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Gender and Sexuality Oral History Project: S

Saliers, Emily

Interviewee: Emily Saliers
Interviewer: Natalia Bowdoin
Date of Interview: September 26, 2011
Extent: 54 pages
Note: Saliers was originally interviewed for the Activist Women Oral History Project


Emily Saliers was born in 1963 in New Haven, Connecticut.  She moved to Georgia at age 9, where her father Don Saliers became a professor of theology at Emory University.   She began her post-secondary education at Tulane University before transferring to Emory University, where she and Amy Ray formed the band The Indigo Girls in 1985.

Saliers begins her oral history by briefly recalling her childhood, including her reaction to the transition from living in the North to living in the South.  Additionally, she explains how her upbringing and her parents’ political views influenced her own view of the world around her.  After describing her experiences in college, both at Tulane and at Emory, she highlights a number of major influences on her musical career, including the work of singer/songwriter Cris Williamson. She describes the many different elements of her activism, including environmental and LGBT issues, and then talks about her religious beliefs, including her collaboration on a book with her father (A Song to Sing, a Life to Live: Reflections on Music as Spiritual Practice).  Saliers ends by talking about her experiences in the music and film industries, as well as her relationship with the South.   

Smith, Margo

Interviewee: Margo Smith
Interviewer: Hilary Morrish
Date of Interview: January 27, 2011
Extent: 52 pages
Note: Smith was originally interviewed for the Activist Women Oral History Project


Margo Smith was born as the youngest of five siblings in Washington, Pennsylvania in 1950. She studied at University of Massachusetts in Amherst in the 1970s, and graduated with honors with a major in Physical Education and a minor in Women’s Studies. Upon graduation, Smith went to work for the Massachusetts Coalition of Battered Women’s Groups. After moving to Atlanta in 1982, she worked as the executive director for the Association on Battered Women of Clayton County. She later held the position of Executive Director for the Georgia Network Against Domestic Violence. Smith went back to school at Georgia State University in 1994 to get her masters in Urban Studies with a concentration in Human Resources, while simultaneously working as the director of the Southeast Women’s Employment Coalition, and the interim director of the Women’s Resource Center.  Smith then served as the Director of Development for the Atlanta Women’s Foundation. She later worked for the Trust for Public Land, Heifer International, and CARE, the international agency working to end poverty and empower women through social change.

 Margo Smith begins her oral history with a brief description of her childhood, and goes on to discuss her post-secondary education at Ohio State and University of Massachusetts in Amherst. She then describes her experiences with the Association on Battered Women of Clayton County and the challenges of dealing with domestic violence as well as the root of the problem. She discusses her involvement with the Georgia Network Against domestic Violence and the goals she had for her work with domestic violence. After talking about earning her degree from Georgia State University, she describes her jobs with the Atlanta Women’s foundation, Heifer International, and the Trust for Public Land. Smith ends by discussing her other passions including the environment, her work with CARE, and by giving advice on how to end the cycle of domestic violence.

Smith, Rickie

Interviewee: Rickie Smith
Interviewer: Jenna-Ashley M. Lee
Date of interview: March 10, 2017
Extent: 15 pages; 1 audio file


Smith opens by identifying himself as an African American gay man who was born in 1961 in Clinton, Oklahoma. Interspersed in his description of hid childhood, education, and career, Smith describes coming to terms with his sexuality as a young adult. He details his activism with In the Life Atlanta, which began through a volunteer position. Founded in 1996, a year before Smith moved to Atlanta, the organization emerged to support and mobilize the Black LGBTQ+ community in Atlanta. Smith describes the organization's history, his role as president, and his vision for In the Life's future. Smith reflects on healthcare discrimination, the AIDS epidemic, religion, the need for education, and generational divides with relation to Black gay community members. He concludes by describing his personal life, including his hobbies and his plans to marry his partner of three years. 


South, Ken

Interviewee: Ken South
Interviewer: Morna Gerrard
Date of interview: June 19, 2020

Interviewee: Ken South
Interviewer: Morna Gerrard
Date of interview: July 2, 2020

Kenneth (Ken) South received his BA in non-profit management and music education from Salem College, West Virginia in 1969 and a Masters in Divinity from the Methodist Theological School in Ohio in 1972. South began his non-profit career at Hartford, Connecticut’s Hill Center, a neighborhood-based social services agency that South founded and where he served as the Executive Director from 1974-1981. South moved to Atlanta in 1984 and began volunteering at the Atlanta-based AIDS social service agency AID Atlanta. South quickly moved from volunteer to the Executive Director of the agency. He served in that capacity from 1984-1987, growing the organization considerably before resigning amid conflict with the organization’s Board of Directors in 1987.

Upon leaving AID Atlanta, South moved to Washington, DC to support the work of the Presidential Commission on the HIV Epidemic. He has since held numerous positions in social service and non-profit organizations that serve the HIV positive community, Interfaith Christian ministry, and that support aging communities, in particular the aging gay community.


Stephens, Charles

Interviewee: Charles Stephens
Interviewer: Hillery Rink
Date of Interview: July 31, 2012
Extent: 58 pages

Interviewee: Charles Stephens
Interviewer: Ashley Coleman-Taylor
Date of interview: July 10, 2017

Interviewee: Charles Stephens
Interviewer: Morna Gerrard
Date of interview: October 11, 2021

Interviewee: Charles Stephens
Interviewer: Morna Gerrard
Date of interview: October 25, 2021


Stephens is the African-American Gay Outreach Coordinator for AID Atlanta. He is committed to art, social justice, and gay men’s health. Charles has recently contributed to the anthology "For Colored Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Still Not Enough: Coming of Age, Coming Out, and Coming Home" and is co-editing the anthology "Black Gay Genius" about the legacy of Joseph Beam



Stevens, Charles H.

Interviewee: Charles H. Stevens
Interviewer: Andy Reisinger
Date of interview:
Extent: 30 pages: 1 audio file; 3 video files

View transcript and video of interview

Charles H. Stevens was born in Lancaster, Pa. in 1927. After serving in World War II, he moved to Atlanta in 1958 and became a prominent interior designer. At the time of this interview he was 87 years old. 

Stevens tells his life story with an emphasis on his love life as a gay man both in military and civilian life. His narrative reveals details of the restaurants, bars, and neighborhoods that welcomed the LGBT community in mid-20th century Atlanta.

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