- Journey Proud: Recollections of a Fifties Woman (1999)
by Marcelle Okula (SHS) 2000
Claire King Sargent was born on January 10, 1934, at the Baptist Memorial Hospital in Jackson, Mississippi. She was born to Almyra Hogan King, a native of Starkville, Mississippi, and John B. King, a native of Hattiesburg, Mississippi (Sargent Interview). She grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, but spent a majority of her summers in Starkville (Sargent JP 12 ). Most of her early schooling was obtained in Jackson, but her sixth grade year she went to school in Starkville. In the fall of 1952, she enrolled at Mississippi College for Women, located in Columbus, Mississippi, and majored in English. Studying there during her freshmen and sophomore years, she then transferred to Millsaps College in Jackson (Sargent JP 40-48). After graduating from Millsaps College in 1956, she received a job at an advertising agency in Jackson (Sargent Interview).
Her life changed drastically soon after when in 1957 she relocated to New York City because the advertising agency she was employed by opened an office in New York (Sargent Interview). While living in New York, she met and married her first husband, a Wall Street Investor (Silverman “Claire-Voyance”). Eventually she had three children, and for fifteen years, her life was consumed by being a mother and wife (Sargent Interview). Sargent then divorced her first husband and moved to Phoenix, Arizona, to marry a childhood friend and executive with Arizona Public Service, Henry Sargent (Silverman “Claire-Voyance”). While living in Arizona, Sargent became a community volunteer and a political activist. Because she felt the person being endorsed by the Democrats had a “Cold War mentality,” Sargent saw her opportunity to run for U.S. Senate in the election of 1992. She ran against and lost to Republican John McCain for the Arizona Senate seat. Even though McCain prevailed, Sargent used her loss as an outlet for inspiration and wrote Journey Proud, her autobiography. She spent six years writing her autobiography and does not plan to continue writing. Currently, she resides in Phoenix and New York and enjoys spending time with her six grandchildren (Sargent Interview).
Journey Proud: Recollections of a Fifties Woman is the autobiography and tells of Claire King Sargent’s struggles and accomplishments. Beginning with her childhood, Sargent leads the reader through her experiences of growing up and attending college in Mississippi. After graduating from college in 1956, she moves to New York, far away from the comfort of home. Starting anew, Sargent meets and marries her first husband. Eventually she has three children and leads a picture perfect life of mother and wife in a suburbia world. However, she soon begins to become uncomfortable in her monotonous life. Searching for a way out, she begins to find who Claire King Sargent is. Divorcing her first husband and marrying a childhood friend, she relocates to Arizona and becomes involved with the feminist movement and is an active volunteer. Becoming active in public life ultimately leads to Sargent’s running for the U.S. Senate against John McCain. Although McCain won, Sargent derives inspiration from the experience of running for office.
Although Journey Proud is an autobiographical book, it reads like a novel. Each sentence flows into the next. Sargent combines memories and life’s lessons to tell of her experiences in an interesting and straightforward style. The journey to self-discovery and fulfillment was not an easy one for Sargent, but it was a Journey Proud.
by Marcelle Okula (SHS)
What person has influenced you the most?
I really can’t say one person. In retrospect, after writing my book, I see that my father had a great deal of influence, and I didn’t know it. My mother did, too. But the Most? Subconsciously I may have been influenced by those I wasn’t aware of– 2 or 3 teachers. My ministers in the Westchester suburbs. Intellectually I can’t say.
What author has influenced you the most?
In recent years Carolyn Heilbrun. From my college days, I’m sure it was the Victorian novelists and Victorian and Romantic poets. They are the ones I studied.
Who is your favorite author?
I don’t have any single one, though Tennessee Williams, Henrik Ibsen, and George Bernard Shaw speak to me. So do Walker Percy and Pat Conroy. Jane Kenyon’s poetry, too. And some of Iris Murdock.
What is your favorite book?
How many stars in the sky! I read The Awakening by Kate Chopin at a time that I need to hear what she had to say, and if it didn’t change my life, it galvanized me. I want to read it again to see if it still affects me as strongly.
How long did it take you to finish Journey Proud?
What inspired you to write this book?
My campaign for the U.S. Senate was the impetus, but I needed to expand it to tell the whole story, of who I am and where I came from, to write it down for my children.
Are you working on any other books right now?
Have you received any awards, other than the Scotty Award?
No. My first and probably only award.
Do you have any hobbies?
Do you have any advice for future writers?
Read, read, read
Do you have any advice for students today?
Read, read, read
When did you become interested in writing?
I’m not sure. When I was a freshman at MSCW, we had to write something every week for our English class, and I think that may have been the genesis. I imagine most real readers are interested in writing, but perhaps don’t know it and might not get the push. Though today you probably do more than we did in my day.
Who do you admire in public life, and why?
Janet Reno. A woman of prodigious courage and a strong moral core, who does what she thinks is right–and legal–even when she know the politicians are going to crucify her. Robert Reich also pops to mind, the former Sec. of Labor. He has the courage of his convictions, compassion, enormous intelligence, and total integrity. Also, I admire Paul Wellstone, the senator from Minnesota, for speaking up and fighting for those who have no voice, as Reich does as well. Oh, and Lynn Martin, who was also Sec. of Labor under one of the Republican presidents. She’s a real feminist. When Pat Schroeder was in the House, she was a great hero of mine. Still is. Also, Gloria Steinem who is a towering figure in the fight for women’s rights, a hero of the 20th Century.
Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Make every effort to experience the world beyond your own milieu, always keeping an open mind without being judgmental. There are limitless ways to live a meaningful, enriching, fulfilling life. Be fearless. You can only fail.
- Preliminary inventory of the Claire King Sargent Papers. Arizona Archives Online
- This site contains a book review of “Journey Proud” and information on how to obtain your own copy of “Journey Proud.”
- “Editorial Reviews.”[Online]Available at http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ts/book-reviews/096668333252/104-4890240-4634801, 4-13-00.
- Scottsdale Public Library System. “Friends of the Library Annual Author’s Award Luncheon.”[Online] Available at http://library.ci.scottsdale.az.us/flo-author.htm, April 11 2000
- Sargent, Claire King. Journey Proud. Arizona: Oak Tree Press Inc., 1999.
- Sargent, Claire King. Personal Interview. April 25 2000.
- Silverman, Amy. “Claire-Voyance.” Phoenix New Times 6 October 1999:5. [Online] Available at http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/issues/1999-10-07/wonk.html, April 13 1999.
- “Curl Up with a Good Book: Journey Proud.” Women Leaders Online/ Women Organizing for Change.[Online] Available at http://www.wlo.org/alert/99/102199.htm, April 10 2000.