Celebrating Kentucky: Mae Jones Street Kidd

by Jenn Shockley |

Longtime Kentucky legislator impacts positive change over her nine terms in office.

Mae Jones Street Kidd was born in Millersburg, Kentucky, in 1904. Her biological father was the son of her mother’s employer, a white family with a horse farm in Central Kentucky. They had two children together. Mae and her family lived in the designated black area of town, known as Shippsville, and she attended the local school until 8th grade.
 

Kidd was living on her own in Louisville by 1925, supporting herself in her own home. Due to the Jim Crow segregation laws still in effect, she couldn’t attend the theater on Fourth Street, or even patron the public library. She married Horace Street and they continued to move forward together until his death in 1942. She joined the Red Cross a year later, in 1943, and traveled to England to help with relief efforts during WWII. She was promoted to an assistant director of a service club for the Southampton black American soldiers. During her Red Cross travels, she and her darker-skinned brother often traveled together by train. There were several occasions where Kidd was asked to move to the “white” car due to her light skin, but refused.

 

Kidd continued working in public relations in supervisory positions after the war, and was eventually hired by the National Negro Insurance Association. She organized the very first Louisville Urban League Guild in 1948, and became the President of the Lincoln Foundation.

 

Mae got involved in politics, and became an elected official in Kentucky’s General Assembly. At that time, there were only three African Americans in the Legislature, including her. She became very active in Civil Rights, and worked closely with Senator Georgia Powers and Hughes McGill to get fair housing standards in our state. Her bill passed in 1968 and was the first Southern law of its type. She remained in politics throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, serving nine terms as the Democratic representative from Louisville’s 41st district in the House of Representatives. Afterwards, she maintained an active role in local charitable organizations. Kidd passed away in 1990 after a very successful and influential career.
 
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