A spare and weathered woman walked slowly up the center of Pennsylvania Avenue yesterday afternoon tapping her cane and smiling for the photographers who darted just ahead of her to immortalize her walk. Hazel Hunkins Hallinan, who is 87 and has spent most of her life demanding equality for women, had come home to finish the fight.
To her left walked Midge Costanza special assistant to the President; to her right, Elizabeth Chittick, president of the National Women's Party. And behind them singing songs of suffrage and carrying some of the same banners that bobbed along Pennsylvania Avenue 64 years ago. 3,500 women marched from the Mall to the White House in observation of the first Women's Equality Day.
They marched in celebration honoring the late Alice Paul, founder of the Naitonal Women's Party and the adoption exactly 57 years ago of her first impassioned cause - the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. They marched in remembrance, re-enacting in the chilly afternoon in March 1913, when suffragettes first surged up Pennsylvania Avenue toward the White House. And they marched in protest: in 1977, 54 years after Alice Paul wrote the first draft of a bill guaranteeing women equality under the law, the nation is still fighting over passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.
They splashed it on a banner and stretched the banner across Pennsylvania Avenue: "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex." Passed by Congress in 1972, the amendment has been ratified by only 34 of the 38 states necessary for adoption.
President Carter met with the march leaders before the walk, proclaiming Aug. 26 WOmen's Equality Day and restating his support for the Equal Rights Amendment. Hazel Hunkin Hallinan thought about that as she marched toward the White House.
"He's very different man than Woodrow Wilson," she said.
But then a great deal has changed since the first famous activity of Alice Paul and her National Women's Party, when the picketers haunted the White House in their suffragette banners with signs demanding the women's vote.
When Hazel Hallinan would chain herself to the White House fence, go off to jail with the police, and return a little later to do it all over stood by the fence offered up one bent knee, and helped Hazel! Hallinan scramble over just long enough to light a fire on the President's front lawn.
It was a different sort of cause in 1913 the marchers strode through crowds of angry, jeering men, who spat and slapped and poked lit cigars at the women.
"They gave us much room on Pennsylvania Avenue." Ingeborg Stephens, a small 84-year-old woman who remembered that first march yesderday, said spreading her hands a few feet apart. "Oh they said all sorts of things."
Her face crumpled into a smile.
They said, "How would you like to walk with your Negro washerwoman?" she recalled, "I said, I'd be honored."
Yesterday the jeering crowds were gone and police led the march as motorcycle escorts. A helmeted police officer watching from the side-walk was reminded of the years when police hauled the suffragettes to jail.
The women, wore white, just as they did in 1913 - a commemoratrion of British suffragist Emily Wilding Davison, who threw herself under the hooves of the kings derby horse to call attention to the cause. Then the dress was high collars and ankle sweeping skirts and stays; yesterday it was T-shirts and sundresses and Indian cottons. There were men in yesterday's march too, and many wore white as well.
A new presence was marching up Pennsylvania Avenue yesterday, a women's presence unthinkable in 1913.
In the front lines, a roster of political achievement flanked Hazel Hallinan - Bella Abzug, former Democratic congresswoman from New York and New York City candidate for mayor; Carmen Delgado Votaw, president of the National Conference of Puerto Richan Woman's Association; Audrey Rowe Colom, chairperson of the National Women's Political Caucus; Elizabeth Holtzman, Democratic congresswoman from New York, and Margaret Heckler, Republican congresswoman from Massachussetts.
And behind them, the lettering on the new purple and gold banners also spoke of change - Christian Feminists, United Auto Workers, Mexican American Women's National Association, National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs, Coalition of Labor Union Women and National Women's Political Caucus.
T"It was absolutely wonderful," said Hazel Hallinan, when they reached Lafayette Park. "It made me a little tireder than I was 60 years ago."
There were jeerers, to be sure - a small group, standing on the sidewalk with signs opposing the ERA. "Why do they wear dresses?" asked Joan Flanagan, who said she was visiting from Long Island. "We already have equal rights. It's against womanhood."
Joyce Homan, fron Marwah, N.J., nodded vigorously. "I don't want equal restrooms," she said. "I think fathers are the head of their family and they should support their children."
From the gasoline-powered trolley car that was carrying her up Pennysylvania Avenue, Ingeborg Stephens looked over at the heckles and glowered. "Isn't that awful," she said, her white eyebrows knitting into a dark scowl. "Isn't that disgraceful." She squinted at their signs. "I'd like to tear it down."
At Lafayette Park the marchers set down their banners and gathered, a mass of whitw, to listen to speeches. "This is a day of great inspiration to me," Hazel Hallinan said, her voice as small and firm as her step. "It was 60 years ago, 60 - 10 times 6 . . . "
She recalled her last march up Pennsylvania Avenue, in 1917. She spoke of the ERA: "It is as if the ERA was written by Thomas Jefferson himself and it should be part of the Constitution."
The women cheered. On the outskirts of the park, Helen Lewis, executive director of the D.C. Commission on the Statues of Women, rolled up her banner, looking satisfied. "I thought it was a tremedous thrill," she said.
She had stood at her bus stop that morning, with a small group of other women who also wore white for the march. Someone asked why they wore white, Lewis said, and she explained that the march leaders had requested it.
Then a woman in black broke in quietly. "But there are some of us who can't" she said, and Lewis looked closely at her. The women was wearing a clerical collar and a cross. "She marched," Lewis said