Margery Chittenden Leonard’s 1982 interview reflects her tireless passion for the Equal Rights Amendment. While she discusses her classes at Brown and her dormitories, the majority of her oral history is dedicated to discussing the fierce discrimination women faced because of their gender, and the necessity of the Equal Rights Amendment as the only way to reverse all of the gender discrimination encoded in the law.
A legal scholar, Leonard speaks of the discrimination she faced in law school that galvanized her to feminism, including her professor urging her to drop out and forcing her to recite rape and seduction cases in front of her male classmates while they jeered at her. When she graduated law school, the only position in the legal realm available to her was that of secretary, where, after receiving an A.B. from Brown University, and a J.D. from Boston University, she was in the same category as women with a high school education. Leonard remembers the discrimination that she faced after she began to lobby Congress for the ERA, including getting kicked out of political offices, her church, and social circles, as well as compromising her position at John Hancock.
Leonard reflects on meeting, and then working for, Alice Paul, and her time as a representative of the International Federation of Women Lawyers. She argues that the ERA is the only way to overrule all of the Supreme Court decisions that discriminate against women and the only way to achieve any permanence or clout, considering it a matter of simple justice.