Interviewee: Joanne Montague
IWY SC 645
Interviewer: Kathie J. Carter
Date: June 10-11, 1977
Joanne Montague, of Greenville, South Carolina, was a reporter and Winthrop University alumna. Interview includes discussion of her work as a volunteer for political causes, the role attitudes and culture play in discrimination, and Montague’s experience with gender discrimination while applying for jobs in journalism. Montague worked for The Charlotte Observer in the 1950s. She was pro-ERA.
Unidentified Woman: Right, I’ll see you later, dear.
Kathie J. Carter: This recording is for oral history purposes and it will be transcribed and used as part of a record of what’s going on today.
Joanne Montague: That’s a good idea.
KC: Yeah. First of all we’d like to have your name and your address.
JM: I’m Joanne Montague from Greenville.
KC: It’s nice to meet you. Do you have a street address?
JM: 1 Twelve Oaks Terrace, Greenville 29615.
KC: What brought you to the meeting today?
(Recording cuts out briefly at 0:26)
KC: Right. What brought you to the meeting today, Ms. Montague?
JM: Well, I’m interested in the kinds of things that are being discussed here. I have been reading since the International Meeting in Mexico City and when I got the pamphlet I saw that I had this weekend free. And of course I have a good many friends who are coming, too.
KC: What particular issues are of concern to you?
JM: Well, I am active in politics as a volunteer and I’m particularly interested in those things that might be called humanistic or people-oriented issues. It sounds a little pompous, but that’s the way I feel. I don’t think of myself, of course there’re lot of definitions…
Unidentified Woman 2: (in background) Joanne! Oh, Joanne!
KC: What kind of humanistic issues do you see as being important to women?
JM: Well, I guess the same ones that would be important to men, too, that is those things that affect the economy, jobs, and certainly job opportunities are not equal for men and women. And I think we need to find out, those who need to know, how you go about doing something about it when you’re being discriminated on the job and this kind of thing, if anything can be done. I’m interested in housing, I’m interested in – well, I don’t know, as I say all these things that have to do with the environment as they affect the quality of life. Those things, that kindsa thing.
KC: Are you here with any organization?
JM: I’m not. I came as an individual, I’m not representing one although I am a member of several groups who are interested and who, you know, had information sent to them, I’m sure.
KC: Have you felt any particular concerns as a woman in your life?
JM: Well, I started out as a newspaper reporter and I have letters still in my files, this was 20, a little more than 20 years ago now, both of which said something like this; one was in North Carolina, and one in South Carolina – although your qualifications were better, are better, we have decided to hire a man, we’d rather have a man. And in those days – I don’t think that has changed too much – but in those days I guess their consciousness hadn’t been raised. I think nowadays they wouldn’t say that, or in other words they’re a little bit more sensitive to it. But I’m sure there’s probably some editors who still feel that way.
On the other hand I have to say that I got a job with The Charlotte Observer in 1955, and the editor who was one of the top men in the country said to me, the best two reporters he’d ever had were two women who were Winthrop graduates, and since I was a Winthrop graduate he was willing to take a chance on me. So, I mean, you know, I won’t pretend. But at any rate, at that time I felt that you had to be a little bit better than the man you were competing with, didn’t particularly bother me as an individual because I, you know, felt a little better than the average man at the time, I’ll just have to admit it. And I guess my consciousness hadn’t been raised in that I wasn’t as sympathetic, I thought I was, toward others, those who didn’t have maybe the opportunities that I had had to get a good education, good training in journalism, and that kinda thing.
Nowadays I think I’m more aware as I’m older and I’ve seen more life, of the fact that it isn’t just hard work that has brought me to the place where I am, although it certainly is in a very elevated position, but that it was the fact that my family sent me to college and – well, you know, that I was born with enough brains, you know, to do something. And not everybody is. And I knew that at the time but I’m more aware of it now than I was then.
KC: Okay. Is there anything else you would like to add to the record in terms of women’s concerns or about the meeting?
JM: I’m glad we’re having this meeting and I hope it will be evaluated very stringently, not only here but the meetings across the country. I don’t think that the Congress should make an appropriation every year just because, you know, some of us maybe think it’s nice to get together and talk about things. Perhaps next time it might be for another group of people, or it might be worthwhile or it might draw a different set or a different group, I don’t know, but I do, I believe in evaluation, and as I say very stringent kind of an evaluation.
I’d like to say this too, that this one issue that is sort of on the periphery but as I say I think a lotta those, I mean, there are several issues I might say on the periphery of what’s being discussed today, but we need to realize that a lot of it is what I would call cultural; that is it has to do with the attitudes that we express by what we say and what we do, and not likely to be changed by laws even though I happen to be a very strong, staunch advocate for the ERA and any other laws that have to do with equal rights for everyone, men, women, races and that sorta thing.
But a lot of it has to do with the attitudes and cultural characteristics, as I say, and so I think it’s very important that we not just get together and talk but we sort of live the kinds of feelings that we say we have and the kinds of sentiments that we’re expressing. In other words, that we show our children or our friends and people around us, you know, that we believe in these things, by our actions, by our speech and not just by making talks in meetings like this.
KC: Very good. I agree.
End of Interview