Susan Ann Millen, activist, journalist, and producer, was born in Aurora, Illinois in 1951. She attended Southern Illinois University in Carbondale (journalism; BS, 1972), and Columbia College in Chicago (photography; BFA, 1978), after which she moved to Atlanta. Millen has been an editor (Journal of Labor, 1979-1985), journalist, photographer, public relations specialist and communications consultant as well as a special education teacher and has been very active in organizations involving women's politics. She was president of the Georgia chapter and a board member of the National Woman's Party (1981-1984), an organizing member and first vice-president of the Atlanta chapter of the Coalition of Labor Union Women (1983-1985), and an officer of the Georgia Women's Political Caucus (1986-1990). In addition, she coordinated a Political Skills Workshop (1987) and the Georgia Women and the Law Conference (1987) for the GWPC; she produced a GWPC television series on prime cable that began in 1987; was a National Women's Political Caucus officer (1989); and was a board member of ERA Georgia, Inc. as well as editor of its Newsletter. Millen continues to be a community activist and teaches at Tucker High School in Dekalb County, Georgia. In 2004, she and her class were selected as an AT&T CARES Youth Service Action Award.
Abstract of the full interview
Growing up one of 14 children in a traditional Catholic household, Millen describes herself as a very responsible child, who knew from an early age exactly what she wanted for herself in terms of her education and career. She recounts that after graduating in three years from Southern Illinois University with a degree in journalism, she took a job as the women's assistant editor at the Wilmington Star News, in Wilmington, North Carolina. She describes how, in the course of her job, she reported that the local school board was not complying with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed pregnant teenage girls to attend public school. Parts of her report were quashed by the chief editor of the newspaper. Continuing with her experiences at the Wilmington Star News, Millen describes her efforts to challenge pay inequity at the newspaper, and her move to Atlanta shortly thereafter. Once in Atlanta, Millen says she joined NOW and became involved in the movement to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, serving as editor of the ERA Georgia Newsletter and helping to organize the Georgia chapter of the National Women's Party. Millen provides a detailed account of the divisions within the ERA Georgia campaign, and describes the resulting rift, and consequent establishment of the Georgia Women's Party -- a group that went on to build an effective lobbying mechanism, often seeking out the wives of legislators who opposed the Equal Rights Amendment. A long-time union member and supporter of labor, Millen describes her work with the Georgia AFL-CIO and as editor of the Journal of Labor. She believes that the AFL-CIO played an instrumental role in supporting efforts to pass the ERA, as they not only provided money and legislative support, they also gave advice about organizing and spread the message of the ERA to union members across the state. Millen was a founding member of the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), which, she asserts, was a natural outgrowth for women workers and women labor leaders. For Millen, the Women's Movement was central in allowing women to make choices regarding sexuality, work and life.
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