Interviewee: Edith Edwards
IWY SC 579
Interviewer: Elaine Paul
Date: June 10-11, 1977
Edith Norma Edwards was from Greenville, South Carolina and participated in the state conference as an attendee. Edwards was a teacher and widow at the time of the interview. This interview includes discussion of: Edwards’s admiration for the accomplishments of women; why she attended the conference; her Christian religious beliefs; and her anxiety about ideologies, especially humanism and communism. Edwards was concerned that “basic Christian philosophy” was not taking precedent in American society any longer.
Elaine Paul: Now tell me who you are and something about yourself.
Edith Edwards: I’m Edith Norma Edwards of Greenville, South Carolina, and I have been a teacher, a widow now, and taught three years there in Greenville.
And the reason I’m here is because I’m interested in mankind. I’m interested in the potential of people, and I realized today that it’s a wonderful opportunity. And I’m thrilled that women have advanced to where they are. It excites me, and I was excited over the wonderful Ms. Goldman, her stamina, her aim in life, and her appreciation, and her efforts in life to struggle to accomplish what she’s done. I’m here I believe as a person who loves mankind. I realize that to me has had a change in life since I found Jesus Christ the Savior.
I realize that the world today is progressing rapidly in women’s rising to their abilities and positions, but at the same time I question whether rising to this position we recognize the ideologies in America that are taking precedent over the basic Christian philosophy on which America was founded, and I believe that looking back these two hundred years the forefathers who established this on a government with three branches because they recognized man without god has evil tendencies. And I see today, with the struggle with the new ideology, which is to me a humanism —
EP: Do you regard humanism as something evil?
EE: Something is evil intentionally, but I think basically doing what man thinks he can do not basing or believing in the power that he can give when you become a Christian. And that’s why I, with great appreciation for mankind —some part or feeling of depression —
EP: Then you’re not expecting —what are your expectations for the conference?
EE: For this? The expectation is I hope that people will recognize this fact with the appreciation that they are arriving at something which is exciting. Are they overlooking the fact that what these ideologies that do not include God, and I speak of Communism —
EP: And humanism, you regard —
EE: I think of humanism as an ideology, as I see it, because I think it’s thinking man can accomplish things alone. And I think the majority of the women here, that dear woman Ms. Goldman, she realizes her need for God and her strength, but I believe today that the humanism and communism is something that will defeat America in the long run.
EP: You don’t equate the two?
EE: I equate, to me, really as I understand humanism, it is lacking in a certain humility, which doesn’t mean to me a failure to appreciate self, but it’s an insidious thing.
EP: I was —
EE: To me, it’s an insidious thing that lacks a certain humility, which is under communism, lack of appreciation for mankind.
EP: But humanism I thought was based upon the belief that man has great capabilities.
EE: I do, yes, I recognize that. But to me humanism is the idea that man doesn’t need God, as I understand it.
EP: Oh I see.
EE: Now I may be wrong, but that’s what I think. Frank Laubach, “The Apostle to the Illiterates,” in the Philippines, some say he was a humanist. I can’t believe he was a humanist. I think he believed in the potential of mankind that must be used. But the reason I mention the ideologies today which are leading man to a too great of sufficiency. Now I refer to Mary Bethune, great woman, and how she originated that beautiful school in Daytona. Her dying words were, “I have loved my people and supported them, but I don’t find many of these today.”
So therefore, I’m wondering if the average people in America who are striving for personal achievement rather than achieve for a purpose that will enable them to be truly servants of God and win souls for rechange [sic], rebirth, reborn people. Well, rather they will be than heavenly gratification. Now that may be simply putting it.
EP: I wouldn’t say that at all.
EE: But to me, I personally, the reason we’re here is not to be rabble-rousers because we’re here to confuse the issues. I’m a member of the Women’s Constitution. I joined it because I see the women I’m associated with true appreciation of the democracy we have, true appreciation of the balance of powers, and that’s why regardless of the achievements that we’re making I am somewhat full of the opinion that it’s going to take more than what mankind can do. It’s going to take truly the spirit in him and all things are possible. But I live with the idea that joy today, but I know the eternal joy, which I know is better than anything.
EP: Thank you very much, and I want you to know that I don’t think you’re a rabble-rouser. I think you’re here to learn.
EE: The thing is that I’m here to learn, but don’t ever misunderstand me, I appreciate all you women have achieved, and you are smarter than I am. (Laughs)
EP: No, I wouldn’t say that at all. I’m a teacher just as you were.
EE: But there’s that little something within that I wonder if all of our achievement of these ideologies that are taking people away of from an experience a day by day of a joy that I have found is almost beyond.
EP: Well, we have to realize that there’s great diversity in this country. And if we all come together from time to time with different views, you say, you’re afraid of humanism. I don’t see anything incompatible with humanism with Christianity. Well, however, we’ve got to get together from time to time. This is the beauty of this.
EE: Yes, maybe I’m speaking of humanitarianism rather than humanism. Maybe I’m wrong in the terminology. (Unintelligible at 7:41 and tape cuts out)
End of Interview