Magazine article National NOW Times

NOW Mourns Passing of Two Indomitable Feminists, Leaders

Magazine article National NOW Times

NOW Mourns Passing of Two Indomitable Feminists, Leaders

Article excerpt

NOW members and activists across the country are saddened by the death of the indomitable Molly Yard, who served as NOWs president from 1987 to 1991. Yard died on Sept. 21 in Pittsburgh, after a lifetime of leadership in the women's rights and civil rights movements.

Yard was born in 1912 to Methodist missionaries living in China. Her father's Chinese friends gave him an ornate brass bowl as a "commiseration gift" on the birth of a daughter-symbolic of women's position in the world.

Shaped by a childhood in China, where women had such second-class status, Yard worked tirelessly during her life to achieve equality for all people. Yard's activism began when she was a student at Swarthmore College and led the fight to abolish the fraternity system, which discriminated against some minority students. She later worked with Dr. Dorothy Height to integrate the YWCA. While at Swarthmore, Yard wrote to President Franklin Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt about an issue that had angered many students. Eleanor Roosevelt invited Yard to meet with her, and Yard became a regular advisor to the First Lady.

"Her life was so extraordinary," said NOW President Kim Gandy, who was elected to NOW office as part of Yard's team in 1987.

Yard was a regional campaign manager for John F. Kennedy's 1960 presidential run and the Western Pennsylvania coordinator for Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" march in 1963.

"When Molly Yard spoke, everybody stopped and listened," Gandy recalled. "She carried enormous moral authority." Yard was heavily involved in the civil rights movement until 1974, when she joined Pittsburgh NOW and later became NOWs national political director, devoting nearly all her time to the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment until 1982. "She saw that the movement for women's rights was indeed a civil rights movement," Gandy said. …

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