WTA

When talking about Billie Jean King and tennis in the 70's, particularly 1973, some phrases that float to the surface include "The Original Nine," or "Bobby Riggs." However, we tend to overlook the founding of the Women's Tennis Association, a lasting and integral piece of sports history. Founded in 1973, the WTA was the brainchild of tennis legend Billie Jean King, and is now the "global leader in women's professional sport." In 1973, this association was surrounded with controversy. Earlier in 1973, a boycott sprung from the banning of tennis player Nikola "Niki" Pilić from the 1973 Wimbledon Tournament. The boycott continued through to June 22nd, but because women players were not a part of the Association of Tennis Professionals, they were excluded from the boycott, and refused equal prize money. It is unclear whether or not this sparked the WTA's formation even further, nonetheless, the timing is not just coincidental.

10 days later, at the Gloucester Hotel, Billie Jean King announced that 60 women had joined the Women's Tennis Association. A mere 17 days after that, Ban deodorant donated $55,000 in prize money to the Forest Hills United States Tennis Open tennis championships, making that tournament the first major international tennis tournament to have equal prize money for both women and men. Up until Ban donated the prize money, thanks to the newly formed WTA and King's persistent lobbying, the threat of women tennis players boycotting the US Open was very real, and got much louder as the event drew closer. While King was out of the country for the tournament, Rosemary Casals and Chris Evert were present, and both called the equal prize money "a step forward for tennis." The WTA's influence only grew from there, now with over 1,650 players representing 84 nations, including large professional tennis programs in other countries. In 2019, an unprecedented 700 million people worldwide tuned in to watch the WTA Tour—A wildly far cry from being denied a seat at the association.

1970 Women's Strike for Equality

On the 50th anniversary of the 19th amendment, over 10,000 women of all ages, occupations and viewpoints marched on the streets of Manhattan, and gathered in Bryant Park chanting and holding their signs to get their messages out. A mass protest organized by Betty Frieden and the National Women's Organization (N.O.W) to have women all across the country to strike. Betty Frieden was a white feminist who was a integral part of leading the feminist movement in the 70s via her writing and speeches. The organizers of the day's events agreed on a set of three specific goals, which reflected the overall spirit of second-wave feminism: free abortion on demand, equal opportunity in employment, education, and the establishment of 24/7 childcare centers. women wanted to be seen as their own person and not as a house wife or second class citizens but as an equal to men. Although there were women from many types of backgrounds, the majority of marchers were white, reflecting the tensions that existed within the feminist movement at large. Speakers such as Kate Millett, Bella Abzuggave, Gloria Steinem, and Betty Frieden had powerful messages that all women and men should join them, that the ideal of not having control of your own life needs to end. The speeches were given with the idea of "Today is the beginning of a new movement. Today is the end of millenniums of oppression". All generations of women were fighting for their education and their future. Mothers fighting against oppression, trying to gain equal pay; a better and safer future for their daughters. Grandmothers fighting for the future of their granddaughters and daughters.

Houston Conference/1977 confirmation of the lesbian rights resolution

As the first federally funded national women's conference, the 1977 National Women's Conference was a massive convention held all over America, its heart set in Houston. With 2,005 elected delegates, about a quarter of which were women of color, and nearly 20,000 attendees from 50 states and 6 territories, the four day conference was two years in the making. During the conference, the elected delegates, led by Owanah P. Anderson of Wichita Falls and Irma Rangel of Kingsville, voted on The National Plan of Action. Made up of 26 major topics, the document's resolutions included sexual preference liberation, the Equal Rights Amendment, and women's control over their own reproductive rights: all of which were heavily contested and considered to be the biggest challengers to the ratification process. Of the 26 "planks," the resolutions most adopted by state meetings included planks regarding childcare, education, and healthcare. The Texas convention passed many of the core recommendations detailed in the National Plan, but there were several vocal opposers to recommendations regarding abortion and homosexuality. In spite of the opposition, the conference opened with a bang, the torch beginning in Seneca Falls and carried to Houston by upwards of 3,000 relay runners. Congresswoman Bella Abzug was named the presiding officer of the convention, and the attendees included Billie Jean King, Lady Bird Johnson, Coretta Scott King; politician and lawyer Barbara Jordan attended as well, delivering a publicly televised keynote speech. The audience was spotted with mothers, teachers, nuns, members of Congress, and even a mother in labor, who insisted on coming though she was about to give birth. 800 women employed by the federal government volunteered to aid the convention, doing everything from "registering delegates to handling money." Although the sexual preference resolutions were hotly debated, lesbians and their allies succeeded in getting those resolutions adopted by 30 state meetings. The 1977 National Women's Conference was a revolutionary event, one which unanimously demanded "as a human right a full voice and role for women in determining the destiny of our world, our nation, our families, and our individual lives."

NBFO

The National Black Feminist Organization (NBFO) was started in New York City in August of 1973 by Margaret Sloan, Florynce Kennedy, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Faith Ringgold, Michele Wallace, Doris Wright, and Jane Galvin-Lewis. In their Statement of Purpose, the National Black Feminist Organization stated their desire "to address ourselves to the particular and specific needs of the larger, but almost cast-aside half of the black race in Amerikkka, the black woman". Most of the NBFO's work included rallying and holding conversations around issues such as rape, employment, childcare, drug abuse, and the treatment of incarcerated women. Although the National Black Feminist Organization was fairly short-lived, it was truly a trailblazer for feminists of color in America and led the way for preceding African-American feminist groups. In November of 1973, they sponsored their first conference, which formulated their vision of a multifunctional group of activists that would tackle issues such as child care, sexuality, welfare, incarceration, employment, addiction, and the relationship black women have with other demographics within feminist movements. The conference was a success and at least 250 women from all over the country were in attendance. After the conference, the NBFO did not have the far-reaching impact they had hoped for and the organization began to slowly decline and dismantle as their members became increasingly discontent with the organization's leadership until it officially disbanded in 1976. Some of its members were especially unhappy with the organization's lack of infrastructure, leadership, and failure to properly address classism, homophobia, and other issues. Many of these dissatisfied members split off from the NBFO in order to start their own organizations. Of the collectives born from the National Black Feminist Organization, most notable are the Combahee River Collective and The National Alliance of Black Feminists. Despite the National Black Feminist Organization's occasional inadequacy, the individual chapters of the group did great work. They raised awareness for issues concerning Black women and rallied within their communities. At its peak, the NBFO had ten chapters and over 2,000 members.

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