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Activist Women Oral History Project: R

Ray, Amy

Interviewee: Amy Ray
Interviewer: Natalia Poppeliers [Bowdoin]
Date of Interview: March 9, 2011
Extent: 2 compact discs; 1 DVD; 61-page transcript

Interviewer: NataliaPoppeliers [Bowdoin]
Date of Interview: April 13, 2011
Extent: 1 compact disc; 1 DVD; 38-page transcript

Amy Ray was born in Decatur, Georgia in 1964. She graduated from Emory University in 1986. She had a passion for music and began performing with friend Emily Saliers as a teenager. The pair later formed the Indigo Girls. As a singer-songwriter, Ray also pursues a solo career, releasing albums under her own name, and has founded a record company, Daemon Records. She supports grassroots activist causes, in particular those relating to the environment, human rights and women’s issues.


Abstract, March 9, 2011:
Georgia native Amy Ray begins by talking about how her early interest in music intertwined with her activism, and was influenced by her Southern roots. Ray and her musical partner Emily Saliers met when they were in elementary school, and Ray discusses their formative years together. Ray and Saliers’ group, the Indigo Girls were involved in the Atlanta music scene of the 1980s, and Ray speaks about the support that that scene provided, and how it influenced the group. The Indigo Girls were signed to two major record labels, and Ray describes how that provided the means and support for much of her activism. She talks at length about ways that the band fused musical performance and social activism in a profound way, and goes on to discuss the process of recording and songwriting as part of the Indigo Girls, and as a solo artist. Ray talks about founding Daemon Records and about the focus of the label and the ways in which it has assisted other artists.

Abstract, April 13, 2011:
Amy Ray begins her second interview talking specifically about her activism. She discusses various groups she’s been involved with, including Project South, Southern Center for Human Rights, Southerners on New Ground, Georgia WAND, and Honor the Earth. She talks about her mentors and supporters in activism. She discusses causes not focused on in the first interview, including immigrant rights and gay rights. She describes how growing up in a religious community and studying religion in college influences her activism. She also discusses how she uses her platform as a musician to support causes, including doing tours for Honor the Earth, holding solar powered shows, giving tickets to gay youth groups, and performing at schools. She discusses how and why she focuses on some causes more than others. She has received some opposition to her activism and she talks about what that has looked like and how she has handled it.


Reis, Leola

Interviewee: Leola Reis
Interviewer: Morna Gerrard
Date of Interview: September 19, 2008
Extent: 2 compact discs; 46 page transcript

Interviewer: Morna Gerrard
Date of Interview: November 25, 2008
Extent: 2 compact discs; 52 page transcript



Leola Reis was born in Montreal, Canada, in 1963 and graduated from Queens University with a B.A. in English. Reis began her work for Planned Parenthood of Georgia as a clinic counselor and a liaison for judicial bypass (1995-1997). Reis then became Planned Parenthood of Georgia’s Coordinator of Marketing, Communications, and Public Policy (1997), Director of Marketing, Communications, and Public Policy (1997), Vice President for Marketing and Communications (2000), and eventually Vice-President for External Affairs. Reis also served on the board of Refugee Family Services (2005-?), the Atlanta Women’s Foundation Grant Committee (2004), and a panel for the Alan Guttmancher Institute (2003). Reis was also involved in extensive volunteer work with First Line as an after-hours counselor, teaching a course called Judaism and Sexuality, as well as working as a facilitator at Juvenile Justice Fund’s Summit to End Sexual Exploitation (2006).


September 19, 2008 interview
Leola Reis begins her interview by discussing her family lineage. She talks about the experiences of her parents and grandparents, which include one of her grandmothers surviving a German concentration camp during WWII. She discusses being raised Jewish, and what that meant in her family. Reis was born in Canada and eventually immigrated to the United States, and she talks about some of the differences in the two nations. She was educated at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada, and she mentions some early activism she was involved with there. Reis talks about the March for Women’s Lives, which was a large demonstration for reproductive rights and women’s rights which took place in Washington D.C. in 2004. She mentions some early lobbying efforts, specifically a meeting with Georgia Representative John Lewis. After a move to Atlanta, Reis became very involved with Planned Parenthood. She talks about the many roles the Planned Parenthood plays and the various services it provides. She discusses the organization’s work in sexual education at length. This interview also touches on politics surrounding Planned Parenthood, as well as programs concerning birth control, medical abortion, emergency contraception, and STD screenings.


Richardson, Deborah

Interviewee: Deborah Richardson
Interviewer: Morna Gerrard
Date of Interview: May 14, 2008
Extent: ? compact disc; 1 DVD; 71 page transcript

Interviewer: Morna Gerrard
Date of Interview: June 24, 2008
Extent: ? compact disc; 1 DVD; 38 page transcript

Deborah J. Richardson is the Executive Vice President of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights leading its fundraising and program development. Previously, she was Chief Program Officer at Women’s Funding Network in San Francisco, CEO of The Atlanta Women’s Foundation, Director of Program Development for Fulton County Juvenile Court, founding Executive Director of the Juvenile Justice Fund (now Youth Spark) and Managing Director of the National Black Arts Festival.

Among Richardson's many awards are: The Community Leadership Award by Spelman College Board of Trustees, The Legacy Award by the Juvenile Justice Fund and The Grassroots Justice Award by the Georgia Justice Project. She also received  the Lives of Commitment Award from Auburn Theological Seminary and The Pathbreaker Award from Shared Hope International. Richardson is a nationally recognized leader on social justice for women and girls and an advocate to end child sex trafficking. She is the co-author of "Ending Sex Trafficking of Children in Atlanta" and a national spokesperson for A Future. Not a Past (now Youth Spark, Inc.), a campaign to stop the sexual trafficking of children.



Interviewee: Roger Rochat
Interviewer: Alex McGee
Date of Interview: October 24, 2013
Extent: 1 DVD
Transcript and audio



Dr Roger Rochat completed his residency at Charity Hospital in New Orleans. He joined CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service and was assigned to the Family Planning Evaluation Activity and the Georgia Health Department. One of his first tasks was to determine whether the new Georgia state law legalizing abortion would reduce maternal mortality. Because of restrictive access to services, it would not. A lawyer cited this social inequity in Doe v. Bolton, the Supreme Court case from Georgia that was decided concurrently with Roe v. Wade. In 1981, Dr. Rochat became the first Director of the Division of Reproductive Health for the CDC. In 1985, he developed the Global Health Track in Community Health at Emory, then worked 2 years for USAID in India, and then spent six years developing Maternal and Child Health epidemiology in the Georgia Health Department. After 30 years with CDC, working in 30+ countries and with many State Health Departments, he retired from CDC in 1999, went with his brother briefly to Antarctica, and then joined the Rollins School of Public Health where he has appointments in Departments of Global Health and Epidemiology and in Emory Medical school’s Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics. He serves as Director of Graduate Studies, Hubert Department of Global Health and co-teaches four public health courses related to reproductive health, including The GEMMA Seminar: The Global Elimination of Maternal Mortality from Abortion.  Roger and Susan Rochat have endowed the GEMMA fund to support Emory MPH students conducting international research aimed at eliminating maternal deaths from abortion.

Roger Rochat discusses his life's work involving maternal mortality, abortion, family planning and reproductive health. The interview touches upon his time at CDC, USAID and his research in demography abroad as well as in the United States.

Ross, David

Interviewee: David Ross
Interviewer: Morna Gerrard
Date of Interview: March 29, 2012
Extent: 1 compact disc; 1 DVD; 59-page transcript


Attorney David Ross served on the board of directors of Planned Parenthood of Atlanta from 1987-1990, was board chair from 1991-1992, and went on to serve the Planned Parenthood Federation of America from 1993-1994. Ross played a significant role in establishing a corps of local attorneys representing young women who were seeking judicial bypass after the passage of Georgia's parental notification law.



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