- Interviews of, Articles & Videos About Sonia
Interviews of, and Articles about, Sonia Pressman Fuentes
Articles about Sonia are also contained in the section on Belgium.
- On March 14, 2013, the Veteran Feminists of America (VFA), an organization dedicated to recognizing the pioneer feminists of the second wave of the women’s movement, announced the revamping of its website at www.vfa.us. Sonia is mentioned throughout the website.
- On February 21, 2013, the Women’s Herstory Initiative, Words of Women, International Women’s Day, based in Dallas, TX, announced that the essay of seventeen-year-old Talia Weisberg about Sonia on the subject “The Most Influential Woman in My Life” won the Words of Women Essay contest.
- The book, Jews of Sarasota-Manatee, by Kim Sheintal (Arcadia Publishing, Feb. 2013), contains a 2002 photo of Sonia in front of a sign about the Jewish Genealogical Society (JGS) of Southwest Florida (p 25). Sonia gave a talk to JGS on March 2002. To see Sonia’s photo, go to arcadiapublishing.com. You will see a photo of the book cover. Under that are the words "Search Inside," click on that, then type in “Sonia Pressman Fuentes.”
- “Boston Commons,” by Talia Weisberg, was published on January 8, 2013, in Fresh ink for Teens, an online newspaper sponsored by the Jewish Week in New York City.
- "Groundbreakers or Ground Takers?" by Talia Weisberg, was published on December. 8, 2012, in Fresh ink for Teens, an online publication sponsored by the New York Jewish Week.
- By Tyler Whitson, "Women's Rights Pioneers Strive to Influence and Inspire a New Generation," Sarasota News Leader, November 16, 2012. (Visit the Sarasota News Leader Web site.)
- "Women’s Rights Pioneer Sonia Fuentes Speaks at Law School," enewsletter of the Cornell University School of Law, Oct. 31, 2012.
- By Deborah Carney, "Sonia Pressman Fuentes Interview About Feminism and Her Memoir," October 8, 2012.
- Interview with Sonia Pressman Fuentes as a Featured Writer on authormepro.com, August 30, 2012.
- By Nick Friedman, "Neighbors: Sonia Pressman Fuentes," July 4, 2012.
- Jewdayo, June 30, 2012, Sonia as a founder of NOW.
- Sarasota Observer, June 28, 2012: Sonia presents copies of her memoir to prizewinning young women students at Booker Middle School, Sarasota, FL.
- RTIRonline asks Sonia to comment on the death of Nora Ephron, June 28, 2012.
- Website devoted to Sarah Palin calls Sonia a “so-called feminist” (presumably under the theory that forty-seven years of fighting for women’s rights isn’t long enough to qualify one as a feminist). (June 25, 2012)
- Is Laura Bush feminist enough for Alice Paul Award?, Washington Post, June 20, 2012.
- Who Will Speak Out Against an Outrageous Insult to Former First Lady Laura Bush?, The Huffington Post, June 19, 2012.
- Laura Bush’s fight for women, Washington Post, June 19, 2012.
- Sewall-Belmont House draws fire for honoring Laura Bush, Washington, DC’s The Examiner, June 18, 2012.
- Sonia initiates campaign to protest the National Woman’s Party/Sewall-Belmont House & Museum’s plan to give the Alice Award to Laura Bush, Washington Post, June 18, 2012.
- Cary Franklin, “Inventing the `traditional concept’ of sex discrimination,” Harv. Law Review, Vol. 125, # 6, p. 1307 (2012), Univ. of Texas Law, Public Law Research Paper #219.
- "Eva Alexandra Countess Kendeffy, Sonia Pressman Fuentes and Rabbi Jonathan Katz", Longboat Key Observer of March 11, 2012. This picture also appeared in the Sarasota, FL, Jewish News (April 2012, p. 14B).
- By David Beard and Bethonie Butler, "The keys to a better life? Everyone has an opinion," February 21, 2012.
- Interview of Sonia by Talia bat Pessi, a high school student, that went online on Feb. 9, 2012.
- Feb. 5, 2012, Interview with Cyrus Webb, editor of Conversations Magazine.
- By Paul Berger, "When 'Savior of Jews' is Deeply Flawed," January 09, 2012. (Article includes a slide show about Sonia.) The article, which deals with Sonia’s request to The Righteous Among the Nations Department at Yad Vashem in Israel to remove Robert de Foy from those recognized as Righteous, was picked up by newspapers in Belgium, Canada, and France. An article about the same subject appeared on Feb. 8, 2012, in Dutch in Joods Actueel, a monthly newspaper directed to Jews in Belgium. By letter of Feb. 4, 2013, The Righteous Among the Nations Department advised Sonia that “after painstaking examination,” her request was denied.
- "Jean Faust, First President of the First Chapter of NOW," December 8, 2011.
- By Abby Weingarten, "Feminist Revisits Her Birth Country," November 9, 2011 (Online version | Photocopy)/Sonia with Dr. Bernd Wollschlaeger
- Generations of the Shoah International Newsletter, October 2011
- "NOW Conference: Action, Inspiration and Connection," Now National Times, Fall 2011
- "Sonia Fuentes, writer, speaker, and feminist activist, tells us about her life," HavaMAG Life, Issue 4, September 2011 (To access the article: Click on the arrow to the right until it takes you to the Table of Contents on the left. Next, click on the first item in the Table of Contents, which is the article about Sonia, on page 10. When you come to the article, double click on each page to make the type readable.)
- "Featured Author," Published by Sonia's publisher, Xlibris Corp., in a newsletter and on its website, July 27, 2011.
- By Slavica Monczka, “Feminist Sonia Pressman Fuentes. Her Passion for Women’s Rights,” appeared in the e-zine, Inspirational Woman’s Magazine, on July 24, 2011, and was written by Slavica Monczka.
- By Slavica Monczka, "Something Beautiful is Happening," seductivelyfrench.com, July 5, 2011
- "Blending motherhood and working: Moms work by choice — and also out of necessity," Deseret News, June 26, 2011
- "Second Wave Founder" by Sonia Fuentes, girlscantwhat.com, June 9, 2011
- The CHJ Connection (Vo. XIV, No. 9, May-June 2011)
- Sonia’s March 3, 2011, letter to the editor of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune is discussed in “Religious Rehab at Florida Jail Sparks Protest,” Church & State (Vol. 64, No. 4, Apr. 2011), the magazine of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. The letter is included and can be read in the Letters to the Editor section of this website.
- The Jewish News of Sarasota-Manatee (Vol. 41, No. 2, Feb. 2011): article about the Red Star Line Museum opening in Antwerp, Belgium, on Sept. 27, 2013, which will have a permanent exhibit about Sonia and her family.
- The CHJ Connection, the newsletter of the Congregation for Humanistic Judaism in Sarasota, FL, December 2010
- TILES, the newsletter of the Jewish Museum of Florida, December 2010
- 2 million passengers, 2 million stories, The Red Star Line Museum, October 10, 2010
- By WomensRadio Staff, October 12, 2010.
- By Cathy B Stucker, sellingbooks.com, September 8, 2010
- Column called “WorkWise BlogTip: Know when to be direct” by Dr. Mildred L. Culp, which appeared in the Modesto [Calif.] Bee of Sept. 6, 2010
- Radio-TV Interview Report, "Elena Kagan—Fifty and Fabulous," July 7, 2010
- By Joan Collins, The Sullivan County Democrat newspaper on June 18, 2010
- By Joan Collins, The Sullivan County Democrat newspaper on June 11, 2010
- Author Spotlight, Xlibris, June, 2010
- By Andrea Kay, USA Today, May 17, 2010
- By Nancy Gibbs, "Love, Sex, Freedom and the Paradox of the Pill, A Brief History of Birth Control," April 22, 2010
- By David Ball, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, February 20, 2010
- By Tamar Burris, published on the Web site, Story of My Life, January 19, 2010.
- Added as a Luminary on inspiremetoday.com, October 2009
- By Marita Meegan, akgmag.com interviews, August 2009
- By Corie Russell, She Knows, July 2009
- By Meigs Glidewell, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, June 30, 2009
- By Heather Dunhill, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, June 4, 2009
- By Veronica I. Arreola, Viva la Feminista, April, 2009
- By Amanda Joe, The Cornell Daily Sun, April 23, 2009
- StopGap Magazine, the members’ magazine of the Fawcett Society in the UK, Spring 2009
- Sonia, who graduated from Monticello High School, in Monticello, NY, was profiled in the October 2008 issue of the newsletter of the Monticello Central School District and is on the district’s website.
- By Kristen J. Tsetsi, Journal Inquirer, March 31, 2008
- By Evelyn L. Moya, The Docket, February 2008
- By Linda Jimenez Glassman, "English Corner" Radio Sefarad interview, August 2007
- By Ruth Lando, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, July 1, 2007
- By Steven A. Bibb, Passages, Summer 2007
- By Marsha Fottler, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, May 12, 2007
- By Erica Brody, National Council of Jewish Women Journal, Winter 2006 (pdf. file)
- Featured Author, Xlibris, November, 2006
- By Adam Levin, Washington Jewish Week, June 29, 2006
- By Susan Weidman Schneider, The Reporter (Spring 2006, Vol. 55, No. 2, p. 10), a publication of Women's American ORT
- The Barrister, the University of Miami (FL) School of Law alumni magazine, Winter 2005
- By Debra Rubin, "The f-wordOnline exhibit features local Jewish feminists," October 27, 2005. Sonia is one of six Washington, DC, area women included in the exhibit of the Jewish Women’s Archive called Jewish Women and the Feminist Revolution.
- By Jacqueline Sternberg, Washington Jewish Week, April 28, 2005
- By Ken Millstone, The Potomac Almanac, October 13-19, 2004
- By Jeanette Friedman, Lifestyles Magazine, Fall 2003 (pdf file)
- By Sylvia Danovitch, Women in Judaism: Contemporary Writings, June 2003 (This interview also appears on the website of Women in Judaism: A Multidisciplinary Journal, on whose consulting board Ms. Fuentes serves.)
- By Sheri' McConnell, National Association of Women Writers, May 2003
- By Michael Pollick, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, November 25, 2002
- By Magdalena Ball, The Compulsive Reader, July 2002
- By the Editor of WomenWriters.net, June 2002
- By Phil Fink, radio interview on Shalom America, WELW 1330 AM, Cleveland, Ohio, Feb. 3, 2002 (not available on the www)
- By Norman Simms, Chadashot, August 2001
- By Bill Adams, The Senior News, July 2001
- By Jenna Glatzer, WriteRead University, May 14, 2001
- Publishing Success Magazine, May 2001
- By Lisa Katz, "The Making of a Jewish American Feminist: Sonia Pressman Fuentes." This is a seven-part piece about Eat First and Ms. Fuentes.
- By Barbara Ruben, Senior Beacon, October 2000
- Cornell Chronicle (Vol. 31, No. 31, April 20, 2000)
- By Lynn Laframboise, Word Wrangler Publishing, February 2000
- Shalom, newspaper for the Reading, PA, Jewish community, February 2000
- By Linda Eberharter, Bridge Works Publishing, January 2000
- By Marlena Thompson, Washington Jewish Week, December 16, 1999
- By Linda Davis Kyle, "Writers Around the World," August 1998
- By Eva S., "Evenings with Eva," July 21, 1998
- By Ellen Joan Pollock, Wall Street Journal, May 1998 (This article is a follow-up to a 1975 Wall Street Journal article by Mary Bralove.)
- By Risa Molitz, "Fuentes' lecture leads to talk on uniting women," University of Virginia's The Cavalier Daily, October 22, 1997.
- By Frankee Nesta, West Coast Woman, May 1997
- By Sylvia Danovitch, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), December 27, 1990
- By Betty Friedan, It Changed My Life: Readings on the Women’s Movement, 1976
- By Mary Bralove, Wall Street Journal, May 13, 1975
- Excerpt from Betty Friedan’s article, “Up from the kitchen floor,” NY Times Magazine (March 4, 1973), crediting Sonia with giving her the idea to start an organization to fight for women like the NAACP fought for its constituents.
- Courier-Times, Bucks County, PA, June 25, 1970
- By Dorothy Gilcrest, Anniston (AL) Star, October 21, 1969
- Courant, Hartford, CT, December 7, 1966
- By Louise Hutchinson, "U.S. Hearings To Weigh Sex in the Skies." Sonia drafted the first EEOC decision in these cases finding that airlines violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when they terminated or grounded stewardesses for reaching the age of 32 or 35 or marrying.
- By Sylvia Porter, Post-Crescent, May 28, 1963
- B’nai B’rith Women’s World, November 1959
- By Susie Marbey, The Miami Hurricane, May 10, 1957
Sonia Pressman Fuentes
Potomac Feminist, Author Keeps Busy
Interview by Ken Millstone, Potomac Almanac
Sonia Pressman Fuentes co-founded the National Organization for Women.
October 13, 2004
This interview is from Potomac Almanac
Sonia Pressman Fuentes does not dwell on what might have been. Not even on the fact that she almost wasn’t born.
The Potomac resident, co-founder of the National Organization for Women, and author of “Eat First—You Don’t Know What They’ll Give You: Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter,” was born in Berlin in 1928, the first year the little known National Socialist party held seats in the German parliament. But only because the doctor Fuentes’ mother went to seeking an abortion was on vacation in the Swiss Alps with a famous ballerina.
“In my life and in my family it is to me a wonderful, humorous story,” Fuentes said of her mother, the abortionist and the ballerina. “And the reason is because my parents were so devoted to me that this just becomes a humorous family story.”
Fuentes’ life is punctuated by serendipitous events and seemingly impulsive choices. But chance alone did not send Fuentes to law school in the 1950s or make her the first woman attorney in the general counsel’s office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. “It’s both chance and your own determination,” said Fuentes. “Those two work together.”
FUENTES’ POLISH PARENTS had lived in Germany for over 20 years when she was born. Her father operated a clothing business and her mother and brother Hermann—fourteen years her senior—helped out in the store. During the early 1930s Hermann expressed growing concern about the growing power of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, but Fuentes’ father thought the idea of leaving was absurd.
“It’s just as if I came to you now. Let’s say Bush, God forbid, is reelected and I come to you and I say ‘This man is no good you need to move to Australia,’” Fuentes said, recounting her father’s reluctance. “What would you say to me?”
But Hermann persisted and Fuentes’ father eventually gave in. The family fled to Antwerp in 1933 and to America a year later.
“We solely survived because of my brother and as long as he lived I rarely spoke to him without thanking him,” Fuentes said.
Fuentes was six when she arrived in America and does not remember watching the war unfold. “I don’t know what I felt when I was six,” she says, except for feeling “different from the other kids.” The quiet immigrant girl going to school in the Bronx began to learn her fourth language—English.
Fuentes’ life in America includes a laundry list of towns and cities: New York, Miami, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Cleveland, and, for most of the time since 1957, Washington. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Cornell in 1950, where briefly considered majoring in Home Economics.
“I was going to take a course in meat-cutting,” she said. Fuentes spent her last undergraduate year in the graduate school of business and public administration, and with her degree in hand, she prepared to be recruited.
“I thought ‘What job will I take?’ The whole world is going to come knocking at my door looking for me,” Fuentes said. She didn’t get a single offer. Not even a call. “At one point I sent out 200 resumes,” she said. “Nobody was hiring women college graduates in those days.”
Fuentes essentially shelved her college degree and took a course in shorthand. “I finished on a Friday,” she said, “and Monday I had a job.” She moved around, working in the lower echelons of various companies, most of which Fuentes said later went out of business. At one point she worked for a man named Sonny Sunshine. But Fuentes knew she could do better.
When people asked her about her job, Fuentes says, “I’d say I was a secretary. And that was perfectly acceptable to them. That was a perfectly acceptable thing for women to do in those days. But I felt that it wasn’t enough—that with my college education I should be doing more.”
When a company that had repeatedly transferred Fuentes for arbitrary reasons tried to move her again, she made a spur of the moment decision. She quit and declared she was going to law school. “For me to say at that time I was going to law school was like saying I’m going to become a lion tamer. … And I don’t know what caused me to say that. I think I just wanted to let them know that I didn’t depend on their lousy job.”
“If she tells you she’s going to do it – it’s done,” said Jackie Williams, a friend of more than forty years. Fuentes went to the University of Miami Law School and passed the Florida Bar in 1957.
Her career took her first to the Office of Alien Property at the Department of Justice, thanks to a professor Fuentes barely knew scheduling an interview on her behalf, and after that office shut down, to the National Labor Relations Board.
Fuentes recalled her interview at the NLRB.
“He said ‘You studied labor law in college?’ I said no. He said, ‘You studied it in law school?’ I said no. He said, ‘You have an interest in it, you probably take some courses at GW or wherever in labor law?’ I said I never had an interest in labor law. He said, ‘Why are you here?’ I said I need a job. He said ‘You’re hired.’
“That’s how I got into the field of labor law where I spent my entire career.”
IT WAS AFTER FUENTES moved to the newly-formed Equal Employment Opportunities Commission several years later that she became involved the women’s movement. Fuentes found that her colleagues at EEOC were dedicated to enforcing the provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act that fought racial discrimination, but paid little attention to the provisions dealing with sex discrimination. She was dubbed a “sex maniac” because she was constantly lobbying for the enforcement of the sex clauses as well.
In early 1966, Betty Freidan came to the EEOC, interviewing employees while working a follow up to “The Feminine Mystique.”
“She happened to come on a day when I’d had it up to here with their not doing anything for women,” said Fuentes. “So I took her into my office and I got tears in my eyes and I said to her “What this country needs is an organization to fight for women like the NAACP fights for African Americans.” The National Organization for Women was formally conceived in June of 1966 at a meeting of the Commissions on the Status of Women, and in October that year, 27 other women drafted a statement of purpose and skeletal bylaws for the organization in the basement of the Washington Post Building.
At the 20th reunion of the group in 1986, “We sat around for four hours and everybody said how they got into women’s rights,” Fuentes said, “and everybody there said they gave Betty the idea, who started the organization.” But Fuentes has a 1974 New York Times article written by Freidan that says it really was her.
"One day," the Mar. 4, 1974 article reads, "a cool young woman lawyer, who worked for the agency that was not enforcing the law against sex discrimination, carefully closed the door of her office and said to me with tears in her eyes, 'I never meant to be so concerned about women. I like men. But I'm getting an ulcer, the way women are being treated. We may never have a chance like this law again. Betty, you have to start an N.A.A.C.P. for women."
“It is a tremendous source of gratification to me to have lived to see this,” Fuentes says of her involvement in the women’s movement. “Lots of people are involved in movements and they don’t see what happens later on. So I feel gratified to have seen what has happened.” But, she says, “There are many, many, many things yet to be done. It goes on.”
FUENTES TOO goes on. She retired in 1993 and spent five years writing her book. Last month, she was invited to contribute to an online exhibition organized by the Jewish Women’s Archive, in connection with the 350th anniversary of Judaism in America. Other invitees include U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and authors Eve Ensler and Erica Jong.
“I am in the most exciting part of my life,” said Fuentes, who keeps busy writing articles, speaking to groups, and going out to restaurants and cultural events.
“She’s very active, she’s full of energy, full of dynamite. She’s going all the time,” said Joe Glazer, a longtime friend. “Sonia is always scheduled,” added Millie Glazer, Joe’s wife. “You call her and she says ‘Let’s see in six weeks I’m free for lunch.'”
Fuentes lives alone. Her daughter Zia, 32, works for Corinthian Colleges in California. She was married to Roberto Fuentes, a Puerto Rican attorney from 1970-1979. She's lived in Potomac since 1987, but still spends winters in Florida.
All of Fuentes' friends say that even though some of the anecdotes are familiar, they bought and read Fuentes’ book. “I bought a book and had her autograph it,” said Williams. “One of these days it’s going to be very valuable.”