Cynthia Roddey

Interviewee: Cynthia Roddey
IWY SC 666
Interviewer: Elaine Paul
Date: June 10-11, 1977

Cynthia Roddey was from Catawba, South Carolina and attended the conference after her cousin, Gaye Cobb, told her about the event. Roddey was the first black woman to attend Winthrop College. Issues important to Roddey included education for children and providing resources for mothers of small children on the services that are available to them. She is also interested in grassroots organizing to help women and children. From personal experience, Roddey was interested in discrimination against women in purchasing insurance or earning credit. Roddey planned to attend the workshops on money management, education, and non-traditional jobs for women.

Interview includes discussion of: Roddey’s opinions on conference programming, especially talks on the history of the women’s movement; Roddey’s experience trying to purchase life insurance policies and experiencing sex discrimination; and how individuals in Catawba were largely unfamiliar with the IWY events.

Sound Recording



Elaine Paul: Okay, could you tell me your name please?

Cynthia Roddey: I’m Cynthia Claire Roddey and I’m from Catawba, South Carolina and Gaye Cobb told me about the conference.

EP: Who is Gaye Cobb?

CR: She’s my cousin who works in the labor department in Atlanta and after I got the program, I really got enthused.

EP: Mmhm.

CR: Looking at the workshops and kinds of things that are available and I’m glad I came for that reason.

EP: Do you think the conference is a success thus far?

CR: Personally, I felt like the history part was something we could have gone to the library and gotten and read on our own. I looked at the people around me. I saw that they were professionals. I enjoyed Mrs. Garmin. I thought that was good. But I thought the history of a little bit heavy for this kind of thing. I’m more interested in getting into something that I don’t know about, something I don’t, you know, wouldn’t be able to get on my own. I was the first black woman to attend Winthrop College.

EP: Really?

CR: And I’m very much concerned about education for black children, for white children, for all of our children. I am a media specialist and I work with them every day. And this is one of my concerns is how to get parents involved so that they know what goes on in their schools, so they know what goes on with their child. They need this. They need an awakening. This conference out to be for mothers who have these small children. What services are available for you? How do you go about getting to them? You know, jobs for women at home. So you can help the children. Better health, this kind of thing. I think it’s good. I’m quite sure people who planned it had these ideas that look great on paper. This often happens to me and when I put it in, you know, it’s not practical. I would like to see a grassroots thing in each community in my area have resource people in that these people in that area will be using. You can have a state leadership conference to train people, what you want to happen at the grassroots. But where it’s most needed is back home with the woman who didn’t get here.

EP: Well, but the people, they’re representatives from back home. We take this back?

CR: Well, you see, in my area I read about it in the paper. But I doubt whether there are ten women around me who know about it, who know what’s going on, who even know what it is. You see, and so, well I feel like I’m fairly knowledgeable, I’ve been reading about it. I knew about the Mexican thing, this kind of thing. But I did not realize what it was until I saw the film. I don’t think there was enough publicity in the area, maybe I just wasn’t in the right places.

EP: Mmhm, I see. I’ve heard that before. Well, then you’re glad you came though you know we had a little bit too much history. That’s understandable. Which workshops are you going to attend tomorrow?

CR: I want to go to the one on credit and money and the one on education. Ah, no. “Non-Traditional Jobs for Women.”

EP: Oh, I like that one too.

CR: Yeah, that one I’m going to go to. I’m interested in going to the one on education, because I have a friend who is working with that one. But I have a choice, so I choice the non-traditional jobs because I like to be able to tell my students that I work with, these young ladies, about things that they can get into.

EP: How did you get really turned on to women’s issues?

CR: Being a woman, I’m faced with many of these things. Many of these problems. Credit.

EP: Have you tried yourself to get credit and been turned down?

CR: Life insurance. They have certain policies that they sell to the head of the household. You see, some companies have all these run arounds that they give you. You know, it’s not legal.  A new agent, I had this that happened, a new agent sold me a policy. He didn’t know that he could not sell it to me.

EP: Oh, really?

CR: You see, it was written for head of the household. This kind of thing.

EP: And you were?

CR: No, I’m not head of my household. See, they mean the male head of the household. And things like this bother me.

EP: What did he do? Did he have to give it back? Did they cancel it?

CR: Well, you see, my husband says that they were talking to him the whole time so I did not disagree with him and I just let him go ahead and say alright. But I thought the whole idea of getting insurance was because I could get it cheaper. I could get better coverage for less money and that’s what I thought we were doing. So I finally said, “Maybe I made a mistake. Maybe I was the one.” And I think women do this all the time. This bothers me, when we have to be the one to make the concession. You know, we are in error because of the interpretation of the rules.

EP: I see your point. I see your point. I think you’re going to be a valuable addition to this conference.


EP: I really do. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you stopping by to give me this testimony and I’d like you to give me a release, if you will.

End of interview