Susan Williams grew up in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and she received her degree in Biology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 1979. From 1979-1989, she worked as a community organizer for Save Our Cumberland Mountains (SOCM). She then went to work for the Highlander Research and Education Center in New Market, TN where she is currently Education Team Coordinator and Coordinator for Resource Center/Research Program. Williams was a key organizer for the labor/community organization, Tennessee Industrial Renewal Network, which worked on issues of contingent work, plant closings, economic democracy and fair trade. Susan Williams discusses her organizing experiences including what influenced her and what her first activities were; how she learned about the national women’s movement; growing up female in the South; her work with Save Our Cumberland Mountains; her founding role in the Tennessee Industrial Renewal Network (TIRN); her understanding of the purpose, successes and limitations of the Tennessee Industrial Renewal Network; her role in TIRN’s “Mountains to the Maquiladora’s” project; and her views of economic justice organizing. This interview is part of the Southern Oral History Program’s project to document the women’s movement in the American South.
Interview with Susan Williams by Jessie Wilkerson, July 10 2009 U-0498, in the Southern Oral History Program Collection #4007, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.