SHOULD WOMEN HAVE EQUAL RIGHTS?
It’s “Favorite T-shirt Day” at Ridgemont Middle School, and even the teachers are getting in on the action. Lucy enjoys seeing all of her teachers’ vintage t-shirts. When she gets to social studies, she sees her teacher wearing a t-shirt with the slogan, “ERA YES, ERA NOW.” Lucy’s not sure what that means. Lucy’s teacher, Ms. Walker, tells the class that her t-shirt is 40 years old. She first wore it in 1982, when she and her college friends marched in Washington, D.C. in support of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).
The ERA is a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution which would protect against based on a person’s sex. Lucy and her classmates are surprised to learn that the ERA was first introduced to Congress in 1923, when activist Alice Paul shared, “We shall not be safe until the principle of equal rights is written into the framework of our government.” It wasn’t until 1972 that the ERA finally passed the House and Senate and was sent to the states to be ratified. Ms. Walker remembers how excited her parents were in 1972; they had fought for civil rights in the 1960s, and celebrated what they hoped would be more freedoms for Ms. Walker, her sisters and all women. The celebration was short-lived when only 35 states ratified the amendment. It was three states short of the 38 votes needed to amend the Constitution.
Since 1982, the ERA has been reintroduced to Congress every session. That’s why Ms. Walker and her college friends chose to march for equal rights in 1982, and every year since. She explains that she will keep showing up until everyone’s rights are protected. When Lucy gets home that afternoon, she goes online to read more about the Equal Rights Amendment. She learns that since 1982, three more states have ratified the ERA but several others have rescinded their ratification. Lucy vows to not only join the next march but also find out what can be done to make sure the ERA becomes an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Investigate the primary sources.The Equal Rights Amendment was first proposed in 1923. It was approved by Congress in 1972 and passed onto the States to be ratified. Why was it not ratified? Do you think there should be another push for the Equal Rights Amendment? How would you promote or raise awareness of the ERA for today’s audiences? Make your case.
Have your students take this challenge and make their case! To begin, send your students to this website with this challenge’s code.
Ratification means to approve a rule or law that would otherwise not be implemented without that approval. To add or modify an existing Constitutional amendment, the proposed amendment must be ratified by ¾ of the states.
Rescind means to revoke or take away.