By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
CHOICES 2013, an annual art sale, silent auction, and dinner benefiting Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma, will be held Saturday, Sept. 21 at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.
The event will feature guest speaker, Gloria Steinem, Ms. Magazine co-founder, author, activist and recent winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
Steinem first became nationally recognized for her role as a leader of the women’s liberation movement in the late 1960’s and 1970’s.
For over four decades she has remained a nationally prominent feminist leader who has worked tirelessly for social justice through her involvement in media and political affairs as a commentator, writer, lecturer, organizer and political activist.
“It’s such a thrill for us to host Gloria Steinem,” said Anita Fream, PPCO Chief Executive Officer. “How often do you get to meet someone of her stature? She’s helped lead the fight for women’s equality and is a premier spokesperson on our issues.
“It’s very fitting that the activist who co-founded Ms. Magazine, ChoiceUSA, and many other organizations fighting for equality and social justice should join us in support of local initiatives.”
Born in Toledo, Ohio, Steinem, determined to be a journalist, attended Smith College. She then moved to New York City to work as a freelance writer on issues affecting women, including abortion rights. Steinem, who had an abortion herself at age 22, gained national recognition when Esquire published her article, “I Was a Playboy Bunny,” about her undercover work at the New York City Playboy Club.
As many women in New York City began openly discussing their experiences with abortion. Steinem soon became an activist and spokesperson for the feminist movement, helping many organizations with advocacy and action.
In the 70’s, she co-founded Ms. Magazine, helped to organize the National Women’s Political Caucus, the Women’s Action Alliance and the Coalition of Labor Union Women. She also established MS Foundation for Women, an organization dedicated to helping underprivileged women.
Today, Steinem continues to raise funds for many different women’s organizations and causes.
Former Oklahoma State Representative Wanda Jo Stapleton said, “It’s such an honor to have Gloria Steinem back in Oklahoma. She has been here several times and continues to inspire us.
“Early on, I remember subscribing to and reading the first issues of Ms, a magazine which Steinem co-founded. Who can forget the photo in the May 1973 issue of Ms — a 1964 photo of Gerri Santoro, dead from a botched, illegal abortion, abandoned in a motel room, sprawled face down.”
Stapleton added, “Santoro’s bloody, nude, abandoned corpse became a powerful symbol of the pro-choice movement, of which I am a part and have been since I saw that photo in Ms. Welcome to blood-red Oklahoma, Gloria – we need you here.”
The evening begins at 5 p.m. with an art sale showcasing the work of 35 premier artists, including featured artist Bert Seabourn as well as Denise Duong, Diane Coady, Jennifer Fraase, Christina and Stephen Kovash, Judy Kelley, and Michi Susan.
The artists are donating a portion of their proceeds raised during the event to support essential services provided by Planned Parenthood.
Guests will bid on more than 80 silent auction items ranging from restaurant and retail gift certificates to sporting event tickets and themed packages.
Mari Fagin, Ph.D., Chair of CHOICES 2013 said, “This event will be a rare opportunity to see this living legend of the women’s liberation movement in person, to hear her speak, and to express appreciation to her as well as to many other people who have been so generous toward and supportive of Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma.”
PPCO will recognize various individuals for their support. Awards include the Margaret Sanger Legacy Award, Rod Frates Choice Award, Board Service Award, Volunteer of the Year Award, and the Outstanding Staff Service Award.
Dinner reservations are $100, with preferred seating available at an additional cost. The event raises funds for general operations and educational programs in central Oklahoma.
For more information, call 405-528-0221 or to learn more about Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma visit, www.ppcok.org.