Mama’s Club presents: The early days of women’s liberation in Gainesville

by Pam Smith

Mama’s Club will host a Zoom presentation of four women’s experience of being part of the beginning of the Women’s Liberation Movement in Gainesville on Saturday, March 19 from 4pm to 6pm.

Gainesville was one of five cities in the world that gave birth to this phenomena that continues to transform relationships and institutions including governments.

The Women’s Liberation Movement had its beginning in the Civil Rights Movement. It was in a civil rights office in Georgia that one afternoon a woman asked the other women in the movement office to stay after work to talk about their position in the Civil Rights Movement. 

Why were they being assigned the secretarial duties? Who was doing the public speaking? Months later having heard about the women’s rumblings, Stokely Carmichael (later known as Kwame Ture) famously said, perhaps joking, “The position of women in the movement is PRONE.”

That is what those brave women were up against.

That small meeting in Georgia gave birth to what came to be called “Consciousness Raising” groups. Three Gainesville women who were working in the deep south that Freedom Summer came back to Gainesville and started a consciousness raising group here, one of the first in the country, along with New York City, Cambridge, Chicago, and Seattle.

Meanwhile, there were other women working in Gainesville in the Gainesville Women for Equal Rights. This group consisted of Black and white women working together, meeting in secret, because it was dangerous for them to “fraternize” across racial lines.

Come listen to four women’s experience of those times in Gainesville. 

Tune into Zoom on Saturday, March 19 from 4pm to 6pm. Email or text Pam Smith at 352-231-3639 or Faye Williams at 352-226-2623 for the Zoom link.  

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