor of Fanwood, NJ, will
fire-up conference participants at Saturday afternoon’s plenary and accept
a Woman of Courage award for her extraordinary congressional campaign in
2000. With strong grassroots support from NOW New Jersey activists,
Connelly beat the odds--and the man selected by the party
establishment--in a Democratic primary marred by sexist attacks. The
Republican man who edged her out in the general election used similar
tactics, but Connelly came through unbowed and continues to inspire
feminists to political action.
At last year's successful NOW PAC
Political Institute, participants learned how to run an effective
grassroots campaign and then went back to their hometowns to help Connelly
and other feminist politicians. In fact, graduates of last year's
Political Institute organized for almost every feminist candidate
throughout the country. It's no surprise then, that the Political
Institute is back by popular demand. Institute workshops will range from
voter registration to recruiting feminist candidates to analyzing your
"Given the attacks on women’s rights from the fledgling
Bush administration, we need the support of feminist politicians, and the
local activists to ensure that those leaders get elected, more than ever,"
says NOW /PAC treasurer Karen Johnson. "The next four years pose a hard
but necessary fight, and we need to be prepared with as many organizers as
possible and the organizing strategies to back them."
Conference will focus not only on feminist leadership outside of NOW, but
also on the feminist leaders of NOW with the election of national officers
to serve for the next four years. Candidate teams will present their
visions and qualifications in speeches at Saturday morning’s plenary.
Election and conference rules as well as nominations of candidate teams
will be on the plenary agenda Friday morning. Friday evening the plenary
will include a tribute to the fourteen years of Patricia Ireland's
leadership as a NOW officer, including her decade-long presidency.
The Conference will also feature a track of young feminist
workshops and two workshops by NOW’s Structure Review Task Force, focusing
on how the multiple tiers of NOW work together to accomplish NOW’s
The Conference keynote speakers
are also seasoned leaders who will inspire NOW activists. Linda
Chavez-Thompson, born to cotton share-croppers in Lubbock, Texas, and a
second-generation American of Mexican descent, rose up in the ranks of her
local union to become the Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO. She is
the first person of color to be elected to an executive office of the
AFL-CIO and the highest-ranking woman in the labor movement.
Chavez-Thompson was also appointed by then-President Clinton to serve on
the President’s Initiative on Race as well as to serve as the Vice Chair
of the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities.
Jane Smith, Ed.D., scheduled to speak Saturday afternoon, began
her activism in 1974 as a Whitney Young and Woodrow Wilson Fellow at
Spellman College in Atlanta, Georgia. She then served as faculty and an
administrator at Spellman, and at Atlanta University. In 1991, Smith was
asked by Coretta Scott King to join the New Direction Team at the Martin
Luther King Center for Nonviolent Social Change. Smith served as President
and CEO of the National Council of Negro Women, Inc. from 1998 through
2000. Smith was also appointed by former-President Clinton to the National
Women’s Business Council and by former Secretary of State Madeline
Albright as an official delegate to the United Nations Beijing Plus Five
The exhibit hall will be full of diverse exhibitors
ranging from feminist and grassroots organizations to government agencies
to woman-owned businesses and local craft stores.
information, go to www.now.org and click on the conference button, or call