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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Martha W. Evans, June 26, 1974. Interview A-0318. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Various campaigns at the local and state level

Evans addresses her various political campaigns, ranging from her unsuccessful mayoral bids and her successful runs for election to the North Carolina General Assembly. Evans describes her campaign as "person to person" in nature, describing how the media worked in conjunction with the downtown power base in covering political campaigns—sometimes to her detriment. In offering this insider's perspective on local and state political campaigns, Evans addresses how she was doubly hindered by her status as a woman candidate of high education.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Martha W. Evans, June 26, 1974. Interview A-0318. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
O.K. Now, let me ask you this and see how it sort of fits with some of the other. The Observer on several occassions, both as far as your candidacy for mayor and also in connection with races for the house and senate and with issues coming up in the state legislature, would comment, sometimes they would name you and sometimes not, just talk about the delegation as a whole, "fruitless friction, too much personal ambition, personality conflicts…" is this because they represent somebody else, a different interest and what sort of interest? Are they allied with the downtown people?
MARTHA W. EVANS:
Sure, their living is dependent upon their advertisers. And that's the downtown stores.
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
And you think that this attitude relates more to because you were in opposition to some extent to what the other groups wanted?
MARTHA W. EVANS:
That's right. I didn't owe anybody anything, so I didn't have anything to pay off, but to do what I thought was right and fair and square and conscientious to everybody. To the best interests of the majority of the people. I didn't have to cater to anybody.
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
O.K., Your campaigns were mostly individual efforts, weren't they?
MARTHA W. EVANS:
Person to person.
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
And not an organization of any sort and not really in connection with….
MARTHA W. EVANS:
What do you mean by organization? I had organization. I organized it by myself. Do you mean an agency organization?
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
Well, I'm just thinking….
MARTHA W. EVANS:
I had no advertising agency, if that's what you mean.
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
No, I mean it was your personal, it wasn't that somebody else got you and you ran on a slate or something that somebody else… did this carry over into the state senate and house races, you did not necessarily campaign with the other incumbents or whatever.
MARTHA W. EVANS:
I had to appear as a single slate after the primary.
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
But going into the primary it was strictly….
MARTHA W. EVANS:
It's every man for himself. Going into the primary, it's every man for himself. But after the primary, you had to be on the slate. And I cooperated and we had, contrary to what the Observer or the Charlotte News says, we had good harmony and good work with cooperation. If you look back on it, woman's liberation, I can't buy half of it, but that's all right. I'm not involved in that… I wasn't fighting as a liberated woman in those days, although I did break the barrier in becoming the first city councilwoman that the community ever had. And it was rough going.
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
In '65, you were the only woman in the senate, I believe. But you have not followed up, with any connection with ERA or are not involved along that line. As you say, your thing wasn't… you weren't running as a woman, you were….
MARTHA W. EVANS:
No, I was running as a qualified candidate. I had been educated for the job, and I was the only one that was.
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
You went to Duke, is that right, and then to Columbia.
MARTHA W. EVANS:
I went to Columbia and I went to Lafayette and I went to Johns Hopkins. They had a school for international relations in Washington. I was academically prepared to do the job. And in those days, it didn't pay to let your academic ratings be too well known, because they classed you as an egghead… "She's an egghead and a woman."
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
So, there were two strikes against you.
MARTHA W. EVANS:
I went into every race with two strikes against me.
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
Did this cause friction between you and some of the other candidates in any way?
MARTHA W. EVANS:
Well, you know, when you are making a pitch and you are doing it on academic research, having done academic research, then it sort of bothers them. They want you to be a hell-fire-and-brimstone kind of a person and I'm not that way.
WILLIAM (BILL) MOYE:
On a logical argument, having researched….
MARTHA W. EVANS:
Yes.