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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Martha C. McKay, June 13, 1989. Interview C-0076. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Working for inclusion of women within political parties

McKay argues that from 1945 into the 1960s she was resistant to efforts to form separate women's groups within the Democratic Party. On the contrary, she believed that women should work within the Party in order to gain inclusion within the larger group. The formation of the North Carolina Women's Political Caucus in 1972, she argues, was one way to accomplish this. Although a group formed solely for the purpose of promoting women's interests, McKay explains that the NCWPC simultaneously worked for the inclusion of women within party politics.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Martha C. McKay, June 13, 1989. Interview C-0076. 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

And certainly the ERA connection is what carries through, I think, to the work that you have done. I think that there is a general characterization of the period that we've just been talking about, 1945 to the late '60s, as a time when there were certainly women active for women's rights, but there wasn't a movement, a broad-based movement that drew on a variety of groups. Would you agree with that characterization?
I think it's probably true. We were just trying to work through the party, as I said, and I personally was never in favor of the Democratic women's groups becoming like a federated group, and I fought that when I was on the Democratic National Committee. Later they did become that. A woman who lives here in Raleigh, who's a friend of mine, was then living in Tennessee and she was instrumental in doing that. But I fought it. I didn't think we should have a separate organization for women. I thought we should stay in there and fight for women to be amalgamated into the larger group. I thought if we formed a separate group it would always be off to one side. So what work was done on the part of most of us that were working, all of us who were Democrats, was done on the basis of trying to change the party and also women's appointments and that kind of thing.
Actually that's a good starting point for the next period I want to cover of the late '60s and the early '70s. I mentioned to you before we started taping that I thought the two interviews that are already on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, done with you in 1974, do a good job about talking about the beginnings of the North Carolina Woman's Political Caucus and certainly the first go-round with the ERA campaign here. But picking up on what you just said, that you thought you fought the separation aspect and were interested more in amalgamation, did your ideas about that change in the early part of the 1970s?
No. I thought we needed the caucus, but as a group that could promote the interests of women and work for women to get elected. But also continue to work for women to play a larger role in the party and to push for what we hadn't been able to achieve inside. That group is not in competition with the party. We were ready for it because we hadn't got where we thought we ought to get working inside the party until the women's movement came along, the Women's Political Caucus. That galvanized women to organize and to form groups that did have some power at the polls and could get some leverage (on that basis) for change in the party and also in terms of running for public office and appointments. And also legislation. We had been able to change some legislation in North Carolina, create some.