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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Suzanne Post, June 23, 2006. Interview U-0178. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Post considers why she is remembered more for her work for housing and race equality instead of feminism

Though Post is most remembered for the work she did on housing equality and racial justice in education, she thinks her most valuable contributions were regarding women's rights. She discusses why her actions in that area are less remembered than the other two. She also recalls how she encouraged the ACLU to become more aware of women's rights.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Suzanne Post, June 23, 2006. Interview U-0178. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

SARAH THUESEN:
'63, okay. Once you started getting really involved, I mean by the mid-70s, you had of course been involved in lots of different movements. Once you started getting involved more closely in women's movements, how did your husband feel about that?
SUZANNE POST:
Well, he was pretty—. I guess it got to the point where it didn't matter to me what he thought about it. He didn't really become supportive of what I was doing until 1975 when I ran for the legislature. He, as long as supper was on the table and the kids were taken care of—. At one point, I said something about a job and he said, "No wife of mine is going to have a job." I mean, he was really old-school, but he changed too. The times forced him to change and I was changing so fast that he didn't really have a choice; he had to. He was very, very happy in his work and he adored his children. And I was not that consequential really, which was probably lucky for me or maybe not. But the women's movement became extremely important to me. And it's really interesting, Sarah, that when people think of me today, they think of me in terms of racial justice and housing. They don't really think of me as having been a women's right activist and yet I think that my contribution to the women's movement was probably more significant than anything else I've done.
SARAH THUESEN:
Why do you think people don't remember that part of your career as much?
SUZANNE POST:
Because I don't think the women's movement's that important anymore, if it ever was to most people. I mean, that's what I think. And there hasn't been a viable women's movement, an organized women's movement here for years and years and years and years and years. So that's probably another reason. There's nothing, no screen to look at it from. There's a book that Genie Potter did on Kentucky women and I had lunch with her not too long ago. I said, "Genie, why didn't you interview me?" She said, "Well, there's just so many people," but I think she just wasn't cognizant of all the change that I've provoked. I think that's true of a lot of people. The women's movement sort of died, you know? It's so sad, because there's still so much to be done. But it just kind of died and I think it died at the time that it was obvious the Equal Rights Amendment wasn't going to go anywhere.
SARAH THUESEN:
Well, to back up and talk about some of the contributions you feel like you did make on women's issues, what comes to your mind as your most significant contribution?
SUZANNE POST:
I think my most significant contribution was forcing the national ACLU to deal with sex discrimination and create that Women's Rights Project that Ruth headed up, which resulted in all kinds of litigation across the country. I mean, it had all kinds of incredible results. I think I was a prime mover in that; I know I was. So I think that was significant. I think that there's no question in my mind that the creation of the Reproductive Freedom Project at the ACLU in Kentucky has been a big contribution to the women of this state.
SARAH THUESEN:
And you created that in what year?
SUZANNE POST:
That was when I left, 1990.
SARAH THUESEN:
Could you go back and say a little bit more about the ACLU work you did on women's issues? You were chair of their committee on women's rights, is that right?
SUZANNE POST:
Can you turn it off a minute? [Recorder is turned off and then back on.]
SUZANNE POST:
ACLU national board, I was an organizer. I started organizing to get more women elected to the board and then I started getting the few of us who were there to meet at every board meeting and the board meetings were only every other month. I would run out and get sandwiches and run back. You had to have a ton of energy to do what I did. It's insane. We'd sit in a room and we'd talk about the issues that were on the agenda or the issues that weren't on the agenda and should be. That caucus just grew and grew and grew until the national staff realized they needed to get us a special room to have these things in. So it got very institutionalized and it was really important in increasing the numbers of minorities and gays and lesbians. It started with women, got that, had almost fifty-fifty from the affiliates because of measures that we put into effect, moved on to African-Americans, less successful there because the ACLU didn't appeal to that many African-Americans, moved on to gays and lesbians, oh boy, great. So now the national organization is much more diverse than it was. By organizing that caucus, it just had a lot of long-term results that I hear about to this very day.