National Organization for Women
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
NOW was founded on June 30 1966 in Washington, D.C., by 28 women and men attending the Third National Conference of the Commission on the Status of Women, the successor to the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women. It had been three years since the Commission reported findings of women being discriminated against. However, the 1966 Conference delegates were prohibited by the administration's rules for the conference from even passing resolutions recommending that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforce its legal mandate to end sex discrimination.
The founders included Betty Friedan, the author of The Feminine Mystique (1963) and Rev. Pauli Murray, the first African-American woman Episcopal priest. Betty Friedan became the organization's first president.
The organization remains active in lobbying legislatures and media outlets on women's issues.
Statement of purpose
Betty Friedan and Pauli Murray wrote the organization's first Statement of Purpose in 1966 (the original was scribbled on a napkin by Friedan). The original statement described the purpose of NOW as "to take action to bring women into full participation in the mainstream of American society now, exercising all privileges and responsibilities thereof in truly equal partnership with men."
The current Statement reads, "Our purpose is to take action to bring women into full participation in society – sharing equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities with men, while living free from discrimination." Its current brochure also states "NOW is one of the few multi-issue progressive organizations in the United States. NOW stands against all oppression, recognizing that racism, sexism and homophobia are interrelated, that other forms of oppression such as classism and ableism work together with these three to keep power and privilege concentrated in the hands of a few."