In 1966 Ms. Lorena Weeks applied for a promotion at her longtime employer, Southern Bell. The position, that of a switchman, promised an increase in pay and a significantly shorter commute to work. Despite her seniority with the company, she was denied the promotion because she was a woman and it was a job reserved for men. Weeks knew about the 1964 Civil Rights Act passed by President Lyndon Johnson and felt that Southern Bell had violated her rights under the law, which specified that an employer could not discriminate on the basis of sex. After years of appeals, Weeks won her case in 1972. She became a switchman at Southern Bell, a position she held until her retirement in 1981 after more than thirty years of service to the company.
On Thursday, April 22nd, 30 people gathered in the Russell Library auditorium for a premiere screening of the Lorena Weeks oral history film, recorded by Russell Library staff and featuring Kathleen Clark (UGA Dept. of History) as the interviewer. The event — “Lorena Weeks: Georgia Woman, Trailblazer for Justice!” — was a great success, which ended in a standing ovation and much praise from attendees heaped onto Ms. Weeks, who sat near the back of the audience. Jill Severn, Head of Access and Outreach for the Russell Library, proudly announced that Ms. Weeks will donate her papers, including those which document her five year legal battle, to the Russell Library! As a staff, we look forward to this new addition, and in the meantime urge visiting researchers to utilize user copies of the Weeks oral history film.
Below, find a clip from the oral history. For more information on how to access user copies of the film, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (706) 542-5788. For a longer recap of the event, check out the Russell Library blog HERE.