Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Martha C. McKay, June 13, 1989. Interview C-0076. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Basic tenets of the Democratic Party and their relationship to the women's rights movement

McKay argues that she believed women activists were bound together by basic tenets of the Democratic Party. Focusing on the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in contrast to that of Herbert Hoover, McKay argues that, in general, advocacy of education and economic advancement for all people were core components of the fight for women's rights. As such, she emphasizes the political framework of her childhood as especially formative for her own conception of political and women's rights.

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

KATHRYN NASSTROM:
You mentioned education as one of the areas that most interested women in politics. I'd like to take off from there. A question that may be too general to answer, but I'm wondering if there's a certain common motivation or set of beliefs or set of interests for the women who were active at this time? Is it possible to generalize in that way?
MARTHA MCKAY:
I think most of them subscribed to the historic positions of the Democratic Party. I think that most of us who continue to be active, even if it's intermittent, it's based in the party. Those two things. The things the party stood for. To me Franklin Roosevelt was a great figure and I was very happy that I was able to vote for him. My first vote was cast for him. So the things that he stood for. Raising the level of, not just education, but the economic level of all people in this country and serving those who were not ordinarily served by the class structures. I think it's the party. In my view that's still there, we need to go back to those issues, viable, valid issues.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
It's interesting that you mention Roosevelt. I can't remember now - I've done a set of these interviews, who said what starts to blur - but someone made a comment that ever since she could remember - and so she must have been born, I don't know, let's say sometime in the early 1920s - that while she was growing up and was old enough to think about these things, Roosevelt had been President. She didn't know what any one else being President could be like.
MARTHA MCKAY:
That's right, he was president for a long time. However, I remember Hoover, even though I was a child. We all hated Hoover, justifiably so in terms of the condition of this country, not in terms of anything personal. I've read a little bit about him since, and he was a decent person and a good man and had laid some groundwork for some things that ought to happen. He just wasn't incisive. It was clear when Roosevelt came in. But anybody that lived through the Depression remembers those things. I've heard many Democrats say, "too poor to paint and too proud to whitewash," so lived through hard times, bad times in this country. Hope it never happens to them.
KATHRYN NASSTROM:
That's for sure.
MARTHA MCKAY:
And Roosevelt did something about it. My mother was a WPA artist. She's a good artist and she got work working for the WPA. Painting, I don't know, murals in school cafeterias or something like that. He did something. So of course if you were affected by all that, one remembers it.