Linda Hallenborg Kurtz, known as Linda Hallenborg during her years in Atlanta, Georgia, and Washington, D.C., is admired as a political and feminist activist through her work as a lobbyist, administrator, consultant and educator. She was the founder and chair of the Georgia Women's Political Caucus (GWPC), an officer of ERA GA, Inc., vice chair and member of the board of directors of the National Women's Political Caucus (NWPC) and director of governmental affairs for Planned Parenthood of the Atlanta Area. She has also been a lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh, Georgia State University and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Non-Violent Social Change, as well as the president of her own consulting firm, a political strategist and a campaign consultant.
Abstract of the full interview
Kurtz describes her childhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as being heavily influenced by her parents' commitment to their Jewish community. She recounts her experiences at Brandeis University where she became involved in campus politics: A participant in the ant-war movement, she was photographed in Life Magazine protesting the Vietnam War. After graduating from Brandeis in 1969, Kurtz went on to pursue her MA at the University of Pittsburgh in women's studies and literature. It was there, she says, that she worked at the Moratorium against the War in Vietnam and also at the student health center, where she often helped to connect women who needed abortions with doctors. According to Kurtz, the events that led her to become involved in the women's movement were threefold -- consciousness raising groups that linked the community with intellectual interest, reproductive freedom for women, and equal pay. In 1978, after moving to Atlanta, Kurtz recalls being encouraged by Joyce Parker to become involved in the ERA Georgia campaign. Not long after, she became a founding member of the Georgia Women's Political Caucus. She discusses the conflict over how to proceed with the ERA -- whether groups should take a radical approach or project a non-confrontational, mainstream approach. Kurtz says that she saw herself as being able to help the ERA campaign by defusing misinformation about the amendment, and by presenting the amendment as a non-threatening piece of legislation. She describes her state-wide efforts to educate women on lobbying strategies, and to raise money. She also describes her work on the national level, as the Georgia Chair of the Women's Political Caucus. Kurtz vividly recalls the day of the vote for the Equal Rights Amendment in 1982, and explains how, even though it was a devastating defeat, there was a need to keep the momentum of the movement alive, and to focus on other important pieces of legislation that would protect the lives and legal status of women. In 1983, Kurtz ran for Vice-Chair of the National Women's Political Caucus: She served from 1983-1985. She describes how, during this time she traveled around the country teaching women how to organize, run for office, raise money and organize their communities. In 1985, Kurtz ran for the chair of the National Women's Political Caucus and although she lost the race, as she explains, it was a wonderful experience to be able to manifest her vision for the women's movement through politics. After receiving a grant from the Kellog Foundation, Kurtz says that she was challenged to move beyond the political sphere and begin to find ways to create an "interconnected global community based on mutually interdependent economic, ecological and spiritual values" -- the focus of her three year grant at the Foundation. She describes her opportunities to travel and create connections and communities of women around the world. Looking back at the movement, Kurtz disagrees with people who think the women's movement did not accomplish its goals. She says, "Now, I recognize and realize that the barriers to real equality are within each individual person and that the only way we can truly change is from the inside out."
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