Interviewee: L. Abernathy
IWY TX 004
Interviewer: Elaine Mayo Paul
Date: November 18-21, 1977
Abernathy, a Houston native, worked in city government and political campaigns. She did not give her first name. Interview includes discussion of how she hoped that the National Women’s Conference would encourage women to become more politically active and take women’s organizing seriously. She was interested in a wide range of issues, including the pro-Equal Rights Amendment cause. Abernathy was impressed by the sense of unity at the conference.
Elaine Mayo Paul: Ms. Abernathy, would you tell me where you come from and your address, your telephone number, some personal data? What you do…this kind of thing.
Abernathy: Okay. I’m a native Houstonian; lived here 27 years. I worked in city government. Just got finished being involved in the political campaign. You want my address?
LA: 7055 East Alpine, Houston.
LA: During the day it’s 222-5147.
EP: And why are you here?
LA: I’m here because I think–just as most of the other women here are–it’s an exciting time for Houston. It’s an exciting time for Houston women. It’s an opportunity that’s not going to come again, like any time soon for women.
EP: What is the issue that concerns you? What do you expect to come out of this? You surely have some expectations.
LA: I hope the women that haven’t been involved in it in the past and who have a chance to come to some of the meetings get more of an awareness of what’s going on and the importance of what’s going on. I think women have a tendency to think that things like this are a laughing matter. And it’s not. These meetings ought to instill that in them, and it’s just really important.
EP: Do you worry about the relation between the sexes, as women become equal in fact?
LA: Individuals are so different. There’s going to be some problems as there are already problems in the relationships.
EP: There always have been I imagine.
LA: Yeah, yeah.
EP: What is the issue that concerns you most? You know there are one issue people and there are others who are concerned with a broad range of issues. What concerns you most as a person?
LA: I think there’s not just any one singular issue, it’s the overall aura of the advancement of women, the importance of women, the importance of the things that women strive for. The ERA is important.
EP: Do you belong to ERA?
LA: No. No.
EP: But you support it.
LA: Yes, right.
EP: I see. Do you have something you want to tell us from your own experience, your own observations, your own strong feelings? In addition to what you told me already?
LA: I think from what I’ve seen so far in the meetings this weekend the fellowship among women is outstanding. There’s a unison, a unity, and not too much divisiveness.
EP: You’re not disturbed by the people who are supposed to be interested in disrupting this conference?
EP: They don’t bother you?
LA: No. I don’t think it’s bothering any of the women here. They’re coming to the conference. You take them for what they’re worth. Of course, it depends on your opinion on what they’re worth.
EP: Yes, I can see that. But you feel that something positive is coming out of this conference?
LA: Definitely. It’s going to be more so if the media will pick it up and make it even more positive for… Report on the positiveness [sic] of it.
EP: As an observer will you be able to get into some of the plenary sessions?
LA: Yes, I just came out the first one.
EP: And what happened?
LA: The introduction of the First Ladies, just really well received. The enthusiasm.
EP: They’re all in there?
LA: Uh-huh, uh-huh. Johnson, Ford, and Carter. And plus Barbara Jordan, (unintelligible 3:48)… It’s really good.
EP: Very exciting.
LA: It is. It really is.
EP: And who is presiding?…
LA: Bella Abzug.
EP: Bella is presiding…
LA: Uh-huh. I’m assuming…
EP: Well, do you have anything else to tell me?
LA: That’s it.
EP: I am very grateful, thank you very much.
End of Interview