Florida Department of State
Kurt S. Browning
Secretary of State
For Immediate Release
July 22, 2008
State Library and Archives of Florida Exhibit Honors Roxcy Bolton and Women's Equality Day
In celebration of the annual observance of Women’s Equality Day on August 26, the State Archives of Florida is presenting an exhibit of original papers and photographs from the collection of Roxcy Bolton, whose unwavering struggle for equal rights for women spans over four decades.
A joint resolution of Congress in 1971 designated August 26 of each year as Women’s Equality Day and called for the president to issue a proclamation annually to commemorate that day. President Richard Nixon’s 1972 proclamation is among the many items from the Roxcy Bolton Papers collection on display in this exhibit.
The exhibit will run through July and August in the R.A. Gray Building and will also be available on the Florida Memory Project at http://www.floridamemory.com/PhotographicCollection/photo_exhibits/roxcy/.
“Roxcy Bolton’s relentless struggle for equal rights resulted in very real gains for women in Florida and beyond,” said Secretary of State Kurt S. Browning. “We’re very pleased to be able to make these historical items from the State Archives available to a wider audience.”
Roxcy Bolton’s fight for women’s rights began in the 1960s and included campaigning for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, pioneering enlightened treatment of rape victims, opening department store lunchrooms to women, denouncing abusive or derogatory treatment of women, and working with national women’s rights movement figures such as Betty Friedan.
Roxcy Bolton was one of the first Florida women to join the National Organization for Women (NOW) after its founding in 1966 and served as a national vice president after being elected to the board of directors in 1968. She also founded and was the first president of the Miami-Dade Chapter of NOW in 1968. Bolton took NOW’s message to county commissioners, town councils, and university presidents, arguing the case for equal rights for women and actively campaigning for the Equal Rights Amendment. She personally convinced United States Senator Birch Bayh to hold the first hearings on the ERA before Congress in 1970.
In 1972, Bolton founded Women in Distress to provide temporary lodging, legal assistance, counseling, and caring support to battered women, those with substance abuse problems, and other women in personal crisis. In another pioneering effort, Bolton initiated the Rehabilitation Program for Young Prostitutes in the Miami-Dade County area, offering educational opportunities to incarcerated prostitutes and attempting to keep young women off the streets and away from drugs. Bolton worked to end sexist advertising and helped organize efforts leading to maternity leave for flight attendants.
Bolton organized marches against rape and brought public attention to the special needs of rape victims. In 1974, her determination to help victims of rape led to the establishment of the Rape Treatment Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, later renamed the Roxcy Bolton Rape Treatment Center in 1993. It was the first of its kind in the country to be adjoined to a hospital and served as the prototype for many centers established in the following years.
Roxcy Bolton donated her personal papers and photographs to the State Archives of Florida in 1994 and has continued to donate materials to that collection in the years since. This exhibit of items from the Roxcy Bolton Papers collection highlights just a few of her activities and achievements from over 50 years of activism.