Newsletter

Stay up to date with the latest from MAKERS delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for new stories from trailblazing women, a big dose of inspiration, and exclusive MAKERS content.

Newsletter Confirmation

Thank you for joining! Please check your inbox for our special welcome letter
with exclusive updates from MAKERS.

MAKERS Profile

Eleanor Holmes Norton

U.S. Congresswoman, District of Columbia

More From Eleanor

In this video

Congresswoman Norton on growing up in segregation, pursuing law to make change, and advocating women's rights as Equal Opportunity Commission chair and later, as a United States Congresswoman.

Eleanor's Biography

Cause Of Choice:Statehood for the District of Columbia and DC Vote.
Coffee Break:“I’ve never met a man who had the nerve to ask me to make his coffee.”
Amazing Mentors:Shirley Chisholm, Dorothy Height, Fanny Lou Hamer.
Growing Up in an All-Female Household:“By the time you go and meet men, we say, ‘who are these people? What, are they supposed to be competing with me? Come on.”

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, now in her twelfth term as the Congresswoman for the District of Columbia, knew from a young age she wanted to make change to end the severe segregation and discrimination she experienced growing up as third generation Washingtonian.
 
While earning a law degree as well as a Masters in American Studies from Yale University, Norton became deeply involved as an organizer with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), traveling to Mississippi for the Mississippi Summer Project and witnessing severe violence on civil rights leaders including Fannie Lou Hamer that would inform the rest of her lifelong struggle for universal human and civil rights.
 
Following graduate school, Norton continued her work to end social inequality. She signed the Black Women’s Manifesto, a classic document of the black feminist movement, and became the assistant legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
 
In 1970, Norton was appointed the head of the New York City Human Rights Commission and not only held the first comprehensive hearings on woman’s rights but was also the driving force behind the landmark sex discrimination suit at Newsweek. Before the case settled, President Jimmy Carter appointed her to serve as the first woman to chair the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
 
Norton, who taught law full time before being elected, is a tenured professor of law at Georgetown University. Yale Law School has awarded her the Citation of Merit for outstanding alumni, and Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences has awarded her the Wilbur Cross Medal for outstanding alumni, the highest awards conferred by each on alumni. She is the recipient of more than 50 honorary degrees.
 
The Congresswoman is currently the ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management. She serves on two committees: the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
 

Related Videos

Joan Ganz Cooney
Joan Ganz Cooney
Co-Founder, Sesame Workshop

A founder of the Sesame Workshop and co-creator of Sesame Street, Joan Ganz Cooney knew that educational television was her calling the moment she walked into Channel 13. Born and ...

Dr. Ruth Westheimer
Dr. Ruth Westheimer
Sex Therapist

Dr. Ruth Westheimer is a beloved sex therapist whose frank talk while spreading what she’s coined as “sexual literacy” has reached millions through radio and tele...

Gloria Steinem
Gloria Steinem
Feminist Activist

Groundbreaking writer, lecturer, editor and activist, Gloria Steinem has been looked to as the popular face of the women's movement for over four decades. She was a buzzed-abou...

Mira Sorvino
Mira Sorvino
Activist & Actor

Mira Sorvino is an award winning actor, mother and an advocate against human trafficking. She was the official ambassador for Amnesty International’s Stop Violence Against Wo...