Twenty thousand people from across the U.S. gathered in Houston, Texas on a historic weekend in November 1977 for the first federally funded National Women's Conference, aiming to end discrimination against women and promote their equal rights. In the crowd were former first ladies Betty Ford and Lady Bird Johnson, current first lady Rosalyn Carter and women of all ages, ethnicities and political backgrounds. Combining footage of the conference with interviews—both then and now—with influential women’s leaders such as Barbara Jordan, Bella Abzug, Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, Eleanor Smeal, Ann Richards and Coretta Scott King, SISTERS OF '77 is a fascinating look at that pivotal weekend in 1977, an event that not only changed the lives of the women who attended, but the lives of Americans everywhere.
Filmmakers Cynthia Salzman Mondell and Allen Mondell began researching SISTERS OF ’77 as an opportunity to capture an historic event that was also part of their personal history: Salzman Mondell, who attended the conference, was also one of the many relay runners that helped carry a torch to Houston from Seneca Falls, New York—the site of the first U.S. women’s rights convention in 1848. On the table at the 1977 conference were countless hot-button issues that ran the gamut of American women's concerns: equal pay, day care, healthcare, minority rights, abortion, lesbian rights and workplace discrimination. After four days of feverish arguments, all-night caucuses, and with the attention of both protesters and the world's media upon them, the women hammered out a plan of action, ending the weekend ready to take on the world.
Women in America have come a long way, and SISTERS OF ’77 reveals how. Told through actual footage of the conference as well as modern-day interviews with many who attended, the film offers a window into not only U.S. history, but also the nation’s future, as movement leaders talk about the advances made by women in the intervening decades and why the Equal Rights Amendment never passed. As Betty Friedan notes in the film, "I have this fantasy that someone at some day of judgment asks me ‘What have you done with your life?' So I say, ‘Three kids, nine great-grandchildren, nine grandchildren, six books and a revolution.' And I think that revolution is pretty clear, in this country at least, and that women really can't be pushed back from where they are now." (via pbs.org)