UGA Libraries Logo

Interview with Nan Orrock, December 15, 2010

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Search this Index
00:00:00 - Interview introduction

Play segment

Partial Transcript: I'm Bob Short. This is Reflections on Georgia Politics sponsored by the Richard Russell Library at the University of Georgia and Young Harris College.

Segment Synopsis: Short introduces interview subject Orrock.

00:00:45 - Background and family information

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Senator, before we get into your career as a public servant, uh, let's find out a little bit about Nan Orrock.

Segment Synopsis: Orrock discusses how her family's rural Georgia and Tennessee backgrounds and her Virginia upbringing influenced her decision to enter public office, and details her first visit to Washington, D.C.

Keywords: "The Hill"; Alex Haley; Arlington, Virgina; Bristol, Virginia; CCC; Civilian Conservation Corps; Clinton, Tennessee; Forestry; Franklin D. Roosevelt; House of Representatives; Howard Baker Sr.; Mary Washington College; Norris Dam; South Georgia; Stanton, Virginia; Sullins College; Tennessee Valley Authority; University of Georgia; farmers; farming

00:05:03 - First government job / Introduction to Civil Rights Movement

Play segment

Partial Transcript: I went up for the summer to work for the government, got a clerk typist job...

Segment Synopsis: Orrock describes how her first experiences working alongside African Americans during a summer typist job in Washington, D.C. opened her eyes to civil rights issues and motivated her to attend the 1963 March on Washington

Keywords: "Northern liberal"; 1963; Civil Rights Movement; Civil rights; Clinton News-Courier; Courage; Danville, Virginia; Federal Typing Test; March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom Now; Martin Luther King Jr.; NASA; Race Relations Committee; Race War; Racism; Roanoke Times; Segregation; Southerners; Washington Post; YWCA; current events; summer employment

00:09:51 - Work with Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1964

Play segment

Partial Transcript: That--that Spring of '64, on Easter weekend, on our Easter break, the Y held, convened us in Atlanta...

Segment Synopsis: Orrock describes her first college-age visits to Atlanta for her work with the Civil Rights Movement and SNCC, and tells of her family's fears about her involvement.

00:15:47 - Civil rights work in Virginia and North Carolina / Marriage

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So, that was my summer, and my mother found out I wasn't planning to come back to college because I was dedicating my life to the Civil Rights Movement...

Segment Synopsis: Orrock discusses her continued work as a civil rights and labor activist after completing her college studies, as well as her marriage to Gene Guerrero, a fellow civil rights worker

00:19:04 - Move to Atlanta / Launch of Great Speckled Bird alternative newspaper

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So, we came in '67 because my husband had to return down here to, uh, he was not, he was a conscientious objector.

Segment Synopsis: Orrock tells of her move to Atlanta in her husband's home state of Georgia and their publication of a political and cultural newspaper, which was frequently shut down and confiscated for its content

Keywords: "The Strip"; Allman Brothers; Counter-culture; Emory University; Ernest Tubbs Record Shops; Flower-children; Georgia General Assembly; Illegal drugs; Midtown Atlanta; Peachtree Avenue; Piedmont Park; Psychedelics; Revolution; Rock music; Roy Acuff; The Supremes; Vietnam War

00:23:36 - Local and neighborhood activism and fight against railroad

Play segment

Partial Transcript: I worked at Nabisco here for seventeen years...

Segment Synopsis: Orrock details her involvement in a neighborhood organization which fought to keep the railroad from building a station in downtown Atlanta and how it segued to her first run for public office

Keywords: "No in-town piggyback"; Andrew Young Jr.; Cabbagetown; City council; Edmund Park; Fulton Bag Mill; Grant Park; Lineworkers; Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change; Neighborhood activism; Oakland cemetery; Ormewood Park; Racial wedge; Racism; Railroads; Reynoldstown; Unions; White flight

00:28:46 - Entry into city politics

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So, I said later, the railroad would rue the day, because, because they did that, I wound up at the General Assembly...

Segment Synopsis: Orrock discusses how she was encouraged to run for a legislative seat because of her support in both black and white communities, the launch of her ultimately successful campaign in January 1986, and her "rude awakening" to politics after her election

Keywords: "FDR democrat"; Bridge-building; City council; Denmark Groover; Disabilities; Elected office; Freshman legislators; Georgia General Assembly; Georgia House of Representatives; Idealism; John Sweet; Legislative seat; Paul Bolster; Paul Coverdell; Run-off; Single mothers; Speaker of the House; Tom Murphy; VISTA

00:37:34 - The formation of the Women's Legislative Caucus in the House

Play segment

Partial Transcript: I, I do remember a real feeling of isolation because there wasn't a group, and I really got busy building a group...

Segment Synopsis: Orrock speaks about the formation of a bipartisan women's caucus in the House and its advocacy of women- and family-friendly issues, including a fight to pass several health and child care laws and block a bill that would allow insurance companies to sell across state lines; she further describes how the Republicans attempted to shut down the Women's Legislative Caucus after taking the House.

Keywords: "firewall"; Autistic children; Buddy Childers; Cathy Steinberg; Child care; Democrats; Dorothy Felton; Fran Hesser; Jan Jones; Jeanette Jamieson; Jimmy Skipper; Louis McBee; Mable Thomas; Mark Taylor; Mary Margaret Oliver; Mike Egan; Paul Broun Sr.; Republican Caucus; Republicans; Sallie Newbill; Sandy Springs, Georgia; Skulduggery; Terry Coleman; Toccoa, Georgia

00:49:56 - Appointment as floor leader for Zell Miller / Fight over Georgia state flag

Play segment

Partial Transcript: You served as a floor leader for Governor Miller...

Segment Synopsis: Orrock describes her work as floor leader under Governor Miller, whom she supported at the time, and the controversy over Miller's proposed change to the Georgia state flag prior to the 1996 Olympic games

Keywords: "Flaggers"; 1996 Olympics; Al Burroughs; Confederate flag; DuBose Porter; Georgia Tech; Jimmy Skipper; Mark Taylor; Paul Bolster; Robert "Bob" Holmes; Robert Brown; Statesboro; Steve Hensen; Thurbert Baker; Tom Bordeaux; Zell Miller

01:00:24 - Zell Miller's growing conservatism / Family Medical Leave act

Play segment

Partial Transcript: It was a great experience until, as, as things rocked on...

Segment Synopsis: Orrock tells of Miller's growing conservatism following the loss of public support and her work on the Family Medical Leave Act

Keywords: Center for Policy Alternatives; Conservative politics; Family Medical Leave Act; Guy Millner; Lester Maddox; Lieutenant Governor; Steve Wrigley; Working families

01:02:56 - Family Medical Leave bill 01:06:06 - Hate Crimes legislation

Play segment

Partial Transcript: And then also on the Hate Crimes bill--I introduced the first hate crimes legislation in Georgia

Segment Synopsis: Orrock speaks about her fight to enact hate crime legislation, which included protection for individuals based on their sexual orientation, and the resistance and defeat of conservative politicians who fought the bill

Keywords: "Queer bill"; Anti-Defamation League; Christian Coalition; Gay rights; Gender discrimination; Gwinnett County; Henry Bostick; Homosexuals; Mexicans; Migrant workers; Populist; Racial discrimination; Tift County

01:10:05 - Women's issues in the House

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Let's talk about Gender

Segment Synopsis: Orrock discusses how viewing issues through a "gender lens" affects her work as a politician, and describes how both Republican and Democrat legislators in the House unanimously vetoed a bill to reduce child support obligations

Keywords: Cathy Cox; Child support law; Constitutional law; Filibuster; Macon, Georgia; Microloans; Policy-making; Ralph David Abernathy; Second-glass citizens; United Nations; William "Billy" Randall

01:17:01 - Running for the Senate

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So, uh, ten terms in the House, twenty years, you decide to run for the Senate.

Segment Synopsis: Orrock tells of her recruitment to run for the senate by the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus, of which Orrock was the first white member, because of her appeal to both black and white constituents, and backtracks to a story of how Jason Shaw attempted to move into an office in the House designated for the majority whip, Orrock's position at the time

Subjects: Calvin Smyre; Carolyn Hugley; Earl White; Floor leader; Georganna Sinkfield; Jason "Jay" Shaw; Michael Thurman; Roy Barnes; Sonny Purdue; Terry Coleman; White progressives

01:21:57 - Gay marriage debate

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Um, we had a big debate on, um, gay marriage

Segment Synopsis: Orrock speaks about a divisive fight over a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in Georgia and its political consequences for Republicans who supported it

Keywords: Abortion; Arch-conservatives; Baptists; Brooks Coleman; Constitutional amendment; Gay rights; Hugh Broom; Jim Martin; Jim Mathis; Jim Wooten; Judiciary committee; Lynette Stanley; Right-wing; Rules committee; Rural democrats; Supermajority; Toccoa Falls College; Wedge issue

01:27:53 - Marginalization in the House

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So that's when DuBose became uh, majority leader and Carolyn became the whip--minority, minority leader and whip

Segment Synopsis: Orrock discusses her increasing marginalization in the Republican-controlled House and her decision to run for Senate, which would allow her to represent districts she originally represented as a congresswoman before reapportionment

01:32:35 - Comparing service in the House and the Senate

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Which did you enjoy more: the House or the Senate?

Segment Synopsis: Orrock divulges that she prefers serving in the Senate rather than the House due to the former being a smaller body that encourages "collegial relationships."

Keywords: "The well"; Keith Heard; Local government; Power politics; Progressives; Racial divide; Rural politics; Urban politics

01:37:30 - Orrock's Constituents / Metropolitan and rural interests 01:43:43 - Redistricting / Agriculture Committee

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Redistricting is just around the corner; what do you expect?

Segment Synopsis: Orrock acknowledges that she is unsure how upcoming redistricting will affect her Senate seat and speculates that Republicans may try to combine her district with that of another Democratic incumbent; she also discusses her appointment to the Agriculture committee, commonly assigned to female senators, despite representing urban interests

Keywords: Agriculture; Bohemians; Demographics; Fairburn, Georgia; Fulton County, Georgia; Historic neighborhoods; Housing projects; Jason Carter; John Bulloch; Mitchell County, Georgia; Moultrie, Georgia; Old Fourth Ward; Pebble City, Georgia; Poverty; Roswell, Georgia; Urban horticulture; Vincent Ford; Virginia Highlands

01:47:25 - Work outside of elected office

Play segment

Partial Transcript: And you know, my job--if you're not fortunate enough to be independently wealthy or have somebody else winning the bread in your house...

Segment Synopsis: Orrock describes her professional career outside of the House and Senate, which is comprised primarily of non-profit and advocacy work for both social justice and women in politics.

Keywords: "Policy wonk"; Atlanta Public Safety; East Side of Atlanta; John Lewis; Julian Bond; Military budget; NCSL; National Conference of State Legislatures; Non-profits; Pentagon; Social change

01:49:07 - Orrock sums up her political career

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Well, if you had to sum up Nan Orrock's political career...

Segment Synopsis: Orrock speaks to her ongoing work as a public servant, her desire to "make a difference," her reputation as a tough legislator, her legacy, and an eventual, as-yet unplanned transition out of politics

Keywords: Andy Welch; Biennial Institute; Chick-Fil-A; Chicken processing; Chip Rogers; Clayton County, Georgia; Ford Foundation; Georgia Budget & Policy Institute; Georgia Watch Health Access Program; Henry County, Georgia; Human services; Immigration; Manufacturing; Reynolds Foundation; Terrell Starr; Vermont Law School; William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton; Working families

01:56:38 - Conclusion and final words

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Well you've certainly had a brilliant career...

Segment Synopsis: Orrock concludes the interview by referencing her family's Georgia history, her identity as a Southern progressive, and her pride at being one of the first women in the House and Senate chambers

Keywords: Georgia House of Representatives; Georgia Senate; Social justice