Interviewee: John P. Adams
IWY TX 008
Interviewer: Jacqueline St. John
Date: November 18-21, 1977
John P. Adams, of Washington, D.C., was a staff member of the United Methodist Church Board of Church and Society. Houston IWY commissioners asked him was asked to be a security consultant for the conference. Interview includes discussion of why commissioners believed security was necessary at the conference and how the security team included off-duty police and community volunteers. Adams also discussed his own commitment to women’s rights and his experience with consciousness raising.
Jacqueline St. John: Tell me your name.
John P. Adams: My name is John P. Adams.
JS: And your address?
JA: I live at 5416 Nebraska Avenue NW in Washington, DC.
JS: And what are you doing here?
JA: I’m here as a staff member of the United Methodist Church Board of Church and Society, but I was asked by the Commissioners of the International Women’s Year to come and be a security consultant. I know that sounds strange, but I have worked with some of the Conference personnel who are working on security in other places such as at political conventions.
JS: Is there any special problem here?
JA: Well, not a problem but wherever there are a number of potentially controversial issues then you often have groups that, of course, demonstrating against one another. And so there are, there is conference security as you may know, they’re called conference aids and they are coordinated by what are called facilitators; that’s the inside security at the Conference. And then the Houston Police have off-duty police persons who have been employed by the Commission to be here as well. But the part that the religious community of Greater Houston has assumed as a responsibility, and I mean women of Houston, is that they are placing observers around at various places and they are, they wear an armband that says ‘Observer’ and they have been present at several different potentially sensitive areas. They’re not police, they’re not security, they’re simply average citizens who have been trained to observe and then to report this to our desk. Then we are in constant touch with security.
JS: What are your impressions of this Conference thus far?
JA: Well, I think that that, I’ve only been able to listen out of one ear to the plenary. I do walk through but it looks to me like there is a high level of commitment and certainly a great deal of excitement about the kinds of people that have come together here under obviously very historic and unique circumstances.
JS: Have you been impressed with anything particular group of women that have come or just all of them collectively?
JA: Well, I would have to say it’s collective, although I’ve worked with some of the commissioners and I’ve worked with some of the planners and I have to say that I was impressed with the kind of commitment that they have in putting this Conference together. I’ve seen them exhaust themselves and otherwise in order to make it work, and I think it is going to work.
JS: Is there anything that you expect out of this Conference? In other words do you see the women, what kind of goals do you think the women might achieve from this?
JA: Well, I don’t know whether the plan of action that I read is going to get the kind of attention in Congress that it is going to need, but I do believe that there is being demonstrated here collectively a kind of political acumen and power, really, that I think will have a real effect upon the Congress. But I don’t know how it’ll really come down or focus on specific issues.
JS: Do you have a commitment to women’s issues?
JA: Yes, I hope so. We officially do, and I suppose at many points I have residues and latent expressions of sexism. I don’t doubt that, but I think through this process a good many of us are beginning to learn a lot about, not just women but all about ourselves.
JS: Would you say that your consciousness has been raised before or during the Conference?
JA: I think it’s a process. As an example on our staff last September we had a two-day seminar on sexism where we, and the staff is predominately composed of men, but we had trainers come in and we were attempting to raise our consciousness. And I think this is a process and this is another gigantic step in it.
JS: Okay. Is there anything else that you would like to include on this tape at this time?
JA: Well, I’m hoping in the next couple-a days that I can really begin to assimilate what’s here.
JS: I know it’s in its preliminary stages but would you like to make any assessment of the Conference at this point?
JA: Well, I think based upon the addresses that were given this morning that there is a very clear and broadly political base of support.
JS: Thank you.
JA: – has impressed me is that persons of both political parties and several different gradations on the political spectrum have come together with a common commitment. That’s the thing that’s impressed me the most.
JS: Well, thank you very much.
End of Interview