This article analyzes the significance of the 1977 California International Women’s Year (IWY) Conference, one of fifty-six state and territorial meetings held ahead of the 1977 National Women’s Conference (NWC) in Houston, Texas. The NWC was the first and only time that the U.S. federal government funded and authorized an event focused on women’s rights. Utilizing primary and oral history sources, we examine the political mobilization of women of color and lesbians from California. We focus on the efforts of these minoritized women to reach their respective communities and to form coalitions with one another, before and during the state meeting, in order to make collective impacts at the NWC. We make three arguments. First, these California activists built upon a longer tradition of political mobilization within and across communities defined in terms of race, indigeneity, and sexuality. Second, the timing of political engagement by women of color and lesbian-identified activists with the NWC, namely in the late 1970s, challenges the temporal understanding of so-called second-wave feminism, which tends to focus on the 1960s and early 1970s. Finally, the range of political ideas and strategies expressed at the California IWY Conference and the NWC reveals the intertwining of various ideologies and approaches to creating change. The NWC was a state-sponsored political event, but the grassroots mobilization that occurred at the local, state, and national levels enabled women of diverse backgrounds and beliefs to articulate and advocate for their political vision.

You do not currently have access to this content.