A couple of nights ago, I turned on Channel 11 (PBS) to see if anything was on. There was a program about people meeting people who had been important to them 30 to 50 yeas ago. A person they had not had contact with and wanted to thank for changing their lives in some way.
I was going to turn it off and go back to my book when the name Sonja Johnson was mentioned. She was one of the women who went on a hunger strike in Illinois to get the ERA ratified. She called it “fasting” on the program, but it was called a “hunger strike” when it was happening and I know, because my daughter and I were there. We went to Springfield for a massive rally, after working day and night to get Illinois to vote for passage of the ERA. Women actually got divorced because they were home so seldom, their marriages broke up. That’s how hard we worked to get it it passed. That’s how dedicated we were. We went door to door, we handed out leaflets, spoke with the media, did everything. We only needed three more states and our governor promised that he would vote yes. He lied. He voted no and the ERA failed.
But the program was about one of the women who was part of the hunger strike. They had nothing but water for 37 days. Johnson was taken to the hospital 3 times in one day, near the end. They almost died.
But here’s the thing. When the women were in wheelchairs, and too weak to move, the right-wing, anti’s, spit on them, screamed at them, called them terrible names, put food in front of them, and did terrible things to the women. And, although it was not mentioned on the program, they stuck them with pins and needles. They finally had to put women around them to protect them from THE RIGHT-WING, ANTI people.
One of the youngest hunger strikers wanted to see Johnson again. So the program helped her find her. It was nice to see them.
Illinois ratified the ERA on May 31, 2018. Two more states to go before it gets into the Constitution. Two more states to finally say THAT WOMEN HAVE RIGHTS UNDER THE CONSTITUTION. How sick is that?
This is the Equal Rights Amendment that some people are so terrified of:
Equality of rights under the law shall not be abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex.
The world we live in is one of control and hatred. It’s so much a part of us that we don’t even notice it. But when men have rights and no one else does, you should be able to recognize the hatred. It’s right in front of all of us.