A longtime supporter of a host of causes from civil rights to nuclear disarmament, Bella Abzug became deeply involved in the 1960s in organizing political opposition to the Vietnam War. Elected to Congress from New York City in 1970, she quickly made her presence known in Washington with her outspoken criticism of the war and strong advocacy of women’s rights. Her booming voice and no-holds-barred New York style were considered unusual, especially in a first-term member of Congress. But she remained unrelenting, and in the turbulent politics of the early 1970s, sporting her trademark broad-brimmed hat, she emerged as a symbol of the growing visibility of women in the political arena.
In 1977, following a failed try for the U.S. Senate, Abzug set her sights on becoming mayor of New York City, and she is seen in this picture at a rally promoting her candidacy. She lost out in the Democratic primary to Ed Koch but, not ready to admit that this defeat probably meant that her office-seeking days were over, she told reporters, “I’ll thank you not to write my obituary.”
In her final years, Abzug founded and led the UN non-governmental organization Women’s Environmental Development Organization (WEDO).