Born and raised in New York City, Adrianne Baughns-Wallace attended public school and briefly served in the U.S. Air Force. After attending community college part-time, she married and moved to Schenectady, N.Y., where she enrolled at SUNY-Albany and earned a degree in rhetoric and communications. She later earned a Master’s in Management from Cambridge College.
Baughns-Wallace found her way into broadcast journalism somewhat by accident when, in order to overcome nervousness in public speaking, she auditioned for an on-air position with Channel 13 in Albany. Much to her surprise, she was given the job. After one year as a news anchor with the station, Baughns-Wallace moved to WFSB-TV, Channel 3 in Hartford, Conn., where she worked as an anchor, producer, and reporter from 1974 to 1982. The Hartford Courant Magazine called her the “most watched woman in Connecticut” in 1981, the Jaycees named her 1981’s “Woman of the Year,” and Baughns-Wallace later earned an Emmy Award nomination and much high praise for her intelligent broadcasts.
From 1984 to 1996, Baughns-Wallace hosted and narrated programs and documentaries for CPTV and during part of this time she also hosted a daily morning talk show and co-hosted a syndicated TV program at WPIX-TV in New York City. After several years as a Professional Relations Officer with Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company and a stint as Director of Public Relations with the Corporation for Independent Living, Baughns-Wallace became the Executive Director of Operation Fuel, Inc., a statewide non-profit foundation providing emergency energy assistance grants to low-income families. From 2001 to 2004 she was appointed by State Treasurer Denise L. Nappier to serve as the Director of Financial Education for the State Treasurer’s Office.
Adrianne Baughns-Wallace now resides in the Charlotte, N.C., area.
During This Time
1966 - Today: Struggle for Justice
Feminism in the late 1960s was aided by President Kennedy, who formed the President’s Commission on the Status of Women in 1961, and his successor, President Johnson, who backed passage of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibiting discrimination based on race, sex, national origin, or religion. Difficulties in implementing the law through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) led a group of women in 1966 to create the National Organization for Women (NOW), demanding “action to bring American women into full participation in the mainstream of American society now.”
A younger group called for a more radical approach to social change than simply considering what was possible to achieve politically. “Women’s liberation” demanded freedom without limitation. Some took part in consciousness-raising groups, others demonstrated against the Miss America pageant, and many discussed their expectations of mutual enjoyment of sex. They established rape crisis centers, domestic shelters, and women’s studies programs. Title IX of the federal Education Amendments Act also increased pressure on universities to hire more women faculty and expand the number of female college athletes. Activist protest among gays and lesbians, such as the Stonewall Riot, symbolized this group’s potential to resist oppression.
Under pressure, many states repealed legislation prohibiting abortion. In 1973, the Supreme Court legalized its availability to women in Roe v. Wade. Also in 1973, the Senate and the House of Representatives passed the ERA, and states began its ratification.
Yet, dissension arose in the ranks of the movement, as it had earlier after passage of the 19th amendment. Feminists disagreed as to whether pornography should be banned or protected as a form of free speech, and whether lesbian identities should be kept secret or disclosed. Black women were more concerned with poverty and welfare in their communities than with personal career advancement; for them, sterilization abuse was more important than abortion, and they were deeply insulted by attacks on the African American family as matriarchal and dysfunctional.
A backlash was growing in the 1970s, along with a New Right in politics. The ERA was defeated and opposition to abortion increased. Conflicts between pro-life and pro-choice candidates have impacted every presidential campaign since then.
Still, gains have been made in many areas. From 1960 to 2000, increasing numbers of women sought entry to higher education, and bachelor’s degrees awarded to them increased from forty to sixty percent. Definitions of marriage have changed, as when courts gave full rights and responsibilities and the name of marriage to same-sex civil unions in Connecticut in 2008. The Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings in 1991 highlighted concern about sexual harassment on the job, and the number of sexual harassment cases filed with the EEOC have increased, as have judgments in favor of the women. Finally, in 2009, women crossed the fifty percent threshold and became the majority of the American workforce. Once largely confined to repetitive manual jobs, now they are running organizations that once treated them as second-class citizens.
The Women’s Movement has changed women’s lives, influenced the economy, and made debate about their roles, family life, and sexual conventions central to national politics and American history.
Special thanks to Barbara E. Lacey, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of History, St. Joseph's College (Hartford, CT) for preparing these historical summaries.