(Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

For more than six decades, San Franciscan Aileen Hernandez has been working to make American society more equal. A native New Yorker born of Jamaican parents, she moved to California to work for the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. She went on to become the only woman appointed by President Johnson to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and, soon after, helped found the National Organization for Women (NOW). She became NOW’s second president, where she worked for more inclusion of women of color in the women’s rights movement.

Hernandez joins us as part of our "First Person" series, showcasing the innovators, leaders and others who make Northern California unique.

  • thucy

    exciting shows today, thanks! Any thoughts from Ms. Hernandez on how the legal landscape would be different if the ERA had been ratified? I’m curious to know whether the amendment’s language would have covered LGBT members. It seems like it could have a blanket protection for the larger community (women, gays, etc), and far beyond the narrow discussion of marriage equality.

  • Laurie

    Eileen Hernandez: What an admirable person you are. In your work with the garment workers union, did you know my father, Max Mont, Executive Director of the Jewish Labor Committee? Thank you.

  • thucy

    Mike, with respect, this is so far from the most liberal city when you look at issues of economic equality.

    when you look at SF budget, we’re granola on the outside, conservative on the inside, Teachers get piffle, SFUSD gets piffle – but cops get mucho dinero. Police budget dwarfs school budget.

  • I grew up in the 80’s and always thought we were progressing in terms of equality. However, I just recently noticed that for all the children’s programs that tout equality for girls, the amount of actual female characters are much less than males. Dora’s friends are almost all male as well as Kai Lan’s. Though these shows try to broaden cultural equality, it seems that gender equality is still being hindered. I would like to know what Aileen would say we should do when it seems that inequality happens and we don’t even see it.

    • thucy

      Jennifer,
      is it possible that the inequality of female representation in tv shows is a miniscule issue compared to the gross inequality meted out by the drug war, which has imprisoned more black men than were enslaved in 1850?
      Is it possible that the current rate of incarceration for drug possession is an urgent human rights issue, a “Rome burning” while we feminists “fiddle” over tv shows?

  • Atillahn

    Less is more. Less self appointed leaders, less activism, less meddling and tinkering constantly. Let people solve their own problems themselves. Smart phones and social networks are wonderful because they disconnect them from so called leaders and give global information. People do not need to talk to people – they need wide and deep information sources so that they can make up their own minds.

  • Brenda

    such a lovely lady with such an ongoing legacy of activism-truly inspiring!

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