- Abzug, Bella
orig. Bella Savitzkyborn July 24, 1920, New York, N.Y., U.S.died March 31, 1998, New York CityU.S. lawyer and politician.She studied law at Columbia University and subsequently took on numerous union, civil liberties, and civil rights cases, representing several people charged by Sen. Joseph McCarthy. She founded and chaired (1961–70) the antiwar Women Strike for Peace and later the National Women's Political Caucus. In the House of Representatives (1971–77), she was known for her flamboyant style, her opposition to the Vietnam War, and her outspoken support for the Equal Rights Amendment, abortion rights, and child-care legislation.
* * *▪ 1999American lawyer and politician (b. July 24, 1920, New York, N.Y.—d. March 31, 1998, New York), variously identified as "Battling Bella" and "Mother Courage," was a quintessential progressive known for her groundbreaking roles as peace activist, feminist, environmentalist, and early advocate for gay rights. Abzug was the daughter of Russian- Jewish immigrants. She earned degrees from Hunter College of the City University of New York (B.A., 1942) and Columbia University Law School, New York City (LL.B., 1947). It was during her years as an attorney (1947-70), when few women were practicing law, that she began wearing her signature wide-brimmed hats to ensure that her clients and colleagues did not assume she was a secretary. She acted as chief defense attorney for Willie McGee, an African-American man convicted and eventually executed for raping a white woman in Mississippi, defended victims of Sen. Joseph McCarthy's anticommunist witch-hunts, and helped draft legislation for the 1954 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. To fight the U.S. government's plans to resume nuclear-weapons testing, she founded the Women Strike for Peace in 1961, and to protest the Vietnam War, she led the Democratic Party's "Dump Johnson" movement and supported Sen. Eugene McCarthy in his 1968 bid for the presidency. Along with Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan, Abzug was in the forefront of the feminist movement and was an early advocate for equal rights for women, abortion rights, and child-care legislation. She successfully ran for Congress in 1970 from Manhattan's 19th district with the slogan "This woman's place is in the House—the House of Representatives." On her first day in Congress (Jan. 21, 1971), she introduced a motion calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam, and she later used a little-known procedural tactic to force Pres. Richard Nixon's administration to release the top-secret Pentagon Papers. She was also the first member of Congress to call for Nixon's impeachment. After serving three terms in the House, she lost a Senate race to Daniel P. Moynihan in 1977. Firmly committed to women's empowerment, she founded several organizations, including the National Women's Political Caucus and the International Women's Environment and Development Association, and she participated in the UN's Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995. Her book Bella! was published in 1972, and Gender Gap: Bella Abzug's Guide to Political Power for American Women, co-written with Mim Kelber, appeared in 1984.
* * *▪ American politiciannée Bella Savitskyborn July 24, 1920, New York, N.Y., U.S.died March 31, 1998, New York CityU.S. congresswoman (1971–77) and lawyer who founded several liberal political organizations for women and was a prominent opponent of the Vietnam War and a supporter of equal rights for women.The daughter of Russian-Jewish émigrés, Bella Savitsky attended Hunter College (B.A., 1942) and Columbia University Law School, where she specialized in labour law and became editor of the Columbia Law Review. She earned her L.L.B. in 1947 and was admitted to the New York bar the same year. In 1945 she married Martin M. Abzug.Over the next 23 years Abzug divided her time between the practice of law—focusing mainly on civil rights and labour law—and work on behalf of various causes, especially those of peace and disarmament. Among those defended by Abzug were individuals charged in Senator Joseph McCarthy (McCarthy, Joseph R.)'s anticommunist crusade. In 1961 Abzug founded Women Strike for Peace, and she chaired the organization from 1961 to 1970. In the late 1960s, as the growing involvement of the United States in the Vietnam War became a focus of public protest, she supported Senator Eugene McCarthy's challenge to Democratic incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson.Elected to the House of Representatives for New York City's 19th district in 1970, Abzug was a founder and chair of several of the country's first and foremost liberal political organizations for women. She supported the Equal Rights Amendment, a women's credit-rights bill, abortion rights, and child-care legislation. Her brash and flamboyant manner earned Abzug the nicknames "Battling Bella," "Hurricane Bella," and "Mother Courage," among others.In 1971, with Gloria Steinem (Steinem, Gloria) and Shirley Chisholm (Chisholm, Shirley), Abzug cofounded the National Women's Political Caucus, which aimed at increasing the participation of women in government. She was reelected to the House in 1972 and 1974 from the redrawn 20th district but relinquished the seat in 1976 to run for the Senate; she was defeated by Daniel P. Moynihan. The following year Abzug lost a primary election for mayor of New York City and in 1978 she lost a special election for a vacated congressional seat.After playing a prominent role at the National Women's Conference in Houston, Texas, in November 1977, Abzug was named cochairman of the National Advisory Committee on Women by President Jimmy Carter. She was dismissed in January 1979 for openly criticizing the Carter administration.Abzug returned to private law practice in 1980 but continued her political and public activities. She presided over Women USA, a grassroots political action organization, was a contributor to . (Ms) magazine, and worked as a daily news commentator for the Cable News Network. Gender Gap: Bella Abzug's Guide to Political Power for American Women (cowritten with Mim Kelber) appeared in 1984. She was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1994.
* * *