Just for You: Teachers and Students


  1. Text reference
    1. Defending Civil Rights in the Jim Crow South: – The Willie McGee Case. 1950-51,  pp. 49-54
    2. Women Strike for Peace – Feminism and the Anti-Viet Nam War Movement. 1961-67,  pp.59 -71
    3. Wielding Power – A Force for Change in the US Congress. 1970-76, pp. 112-133 and 150-166
    4. A Hard Lesson in Power – Jimmy Carter’s National Advisory Committee for Women. 1978-79, pp. 214-228
    5. Going Global – Bella Abzug as an International Activist. 1990-98, pp.263-279

  2. Thought questions (Download pdf)
    1. Track the history of the social movements Bella Abzug was involved in, particularly tracking the ways they overlap
      1. What were the major social movements of the last half of the 20th century?
      2. Track the chronology of the various movements in relationship with each other.
      3. How did the various movements inform other movements and in what ways did they compete with one another?
    2. What were the historical events that drove Bella Abzug’s career and how did they provide opportunities for change-makers?  What were the forces within society’s institutional power structure and outside it that were shaping public life?
    3. How did Bella Abzug mobilize international leaders as well as grass roots activists and changed the way the UN operates?
    4. Chart the people who made history according to:
      1. their positions or platforms for activism
      2. their relationships to various movements
      3. their relationships to Bella Abzug and her work
      4. their impact
      5. Using other resources, explore the career of some of the other leaders and activists highlighted in the book.
    5. Memory and Memoir – How do our individual memories collectively create the history of a period and shape our understandings of the people who drove that history?  From voices in this book, can you conceive of alternative pictures of Bella Abzug?  To what extent does the history we learn and teach reflect the varied and sometimes contradictory memories of those who lived through those times? How does ‘spin’ affect history?
    6. What in our society today would change the way a modern day Bella Abzug operates and how would she have to adjust to be effective?
      1. Rise of the right wing and fundamentalism of all sorts
      2. Technology
      3. Changing demographics, and increasing multiplication and fragmentation of identity

  3. In Their Own Words: Quotes for Discussion (Download pdf)
    1. “We were lucky.  We lived at a critical point in history, and so what we did hit the wave of history just right….I miss Bella.  We might have gone in slightly different directions, but she was a vital force.  When we were on the same side, which we usually were, she was a very good partner, very alive.  It was sort of a love/hate relationship.  God you’d think there wasn’t room for two of us, but it turned out there was.” (Betty Friedan p. 143)
    2. I hadn’t been a club person.  That’s not my constituency.  I come from the movements of change, the labor movement, the peace movement, the human rights movement, the civil rights movement, the women’s movement.  Those are the people I bring into campaigns all the time.” (Bella Abzug p. 86)
    3. “…he[Congressman Ron Dellums] chooses to use Congress more as a platform, and I as both a platform and a vehicle to get things done.” (Bella Abzug p.113)
    4. “…mainstream feminism has evolved into the most broadly based movement for egalitarianism that America possesses… The women’s movement is now a truly national, unified engine of change which could conceivably become the cutting edge of the most important human issues America faces in the next decade.”  (London Evening Standard on the Houston Convention p. 213)
    5. “She [Bella Abzug] opened up the space at the UN.  All the processes that are now standard operating procedure with NGO meetings – the different subgroups, caucuses, lobbying for language – people forget it was not always that way.  Bella started it for women, but it benefited everybody.”  (June Zeitlin p. 267)