THE VFA PIONEER HISTORIES PROJECT
January 6, 1933 – December 29, 2014
“Let’s do things that get us back to the real long-range view of women in power.” – Sylvia Roberts, 2008
The first woman from her parish of Lafayette, LA, to become a lawyer. Joined National Organization for Women in 1966 and served as Vice President of NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, now known as Legal Momentum. First Southern Regional Director of NOW, elected in 1970. Best known for her successful defense of Lorena Weeks in her case against Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Company. Co-founder of the LA state chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW), and one of Louisiana’s most prominent attorneys of the last century.
Photo 1. Courtroom sketch of Sylvia Roberts from Sharon Johnson v. University of Pittsburgh 1973, from the archives of Sylvia Roberts at Tulane University, New Orleans. Photo 2. Board meeting of the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, 1976: Betty Friedan, front row, second from the left; Sylvia Roberts, front row, third from the left; Muriel Fox, back row, third from left. Photo 3. VFA Salute to Women Lawyers event, from left: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Judge Emily Jane Goodman, Jacqui Ceballos, Sylvia Roberts, Phyllis Segal, 2008. Photo by Bettye Lane.
More About Sylvia:
- Select interviews and speeches
- Lorena Weeks applied for a job within Southern Bell and was told the job was reserved for men. PBS, aired 2.26.2013
- Interview with Sylvia Roberts for “Feminist! Are You One?” 1984 Newcomb Archives and Vorhoff Collection, Newcomb Institute, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA.
- Sylvia Roberts “Remembering the Struggle” Oral Histories and Photographs of Baton Rouge Women Who Worked for Human Rights, Baton Rouge Digital collection 1983
- The Women’s Legal Defense Fund website
- Cited in Barbara Love’s book, Feminists Who Changed America, pages 386 – 387