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Sherry Sutton oral history interview, November 8, 1998 and March 7, 1999

 Item — othertype: Oral History
Identifier: SuttonS_19981108

Scope and Contents

Interviewed by Janet Paulk. Describing her childhood, Sutton says she acquired from her family a Depression-era mentality at an early age. In the mid-1960s, she became involved in political issues -- particularly the Vietnam War. She then became interested in women's issues -- in particular reproductive freedom, domestic violence, and equal pay, all of which, she describes as being interrelated. She talks about her fundraising work in the 1960s in an effort to assist women who had to go to New York to seek abortions. In the mid-1970s, Sutton became involved in the Democratic Party and in 1979, began her service as its chair. She was also selected as one of the delegates to the Democratic National Convention in New York City. Sutton describes her involvement in the Women's Movement, and states that one of her main objectives was to help get more women elected into office. To this end, she worked for a number of state senate campaigns. She recalls the reason for her political involvement: “The only way the difference was going to come about was through the political process.” Sutton’s interest in the Equal Rights Amendment campaign began when she saw that women were serious about building a state-wide coalition that could effectively lobby and ratify the amendment. She served as chair of ERA Georgia, Inc. and also worked on the national level with ERAmerica. Sutton recalls that ERAmerica did not consider Georgia as a key state when pushing the amendment: This caused a rift between Sutton and legislator, Cathey Steinberg, who sponsored the bill in Georgia. As Sutton explains, her plan was to connect ERA Georgia with ERAmerica, while Steinberg wanted to try and keep the Equal Rights Amendment as part of the legislative process in Georgia. Sutton goes on to discuss the rivalries between the different women’s groups such as NOW and the Women’s Political Caucus at both the state and national levels. She also provides detailed accounts of each group and their leading figures. Sutton contends that the defeat of the ERA came about because religious organizations convinced Georgia's legislators and the public that the ERA would be detrimental for women. In terms of the Women’s Movement, Sutton suggests that some of its accomplishments include increased opportunities that are now offered to women, and she cites her own daughters’ professional careers as evidence. She also discusses some of the obstacles that the women’s movement faced such as the ideology of patriarchy, the politics of opposition and the religious community.


  • Creation: November 8, 1998 and March 7, 1999


Restriction on Access

Oral history available for research in the Special Collections and Archives Reading Room.

Biographical Note

A native of Atlanta, Sherry Sutton was born in 1941 and received a B.A. in political science from Emory University in 1981. She has been active in Georgia politics since the 1970s when she became involved in the Equal Rights Amendment / Women's Rights movement. She served as legislative liaison for ERA Georgia, Inc. (1980-1981) and then served as the group's president (1981-1982). During this time she was also the chair of the DeKalb County Democratic Party (1980-1982) and served as the District 2 Commissioner of DeKalb County (1985-1992). While Commissioner, she helped lead the effort to block the construction of the Presidential Parkway. Currently Sutton works on staff at Georgia Shares, an organization that helps to raise funds for social aid organizations in Georgia primarily through workplace contributions.


2 item(s) (transcript (86 pages) audio (2:33:23 duration))

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

100 Decatur St., S.E.
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
404-413-2881 (Fax)