Suzanne Pharr was born in 1939, the youngest of eight kids, and raised on a farm near Lawrenceville, Georgia. From day one, she was in her own words a “rebellious kid” – not just because she didn’t fit gender norms and expectations, but because she was endlessly curious about injustice and determined to address it and change it.
Suzanne went to college in Georgia and eventually earned an MA in English at SUNY/Buffalo. At one point, she and a girlfriend headed off to New Zealand to be free-spirited ex-pats. But the social turmoil and violence of late-1960s America drew Suzanne back. She became a permanent warrior for the rights of women, queers, people of color, and anyone getting a raw deal in a privilege-driven society.
Moving back to the South, Suzanne helped found or founded a rich variety of women’s projects and initiatives including the first domestic violence shelter in Arkansas and the Arkansas Women’s Project. Of critical importance was her leadership with the Women’s Watchcare Network, which Suzanne helped found in the late 1980s to monitor and document religious, racist, sexist, and anti-gay and lesbian violence.
In 1993, Suzanne helped found Southerners on New Ground (SONG), which works to overcome racial and economic divisions within the queer community. From 1999 to2004, Suzanne was the first woman executive director of the Highlander Center, a historic Tennessee social justice leadership training school and cultural center. Suzanne’s books include Homophobia: A Weapon of Sexism and In the Time of the Right: Reflections on Liberation.