2007 Honorees

Brownie Williams LedbetterBrownie Williams Ledbetter
(1932)

Political Activist

In Brownie Ledbetter’s life, we see a lifetime of dedication to making the world a better place.  Her impact on a fair education for all is indelible.

In response to the racial crisis in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957, Brownie worked across racial lines to elect school board members one of the founding members of the Panel of American Women in Arkansas, in 1963. The Panel was composed of women of different ethnic and religious backgrounds, mothers of public school students who spoke to school, church and civic groups about their experiences and their commitment to diversity. In 1981 the Panel of American Women evolved into the Arkansas Public Policy Panel that organized and assisted grassroots groups, eventually founding the Arkansas Citizens Congress and Brownie Ledbetter served as founder and executive director for 20 years. Ledbetter founded the Arkansas Fairness Council, a coalition of education, labor, civil rights and women’s organizations advocating for fair taxes in 1983 and served as president and lobbyist of the Council for 15 years.

Ledbetter has been involved in many other organizations, including Arkansas Career Resources, Inc. for welfare recipients (founder and executive director); the Southern Coalition for Educational Equity (state director); the ERA/Arkansas Coalition (organizing member); the State Federation of Business and Professional women (legislative director); the State Central Democratic Committee; the National congress of Neighborhood Women and the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (co-founder with Bella Abzug). She is also an elder in the Presbyterian Church.

Brownie Ledbetter has served as organizer and political consultant in campaigns from school board elections to Presidential campaigns. She was campaign manager for her husband, Cal, in his successful bid for the Arkansas State Legislature. She was a delegate to the National Democratic Convention in 1968 and 1972 and managed the McGovern Campaign for the state of Arkansas.

Ledbetter's résumé includes a seat on President Carter's National Commission on Women, executive board member of the Women's Environmental Development Organization that lobbies the United Nation on women's issues, organizer of the first Planned Parenthood Affiliate and clinic in Arkansas.  Ledbetter led the campaign to defeat the first ballot effort to prohibit abortion rights for women.

Internationally, Ledbetter has worked in three non- governmental organizations: Grassroots Organizations Operating Together in Sisterhood, WEDO, and US Women Connect.  She is a recipient of numerous awards including the National Education Association's Mary Hatwood Futrell award for Human Rights. Ledbetter currently serves on the boards of the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas and the Center for the Advancement of Women in New York. She and Dr. Cal Ledbetter raised three children and now have 5 grandchildren.