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Campaign Button "North Carolina ERA '77: First in Freedom, 1977; 4.50 cm.
NCC Accession No.: CK.994.1

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), first proposed in 1923, declared that "equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex." The ERA was introduced into every session of Congress between 1923 and 1972, when it was finally passed and sent to the states for ratification.

This amendment is still not part of the Constitution, and this political cause button represents the attempt by North Carolinians in 1977 to have the amendment ratified. The General Assembly again refused to ratify ERA that year. In addition to North Carolina, fourteen other states have not ratified: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and Virginia. The button plays on North Carolina's claim to being the "First in Freedom," a slogan based on the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence of 1775.