NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ874694
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005-Jul
Pages: 3
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 8
ISSN: ISSN-1541-6224
Women in History--Bella Stavisky Abzug (1920-1998)
Blair, Meg
Journal of Women in Educational Leadership, v3 n3 p157-159 Jul 2005
Bella Stavisky was born in New York City on July 24, 1920. She was born to activism: her father's butcher shop was called the Live and Let Live Meat Market, in protest of WWI. Her parents were Russian Jewish immigrants, and when her father died there was no son to say Kaddish for him, so 13-year-old Bella marched into Temple each day for a year to offer the prayers, a role traditionally forbidden to women. After graduating from high school, Bella attended Hunter College in New York. Her dream was to be a lawyer. Harvard, her first choice of law schools, did not accept women, so she went instead to Columbia, where she met her husband, Martin (Maurice) Abzug. It is notable that in that day, Martin put aside his dreams of becoming a writer, and in order to support Bella's ambitions, he worked as a stockbroker. Her first claim to fame as a lawyer came when she traveled to Mississippi while eight months pregnant to defend Willy McGee, a black man accused of raping a white woman. Local motels would not allow her to stay, so she slept in the bus station for the entire trial. Her other cases were typically labor disputes or civil rights cases, often done for free or for very little money. Another early highlight of her life was founding the first modern women's mass peace movement, Women Strike for Peace in 1961. This group fought for a nuclear weapons test ban. In 1970, Bella won her first term to Congress. She was an ardent opponent of the Vietnam War and was the first member of Congress to support impeaching President Nixon. As chair of the subcommittee on government information and individual rights, Bella co-wrote three influential laws: (1) the Freedom of Information Act; (2) the Sunshine Law; and (3) the Right to Privacy Act. Although not normally connected with educational issues, Bella was a passionate supporter of women's rights, and often education went hand-in-hand with improving the economic conditions in which women lived worldwide, and education was vital to women becoming more involved in the political process. From the time she defied Jewish tradition to learn to read the Torah, Bella fought for equality of women in education. Some of her other notable achievements in the area of education included her work with the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing and the Beijing Platform for Action, that included strong wording regarding education of women, and work to pass both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Educational Amendments, which called for equality in all areas of education for women and girls.
ProActive Publications. 439 North Duke Street, Lancaster, PA 17602. Tel: 717-290-1660; Fax: 717-509-6100; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: China (Beijing); Mississippi; New York; Vietnam
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Civil Rights Act 1964; Education Amendments 1972; Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act 1974; Freedom of Information Act; Privacy Act 1974; Title IX Education Amendments 1972