November 4, 2023

Bella Abzug: Progress & Passion

Bella Abzug, the real deal, fought for women's rights, opposed the Vietnam War and even made Congress her playground. Don't miss "Bella!" – the documentary capturing her unfiltered legacy. It's not your average political drama; it's Bella's no-nonsense journey. For a quick tour of her extraordinary life, check out the facts about Bella Abzug below.

At age 50, Bella Abzug Mounted Her Successful First Run for Congress

“This woman’s place is in the House ... the House of Representatives.” That slogan propelled Abzug to victory in a Manhattan congressional district in 1970. She served three terms and co-founded the National Women’s Political Caucus with Gloria Steinem and Shirley Chisholm. Abzug also fought for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which remains unratified today.  

Lobbied to Get the U.S. Out of the Vietnam War

On her first day in Congress in 1971, Abzug proposed a resolution to pull U.S. troops out of Vietnam. Later that year, the longtime peace activist pressured Richard Nixon’s administration to release the entire classified Pentagon Papers about the Vietnam War. Before the war ended in 1975, she visited the region with colleagues and argued against continued U.S. military aid.  

On Richard Nixon’s “Enemies List”

When Abzug first met Nixon at a White House reception, she slammed his Vietnam policy, saying, “Your predecessors didn’t do very well, but you’re doing worse.” Chuck Colson, Nixon’s special counsel, put her on an “enemies list” with nearly 600 names. After Watergate, the Republican president was impeached and resigned in 1974.

Chaired the First National Women’s Conference

Jimmy Carter appointed Abzug to run the landmark conference in Houston, Texas. Vigorously opposed by Phyllis Schlafly, it attracted more than 20,000 delegates from across America, including Maya Angelou, Billie Jean King, and three First Ladies. Sessions focused on the ERA, domestic violence, and education reform, among other issues.  

Advocated for Women’s Rights Worldwide

In the 1980s and 1990s, Abzug agitated for reproductive rights and environmental conservation at United Nations conferences from Nairobi to Rio. The co-founder of the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) spoke at the 1995 World Conference on Women in Beijing, where Hillary Clinton stated, “Women’s rights are human rights.”  

From the stage to the screen, Bella Abzug's legacy lives on through the 2023 documentary "Bella!" now screening at The Beverly. Catch showtimes and prepare to be inspired.


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