Title: Oral History Interview with Josephine Wilkins, 1972. Interview G-0063.
Identifier: G-0063
Interviewer: Hall, Jacquelyn
Interviewee: Wilkins, Josephine
Subjects: Women--Suffrage--South Carolina    Women's rights    Women--Education--Southern States    
Extent: 00:00:01
Abstract:  Josephine Wilkins was born in Athens, Georgia, in 1893. Raised in a religious family, Wilkins began to challenge authority at a young age. She was educated at the Lucy Cobb Institute in Athens before being sent to "finishing school." In the mid-1920s, after finishing her degree at the University of Georgia, she went to New York City to study art at the New York School of Fine and Applied Arts. While there she took a course in social science at Columbia University and decided to work more closely with people. In 1925, she moved back to Athens, Georgia, to work for the Georgia Children's Code Commission and worked on passing child labor laws. Around this time, Wilkins became increasingly involved in the League of Women Voters and, by 1934, she had been elected as the organization's state president. In 1937, Wilkins received a grant from the Rosenwald Foundation, which she used to start the Citizens' Fact Finding Movement (1937-1940) in order to promote awareness of issues pertinent to Georgia and its relationship to the South in general. In addition, Wilkins describes her perception of and involvement in the Southern Conference for Human Welfare, founded in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1938. According to Wilkins, the Southern Conference sparked concern among government officials for its leftist leanings. Wilkins explains how communism was certainly a present, if not predominant, thread in the Southern Conference until the rise of McCarthyism in the early 1950s. Wilkins also discusses her friendship with Jessie Daniel Ames and Ames's anti-lynching organization, the Commission of Interracial Cooperation, which disintegrated and was succeeded by the Southern Regional Council (SRC) in 1944. She remained involved on the executive board of the SRC until her death in 1977.