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Activist Women Oral History Project: A

Aenchbacher, Martha

Interviewee: Martha Aenchbacher
Interviewer: Samantha Harvell
Date of interview: November 27, 2016
Extent: 43:39
Transcript and audio

Martha Aenchbacher was born in Russell County, Kentucky. When she was a child, her family moved to south Georgia, where witnessing poverty and racial injustice inspired the development of her social conscience. Aenchbacher enrolled in Georgia Southwestern College at age 16. While in college, she met her husband, Louie, with whom she had seven children. Aenchbacher finished her college education in Savannah, Ga., where she majored in social work and became interested in feminism and the women's movement. She became active in a local chapter of the National Organization for Women. She and some of her social work colleagues worked to establish the first rape crisis center in Georgia in order to address the problem of inadequate care that was often provided to rape victims. She also worked with what would become the first hospice in Georgia. Aenchbacher later earned a master's degree in psychology and worked as a counselor.

Martha Aenchbacher is interviewed in her home by Samantha Harvill. Aenchbacher discusses her childhood experiences and socialization that helped to mold her sense of ethics. She also discusses her adult life and education, which influenced the activism she involved herself in, working with adult mental health clinics and in the first rape crisis center and first hospice in Georgia.

Alexander, Elaine

Interviewee: Elaine Alexander
Interviewer: Morna Gerrard
Date of Interview: April 14, 2010
Extent: 58 pages; 1 DVD


Born in 1934 in Cambridge, MA, Elaine Alexander graduated from Lesley College with a BA in Education. She married Miles Alexander in 1955, and they have lived in Atlanta for close to 60 years.

Alexander has served on numerous civic and Jewish boards and commissions. As well as serving as Executive Director of Leadership Atlanta from 1978-1992, she is a life board member of the American Jewish Committee and Southeast Region’s Anti-Defamation League, and she was a founding member of the Black/Jewish Coalition. She has also actively supported organizations that help women. She was a member of the Executive Committee of the Georgia Commission on the Status of Women from 1976-1979, and served on the board of the Atlanta Women’s Foundation from 1997-2004. She was also the founding president of Vote Choice / A Georgia PAC, and has long been an avid and vocal supporter of Planned Parenthood.

Alexander has also served as vice chair of the Georgia Democratic Party, and has supported a number of political campaigns, including those of Maynard Jackson, John Lewis, Elliott Levitas, Michael Dukakis, Shirley Franklin and Kasim Reed.

Among her many accomplishments, in 1985, Alexander was a recipient of the YWCA Women of Achievement Award, and in 2005, she received Planned Parenthood of Georgia’s Living Legend Award. The Anti-Defamation League has also honored her with their Community Service Award (1997), and in 2010, she received the American Jewish Committee Humanitarian Award.

Elaine Alexander opens her oral history by discussing the impact of her male-dominated upbringing. She touches on how dyslexia affected her childhood, and on why she made the decision to attend Lesley College. She met her husband at the beginning of her college years, and she discusses her early married life and moving around military bases. After settling down, she had four children. Elaine talks about the impact her children had on her own life, focusing mainly on her daughter, Paige. Alexander’s political activism began with her work on political campaigns, particularly those of Elliott Levitas and Maynard Jackson. She describes her campaign work, then transitions into her time at Leadership Atlanta, both as a student and as the Co-Executive Director. Post Leadership Atlanta, Alexander highlights her work with numerous other organizations, including The Urban League, The Jewish/Black Sisters, the Bicentennial Commission, the Community Relations Commission, Resurgence Atlanta, the board for United Way, the board for the Martin Luther King Jr. Center, the Atlanta Women’s Foundation, and Inner Strength. During this, she tells how racism affected and motivated her, particularly during Maynard Jackson’s terms as Mayor. She also describes her struggle dealing with sexism during her time on the United Way Board. After briefly talking about being awarded the YWCA’s Woman of Achievement Award, Alexander closes her oral history by discussing her most recent political work, which was aiding the campaigns of both Shirley Franklin and Kasim Reed.

Ashe, Kathy

Interviewee: Kathy Ashe
Interviewer: Mary Riddle
Date of Interview:April 24, 2007
Extent: 2 audio cassettes; 2 compact discs; 48 page transcript

Legislator, community leader, educator, mother, and volunteer, “raging moderate” Kathy Blee Ashe received her elementary and high school education in the public schools of Tallahassee, Florida. She graduated from Agnes Scott College in 1968, earned a Master of Arts in Teaching from Emory University, and did further graduate work at Georgia State University. From 1969-1977 she taught in the Marietta and Cobb County public schools.

Kathy was first elected to the Georgia General Assembly House of Representatives in June of 1991, and as a Representative, she served on the Appropriations, Education, Children and Youth, and Higher Education committees, and was active in the Women’s Caucus and the Georgia House Democratic Caucus.

Kathy has served in leadership roles in numerous community organizatins, including the League of Women Voters, the Atlanta Community Food Bank, the United Way of Atlanta, the Atlanta Women's Foundation, the Junior League of Atlanta, and Vote Choice. She is a member of Leadreship Atlanta (1988), the Regional Leadership INstitute (1994) and the Atlanta Urban League. She is also an active member of Central Presbyterian Church, where she serves as an elder.

Kathy Ashe begins by talking about her parents and grandparents who were from Illinois. Her parents moved to Tallahassee, Florida which is where she grew up. Her father worked in higher education, and helped to establish the junior college system in Florida. Ashe was friends with the daughter of Florida Governor C. Ferris Bryant, and she mentions talking with him about public policy as a youth. She describes growing up in Tallahassee in the 1950s and 1960s. Ashe enrolled at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia in the mid-1960s and received a degree in 1968. She talks about Agnes Scott being an all-girls institution and speaks about same sex education in general. She pursued a career in teaching after graduating from college. She discusses her early experiences in the classroom. Ashe talks about the many problems facing education, and the difficulties of developing education policy. Kathy met her future husband, Lawrence Ashe, and she tells a story about their rocky start. After they were married they had two children. After their second child, Sally was born; Kathy left teaching and began to concentrate on volunteer projects. She was very active with the League of Women Voters which she cites as one of the most influential organizations upon her life. She was also involved with the Junior League, and both she and Lawrence did volunteer work for the Urban League. Ashe speaks about how she came to run for office in the Georgia General Assembly and some of the issues that have been important to her in her political career. She discusses her concern over environmental issues, and the need for open records and transparency in government. She talks about the problems facing the state, and feels that there are particularly acute difficulties with education funding and early childhood development. She changed political parties; shifting from the Republicans to the Democrats, and she describes the differences she encountered after the switch. Ashe assesses the general difficulties and intractability of government, but maintains a hopeful outlook. She ends the interview by referencing the poem “Warning” by Jenny Joseph, which talks about going against convention and breaking out of prescribed behaviors.

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