Mae Street Kidd: Representative Mae Street Kidd was an innovative businesswoman, civic leader, and a skilled politician during a time when her gender and interracial background made such accomplishments harder than they are today. She had a distinguished career in public relations, served in the Red Cross during World War II, and served as a Kentucky state representative for 17 years, beginning in 1968, representing the 41st District of Louisville.
Mae Street Kidd's life was greatly affected by the color of her skin--it was too dark to some and too light to others. According to Wade Hall, in his biography of Kidd, Passing for Black: The Life and Careers of Mae Street Kidd, while traveling by train in her RedCross uniform with her darker-skinned brother in his Army uniform during WWII, Kidd was asked to move from the "colored" section of the train to the white section. Kidd repeatedly refused--and also refused to explain herself: "I was a grown woman. I was wearing my Red Cross uniform. My brother was a grown man, wearing his army uniform. We were a brother and sister going to see our parents before we shipped overseas. We were both American citizens serving our country. We didn't owe anybody an explanation."
During her time in office, she was known for her sponsorship of tough legislation. For instance, House Bill 27, sponsored by Representative Kidd, became law in 1972, creating the Kentucky Housing Corporation which promotes and finances low-income housing in Kentucky. In 1974, this bill was officially named the Mae Street Kidd Act. In 1976, she sponsored legislation to ratify the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, the "Reconstruction Amendments," to the United States Constitution, amendments which--over a century late--freed the slaves and granted African Americans the right to citizenship, and gave black men the right to vote. During her time in the General Assembly, Representative Kidd's “firsts” include being the first woman on the Rules Committee.
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