Feminism on Trial
Ginny and Danny were married on August 20, 1961. She had just turned 20 two months earlier. However, marriage wasn't right for either of them at the time, as Ginny later acknowledged. It wasn't the "rose-covered cottage" she had once envisioned. Danny went back to school at New Paltz State, immersing himself with a circle of friends Ginny felt out-of-place with, and she went to work at a school for emotionally troubled inner city boys just outside of New Paltz. Ginny was troubled by the fact that she had to be the one working while he went to school and hung out with his friends. Her Italian-Catholic upbringing had conditioned her to expect that the husband would be the provider.
The experience of working at Wiltwyck School for Boys was an eye-opener for Ginny. For the first time in her life she was forced to confront the realities of racism. Most of the boys at the school were black. Some had been physically and/or sexually abused by parents, some had already been on drugs, others had been abandoned to the streets. "It was impossible not to be outraged by a system that caused such misery or allowed it to exist," she wrote.
This experience stirred her to a level of activism that would characterize her later life. She got involved in the Civil Rights Movement and helped organize a contingent from upstate New York to participate in the 1963 March on Washington and she helped charter buses that would convey them to the demonstration. On August 28, 1963, twenty-two year old Ginny Galluzzo Angelillo was one of the 200,000 people gathered in the Nation's Capital to hear and cheer Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.
The experience convinced Ginny that she had a future as an activist but her dream, like that of Dr. King, was cut short at least for the present. Determined to try and make her marriage work, despite the differences between her and Danny, she was crushed by the news that he was having an affair with another student at the college. Attempts at reconciliation failed and the couple agreed to an annulment. Ginny blamed herself for the breakup and her guilt was not made easier by the knowledge that this would be the first failed marriage in her family's history. She felt like a failure, herself; then came an even more shocking revelation. She was pregnant. Worse yet, the baby wasn't Danny's.