Interviewee: Malissa Burnette
IWY SC 568
Interviewer: Rachael Myers
Date: June 10-11, 1977
Malisssa Burnette was a lawyer and a resource person for a workshop on rape and battered women. She was heavily involved in women’s issues in her work and volunteer activities. At the time of the conference, Burnette was president of the Columbia Chapter of the National Organization for Women and second congressional district coordinator for ERA South Carolina. Interview includes discussion of: Burnette’s reasons for attending the meeting; her involvement in the women’s movement; and the significance of the Equal Rights Amendment for women’s equality.
Rachael Myers: What is your name and where you’re from and your address?
Malissa Burnette: I’m Malissa Burnette; I’m from Columbia, South Carolina, 3402 Duncan Street.
RM: Okay, are you here—first of all, why are you attending this conference?
MB: Because I am vitally interested in all the women’s issues that are going to be presented here, and in particular, the Equal Rights Amendment for which I’ve been working for a couple of years.
RM: Are you here in any official capacity with an organization or representing yourself, or both, and then explain.
MB: Okay, I’m president of the Columbia Chapter of the National Organization for Women, and I’m also congressional district number two coordinator for ERA South Carolina. And, um, I’m also here because last summer—1976—I did a study on battered women in the Columbia area and that is one of my interests.
RM: Okay, any other—any workshops which you will be concentrating on, ah, and particular areas which you’re interested in?
MB: Well, I’m a resource person for the rape and battered women workshop, and I’m also interested in several of the others, including the employment, childcare, and the homemaker.
RM: Okay, ah—do you anticipate any outcomes of the national organization as broken down to the fifty states, fifty conventions: anything you’re looking forward to as an outcome of this whole project?
MB: Yes, I’m hoping that, um—first of all the Equal Rights Amendment will remain a priority, and you know, this will be stated at—in Houston. Because I think all these other issues and the problems that women are having with all these other issues will be helped by the Equal Rights Amendment, and you know, I’m hoping that by having the state conventions and the national convention that women who have thus far not been really involved in women’s issues will have a chance to participate and at least come and get the moral support from the people who are able to or better able to work actively to represent them.
RM: Okay, what brought your interest into women’s affairs?
MB: Well, I believe it was when, after I graduated from college and really got out into the—into the working world, I realized that I was a very powerless person and that part of it was due to my sex. And I just felt helpless, and I wondered what I could do about it. And the first thing I did was to go to law school, but even having graduated from law school now, I see that is not enough, that we’re going to have to work through the legislatures to—to insure that women have equality.
RM: Do you think this convention will have any effect on the South Carolina legislature?
MB: Well I certainly hope so, of course, and I think that we have attracted a great deal of attention over the past week to this convention. And, um, if they ignore that, I don’t know what I could say about them, but I’m just hoping they will find it important enough to take notice.
End of Interview