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Mary Lee Sargent - ERA Fight in Illinois

Mary Lee Sargent has spent a lifetime as a teacher and activist for civil rights, LGBT rights and women’s equality. In the early 1980s, while teaching at Parkland Community College in Champaign, Illinois, she also was co-founder of A Grassroots Group of Second Class Citizens, an organization of women willing to take more dramatic action in the fight to convince the Illinois legislature to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. Their efforts were in vain at the time, but Mary Lee continued to fight for ERA's eventual passage, as well as advocate for other civil rights issues for which she felt passionate.

Interview Links

Abstract

Interview Session 01 (Audio)

Early life and beginning a life in activism and move to Illinois

Interview Session 02 (Audio)

Mary Lee’s involvement in the ERA fight in Illinois


Photos

Caption

This poster was used in 1982 to rally support for more dramatic action to gain passage of the ERA Amendment in the Illinois legislature as time was running out. The Illinois legislature failed to adopt it that year, and ERA went down to defeat.

Where:

Springfield, Illinois

When:

1982

Ownership:

This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption

Dorothy Vivian Herold Sargent holds her nearly one year old daughter Mary Lee in 1941. The family lived in Mission, Texas at the time.

Where:

Mission, Texas

When:

1941

Ownership:

Narrator's photo

Caption

Mary Lee’s father Benjamin Calvin Sargent with his daughter in 1943. She was 2 1/2 at the time.

Where:

Harlingen, Texas

When:

1943

Ownership:

Narrator's photo

Caption

Mary Lee Sargent in 1945, age 5, in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Where:

Corpus Christi, Texas

When:

1945

Ownership:

Narrator's photo

Caption

Mary Lee Sargent was eleven when she mugged it up for this photo in Dallas, Texas in 1951.

Where:

Dallas, Texas

When:

1951

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Fourteen year old Mary Lee Sargent and Suzi Sargent in 1954. They lived in Dallas, Texas at the time.

Where:

Dallas, Texas

When:

1954

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Mary Lee Sargent attended a dance at Southern Methodist University with Mac Miller in 1959.

Where:

SMU in Dallas TX

When:

1959

Ownership:

Narrator’s photo

Caption

Suzi Sargent accompanies her sister Mary Lee at Mary Lee’s wedding to Gerald Clore in Walnut Creek, California in June 1962. Gerald is following close behind.

Where:

Walnut Creek, California

When:

June 1962

Ownership:

Narrator's photo

Caption

Mary Lee participated in a march in Washington, D.C. for gay and lesbian rights in 1979, the first such march for the cause. From left to right are Cathy Zhart, Mary Lee Sargent, Kari Alice Lynn, Jon Smith and Linda Aldana Nall.

Where:

Washington, D.C.

When:

1979

Ownership:

Narrator's photo

Caption

This photo taken by Annie Leibowitz is of the women who chained themselves to the railing outside the Illinois state Senate chamber in June 1982. The photo appeared in Life Magazine. Mary Lee is in the back row, third from the right.

Where:

Illinois State Senate Chamber

When:

June 1982

Ownership:

Narrator's photo

Caption

Those who chained themselves outside the IL Senate chamber on June 3, 1982 included, LtR Pauline Kages, ?, Jane Olsen, Sue Yarber, Kari Alice Lynn, Mary Lee Sargent, Joyce Meyes, Alice Webber, Page Mellish, Berenice Carroll and Loretta Manning.

Where:

Illinois State Senate Chamber

When:

1982

Ownership:

Narrator's photo

Caption

When ERA went down to defeat, ERA activists showed their disapproval by writing the names of their opponents in pigs’ blood outside the governor’s office on June 25, 1982. LtR are Ann Casey Elder, Sue Yarber, and Mary Lee Sargent.

Where:

Senate Chamber

When:

June 1982

Ownership:

Narrator's photo

Caption

Dorothy, Ben, Suzi, and Mary Lee Sargent in July 1983 for a family Reunion in Granbury, Texas.

Where:

Granbury, Texas

When:

July 1983

Ownership:

Narrator's photo

Caption

Mary Lee Sargent was running for the University of Illinois Board of Trustees when this picture was taken in Champaign in October, 1984.

Where:

Champaign, Illinois

When:

October 1984

Ownership:

Narrator's photo

Caption

Mary Lee Sargent confronts an Illinois House gallery guard (a ‘Red Coat’, veterans who helped on the floor) during a Halloween protest for women’s rights in 1985.

Where:

Illinois House

When:

1985

Ownership:

Narrator's photo

Caption

Mary Lee Sargent attended the Michigan Women’s Music Festival in August 1986 in Hart, Michigan.

Where:

Hart, Michigan

When:

August 1986

Ownership:

Narrator's photo

Caption

Suzi Sargent Bezemer, Dorothy, Ben and Mary Lee gathered for parents Ben and Dorothy’s 50th Anniversary in Walnut Creek, California in October 1989.

Where:

Walnut Creek, California

When:

October 1989

Ownership:

Narrator's photo

Caption

Mary Lee Sargent makes a point while at her office at Parkland College in Champaign, IL on December 9, 1990.

Where:

Champaign, Illinois

When:

December 1990

Ownership:

Narrator's photo

Caption

Mary Lee Sargent and Illinois Secretary of State Police, who provide security in the capitol building, during a protest for a house bill adding sexual orientation to the Illinois Human Rights Act in 1999.

Where:

Illinois Capitol Building

When:

1999

Ownership:

Narrator's photo

Caption

Mary Lee Sargent with her father, Ben Sargent, in Champaign, Illinois in 2001.

Where:

Champaign, Illinois

When:

2001

Ownership:

Narrator's photo

Caption

Ann Isenbery (Mary Lee’s spouse) and Mary Lee with their dog Molly in Portsmouth, New Hampshire circa 2004.

Where:

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

When:

2004

Ownership:

Narrator's photo

Caption

Mary Lee Sargent and Anne Miller Peterson, a close friend, at Anne’s wedding at Lake Chocorua in 2014.

Where:

Lake Chocorua

When:

2014

Ownership:

Narrator's photo



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