Interviewee: Amy Raskin
IWY TX 423
Interviewer: June Hahner
Date: November 18-21, 1977
Amy Raskin was a high school student volunteering at the National Women’s Conference in Houston, Texas. She lived in El Paso two years before her move to Houston and she was involved in campaigning for a judge there, but otherwise Raskin did not have much experience with the women’s movement. As a volunteer, Raskin was not permitted to express her own views on issues but she did say she supported the pro-ERA movement. Interview includes discussion of conference logistics and the atmosphere of the conference; how Raskin became involved as a volunteer; how residents of Houston were largely unaware of the conference leading up to the event; and Raskin’s observations of the low level of protest, although she did notice protesters from the KKK holding signs.
June Hahner: That’s a good place to begin.
Amy Raskin: Is that on?
AR: Okay, my name’s Amy Raskin.
JH: How do you spell that?
JH: And where are you from?
AR: Houston, Texas. I’m a student in high school and I’ve lived here for about two years, so far.
JH: Where’d you come from?
AR: El Paso, Texas. Anything else you want to know? What I think of the convention?
JH: Yeah. Well you have a different view possibly than everybody else.
AR: Oh, I think it’s fantastic and different. I think it’s fantastic because most things on this large of a scale would be just total chaos but people here are really polite and well-behaved and they don’t fuss much at all.
JH: You mean of all the people? The delegates and the observers?
AR: Everybody. Nobody’s causing any trouble, really. There were a bunch of rumors that there was going to be all sorts of riots, terrible things happening. But none of that happened it’s all been pretty good.
JH: I’ve seen it’s been very quiet, too.
AR: Mmhm. No one’s complained much. There’s been a few people griping a little, but for the most part we’ve mostly just gotten compliments. It’s been really good.
JH: Have you done this kind of thing before?
AR: Ah, let’s see. Not really. (Speaking to someone nearby at 1:36) Me? Um, I’ll pay you back for it. Wait a minute. I’ve got my money right here. I’ve got change for people before. (Laughter) I feel dishonest.
(Returns to the interview 1:53) Well, I campaigned for somebody before but when I lived back in El Paso, that’s what it was and it was a woman who was going to become a judge. And in El Paso, well, they just weren’t ready for it. No way. (Laughter) So, she didn’t even come near, which was really disappointing. But this is about the only other thing I’ve done like this. It’s just a tremendous experience. I’m really glad I have. I’ve seen a few celebrities.
JH: How does one get to do this kind of thing? I have no idea.
AR: Oh, you just volunteer. Just call up and they’ll tell you where to go, to go see such and such to decide what you’re going to do. And when they decide what you’re going to do, you go to a training session and they tell you when to come and everything. It was pretty well organized considering the large scale. I mean, I don’t see how they could have done anything better than that.
(Recording cuts out and returns at 2:52)
AR: I was talking someone else at a turnstile down there and she said she went to one in California like this and they just had lots of trouble. The facilities for the handicapped wasn’t good. They didn’t have snack bars and stuff like that. So, we obviously learned from their mistakes and this one is just really very good. That’s about all I have to say about it unless you’ve got any other questions.
JH: No, I just want to know what you think about all this business?
AR: Oh, well, I’m supposed to be nonpartisan so I really can’t say anything because I’m a worker. I’m really not supposed to give you any of my personal views on the ERA and that sort of stuff. But I will say that I think it’s great that they do have a little bit of everything because well, I’ll admit it, although I’m definitely for the ERA. I think it’s good that they do give other people a chance. It shows that we are honest about it and open. So, that I think that makes us more credible.
JH: Mmhm. A lot more credible. I wonder what the results of all this will be, if anyone can tell.
AR: I have no idea. I hope it’s not discouraging. I mean, they’ve had two others I think and I’m not so sure. I don’t think they changed anybody’s mind particularly but it might. It just might. It really might help. But when someone, I mean this is going on a long time, when someone gets a view this far in the game they’re probably not going to get rid of it.
JH: You’re here living in Houston. I wonder how the city views having this here.
AR: Having this here? I’ll tell you, a lot of us don’t even know. Believe it or not. The PR. The public relations on this was terrible. Terrible. Unless you were just looking out all over the place to make sure what was going on and when it was going on and everything, you weren’t going to know. So, the people that aren’t interested don’t know until these few days, these last few days and for the most part I really don’t think they know what’s going on. At all. It’s kind of bad but I think, basically, it really turned out very well.
JH: You see no signs of disruption or any of the rumors or anything like that?
AR: No. Just one little thing this morning when somebody seemed to be trying to cause some trouble but he never got anywhere doing it. So, that’s alright.
JH: I saw some protesters out earlier but I didn’t get close enough to see what they’re protesting.
AR: Yeah, and some people I saw a sign from the (Speaking to someone nearby at 5:31) Oh, thank you. Are you sure you don’t want to be paid back? Sixty cents? Right. Okay, I’ll get you… (Returns to the interview at 5:38) Well, I saw a sign from the KKK. But they just carried a sign. They didn’t do anything, which is a relief. So, I really think everything’s going fine. Is there anything else you wanted to ask?
JH: No, is there anything you wanted to say that I haven’t asked you because I’ve just been asking a few general questions. What do you think?
AR: Well, what I do I think this could be?
AR: Well, that’s a good question. Well, I really don’t know. It’s to get everyone to vote for the ERA but I don’t know if it’s going to work. I hope it does, personally. Don’t tell anyone I said something because I’m supposed to be nonpartisan.
JH: Well fifty years from now…
AR: Bad girl. (Laughter) I know. But if my facilitator walks by, give me the evil eye.
AR: I got to go pay back…
End of interview