The Norman Transcript

Local news

March 18, 2009

OU's Women's Studies Program launches video/oral history of Oklahoma's activists

The Women's Studies Program at the University of Oklahoma recently launched a video/oral history project focusing on activists who participated in the campaign for the Equal Rights Amendment in Oklahoma from 1972-1982.

Jill Irvine, director of the Women's Studies Program, welcomed guests to the opening reception, which honored the many activists in attendance. Women's Studies faculty and students also joined leaders from across the state in celebrating the commitment and hard work of these activists and the project's goal of preserving their stories.

Martha Skeeters, associate professor of women's studies and adjunct associate professor of history at OU, introduced the project, "Red Dirt Women and Power: A Video/Oral History of Oklahoma's Activists in the Campaign for the Equal Rights Amendment."

The title reflects the grit shown by Oklahoma's activists as they fought battle after battle, seeking ratification of the amendment by the Oklahoma legislature, Skeeters said, noting that the grassroots campaign involved women from one end of the state to the other and received national attention. Although the goal of ratification would not be met, Skeeters said, the networks of activists forged during the campaign have continued to this day, both as powerful friendships and as forces for the improved status of women and girls in Oklahoma.

During the reception, activist Becky Patten recalled her own participationin the state coalition as well as that of her mother, Jane Patten, who led Norman's ERA coalition. Also, Caitlyn Wright, a women's studies major, spoke for students in thanking earlier generations of activists for the work they have done to provide greater opportunities for young women today. These students, she said, are continuing the commitment to equal rights and social justice.

The Women's Studies Program is interested in hearing from others who were active in the ERA campaign. For more information, e-mail or call Skeeters or Julie Stidolph in the Women's Studies Program at or 325-6849.

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