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Activist Women Oral History Project: B

Barnhill, Sandra

Interviewee: Sandra Barnhill
Interviewer: Morna Gerrard
Date of Interview: August 7, 2014
Extent: 2:06:05, 63-page transcript

Transcript and audio

Sandra Barnhill earned her BA in political science at Georgia State University (1982), and her J.D. at the University of Texas (1984). From 1983 to 1987, she served as a staff attorney for the Southern Prisoners’ Defense Committee. In this role, she represented indigent prisoners in class action challenges to prison conditions and in post-conviction challenges on capital convictions. During this time, Barnhill became frustrated by the lack of support given to imprisoned mothers and their families. In 1987, she founded Foreverfamily (originally named Aid to Imprisoned Mothers (AIM)), which is a nonprofit  Atlanta-based organization advocating for inmate parents and their children. In 2004, the Ford Foundation  recognized Barnhill for her outstanding leadership efforts.

Sandra Barnhill begins by discussing her family, including their strong sense of spirituality and experiences living overseas because of her father's position in the military. She discusses her undergraduate education at Agnes Scott College and Georgia State University, and attending law school at the University of Texas. While in law school, Barnhill began working at a legal assistance clinic, where she provided legal resources to inmates. As a result of this work and some of her law school coursework, Barnhill became interested in providing access to legal services for disenfranchised people. After law school, she began practicing law involving death penalty cases. Barnhill discusses the racism and sexism she experienced in a profession dominated by white men. During her time working on death penalty and prison condition cases, Barnhill became interested in the specific needs of women prisoners, and she eventually founded the organization that became Foreverfamily, an Atlanta-based nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting children of incarcerated parents.


Batchelder, Naunie

Interviewee: Naunie Batchelder
Interviewer: Franklin Abbott
Date of interview: December 4, 2015
Extent: 1:31:56; 34-page transcript
Transcript and audio

Naunie Batchelder grew up in Elberton, Ga. As a child, she experienced serious illness and nearly lost the ability to walk. Batchelder attended Valdosta State University, where she met her first husband Joshua Batchelder, who worked on a nearby Air Force base. Joshua became an Air Force officer, and he and Naunie moved several times, including to Goose Bay (Labrador), Boston, New York, and Seattle before moving to Atlanta. They later divorced, and Naunie married her second husband Lee Harris, whom she also divorced. In college, Naunie discovered that she had psychic abilities, and she honed them in college and in New York. In Atlanta, Naunie began giving psychic readings at an informal New Age group, than at the Foundation of Truth. She later left the organization but continued to support herself doing psychic readings.

Naunie Batchelder discusses her family history, childhood, and college years. She details her years as an Air Force wife, moving to many different cities with her husband Joshua Batchelder. Naunie discusses her work as a psychic, including the way that the public's perceptions of psychics have changed over the years--according to her, the work has become much less stigmatized since she began. Naunie and interviewer Franklin Abbott discuss their mutual friend, the late Raven Wolfdancer, whom Naunie helped train as a psychic. Naunie shares about her spiritual beliefs and gives advice about staying positive in the face of adversity.

Bevington, Paula Lawton

Interviewee: Paula Lawton Bevington
Interviewer: Amanda Brown (Pellerin)
Date of Interview: October 20, 2006
Extent: 2 audio cassettes; 2 compact discs; 36-page transcript




Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Paula Lawton Bevington was the eldest of three children. She attended an all girl’s high school, and went on to attend St. Mary’s College and Yale Law School. After completing her law degree, she relocated to Atlanta, where her father had established the Georgia International Life insurance company. She took a job at the firm of Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan, then applied for a Fulbright Scholarship, as well as a placement in the Peace Corps. Bevington attained the Peace Corps position and began working in Washington D.C., but not long after also received the Fulbright Scholarship, which relocated her to Venezuela. Her time in Venezuela was cut short when she contracted Hepatitis A, but once she had recovered, she continued to travel by embarking on a solo trip around the world. Upon her return to the United States, she met and married Milton Bevington, and the couple moved to Wisconsin, where, for several years, she focused on their eight children. They eventually returned to Atlanta, and in 1974 Milton started Servidyne, an energy engineering company. In 1980, Bevington joined the project, and the business flourished. The year after Servidyne became a subsidiary of Abrams Industries (2001), Bevington left the company, and in 2003, she began working as the vice president of Development for SciTrek.

Bevington has also been actively involved with a number of organizations, including the Atlanta Legal Aid Society,  Atlanta’s Junior League, the American Red Cross, Emory’s Friends of Music, the Georgia Human Relations Commission, the Georgia Council for International Visitors, the National Conference of Christians and Jews, UNICEF- Atlanta, the Yale Club of Georgia, and the Rotary Club of Atlanta. She was also a board member of the World Trade Center Atlanta, the Society of International Business Fellows, and Georgia Chamber of Commerce. She has received many awards, including Saint Mary’s College Distinguished Alumna Award, the YWCA Academy of Women Achievers, the Martin Luther King Jr. Center Community Award, the Claven Award, the Atlanta Legal Aid Society’s Outstanding Service Award, the Roz Cohen Community Action Award, and the NCCJ Brotherhood/Sisterhood Award. Bevington is an alumni of Leadership Atlanta.

Paula Lawton Bevington begins by talking about her early family life, which was spent in Ohio, Connecticut, and Minnesota. She attended St. Mary’s College at Notre Dame, Indiana. She then did graduate work at Middlebury College in Vermont, before being awarded a law degree from Yale Law School. Bevington discusses her first job working for the law firm of Sutherland, Asbill, and Brennan. She talks about going to Venezuela on a Fulbright Scholarship during a period of intense social unrest. She used her time there to travel extensively in South America. She speaks about returning to Atlanta and meeting her future husband Milton Bevington, who had three sons from a previous marriage. She was heavily involved in volunteer work, and she talks at length about some of the many organizations she has worked with, particularly the Junior League. She and Milton founded the energy company, Servidyne, and she discusses their many years running that firm. After they sold the company, she started working as a professional fundraiser, first for the museum, Scitrek, and later for the Marcus Institute. Bevington addresses her views of feminism as a feminist, and she speaks about the origins of her personal beliefs. She then talks about how organizations which she has been involved with shaped her worldview and outlook. Bevington discusses various dynamics of working within organizations, such as dissent, conflict, and the problem of succession. She ends the interview by speaking about the importance of men developing feminist viewpoints, and the necessity of partnership within marriage.


Biloon, Audrey

Interviewee: Audrey Biloon
Interviewer: Tanya Washington
Date of Interview: May 20, 2009
Extent: 2 compact discs; 72 page transcript




A former social worker, radio personality, and lawyer in private practice, Audrey Biloon is currently the Pro Bono Externship Placement Director at Savannah Law School. Biloon holds a JD from Mercer University School of Law in Macon, GA, and Masters in Social Work  from the University of Washington, in Seattle, WA, and a BA and an MAT from Washington University in St. Louis.

Audrey Biloon begins the interview by discussing how she met her first husband, David Bisno. She speaks at length about their marriage, its conflicts, and their eventual divorce. Biloon and Bisno had a long and bitter custody battle over their two children, which eventually made its way to the Georgia Supreme Court. Biloon discusses how she believes one of her early lawyers worked a backroom deal in her ex-husband’s favor and that resulted in her losing custody of her children. Biloon immediately hired a new lawyer, Margie Pitts Hames, who had argued Doe v. Bolton, the companion case to Roe v. Wade. Biloon talks about how Hames was able to get her custody case overturned on appeal. The custody case had been initiated when Biloon moved with her two children from Atlanta to Macon in order to attend law school at Mercer University. She continued to work on her law degree throughout her legal battles, and eventually practiced law herself. She talks about the difficulties that sexism within the legal system creates for women. As a lawyer she continued to experience sexism and ends her interview by discussing injustice and the legal system.


Boothe, Nancy N.

Interviewee: Nancy N. Boothe
Interviewer: Amanda Brown
Date of Interview: July 3, 2007
Extent: 3 audio cassettes; 3 compact discs; 75-page transcript


Nancy N. Boothe RN, MS, LPC received her undergraduate nursing degree at the Medical College of Georgia and completed her graduate work in counseling at Troy University. Her career spans 30 years of healthcare service as a nurse, therapist, hospital administrator, and Quality Iprovement Consultant. As the Executive Director of the Atlanta Feminist Women's Health Center, she has presented internationally promoting positive women's health policy. She has commented that the "degree of violence perpetuated against women worldwide is limited only by that which their government refuses to tolerate and when the community says "no more."

Nancy Boothe opens her oral history by describing her childhood, being raised by eccentric parents on a farm in rural Alabama. She recalls that she was influenced by her mother’s involvement in politics, and this interest first manifested itself when she joined Teenage Republicans in High School and went on to be President of Student Government during her time at Mastin School of Nursing. She recalls that the first two issues she was passionate about were the pro-choice movement and the opposition to the Vietnam War. Boothe talks about her time in the military, during which time, she had to cope with the loss of a fiancé. She states that she was raped while working in the VA Mental Hospital, and that this life-changing event piqued her interest in women’s rights. Boothe talks about her post-army graduate education at Troy State University in Counseling, as well as becoming the Program Director for Vindell Clinic. She knew that her interests lied in pro-choice advocacy and women’s rights, and she discusses her transition into becoming the Executive Director of the Feminist Women’s Health Center. She highlights the numerous challenges she has faced while working at the health center, including struggling to provide illegal abortions, dealing with a national practicing without a license case, leading clinical trials for the drug Mifeprex, and dealing with numerous clinic break-ins. Boothe details her participation in both the 4th World Conference on Women in 1995 as well as the 8th International Women’s Health Conference in 2000. She closes her oral history by discussing her involvement in groups such as NOW, Feminist Majority, and the Feminist Abortion Network.

Brown, Carol

Interviewee: Carol Brown
Interviewer: Hillery Rink
Date of interview: November 18, 2015
Extent: 46-page transcript 


Carol Brown was born in 1950, spent her childhood in South Florida and moved to Atlanta with her family in 1964. Carol realized that she was gay in her teens and found her way to Little Five Points where young activists involved in the emerging Gay Rights movement and other issues, gathered in the early 1970's. While she enjoyed the company of women who were activists, her own activism did not begin until 1993, when the Cobb County Board of Commissioners planned to adopt a “Family Values” resolution and remove funding for the Arts. Brown joined a small group of people contesting the anti-gay resolution. Her role was to document, archive and distribute materials that chronicled the events surrounding the issue. The Resolution made national and international headlines and coverage lasted for over a year, eventually culminating in Cobb County's loss of an Olympic venue.

After a 10 year hiatus, in 2004 Brown's activism would take a different track. She became involved in Community Development issues as a neighborhood advocate. Working with a diverse group of residents, she would co-found the group Canton Road Neighbors, Inc. which focused on planning, zoning and revitalization of an aging community. Brown returned to Georgia State University in her 50s and received a BS in Public Policy and MA in Urban Geography. She then received a Master of Urban and Regional Planning in 2014 from the University of West Georgia. In all, Brown has been active in over 80 rezoning cases, lobbied successfully for installation of sidewalks on the 5 mile Canton Corridor, supported acquisition of greenspace in the 2006 and 2008 Parks Bond referendums, drafted Design Guidelines, served on the Bicycle Pedestrian Improvement Plan Committee and on the Cobb Board of Ethics from 2006-2009. She served as an appointee to the Connect Cobb NW Transit Corridor Alternatives Analysis in 2011-2012 and from 2012-2013 launched a series of Stakeholder presentations, asking Cobb County to consider official recognition of neighborhoods with the Neighborhood Notification Initiative program. In November 2013 the County made notification of rezoning applications accessible to all residents who signed up to receive email alerts.

Brown begins her interview by talking about her childhood. She describes her early love of horses that morphed into a love of sports cars. She talks about her early work life, first at a printing company, then at an Auto parts company, and then her transition to student life at Georgia State University. During her time at GSU, she developed a strong interest in video production, and she talks about that becoming the focus of her career. She also describes her love of aviation, and learning to fly. In 1988, Brown moved to Cobb County, and commuted into Buckhead for a number of years. She discusses the bigotry that was prevalent in Cobb County at the time.

Brown describes coming out as a lesbian during her mid-teens, as well as her burgeoning feminism. In her early 20s, she spent some time travelling and working in Europe. Brown talks about the reasons for taking the trip, and then settling into her video production work life when she returned.

In 1993, Brown became involved with the Cobb Citizens Coalition. She describes her involvement and the events around it. She talks about the ways that her activism took its toll on her personally and professionally, and that she stepped away from activism until the 2000s, when she became involved with zoning issues in Cobb County, and in particular, the Canton Road Neighbors group.

In 2007, Brown went back to school and went on to earn advanced degrees at Georgia State University and the University of West Georgia. She talks about that experience and her continued local zoning work. She finishes by comparing GSU of the 1970s to GSU today.  

Bryant, Linda

Interviewee: Linda Bryant
Interviewer: Janet Paulk
Date of Interview: September 29, 2005
Extent: 1 audio cassette; 1 compact disc; 35 page transcript

Interviewer: Janet Paulk
Date of Interview: November 3, 2005
Extent: 2 audio cassettes; 2 compact discs; 63 page transcript

Excerpt: Linda Bryant talks about opening Charis bookstore.

Linda Bryant was born in 1948 in Paducah, Kentucky. Growing up as an "Army brat," Bryant moved around a lot during her childhood. She attended Oklahoma Baptist University before graduating from the University of Florida, where she was active in Young Life. While she was working as an English teacher at Walker High School, Bryant dreamed of owning a bookstore, and with the help of a few friends this became a reality. She teamed up with Barbara Borgman, and in 1974 they found a location in Little Five Points for their store, Charis Books and More - one for the first feminist bookstores in the country. While running and growing the store, Bryant took graduate classes at Candler School of Theology and Georgia State University, and eventually got her master’s degree from Candler, but dropped the program at Georgia State. She also adopted and raised a baby boy. Bryant served on the board for the Gay and Lesbian Youth Funding Initiative for the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta, and this influenced her to start Charis Circle, a non-profit organization committed to maintaining social justice. Bryant still works closely with both Charis Books and More and Charis Circle, and continues her work in social justice philanthropy.

Abstract, September 29, 2005:
Linda Bryant begins her interview by discussing her childhood. She was born in Paducah, Kentucky, but her father was in the Army, and as a result, they moved around a lot. She had a religious upbringing, and eventually attended Oklahoma Baptist College. She later transferred to the University of Florida, in part, to become involved with the Christian youth group, Young Life. She speaks about the influence that Young Life had upon her, and the many important friendships that she developed in that organization. She moved to Atlanta, Georgia to continue working with Young Life, and she talks about the work she did with students. She enrolled in graduate programs at both Emory and Georgia State Universities, and she discusses her reasons for doing so. At the same time, she and two other women opened a non-profit bookstore called Charis Books in the Little Five Points neighborhood. Bryant talks about the original focus of the store, which was to specialize in children’s, women’s, and spirituality books. She speaks about their non-profit status, which was supported by an education reform group called Exodus Incorporated. Not long after starting Charis, Bryant was asked to take in a three month old baby. Despite being single, in graduate school, and running a bookstore, Bryant accepted the baby, and she talks about some of the challenges she faced as an adoptive mother. After a few years, Charis shifted into more of a feminist/lesbian focused bookstore, though they continued to grow in the genres that they carried. Bryant discusses how falling in love with a woman caused a tension with her fellow church members and some of her Christian friends.

Abstract, November 3, 2005:
Linda Bryant begins the second interview by talking about programming and political activism that came out of Charis Books. She mentions anti-nuclear protests at the Savannah River Plant as being any early catalyst for activism. Charis became a meeting place for many groups, and in turn, those group members were often valuable resources for fundraising and support for the store. Bryant talks about the many financial challenges the store has faced over the years, and the various strategies that were implemented to survive when so many other independent bookstores have closed. She discusses changes in the Little Five Points neighborhood, and a move into a new space, as well as a planned move to Decatur, Georgia that did not happen. She talks about the bookselling and publishing businesses, particularly as they pertain to feminism. She continues to discuss organizations that Charis was involved with and events at which they sold books; WAND in particular. Bryant talks about Kay Hagen’s work with Charis, and a book club that has affected many women. Charis was an early supporter of the Feminist Bookstore Network and its publication, Feminist Bookstore News played an important role in Charis’ history. Bryant ends by discussing some of her favorite groups that met at the store including the High School Women Writers Group, Gaia Collective, Sister Girls, and Girls Speaking Out.



June Dobbs Butts

Interviewee: June Dobbs Butts
Interviewer: Franklin Abbott
Date of interview: January 29, 2016
Extent: 43-page transcript
Transcript and audio


Therapist and family counselor June Dobbs Butts was born on June 11, 1928 in Atlanta, Georgia. She is the youngest daughter of Irene and John Wesley Dobbs, one of Atlanta’s most prominent African American leaders before the Civil Rights Movement. Butts is also the aunt of the late Honorable Maynard Jackson, Atlanta’s first black mayor. Butts received her B.A. degree in sociology from Spelman College in 1948, setting a national education record – six sisters graduating from the same college. That same summer, Butts worked with her close friend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Then, in the fall of 1948, she entered the Teacher’s College of Columbia University in New York City, where she received her Ed.D. degree in family life education. Butts’ professional career began in 1950 as a professor in the psychology department at Fisk University. She went on to work at Tennessee State University, Howard University College of Medicine and Meharry Medical College, where she was also a researcher. While serving on the Board of Directors of Planned Parenthood in the 1970s, Butts met famed sex researchers Masters and Johnson, who invited her to join their staff at the Reproductive Biology Research Foundation (later called Masters and Johnson Institute) in St. Louis, Missouri. There, Butts became the first African American to be trained as a sex therapist by Masters and Johnson. She later served as a visiting scientist at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. Butts resides in Atlanta. She is the mother of three children (one deceased), and one granddaughter (Biographical note adapted from The History Makers website).

In this interview, June Dobbs Butts provides an overview of her life and work. She details the dynamics of her immediate and extended families, and talks about her childhood growing up in Atlanta. She discusses her father, John Wesley Dobbs, and his beliefs about civil rights organizing, as well as her childhood friend Martin Luther King, Jr. Butts talks about her undergraduate education at Spelman College and her graduate education at Columbia University, where she studied human sexuality. She describes meeting the famous sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson at a conference, and subsequently working at their St. Louis research facility. Butts discusses other aspects of her career, including teaching at various places and writing a sex column for Essence magazine. Butts also discusses her children and ex-husband throughout the interview.

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