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Georgia Women's Movement Oral History Project: J

A guide to the Georgia Women's Movement Oral History Project collection.

Johnson, Sonia

Interviewee: Sonia Johnson
Interviewer: Janet Paulk
Date of Inteview: April 19 2010
Extent: Extent: 103-page transcript

Interviewer: Janet Paulk
Date of Interview: May 15 2010
Extent: 101-page transcript

Feminist activist and writer Sonia Johnson was an outspoken supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). A fifth generation Mormon, Johnson was publicly critical of the position of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She eventually was excommunicated from the church for her activities. She went on to publish several radical feminist books and become a popular feminist speaker.

Abstract, April 19, 2010:
Johnson begins her interview by discussing the fact that she was not even remotely interested in women or women’s issues for the first part of her life. After talking about her Mormon roots and her young marriage, she describes an epiphany she experienced at a church meeting that led to her becoming a radical feminist. She discusses her support of the Equal Rights amendment, including a hunger strike in Illinois, and goes on to talk about running for president of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and president of the United States in 1984. She explains what she sees as the differences between men and women and between sex and intimacy as well as her journey to  becoming a lesbian. She discusses her relationship with her late mother and her belief in reincarnation (which she refers to as the ‘sisterwitch conspiracy’). She talks about her career as a public speaker- speaking at universities and on television- and how she eventually came to despise speaking engagements as a tool of patriarchy. She discusses many, many topics during her three and a half hour interview, including her books, the coming of a new female world, her experiences living in all-female communities (such as Freedom, Wildfire, and Casa Feminista), her partner Jade and the story she learned of the Hopi’s oral history, the decline of the Y chromosome (which she explains is merely a mutant of the X), George Mason and the constitution, Phyllis Schlafly, and the state of the world and feminism since the ERA.

Abstract, May 15, 2010:
In her second interview, Johnson begins retelling the story of how she came to believe in reincarnation. She continues discussing the history of femaleness and the powers women have. She details her thoughts on the Y chromosome as a mutation and its steady demise along with that of patriarchy. She briefly discusses some of her experiences with the ERA and leaving the Mormon Church as well as her friends at that time. She spends much of the interview discussing her later life- living in Sonoita, Arizona, Costa Rica, New Mexico, and Alabama, changing her name, playing piano a small Methodist Church. She explains her unique and life altering decision to no longer be a mother to her (grown) children. She talks about various speaking engagements she participated in and her encounters with Phyllis Schlafly at several of them. She talks about politics and her campaign for presidency. She speaks fondly of her mother and their time together. Johnson also discusses her books, including the Sister Witch Conspiracy (published June 2010), and her opinions on the differences between religion and spirituality.

Jones, Maria Getzinger

Interviewee: Maria Getzinger Jones
Interviewer: Charlene Ball 
Date of interview: June 8, 1998
Extent: 2 audio cassettes; 2 compact discs; 30 page transcript;

Interviewer: Joyce Durand 
Date of interview: November 16, 1998
Extent: 2 audio cassettes; 2 compact discs; 38 page transcript;

Jones talks about NOW's approach to the issue of homosexuality. Jones discusses her interest in women's participation and representation in organized religion, as well as in the labor movement. Finally, she describes the Seneca Falls Anniversary Celebration in 1998, and the signing of a new Sentiments of 1998 at that conference.

Maria Getzinger was born in 1919 into a German-American family in Woodcliff, South Georgia, where her father owned a cotton farm. In 1936, after graduating from high school, she spent two years in Germany with her father's family, then returned to the United States where she lived for a year on the family farm. In 1939, she took her first job at the Curtis Printing Company in Atlanta, Georgia, where she met her future husband Charles Jones, and where she joined the International Typographical Union -- the first non-discriminatory union that paid men and women the same salaries. In the late 1940's Jones and her husband transferred to the printing department of Park & Baird law firm in Los Angeles. Until her retirement in 1985, Maria Getzinger Jones worked in leading print shops such as Curtis, Stein, and Darby printing companies. Raised a Roman Catholic, Jones joined the Unitarian Universalist Church. Her political activism and interest in equal rights originated in her work experiences, as well as from the inspiration of local and national feminists and activists. In the late 1960's Jones became an early member of Atlanta NOW and was a founding member of the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW). In the 1970's she served in various capacities and actively participated in conferences and events held by both NOW and CLUW, and in 1974 she represented the International Typographical Union on the CLUW National Coordinating Committee. Maria Getzinger Jones continued to be active as a member of NOW and other feminist organizations, attending the 1998 and 2000 NOW conferences and taking part in the events surrounding the 150th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Declaration. Jones passed away in August 2005.

In the first of two interviews, Jones begins by describing her childhood on a farm in Woodcliff, Georgia. Her father died when she was four years old, and she remembers the strength of her mother as she continued to run the family farm. She believes that it was through observing this strength that she first began to see herself as a feminist. She considers a two-year visit to Germany as a teenager pivotal, as she experienced blatant sexual discrimination for the first time. When she returned to the United States from Europe, Jones took her first job at the Curtis Printing Company. It was there, she says, that she met her future husband, and where she became involved with the labor movement through the Typographical Union and the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW). She discusses her union experiences, and she says that her interest in unions is similar to her interests in the Women’s Movement, in that each confronts issues such as discrimination, pay inequities, and political organization. Jones discusses NOW associates Eliza Pascal, Annabelle Walker and Patricia Ireland, as well as the anti-ERA contingent at the state Capitol. She goes on to talk about the women-centered courses offered by the Unitarian Church, and about her views on modern politics. In the second interview Jones begins by talking about her involvement with NOW: She says that “the first Atlanta NOW meeting I ever attended was because I had heard Betty Freidan from National NOW, the founding first president, had been in Atlanta and spoken on the Women’s Movement and on what her involvement was and her founding the national NOW.” She goes on to describe her first national conference in Los Angeles (at which the issue of lesbianism and homosexuality was broached) as well as a number of other conferences she attended. Jones discusses the split of the Atlanta NOW chapter and the emergence of the Feminist Action Alliance (FAA) and explains why she remained active with both organizations. Also involved in the Atlanta chapter of the Women’s Political Caucus, she talks about their activities. Jones discusses her interest in women’s participation and representation in organized religion, as well as in the labor movement. Finally, she describes the Seneca Falls Anniversary Celebration in 1998, and the signing of a new “Sentiments of 1998” at that conference.

Jordan, Beverly

Interviewee: Beverly Turner Jordan
Interviewer: Janet Paulk
Date of interview: February 26, 1997
Extent: 2 audio cassettes; 2 compact discs; 36 page transcript

Jordan talks about her behind-the-scenes participation in efforts to pass the Equal Rights Amendment

Beverly Turner Jordan was born in Buffalo, New York in 1937. In 1976 she received her master's degree in architecture from Georgia Institute of Technology. She served as the administrative vice-president of ERA Georgia, Inc. from 1978 thru 1983, then trained as a paralegal and was with L.A. Paulk, P.C. until 1990. Jordan was also employed as an interior decorator and has owned a decorating franchise. As of 1995, Jordan was retired and spending her time writing and working as operations vice president of the Unitarian Universalist Metro Atlanta North Church.

Jordan describes her experiences and aspirations as a young girl growing up in Buffalo, New York during the Second World War, and how her childhood was complicated by her mother’s dedication to Christian Scientists. As an adult, Jordan married and traveled with her husband, moving to various cities and working a variety of jobs. And as a young housewife with three daughters, Jordan recalls reading Betty Freidan’s, The Feminine Mystique for the first time, and how much it spoke to her at that particular moment in her life. Jordan became involved in the Women’s Movement in Georgia after finishing her master’s degree in architecture at Georgia Tech. She worked as the office manager for the ERA Georgia and was also the administrative vice president for three years, from 1979 to January of 1982. Jordan explains the machinations of the ERA Georgia campaign, in creating a network for women organizing throughout the state. She also explains some of the problems the ERA faced in Georgia. Issues that concerned Jordan included equal pay, reproductive freedom, access to previously forbidden vocations, and also larger social issues like civil rights and gay rights. According to Jordan the biggest obstacles to the movement were the religious right and conservative legislators. She discusses the accomplishments of the Women’s Movement and asserts, "I think the Women’s Movement has been most helpful by allowing women to feel that they are important, as important as men, and that they can do whatever they want to do."

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