Title: Oral History Interview with Margaret Keesee-Forrester, April 21, 1989. Interview C-0065.
Interviewer: Nasstrom, Kathryn
Interviewee: Keesee-Forrester, Margaret
Subjects: North Carolina--Politics and government Democratic Party (N.C.) Republican Party (N.C.) Women's rights--North Carolina Women in politics--North Carolina
Abstract: Margaret Keesee-Forrester was born in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1945. During the late 1960s, she became an elementary school teacher after completing her college education at Guilford College. Shortly thereafter, she became involved in local Greensboro politics through the Republican Party. At the age of 27, Keesee-Forrester became the first woman from Guilford County elected to the North Carolina General Assembly. She served a total of six terms in the state legislature—from 1972 through the 1980s—and was known for her work across party lines. During her tenure in the state legislature, she was a strong advocate for the improvement of education in North Carolina. During her first term, she faced criticism from conservative Republicans for her support of a bill that sought to end corporal punishment in public schools. Keesee-Forrester also made waves within her party for her strong feminist leanings. Although loyal to the Republican Party, she firmly supported women's rights, including reproductive rights, and she stressed the importance of women's participation in politics. In this interview, Keesee-Forrester speaks at length about her experiences as one of the first women state legislators, her involvement in the women's movement, the response of male legislators to women in politics, her reasons for staying with the Republican Party, her decision to take a "sabbatical" from politics, and her thoughts on the future of women in politics.