Author Martha Bradley Evans will recount and update the battle for equal rights
What: “Remember the Ladies: The Fight for Women’s Rights” by Dr. Martha Bradley-Evans
When: 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 10
Where: The Park City Museum’s Education and Collections Center, 2079 Sidewinder Drive
The fight for women’s rights is a battle that started with the suffrage movement in the late 19th century and continues today, according to Dr. Martha Bradley Evans, author, historian and associate vice president of academic affairs at the University of Utah.
“In fact, (state) Rep. Karen Kwan reintroduced the Equal Rights Amendment to the Utah Legislature on Tuesday,” said Bradley Evans, who will give a free presentation titled “Remember the Ladies: The Fight for Women’s Rights” on Tuesday at the Park City Museum’s Education and Collections Center.
The lecture will complement the Park City Museum’s exhibit, “A Woman Speaking to Women: the Political Art of Nina Allender,” which will show through Jan. 13.
One of the reasons Kwan reintroduced the proposed constitutional amendment, which would give all U.S. citizens the same rights regardless of sex, was because the Utah Legislature didn’t ratify it when it was first introduced in 1975, according to Bradley Evans.
“It’s going to be an interesting legislative session, in my opinion, and what will happen in the next four or five months in Utah will be an interesting moment in our history,” she said.
Bradley Evans plans to discuss Rep. Kwan and how local women participated in the fight for their rights in the 1970s and the late 19th century during Monday’s presentation that will be hosted by the Park City Historical Society.
“These things are all part of the same story, and what happened earlier kind of laid the groundwork for women’s involvement in the 1970s,” she said.
Park City Museum Executive Director Sandra Morrison originally asked Bradley Evans to give a presentation about the Women’s Suffrage Movement and the ratification of the 19th Amendment by the states in 1919 and 1920, which allowed women the right to vote.
“Because of my research, I knew there was a full stream of history around women’s rights, so I asked Sandra if I could focus on more,” Bradley Evans said. “So, I will talk about the fight against the Equal Rights Amendment during the 1970s and 1980s.”
Bradley Evans found the 1970s and 1980s interesting decades to study, because many of the social changes of the 1960s materialized and changed legislation and policy, she said.
“You saw the Equal Employment Opportunity Act, Roe vs. Wade and several other landmark events that were the result of 10 to 20 years of prior political action,” she said.
The Equal Rights Amendment itself was first introduced by Alice Paul in 1923 but has never been ratified, according to Bradley Evans.
“There was a 15-year period before 1970 where no one reintroduced it to Congress,” she said. “Then all the planets aligned, and there was substantial support for it across the county. All the national polls suggested it would fly through the states for ratification, and as we know it didn’t do that in Utah.”
Bradley Evans, author of several books, including “4 Zinas: A Story of Mothers and Daughters on the Mormon Frontier “ and “Pedestals and Podiums: Utah Women, Religious Authority, and Equal Rights,” will also discuss how deep women who were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the late 19th century were involved in the fight for equal rights.
“One of the things I picked up on was these women weren’t asking for radical personal changes, in the sense that they would break out of marriages and start to work outside the home,” Bradley Evans said. “The local women saw themselves as building Mormonism by improving the position of women. They thought if they improved the position of women, they would strengthen families and the community.”
These women were among the leaders of the women’s movement who helped other Utah women focus on broader rights as well, Bradley Evans said.
“They did this openly and freely, all with the support of the structure of the church around them,” she said. “What they did wasn’t interpreted as bucking up against the church, and that was surprising to me.”
While Bradley Evans looks forward to giving her presentation, she is more excited for the Q and A.
“Whenever I present these topics, the far-more interesting thing for me is the questions people ask or the stories they have of their experiences with the women’s movement,” she said. “Everyone has an experience, and I enjoy engaging with people around their own stories.”
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