A Woman to Know: Roxcy Bolton

Women sometimes will talk about a problem, agonize about it too much. You’ve got to go out and, like the Marines, hit the beaches. — Roxcy Bolton

Women sometimes will talk about a problem, agonize about it too much. You’ve got to go out and, like the Marines, hit the beaches. — Roxcy Bolton

(Roxcy with Eleanor Roosevelt, image via Wikimedia)

Roxcy will forever be associated with hurricanes.

As a Miami resident and prominent civil rights activist, Roxcy claimed associating women with disaster was destructive to the feminist cause. In the 1970s, she began advocating that storms include men’s names be included alongside women’s. As remembered in The Miami Herald:

Officials flatly rejected her facetious first suggestion that the maturing tropical depressions also be called ‘him-icanes’ and that the [hurricane center in Dade County, Florida] bestow storm names to honor its bloviating benefactors in Congress. After all, she said, ‘Senators delight in having things named after them.’

A full 10 years after Roxcy first began her “him-icanes” crusade, the National Weather Association finally caved. They named their next hurricane “Bob,” and Roxcy declared victory.

This was just one of Roxcy’s many feminist crusades, however. In 1966, she established the Miami chapter of the National Organization of Women. In 1971, she led 100 women in Miami’s first “march against rape.” The next year, she pushed President Nixon to declare a “Women’s Equality Day” (like the National Weather Service, he caved in the face of Roxcy’s heated demands). In 1974, she founded America’s first rape crisis treatment center, today named the Roxcy Bolton Treatment Center. She demanded Miami institutions pay women what they paid men, and she advocated tirelessly for more women and people of color in positions of power.

“She banged down the doors and lots of people like me walked in,” one woman remembered. “Her activism was what was necessary, even though some people didn’t appreciate it.”

But Roxcy wasn’t immune to the shifting conversations around feminism. In 1976, she fought with the NOW over including lesbians in its membership, and she later attracted controversy for suggesting liberated women not forget their “wifely duties” at home.

In 1998, she told a reporter that her “work for womankind is over.”

“I don’t plan to climb any more mountains,” she said. “If it were a dire circumstance, maybe I could rise to the occasion. Maybe.”

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