Honoring Betty Friedan and Coretta Scott King

We honor two fabulous women who died this week: Betty Friedan and Coretta Scott King. Women who were part of the revolutionary movements of the 1960s and continued throughout their lives to generate change and awaken consciousness in people everywhere. Women who defied the societal standards of their time and proposed the radical notion that men and women, and all races, were created equal.

Betty Friedan

Betty Friedan became world famous for her book “The Feminine Mystique,” a book she wrote while living as a suburban housewife in New York. She had graduated from Smith College in 1942 and later studied with the renowned psychologist, Erik Erikson at U.C. Berkeley. When she was offered a second prestigious fellowship in the graduate school of Psychology, her husband pressured her to turn it down. It was then that she wrote “The Feminine Mystique” (published in 1963). This book was founded on the notion that men and women were created equal and analyzed how women had been affected in the years following World War II by their expected societal roles and their limited means to fulfill career aspirations. In later editions, the issue of choice was also integrated into the book. In 1966, Ms. Friedan helped found the National Organization of Women. And then, in 1971, with Gloria Steinem and Bella Abzug, she founded the Women’s Political Caucus. Ms. Friedan wrote several other books, but it was “The Feminine Mystique” that continued to provoke questions and to inspire women, and men, all over the world, to transform themselves and the societies they lived in. She died on Saturday, her 85th birthday, of congestive heart failure.

Read about Betty Friedan’s books

Coretta Scott King

Coretta Scott King died Monday at the age of 78. She was in Mexico at an alternative medicine clinic, where she was being treated for advanced ovarian cancer. Mrs. King is the first woman and the first black person to lie in honor at the Georgia State Capitol, a place long regarded as the hotbed of segregation, and the location in which her husband, Martin Luther King, Jr., first began his quest to raise the spirit of his fellow citizens to empower themselves and to claim their civil rights by no longer accepting the intense racism and prejudice that prevailed in the world around them. He won the Nobel Peace Prize and created a wave of change that Mrs. King continued to undulate in her own quiet and noble manner after Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination in 1968.

From her biography on the King Center’s website, here is the brief biography of Coretta Scott King:

“Coretta Scott King is one of the most influential women leaders in our world today. Prepared by her family, education, and personality for a life committed to social justice and peace, she entered the world stage in 1955 as wife of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and as a leading participant in the American Civil Rights Movement. Her remarkable partnership with Dr. King resulted not only in four talented children, but in a life devoted to the highest values of human dignity in service to social change. Mrs. King has traveled throughout our nation and world speaking out on behalf of racial and economic justice, women’s and children’s rights, gay and lesbian dignity, religious freedom, the needs of the poor and homeless, full-employment, health care, educational opportunities, nuclear disarmament and ecological sanity. In her distinguished and productive career, she has lent her support to democracy movements world-wide and served as a consultant to many world leaders, including Corazon Aquino, Kenneth Kaunda, and Nelson Mandela.”

For more information: http://www.thekingcenter.org/

Read or listen to NPR’s report about Coretta Scott King

Coretta Scott King and Betty Friedan, two women from different walks of life, made a difference in the world by being true to themselves and voicing their beliefs in freedom and equality. May they continue to inspire us all.



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  1. Well done, Ms. McCloy!