Women in Kentucky - Public Service

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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Site Overview


A. What

Performing Arts
Public Service

B. When

View a selected history of women
View a selected history of women
Sounds and images
Civil War Diaries

C. Where

Central / Northern Kentucky
Western Kentucky
Eastern Kentucky
Southern Kentucky


Selected Readings
Educational Tools
Web tools
Archival Collections
Children's Books

E. About this Project

Women in Sports:

Minnie Adkins
Elizabeth Barret, Anne Lewis, Mimi Pickering, & Justine Richardson
Jane Burch Cochran
Joan Dance
Enid Yandell

Women in Business:

Nelda Barton-Collings
Julia Dinsmore
Laura Freeman
Mattie Mack
Lena Madesin Phillips
Caroline Burnam Taylor

Women in Education:

Helen Lew Lang
Katherine Pettit
Jane Stephenson
Cora Wilson Stewart

Women in Health/Medicine:

Mary Britton
Linda Neville
Ora Framer Porter
Louise Southgate, M.D.

Women in Journalism:

Linda Boileau
Alice Allison Dunnigan

Women in Law:

Pearl Carter Pace
Lt. Colonel Linda Smith

Women in Literature:

Effie Waller Smith

Women in Military:

Lt. Anna Mac Clarke
Capt. Helen Horlacher Evans
Julia Ann Marcum

Women in Music:

Sarah Ogan Gunning
Helen Humes
Lily May Ledford
Reel World String Band
Jean Ritchie
Mary Wheeler

Women as Pioneers:

Esther Whitley

Women in Public Service:

Governor Martha Layne Collins
Emma Guy Cromwell
Rep. Mary Elliott Flanery
Sen. Georgia Davis Powers
Lt. Gov. Thelma Stovall

Women in Reform:

Madeline McDowell Breckinridge
Laura Clay
Eula Hall
Josephine Henry
Belinda Mason
Lois Morris
Eliza Caroline Calvert Obenchain
Charlotte Richardson
Joan Robinett
Mary Sue Whayne
Corinne Whitehead
Evelyn Williams

Women in Religion:

Eldress Nancy Moore
Rabbi Gaylia Rooks

Women in Science:

Sarah Frances Price
Ellen Churchill Semple

Women in Sports:

Terri Cecil-Ramsey
Geri Grigsby
Audrey Whitlock Peterson
Mary T. Meagher Plant