- NAME: Bella Abzug
- OCCUPATION: Women's Rights Activist, Anti-War Activist, Lawyer, U.S. Representative
- BIRTH DATE: July 24, 1920
- DEATH DATE: March 31, 1998
- EDUCATION: Walton High School, Hunter College, Columbia University, Columbia Law School
- PLACE OF BIRTH: New York, New York
- PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York
- Maiden Name: Bella Savitzky
- AKA: Bella Abzug
- AKA: Bella Savitsky
- Full Name: Bella Savitsky Abzug
- AKA: Bella Savitzky Abzug
Best Known For
Bella Abzug was a leading liberal activist and politician in the 1960s and 1970s, especially known for her work for women’s rights.
Think you know about Biography?
Answer questions and see how you rank against other players.Play Now
In the 1960s, Bella Abzug became involved the antinuclear and peace movements and helped organize the Women Strike for Peace in 1961. To promote women’s issues and to lobby for reform, she helped establish the National Women’s Political Caucus with Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem, and to have a greater impact on the political process, she served in the House of Representatives from 1971 to 1977.
"Maybe we weren't at the Last Supper, but we're certainly going to be at the next one."
Born Bella Savitsky on July 24, 1920, in New York City, Bella Abzug spent much of her life fighting social and political change. Bold and outspoken, she was a leading liberal activist and politician in the 1960s and 1970s, especially known for her work for women’s rights.
The daughter of Russian immigrants, Abzug grew up in the Bronx, New York, where her father ran a butcher shop. She decided at an early age that she wanted to be a lawyer. At Hunter College, Abzug demonstrated her natural leadship abilities as the president of the student council there. She went on to earn her law degree from Columbia University in 1947. Abzug had applied to the Harvard Law School, but she was rejected because of her gender.
After graduating from Columbia University's law school, Bella Abzug worked as a lawyer for a number of years. She started in labor law and then moved on to tackling civil rights cases. While working for the American Civil Liberties Union, she took on the Willie McGee case. McGee, an African American man, was convicted of raping a white woman in Mississippi. He was sentenced to death for this crime, but many were not convinced of his guilt. Abzug faced numerous threats from white supremists for her involvement in the case. Despite the personal risk, she managed to get his death sentence delayed through appealing his conviction. All of her efforts failed, however, and McGee was executed in 1951.
Abzug also defended many people who had been accused of communist activities by Senator Joseph McCarthy. In the 1960s, she became involved the antinuclear and peace movements. Abzug helped organize the Women Strike for Peace in 1961. To promote women’s issues and to lobby for reform, she helped establish the National Women’s Political Caucus with leading feminists Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem.
To have a greater impact on the political process, Bella Abzug ran for Congress in 1970, winning a seat in the House of Representatives. She took office in 1971, and she made a bold move on her first day in Congress. Abzug introduced a bill to remove all U.S. troops from Vietnam. While the measure didn't pass, the bill was just the first of many efforts by Abzug to advance the causes she believed in.
Abzug became famous for and oftentimes criticized for her outspokeness on the issues. She fought tirelessly for women's rights and for civil rights in general. In 1975, Abzug made history when she introduced the first gay rights bill in Congress. She became one of Washington's most colorful characters, usually sporting one of her trademark hats.
profile name: Bella Abzug profile occupation:
Sign in with Facebook to see how you and your friends are connected to famous icons.
Your Friends' Connections
Included In These Groups
Names We Like 23 people in this group
Studio 54 Patrons 49 people in this group
When the 19th Amendment was ratified, women were finally given the right to vote, and over the years many courageous women have stepped onto the national political stage as well. In 1916, Jeannette Rankin became the first woman elected to Congress and almost a century later Sonia Sotomayor became the first Latina woman to serve on the Supreme Court. And within the last two decades, the esteemable Hillary Clinton has served as First Lady, a New York senator and Secretary of State. These women, and many more, are setting the stage for the future of female leaders in Washington.
Visit Biography.com's Women's History group to explore more biographies, photos and videos of some the world's most fascinating women."
Influential Women of Washington 73 people in this group