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Posted 01/21/2010

Martha C. McKay, women’s rights activist, Democratic Party leader, and economist, was born in Winchester, MA, in 1920, grew up in St. Petersburg, FL, and received a degree from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1941. In 1960, McKay campaigned for Terry Sanford in his gubernatorial race. Subsequently, Sanford appointed her to the Democratic National Committee. With Sanford’s support, McKay helped to organize the North Carolina Commission on the Status of Women. During the early 1960s, McKay formed connections with other women’s rights activists, including Grace Jemison Rohrer and Anne Firor Scott. In 1972, she became a founding member of the North Carolina Women’s Political Caucus (NCWPC) and served as its first chair. THe NCWPC quickly turned its attention to the Equal Rights Amendment, and its efforts appeared to be bearing fruit until two state senators switched their votes at the last minute.

You can listen to two interviews with Martha McKay at Oral Histories of the American South. Our 1974 interview focuses on the ERA, and the 1989 interview is a bit more wide-ranging.

Martha C. McKay (March 29, 1974)

Martha C. McKay (June 13, 1989)

Her papers are available at the Southern Historical Collection.