Interviewee: Judith C. Thompson
IWY SC 677
Interviewer: Elaine Mayo Paul
Date: June 10-11, 1977
Judith (Judy) Thompson, of Columbia, South Carolina, was a member of the League of Women Voters and active in the civic life of the city. The interview includes discussion of how the conference attracted many people who did not previously participate in politics, how Thompson’s mother and grandmother were active in careers and volunteerism, and her own predictions for the organizing needed after the conference to reach IWY goals.
Elaine Mayo Paul: Would you please tell me your name?
Judith C. Thompson: Yes, I’m Judy Thompson and I’m with the League of Women Voters in the Columbia area and I’m delighted that you asked me to chat with you this morning.
EP: Are you here as a representative of the League?
JT: No I’m not, I’m here as a representative of myself.
EP: Very well. Well, where do you live?
JT: We live here in Columbia. Yes, and my husband’s at the University and I’m active in Columbia affairs.
EP: And what do you think of the Conference thus far?
JT: Thus far I think it has been an absolutely fascinating gathering of people. I have been very interested in the fact that we have people here who obviously are not used to participating in the political system, who are searching for answers to their personhood, who are looking into issues with a great deal of clarity and care who are concerned about things that affect them on an individual basis.
EP: Do you think we are going to succeed? Do you think this is going to have any lasting impact in the –
JT: I, I don’t know. It is difficult to carry over the euphoria of a Conference when you go back to your various and sundry duties at home and when you’re separated from those who are actively working in various areas. It is difficult to carry out the actions of committees that have been formed here. But I do believe that it is necessary for us to remain working diligently on the problems that concern us as people. I view this as just a beginning, an awakening, awareness for people, not just women. Enabling them to see that there are others around the State who are concerned about the same things that concern them as individuals.
I was highly impressed with the quality and the strength part of our program yesterday. I felt that we received a great blessing from those who shared their experiences with us. I was deeply moved by the speakers and was reminded that not everyone functions on the same level I do, and I think this is tremendously important. I’ve just come from a workshop on the creative woman and something was brought up there that I think is very important to carry with me and that is that we are manipulated oftentimes. And –
EP: That we are what?
JT: We are manipulated. And that we allow manipulation to take place because we are not organized. And we allow virtually as far as I’m concerned obscene commercials to take place. We allow television stations to show commercials that show wiggling hips walking down the street, then we deplore rape. We’ve got to become consistent and I think that this is one of the big things that we find out that women all over the State and men, thinking men, are attempting to find out what is really going on with people here in South Carolina. And we have a long way to go in order to reach some of our goals, our good lives for all citizens.
EP: You’re not letting this euphoria fool you for a minute, are you?
JT: No, I am not.
EP: Going to be a hard time yet.
JT: No, it’s wonderful to gather together with people and it’s delightful to see many friends that I haven’t seen for a while, but the euphoria does not last. The hard work is just beginning.
EP: There is another question I’m very interested in knowing if you will answer. How did you become interested in women’s issues?
JT: Well, I think that’s a very easy question for me to answer. I am from a long line of women doers. My grandmother was the first woman on the Board of Trustees at Ohio State University. My mother has been very active in many areas, the League, Girl Scouting, she is now in charge of the mental health programs for the State of Ohio in the Cincinnati area. I was raised to believe that I could do anything I wanted to do. When the subject of sports, for example, came up my father taught me to play baseball. I was encouraged to play golf and to play tennis and to swim and to do all kinds of things that I wanted to do. No one ever told me that I couldn’t do something because I was a little girl. And this was simply the way I was raised.
It was a wonderful thing to have no barriers put in front of me except the barriers of my own intellectual and physical abilities. And I think that this is what I am trying to carry over to my child who happens to be a little girl. And I think that I find tremendous support from my family, and always have had support for whatever I wanted to do. It was a truly remarkable experience (laughs) and it went from two generations before and was carried on with me, and as I say I try very hard to carry it on to my own child.
EP: That I think is a, well I hate to use the word noblesse oblige. (Laughs) But I think it’s apropos. I’m really very grateful. Have you any more comment, anything else you’d like to add to the record? Because what you said is very eloquent.
JT: Thank you. Well, I really think that this kind of an attempt to have people think together, even if we don’t always agree, is worthy of all the effort that goes into it, it’s worthy of the money that it takes to run something like this, and it is definitely worthy of continuation. We must never stop talking to our children.
End of Interview