- Stories & Articles by Sonia
Articles and Stories by Sonia Pressman Fuentes
- On July 29, 2020, the new website of the Cornell Club of Sarasota-Manatee was launched. It includes Sonia's article on her friendship with the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
- Sonia's article, "The Meadows has a fascinating history," appeared in the online newspaper, the Sarasota News Leader, on Sept. 13, 2019. Sonia bought a condo at The Meadows in March 1999 and thereafter spent varying amounts of time there during the winters. Beginning on Nov. 1, 2006, she lived there full-time until Nov. 1, 2019, when she moved to a nearby Jewish senior community called Aviva. In early January 2020, The Meadoword, the newspaper of The Meadows, republished that article. You can access it here.
- Sonia's article, "How Being an Immigrant Shaped My Life," appeared in the summer newsletter of the Jewish Genealogical Society of SW Florida, published on April 3, 2019, and on its website. You can read the article in pdf format here.
- On Jan. 14, 2019, Sonia's remembrance of her late, feminist friend, Dr. Bernice "Bunny" Sandler (known as the "Godmother of Title IX"), who died at the age of 90 on Jan. 5, 2019, in her Washington, D.C. condo, was published in the "We Remember" section of the Jewish Women's Archive (JWA).
- Sonia's write-up of her experiences with Hurricane Irma in Sarasota in September of 2017 appeared in the Cornell Alumni Magazine of July/Aug. 2018 in the Class Notes for her class, the class of 1950, on page 69.
- On March 20, 2018, Mary Wilson, president of the Greater Orlando, FL chapter of NOW, put Sonia's write-up on how she became a feminist in the chapter's enewsletter.
- In honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, 2018, The Forward newspaper shared its readers' stories, including Sonia's.
- Sonia participates in a one-hour webinar set up by the National Women's History Project (NWHP) on Jan. 13, 2016. 1) Click here to read about NWHP. 2) To listen to the oral comments and see the written comments, click on "webinar archive" toward the bottom of your screen. On the "webinar archive" screen, it is, however, very difficult to move the written comments up or down. 3) To get a clearer view of the written comments and to be able to move them up and down easily, click on "Chat Log." 4) Click on "Final PowerPoint Presentation" if you would like to see that.
- Sonia's article on the second wave of the women's movement: its origin, accomplishments, and the problems that remain--both in the U.S. and globally--appeared on June 14, 2015, on the website of the Institute for Science and Human Values.
- Sonia's write-up appeared on the Facebook page of the Red Star Line Museum commemorating the 81st anniversary of the arrival in the U.S. from Germany, via Belgium, of Sonia and the rest of her immediate family.
- "My Jewish Weekend in Sarasota," sent by Sonia to her friends, Nov. 16, 2014.
- "History Without Hitler?", Op-Ed in the New York Times and its international edition, October 26, 2014. This Op-Ed was written by Sonia's friend, Timothy Ryback, and edited by Sonia.
- "End of Life Issue," October 16, 2014.
- “Top 18 Issues Challenging Women Today,” The Shriver Report, May 5, 2014.
- Sonia’s letter of April 16, 2014, to Bishop Frank J. DeWane, bishop of the Venice, FL diocese, is on the blog of Bridget Mary Meehen.
- On Nov. 1, 2018, a paperback anthology of writings by older women about their lives entitled “You’re Doing What?: Older Women’s Tales of Achievement & Adventure,” edited by Marjorie Penn Lasky, was published. In a section called " A Life of Activism," it contains a piece by Sonia named "Eighty-five years old in Sarasota County, Florida." The book can be purchased from Amazon. For purchases in bulk, Regent Press (email@example.com) will take orders for 10 or more books and provide them at a discount.
- “The Second Wave of the Women’s Movement—Past, Present, and Future,” Women You You Should Know website, March 26, 2014.
- Sonia reminisces about her three British feminist friends, March 25, 2014.
- Sonia’s article about her trip to the Catskills appeared in the Jewish News of Sarasota-Manatee (Jan. 2014, Vol. 44, No. 1, p. 23A).
- Three-part series by Sonia in the Sullivan County Democrat, a newspaper in the Catskill Mountains of New York State.
- Sonia’s submission to the book Mother Knows Better - Sense and Nonsense from American Moms by Patti Murphy is one of over two hundred momisms in the book.
- Sonia’s article about the travails of The Forward after Superstorm Sandy appeared in Der Bay (Vol. XXIII, No. II, Mar.-Apr. 2013, p. 12).
- NOW (National Organization for Women) Founder Sonia Fuentes Gives Back To Education.
- "A heart-healthy diet is easier to adhere to than it may seem, especially with plenty of grocery and restaurant choices in Sarasota," December 7, 2012. (To see this article, which first appeared in the online Sarasota News Leader, once the large picture appears, scroll down to the article.) On April 27, 2015, the article was published on the website of Vegan Everyday Stories. On May 22, 2015, a shortened version of the article appeared on the website of the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.
- “A Journey of Discovery,” Sonia’s article about her September 2011 week’s trip to Germany exploring Jewish life in Germany, published in two parts.
- "Finding My Identity as a Feminist" - This article appeared in the online magazine, Identity, on September 21, 2011.
- "My Story" - This article appeared in HavaMag, Issue 4, August, 2011.
- To access the article:
- Click on the arrow to the right until it takes you to the Table of Contents on the left.
- 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.
- To access the article:
- "First Woman: Sonia Pressman Fuentes," appeared at the end of July 2011 in Ms. JD, an e-zine for women law students and lawyers.
- “Judging Our Future: Supreme Women Move Up,” about the increasing percent of women judges on the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts, went online in the Café section of On the Issues e-zine on December 21, 2010. In February of 2012, the article was added to the featured news & comments section of the website of Cornell University’s Avon Global Center for Women and Justice.
- "Advancing Rights: 1964 Marks the Beginning of a New Era" - This article was published in On The Issues Magazine, Café section, on August 25, 2010, in celebration of Women’s Equity Day, the 90th anniversary of suffrage, August 26, 2010.
- Sonia has written articles for Scitable, a website for women in science, or been introduced as a resource on women and employment law for Scitable, as follows:
- Sonia decries American women’s ignorance of the legal rights they have achieved since the early 1960s and lists those rights. (August 13, 2013)
- Sonia discusses breast implant ruptures and leaks. (Mar. 21, 2011)
- "Sonia Pressman Fuentes on Pregnancy Leave, Parental Care Leave, and the Law" - Sonia explains the law on leave and benefits in connection with pregnancy, delivery, and post-delivery. (July 28, 2010)
- Correction to posting of June 3, 2010, introducing Sonia as Scitable’s resource on women and employment law. (June 4, 2010)
- Sonia is introduced as Scitable’s resource on women and employment law. (June 3, 2010)
- "My Life After Divorce" - Sonia discusses her life after divorce for a “Divorce and Women’s Success” series. (2010)
- "A Negative Experience, A Positive Outcome" - The lucky day Fuentes was fired. (2009)
- "First Wedding at the Fontainebleau," an unpublished anecdote, November 23, 2008.
- Added as a Luminary on inspiremetoday.com, Oct. 2009, and updated in Nov. 2013.
- “If You Build It, They Will Come—The Birth of A Yiddish Club,” published in Der Bay, The International Anglo-Yiddish Newsletter (Vol. XVII, No. 9, Nov. 2007). Sonia starts a Yiddish Club in Sarasota, FL. Also published in the Gantseh Megillah. (Nov. 14, 2007, Issue 8.10)
- "My Fortuitous Escape from the Holocaust and My Life Thereafter" - This article is published on a Web site called "Women and the Holocaust." (2006)
- “A Love Letter to Ostuni” (2005)
- "My Visit to Piltz" - A sequel to "A Visit to Piltz." (2005)
- "Three-hour Tour Turns Unforgettable" - This article, by Fuentes, recalling the saga of her trip to the Thomas Edison and Henry Ford estates in Ft. Myers, FL, appeared in The East County Observer, a newspaper in East Manatee and Sarasota Counties, Florida, January 16, 2003.
- "I Lucky Everything: The Story of a Real `Miss Saigon'" - Along with a manicure, a reminder of how immigrants revitalize our nation. (2002)
- "A Visit to Piltz" - This article is about Fuentes' August 2001 journey to her parents' birthplace, a village called Piltz in Poland. (2001)
- "How I Built a Life in Retirement" - Sonia had a difficult time adjusting to retirement, and then she entered the best years of her life. (2000)
- "How I Published My Memoir: A Lawyer-Feminist's Story" - This is the story of the six years Fuentes spent in researching, writing, publishing and marketing her memoir and making the transition from being a lawyer to a writer and public speaker. (Also see: "How I Got Published in South Africa) (2000)
- "A Seder in Shanghai" - Fuentes participates in a seder in a most unlikely city, Shanghai, China. This piece appeared previously in JoyZine and on Harry Leichter's website. (1999)
- "HUD Goes to the Moscow Trade Show" - This article was originally published in Sparks 28. March - April, 1999. (1999)
- Breast Cancer and Ruptured/Leaking Breast Implants - The story of Fuentes' experience with breast cancer. (1998)
- "Three United States Feminists: A Personal Tribute" - This article is about Fuentes' most memorable encounters with Alice Paul, the Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray, and Catherine East (1998). Later that year, a slightly different version of the segment on Alice Paul was published in Moondance. A more readable version can be accessed here.
- “Representing Women,” a 17-page article, originally published in Frontiers, a Journal of Women Studies (Vol. 18, No.3, Nov. 3, 1997), by the Washington State University Press, is available by emailing Sonia at firstname.lastname@example.org and asking her to email it to you or by purchasing it at jstor.org. This was Sonia’s first published article about women’s rights.
- "House of History" (written in 1996) -- A history of the headquarters of the National Woman's Party (NWP). The house, most recently known as the Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument and previously known as the Sewall-Belmont House, was for many years the headquarters of the National Woman's Party. However, at the end of 2020, NWP ended its existence and transferred its functions to the Alice Paul Institute in New Jersey.
- "Magnolias" - A Washington, DC, love story. (1996)
- "Family Past Unfolds Like Detective Story" - Research Leads to Ship's Records, a Movie and Snapshots. (1995)
- “Impressions: The Status of Women in Southeast Asia,” published in the Common Law Lawyer (no longer in existence), Sept.-Oct. 1978. (To enlarge the print on machines using Windows, hold down the control button of your computer while moving the wheel of your mouse. If viewing through Adobe Acrobat, enlarge the text with the plus button, or use the percentage dropdown list.)
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Sonia Pressman Fuentes
My Interactions with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
(This article was originally published on the Cornell Club of Sarasota-Maatee website, July 29, 2020.)
After graduation from the University of Miami (FL) School of Law in 1957, I came to Washington, D.C. on the Attorney General’s Program for Honor Law Graduates to work for the Office of Alien Property.
I left there in 1959 to work for the National Labor Relations Board, and on October 4, 1965, I began work at my third federal agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as the first woman attorney in its Office of the General Counsel. The mandate of the EEOC, which had begun operations three months before my arrival, was to enforce Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin by covered employers, employment agencies, and labor unions. (Later, discrimination based on age and physical or mental disabilities was added to its responsibilities.)
While at the EEOC, I became an expert in gender discrimination in employment, and it has remained the focus of my life ever since. In 1966, I became one of the co-founders of NOW, the National Organization for Women (NOW).
I left the EEOC in 1973 for jobs in the corporate world outside of Washington, D.C, but returned in 1986 to work as an attorney in the Office of the General Counsel at the U.S. Dept. of Housing & Urban Development (HUD).
In 1993, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg began serving as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. She was the second woman to serve on that Court (Sandra Day O’Connor was the first.) and the second Jew to serve on that Court (Louis Brandeis was the first.).
Although I did not know Justice Ginsburg in 1993, we had a number of things in common. I was, of course, not in her class--no one was--but we were both feminist activists living and working in Washington, D.C. We were both petite, mature Jewish women with immigrant or refugee backgrounds; both lawyers with progressive outlooks and we had both attended Cornell University’s undergraduate college. We had also both served on the board of trustees of the National Woman’s Party headquartered in one of the oldest houses on Capitol Hill, then known as the Sewall-Belmont House and today known as the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument.
We had two other connections, but I do not know that she was aware of them. Justice Ginsburg was a patron of an iconic appetizing store on New York City’s Lower East Side called Russ & Daughters. One of Russ’s three daughters, Hattie Gold, was my niece’s mother-in-law, and I knew her.
The second connection involved the documentary called RBG that was a smash hit. On December 20, 2018, Julie Cohen, one of that documentary’s two filmmakers, was in my condo for five hours with her crew to interview me for their next documentary about a feminist friend of mine whose name I am not yet allowed to reveal. That documentary is set for release next year.
In 1965, when I joined the EEOC, and for a number of years thereafter, there was a small number of feminist activists scattered across various federal agencies and private law firms in Washington, D.C., and we came to know each other and often shared information and cooperated on matters of common concern. Of course, I knew who Justice Ginsburg was, and I assume she came to know of me through my work at the EEOC.
Although we never discussed it, Justice Ginsburg and I were given similar advice with regard to concentrating on women's rights in our legal careers. An article by Erin Blakemore entitled "Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Landmark Opinions on Women's Rights" in Inside History online, updated on September 18, 2020, originally May 30, 2018, about the Justice, stated: "Though she had a lifelong interest in gender equality, she was warned that to pursue a legal career that hinged on fighting discrimination against women was a nonstarter. 'The concern was that if a woman was doing gender equality, her chances of making it to tenure in the law school were diminished,' she told the New York Times’ Philip Galanes in 2015. 'It was considered frivolous.' by Philip Galanes, New York Times, Nov. 14, 2015.)
Similarly, I was told by fellow attorneys while I was at the EEOC to leave the EEOC and the field of women's rights as prestige and money in the legal profession came from working for private law firms and corporations. Although neither Ruth nor I took the advice proffered, she became a U.S. Supreme Court Justice and both of us were among 108 American women lawyers chosen by the American Bar Association's Senior Lawyers Division as Women Trailblazers in the Law.
I only met Justice Ginsburg on two occasions. The first was on September 20, 2005, at the headquarters of the National Woman’s Party (NWP). On that occasion, NWP was honoring Tipper Gore for her work in mental health awareness, and I was asked to show the Justice and her husband Marty around the house, and I did so.
The second occasion was at a “Salute to Feminist Lawyers, 1963-1975" on June 9, 2008, at the Harvard Club in New York City. At that time, the Justice and I were among 34 American women lawyers (although she was first among equals) being honored.
I do not recall how it happened, but on that occasion, at lunchtime, I found myself at a small table with the Justice, her husband Marty, and a friend and fellow NOW co-founder Muriel Fox. At lunch, I suggested to Marty and Ruth, individually, that they retire to Sarasota, Florida where I lived. Marty said he had tried that [retirement] and it hadn’t worked for him. Ruth said she wanted to wait until after the next election. (I don’t think either of them was ever interested in retirement.)
That was the last time I saw Ruth, but thereafter I was in touch with her from time to time. When I had an upcoming speaking engagement in the women’s rights field, I’d let her know and she’d either write something nice about me to my prospective audience or send me one or more recent articles she had written for sharing with my audience. For example, Marden Paru, dean of the Liberal Yeshiva in Sarasota, taught a course on Justices Brandeis and Ginsburg some time ago and I was going to speak to his class about Justice Ginsburg. Ruth sent me a couple of her articles for distribution to the class. On another occasion, I asked her if she would send a message to those attending the September 17, 2018, showing of the documentary, RBG, to be followed by a discussion at the Cook Library of New College in Sarasota. Emily Fairchild, then the head of the Gender Studies program at New College, had asked me and several others to lead the discussion following the movie. I expected the Justice to send a message about the movie. Instead, she wrote to those present: “Hope you enjoyed RBG. Sonia Fuentes was in the trenches urging equal citizenship stature for women in the 1970s and is an ideal person to lead your discussion.”
Like people throughout the U.S. and the world, I was stunned to learn of Ruth’s death on September 18, 2020. I knew that death had been stalking her for some time, but she had been so courageous in fighting back every health challenge, I somehow believed she would continue to do so indefinitely. But even she could not do that. My heart goes out to her family and all those across this country and the world who are bereft by her loss. We will not see her like again.
Sonia Pressman Fuentes, Cornell Class of 1950