Susan Virginia Cowell, class of 1969

Susan Virginia Cowell, class of 1969

Susan Virginia Cowell was born in New York City and grew up in Westwood, New Jersey. She graduated from Brown in 1969 with a degree in Chinese Studies. Cowell served in the Peace Corps in Korea, and has earned degrees from Harvard University and Yale University.  She has spent her career working for social change, serving as a vice president of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union from 1987 until 1995, and as the Executive Director of 32BJ Benefit Funds.

Susan Cowell explains her reasons for choosing to attend Pembroke College; her expectations for campus culture; her roommate's struggles with class differences; the social life of Pembroke; her own her peers' efforts to protest the Girls School culture, including stealing the chimes, and a march to the Dean's house; her feelings about Pembroke's merger with Brown; the effect of national student movements on curriculum reform; and political actions including a sit-in at City Hall, the 1968 black student walkout, and students turning their backs on Henry Kissinger at Commencement. 

The interview concludes with a discussion of the waning of protest movements in the 1970s; her graduate studies at Harvard and Yale; her years in the Peace Corps in Korea; the choice to leave academia; work with Ira Magaziner; and her career with labor groups.

Part 1
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Part 2
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Recorded on Dec 21, 1988

Offices of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, New York

Interviewed by Miriam Dale Pichey