Dear Northern NJ NOW friends,
I have mixed emotions as I write to tell you that I am not running for re-election as President of the chapter in 2019. It is difficult to retire, even as a volunteer, but it is time. In fact, where did all the time go? (And my energy?)
I have been told I never take credit for anything, so I want to share some of the things I am most proud of that the chapter accomplished with my leadership over the years, as well as some stories I won’t forget, while I still can. In case you don’t know, I have been a member of the chapter for 45 years, and it is the oldest chapter in the State.
I can’t include everything, so come take a selective stroll down Memory Lane with me:
In the 70’s, I was Secretary, Co-Coordinator, and then President, of NNJ, and chapter delegate to NOW-NJ in 1981-83. I was delegate again from 2011 till I became Administrative VP for NOW-NJ in 2014, and served in that capacity till 2018. I have served again as President of the chapter from 2011 to this January, 2019.
I had been married in 1965. At the time I joined NNJ NOW, this fact put some of my NOW sisters into a frenzy. They lobbied me to get a divorce. As a feminist, I refused.
The best thing:
Coordinating the effort for and finally winning a buffer zone for Metropolitan Medical Associates in Englewood in 2014. This happened without the support of the clinic itself, which was hostile to our efforts, no matter what they said at Council meetings. No matter what happened in courts later, women were helped, and this was our/my greatest accomplishment.
The next best thing:
In 1981 I was Chair of the NNJ NOW Housing Task Force, and initiated and got passed the original law prohibiting discrimination in rental housing due to source of income (alimony or welfare payments). I convinced NNJ to join the NJ Tenants Organization (and vice versa) to fight for this right. This law is still in effect today.
Just SomeThings I Did:
I convinced National NOW and Florida NOW to join NNJ in supporting wrongly convicted Marissa Alexander. We were the first NOW chapter to actually support her. When she won her release, we received a wonderful letter acknowledging our great contribution of support and influence (and money, too).
I spoke on behalf of NNJ on radio and TV, including a 2012 Channel 9 News segment on Obama and the handling of coverage for contraception in the new health care law.
In 2013, I got good press coverage speaking out about the controversy at Rutgers about pregnant women and mothers in the workplace, something I know absolutely nothing about.
I was a behind the scenes advisor and steering committee member on the 2017 Woman’s March on NJ, which NNJ co-sponsored. That was fun!
Attended a rally/march in Newark on police brutality and racist deaths of black women and men. Was interviewed.
Most defining moment in my life:
In 1976 I was declared autonomous by the NJ Appellate Court after having my freedom of speech taken away from me in a lower court because I was a married women. While this was political speech not related to NNJ, it did radicalize me even more into fighting for women’s rights.
Our 45th Anniversary Brunch celebration in 2015. Dina helped me find the spot and negotiate the deal. About fifty members gathered to reminisce about our past and plot our future. We presented the first NNJ Courage Award to the two founders of the Clinic Escorts, and Judy Murphy, recipient of NNJ’s 1995 Lifetime Achievement Award, came all the way from Vermont to speak to us. My full speech (I was helped with the timeline by Lynn Wenzel, former Chapter historian, who now lives in CA) is online, and photos should still be at the website. Sorry, someone else will have to coordinate the 50th anniversary!
Appearances at the Cafe Resistance, run by Diane and Laura, where I was allowed to run on about whatever came to mind.
Oddly enough, the discussion group. The group had been dormant, and I started sending articles and thoughts, and some people were really upset about the sudden additional emails. There was a “Battle Royale” between opponents and supporters. The opponents left the discussion group, and the supporters seem to still be there. One person wrote me that she appreciated having a safe place to express opinions, whether they were agreed to or not.
Two especially wonderful movies we showed were “It’s A Girl!” which Vanessa found for us, and which created a really good discussion, and “Equal Means Equal” about the need for the ERA (Now more than ever!!!) We also co-sponsored a showing of “TRAPPED” in 2016 about the laws that continue to be introduced at an alarming rate (now more than ever!) to chip away at abortion rights.
Seneca Falls—twice—both coordinated by Marissa, but I think I was a help! I only went on the first one, and roomed with a fabulous roommate, Vicki Sidrow. It was memorable. So was the trip, also coordinated by Marissa, to the NY Historical Society in NYC to see the new “women’s wing.” I got everyone in for senior price using my secret method. It was followed by a wonderful nearby lunch and lots of bonding all around.
Special vigils and Demonstrations:
In 2017 Matt, the husband I kept and an NNJ Board member and Manager of the Discussion Group, and I and many others attended the Teaneck Vigil in response to Charlottesville, carrying the NOW Stop Racism sign. (The photo of the two of us appeared in the NNJ Newsletter edited by Mary, and is still on line, at our website, I believe.) This was a somber, meaningful experience.
I wrote a speech to give at the Bergen Unity demonstration in 2017. I could not make the rally because at the last moment I could not get out of the building I live in due to the combination of ice and my danged knee, but Matt read the speech for me, which was unintentionally humorous for being written in “female,” (as in “Women know that we are”). It was graded the “best speech of the day” by other speakers.
Succeeded in getting them to email press releases to chapter Presidents (that is why you get to see them. The press certainly never prints them.)
Argued that chapters are autonomous (so far) and can sign onto climate change or any other letters we want. They warned me but I persisted; we still sign on to issue letters that affect our lives, and even co-sponsored the March for Science! So there!
Meeting your heroes is not always the best idea:
In October, 1986 at the Centennial Celebration of the Statue of Liberty (she could use a little support right now), NNJ sponsored a boat ride that commemorated the NY Women’s Suffrage political action of a century before when it joined in a parade of river craft. We listened to speakers Betty Friedan and Dr. Sally Roesch Wagner.. At some point, someone came over to me with Betty Friedan in tow, They were having a very hard time with obstreperous Betty. Their remedy: they told me that I was in charge of Betty and they went away. I spent the rest of the day catering to Betty’s every whim, of which there were many, and nodding to all her complaints, of which there were even more.
The 2015 National NOW Conference in New Orleans. Matt and I and Deb Huber joined a small group of hardy resisters from NJ and other States in fighting for chapter rights at the Conference, with side meetings taking up any time we might actually have had to see the city., Eleanor Smeal and others argued for a top down organization and tried to curb rights for chapters through ByLaw changes. We were able to succeed on preventing some (most?) of the changes. Both Matt and I spoke at the mic and rallied opposition.
I am writing this before the January 13, 2019 event of Words of Choice, which we are co-sponsoring with the Unitarian Society of Ridgewood. I know that will be another memory for me to relish, especially since it will be my final official appearance as President of NNJ NOW. I hope that I will see you there.
I want to thank the Board members I served with in the 2000’s: Vanessa, Dina, Mary, Matt, Judith, Kim, Doris, Diane and Marissa, and wish the new Board well.
It has been a great 45 years, and I am really curious about the next 45!
"An Englewood ordinance designed to deter "sidewalk counseling" of women entering an abortion clinic violates the First Amendment, a New Jersey federal judge has ruled.
Tuesday’s decision by U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton in Turco v. City of Englewood follows a 2014 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in McCullen v. Coakley, striking down a similar law in Massachusetts. Wigenton said Englewood’s law, like the one in Massachusetts, was content-neutral but nonetheless violated the First Amendment because it was not narrowly tailored to serve a significant government interest." - Charles Toutant 11/15/17 New Jersey Law Journal
Had the police at the time been receptive to the idea of arresting obstreperous protesters, we would not have had need for the buffer zone, small as it was.
This is a sad day, among sad days.
Sponsors of the screening were:
Northern New Jersey NOW
Reproductive Justice Committee of the Unitarian Society of Ridgewood
Northern Valley League of Women Voters
Urban League for Bergen County Young Professionals
YWCA of Bergen County
National Council of Jewish Women - Bergen County Section
The speaker was: Roberta (Bobbie) Francis, ERA Education Consultant for the Alice Paul Institute, Founding Chair of the ERA Task Force of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, and Former Director of the NJ Division on Women.
I attended Convention Days in Seneca Falls, NY, from July 14-16, 2017, with members of the Northern NJ Chapter of NOW. Convention Days is an annual festival at the Women’s Rights National Historical Park (WRNHP), where the first ever women’s rights convention was held in 1848. Activities include lectures, building tours, re-enactments, movies, concerts, and book talks. One of the leaders of the Convention Days events was Coline Jenkins, great granddaughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
My mother, Allison Lazo Hallingby and Coline Jenkins' mother, Rhoda Barney Jenkins, granddaughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, were architecture students together at the University of Pennsylvania in the class of 1941. Pioneering women for sure!
I have been working on the family tree this summer and found this photo below of the 2 of them, sent to me by Rhoda in 1999. That's Rhoda on the left and my mother Allison on the lower right. This is the text from the letter Rhoda wrote when she sent the photo:
"Came across this photo of your mother, Helen, and me transferring our drafting boards etc. to the second floor boys drafting room. The girls had been stuck in a very small room on the first floor along with the landscape architects and interior decorators when we were in the last days of a problem due. There was 19 inches between drafting boards and the air was foul. The boys upstairs had two boards [each] and there was even more place to spread out.
I look at this photo and it brings back many memories of times long gone. Some good some bad."
My mother and Rhoda ended up both living and raising their families in Rye, NY, in Westchester County. Not close friends but they saw one another occasionally. My mother did not practice architecture after marriage and children. Rhoda did practice architecture while raising her children.
A final crossing of Allison's and Rhoda's paths, albeit bittersweet, is that Rhoda got the commission to design the columbarium (public place for storage of cremated remains) at the Rye Presbyterian Church which my family belonged to. It was completed in the early 60's. My father was treasurer on the Board of Trustees of the church. He bought 2 niches in the columbarium right away to set an example for other members of the congregation and "get the ball rolling." My mother died a couple of years thereafter at age 46 in 1965, way before my father ever expected to use a niche. So Mother's ashes have been interred ever since then in a lovely outdoor columbarium designed by her former University of Pennsylvania architecture classmate Rhoda Jenkins.
By Leigh Hallingby
Bergen Unity Rally Speech
Hi, I’m Bonnie Shapiro.
The National Organization for Women has been fighting for equality for women since 1966. Wouldn’t it be nice if we weren’t needed anymore?!?
I find it fascinating that in 2017, NOW is in the position of representing both women who carry signs saying "I can't believe I still have to protest this shit," and women of later generations who dress up as giant uteruses, wear pink pussycat hats, and proclaim "This pussy will grab back."
Judith Green, NNJ -NOW Board member, speaking at Freedom Rally in Hackensack 2/20/17.
Hello! I am happy to be here with all of you to share in this vigil by talking about women’s equality.
To paraphrase Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, there is no equality between men and women if women are denied control over their own bodies. And women’s rights to justice are, as you know, human rights.
That is why we refuse to revisit the era before Roe, a time of anguish, desperation, deaths, mutilations, distorted and ruined lives, impoverishment and loss of potential, all inflicted on us by people who believe their moral tenets give them the right to control our lives and bodies.
As Dr. Willie J. Parker, an African-American gynecologist, said on the moral issue in a recent interview for the New York Times Magazine (2/12/17):
“A fetus is not a person…I don’t hold fetal life and the life of a woman equally…I find myself unable to demote [a woman’s] aspirations because of the aspirations someone else has for the fetus she is carrying”
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