Interview with Lorena Weeks, November 9, 2009

Collection: Richard B. Russell Library Oral History Documentary Collection

Dublin Core


UGA History Professor Dr. Kathleen Clark interviews Lorena Weeks about her life and her discrimination case against Southern Bell in the 1960s. Lorena Weeks recalls how she started working at Southern Bell Telephone Company. She discusses her early life working several jobs to provide for her family. Weeks reflects on her decision to apply for a switchman job after President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law. She discusses her reaction upon being denied on the basis of being a woman. Weeks comments on her attempt to get union backing and subsequent decision to sue. Weeks recalls appealing the decision with Sylvia Roberts after losing her suit in district court. She recalls Sylvia Roberts' personality and attitude toward the case. Weeks discusses the effect of the lawsuit on her family. She recalls testifying in Washington, D.C. to the FCC. Weeks discusses the circumstances surrounding her childhood and the early death of her parents.

Lorena Weeks was born in 1929 in Columbia, South Carolina. Shortly afterward her family moved to Augusta, Georgia, and, when Lorena was nine, to Louisville, Georgia, where her father was killed in a sawmill accident. Lorena’s mother died nine years later, leaving Lorena to care for her younger siblings. In 1947 she went to work for Southern Bell Telephone Company as an operator. In 1965, following passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Weeks sued the company after being barred from employment as a switchman (a higher paying job) on the basis of her sex. Although she initially lost the case, she appealed, and with the help of National Organization of Women (NOW) attorney Sylvia Roberts, had her case heard in front of Griffin Bell in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. In 1969 Weeks won her case and went to work at Southern Bell as a switchman, retiring in 1983.






Oral History Item Type Metadata



73 minutes


Lorena Weeks and Kathleen Clark, “Interview with Lorena Weeks, November 9, 2009,” UGA Special Collections Libraries Oral Histories, accessed June 8, 2023,