Heard on the Hill

Eleanor Holmes Norton Sees Part of Her Life Play Out in Front of Her

Amazon's new series ’Good Girls Revolt’ shows D.C. delegate as young attorney in gender discrimination suit

Eleanor Holmes Norton, right, with Coretta Scott King, center, and Rep. Shirley Chisholm from Norton's swearing-in ceremony to become chairwoman of the NYC Commission on Human Rights in 1974, a few years after the Newsweek case. (Courtesy Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton's office)

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton is reliving a part of her pre-congressional career and others will be able to live it with the D.C. Democrat.

Good Girls Revolt,” an Amazon.com drama series out Friday, tells the story of young female journalists who pushed back against their employer over gender discrimination in 1969. Norton was their lawyer.

“[‘Good Girls Revolt’] is not a documentary,” said Norton, who has seen the first few episodes. “That is to say, not everything in it happened, but they’ve got it basically right.”

“The importance, if it has some social importance, is that [the show] will make people think about, ‘Are we there yet?’ If they see progress, they’re likely to ask themselves ‘What more can we do?’” Norton said.

Actress Joy Bryant portrays Norton in the series. She consulted the delegate before filming began, even coming to D.C. to meet.

“She was very generous,” Norton said. “When I first met her, I said, ‘If that’s going to be me, who could object to this beautiful young woman?’”

“I saw her three times and it seemed to me that she was not trying to imitate me decades later but she was trying to get a feel for the role and that seems to me to be commended,” she added.

Actress Joy Bryant, center, as <a class="memberLink" title="Click to view member info in a new window" href="http://data.rollcall.com/members/98?rel=memberLink" target="_blank">Eleanor Holmes Norton</a>, meets with some of the women she's representing in their workplace equality suit. (Courtesy Amazon)
Actress Joy Bryant, center, as Eleanor Holmes Norton, meets with some of the women she's representing in their workplace equality suit. (Courtesy Amazon)

The two appeared Friday on CBS’ “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” to talk about the series.

Colbert and Norton, who joke that they are one another’s nemesis, were reunited for the first time since she appeared on the last episode of his Comedy Central show, “The Colbert Report.”

[Colbert Owes D.C., Says Nemesis Eleanor Holmes Norton]

While the role of Norton in the series is real, the Good Girls are all fictional characters who work at the news magazine News of the Week.

[Norton Wants You to ‘Ask Me About D.C.’]

Lynn Povich, one of the 46 women who joined the suit, wrote the book, “Good Girls Revolt” in 2012 and Norton attended a book party to celebrate it.

“It seemed to me that [Povich] had vivified something that could be lost because women by now don’t have to go through consciousness raising,” Norton said. “And, they don’t have to be the first. Whereas the Newsweek women, as far as I can tell, were the first class action by women and the first to take advantage of Title VII of the 1965 Civil Rights Act. The irony here is that I would later go onto chair that commission.”

Norton was the first woman to chair the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981.

[Norton on Colbert's Last Show, Chatting With Norquist and the After-Party]

Norton said she remains just as passionate about the lawsuit as she was back then.

“The most talented in the society — these women who were the very top of the students — were literally slotted into the lowest part of the workforce in journalism, regardless of their talent,” she said. “Men were deemed to be the people who should be reporters.”

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