Interviewee: Beth Schapiro
Interviewer: Dana Von Tilborg
Date of Interview: October 11, 1995
Extent: 1 audio cassette; 1 compact disc; 20 page transcript
Beth Susan Schapiro, (born 1949), political consultant, feminist and social activist, obtained degrees from the University of Maryland (1971, B.S in education) and Emory University (M.A., Ph.D., 1977; 1979, in political science). From 1971-1979, she taught in both public and private schools and colleges. Schapiro was active and held offices with several Georgia and national organizations including the Feminist Action Alliance, Inc., ERA Georgia, Inc. (formerly Georgia Council for the ERA), the Women's Political Caucus, and Women Business Owners, Inc. She was a founding mother of the Atlanta Women's Foundation and a member of the Leadership Atlanta Board of Trustees. Schapiro was a strategist for numerous political candidates in Georgia and elsewhere, and her clients included many "firsts" - first woman, Black, Hispanic, Asian-American and/or openly gay candidate elected to a particular office. In addition to holding several appointed positions on both the local and state levels, Schapiro was Executive Director of Research Atlanta, 1981-1984, and began Beth Schapiro & Associates, a polling and strategic consulting firm in Atlanta, Georgia in 1984. She has run the firm, now The Schapiro Group, Inc., ever since. In addition to other awards and honors, Schapiro was inducted into the YWCA's Academy of Women Achievers in 1994 and was selected as Georgia Equality's "Queen of the Political Jungle" in 2003. In 2009, she was honored as "SHERO of the Year" by Georgia State University Women's Collection.
Schapiro begins by recounting her childhood and youth in Richmond, Virginia. She believes that she inherited her activism from her parents who were very involved in various Jewish organizations. After the rape of a family member in 1973, Schapiro states that she became aware of the need for action to protect women's rights, and she joined the Georgia Women’s Political Caucus, and then the Feminist Action Alliance. Schapiro discusses the differences between the National Organization for Women and the Feminist Action Alliance, as well as various other groups, such as the League of Women Voters and Georgians for the ERA. She considers the changing face of women’s activism and how, as the early participants age, they take on more passive, but still extremely important roles as patrons of issues, through groups such as the Atlanta Women’s Fund. Schapiro considers a lack of “common interests and common backgrounds” as being one of the main problems for the Women’s Movement and cites conflicts of interests with civil rights groups and lesbians as examples. She feels that the Movement has resulted in great benefits for women, including their access to professions and sports that were previously closed to them.