Nationally known women’s rights activist speaks at JSU

Sept. 10 – JACKSONVILLE – In a speech Thursday at Jacksonville State University’s Leone Cole Auditorium, women’s rights activist Lilly Ledbetter told the story of her fight for fair pay to an audience of nearly 300 people – about 80 in person and another 200 online, through an agreement with the Public Relations Society of America’s Ethics and Professional Standards Council.

During her speech, Ledbetter said she fought to make it understood that equal pay is not just a women’s issue, but a family issue. When women are “harmed,” she said, families are harmed. Single mothers sometimes work two or three jobs to make ends meet, and when mothers earn less than their male counterparts, that leaves less disposable income for basic necessities, such as food for children.

Women are forced into low-paying jobs due to financial problems, fearful of speaking out, Ledbetter said. And it’s not just paychecks that are harmed, but in turn women’s retirement and 401k plans.

Ledbetter said if she had earned the amount of money she should have worked for Goodyear for 19 years, it would have greatly affected how she could take care of herself and her family even today. . Her house, her car, every aspect of her life as an 84-year-old woman could have been different.

She spoke about her book, “Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond,” and a movie based on her life that will be released in 2023.

Several students and staff members hung around after Ledbetter left the stage and began a book signing and meet and greet session.

“I’m currently a PhD student at Troy, so ‘women’ is my area of ​​research. So I was interested,” said Lynn Garner, JSU’s deputy director in the Office of Sponsored Programs.

Also present were several students from the Public Relations Students Society of America (PRSSA). One such student was PRSSA President Ellejae Reynolds, who represented the group on Thursday and asked questions during a Q&A session.

“I don’t have much experience in the labor market, but coming from my mother who works 12-hour shifts, I understand how important it is to get a fair wage in all aspects,” said said Reynolds. “I wholeheartedly believe that the Fair Pay Act has given women the fair pay they need.”

However, Reynolds said she was only partially confident that she could confidently navigate negotiating her salary at work. As a young woman, the challenges she will face might be great, but as a young black woman, even more, Reynolds said.

“I understand how important it is to defend my interests and those of other minorities, so I will always put myself in a position to ensure that everyone has this fair opportunity and that I am treated in the same way as some of my peers,” Reynolds said.

The public relations group that organized the online presentation of the speech has the task of defending ethics in the field of public relations. With September being the organization’s Ethics Month, the Board thought “what better way” to champion equality in the workforce than to have Ledbetter speak out nationally. , according to Stacy Smith, National Public Relations Accredited Board Member.

Ledbetter is an author, speaker and equal pay advocate who inspired the Lilly Ledbetter Fair and Equal Pay Act passed by Congress in 2009 after she sued her employer, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in Gadsden, for discrimination in the workplace. ‘use. After a lengthy court battle, Ledbetter lost the case, with the Supreme Court ruling that Ledbetter had passed the statute of limitations.