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It's 1969 and East Coast to West, there are marches and teach-ins and sit-ins and rallies. People are taking to the streets, gathering in church basements, walking out of classrooms to protest the war in Vietnam, demand civil rights, and press feminist agendas.

Everywhere, women's power symbols are popping up: on the Boardwalk at Atlantic City, where a sheep is crowned Miss America while Bert Parks croons to pageant goers inside the Convention Center; at the University of Washington student Hub, where Bernadine Dohrn, National Secretary of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) joins a roster of Seattle peace and justice activists to discuss the “woman question”; in Chicago, where hundreds of women from leftist organizations and causes gather and found the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union.

In Boston on May 4th that year, some 500 women make their way to the Fenway neighborhood for a conference in the red brick halls of Emmanuel College, then, as at its founding by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, an all-female institution. In 1999, activist and author Susan Brownmiller would...