Passing for Black: The Life of Mae Street Kidd
- Passing for Black
The Life and Careers of Mae Street Kidd
----- written by Wade Hall
Mae Street Kidd made a choice.
Born in 1904 in Millersburg , Kentucky to a 'White' father
and a mother who was a Mixed-Race woman who was
of the African-American Ethnicity -- she could easily
have "passed" as being a mono-racial 'White' woman.
Instead , she chose to affirmed her
African-American Ethnic heritage .
In 1968, she was elected to the Kentucky House
Her career blossomed -- first as a successful business
woman -- then as the Assistant Director of the European
Theater for the American Red Cross in Washington, D.C.
-- and later as a member of the Kentucky General Assembly.
of Representatives -- where she went on to
sponsor two bills which provided both open
housing and low-income housing in Kentucky.
There she also led a campaign to right a historical wrong,
helping to get the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments
to the U.S. Constitution ratified by Kentucky more
than a century after they were passed by Congress.
Kidd received many honors and awards including the "King
/ Kennedy Award", "The NAACP Unsung Heroine Award",
and the "Top Ten Outstanding Kentuckians Award
Mrs. Kidd was also involved in many community service
groups such as the YWCA and Girl Scouts of America.
Kidd's own plain-spoken words and fiercely independent
spirit permeates the narrative biography written
by Wade Hall, a sort of edited oral history culled
from interviews conducted in her Louisville home.
The result is an inspirational story
starring a truly unforgettable character.
Representative Mae Street Kidd was an innovative
businesswoman, civic leader, and a skilled politician
during a time when her gender and multi-racial 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 Red Cross uniform with
her darker-complexioned 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 chattel-slaves and
granted African-Americans the
right to citizenship, and gave men of any
part-Black ancestry the right to vote.
During her time in the General Assembly,
Representative Kidd's "firsts" include being
the first woman on the Rules Committee.
Listen to a clip from an interview with Mae Street Kidd.
To view a transcription while you listen, click
on "transcription" and then on "interview."
View a transcription of this clip