One hundred years ago, a journalist was born. A feminist was born. A woman who made a difference in Texas and national politics was born. A proud graduate of the School of Journalism and Media was born.
Liz Carpenter was all those things, and more. She was born in Salado, Texas, on Sept. 1, 1920, a fifth-generation generation Texan who counted among her forebears a Texas Declaration of Independence writer and another who died at the Alamo (after her death at age 89 in 2010, her New York Times obituary got a couple of details wrong).
As her daughter, Christy Carpenter, recently told the Austin American-Statesman: “The fact that my mother was born just five days after the ratification of the 19th Amendment has always struck me as no coincidence. Feminism was in her DNA, and sisterhood came naturally. Beginning from my childhood, she would tell me with great pride that we descend from women of grit — smart, educated and gutsy women — who supported the 19th Amendment in a variety of ways.”
After Carpenter earned her journalism degree, according to a positive Washington Post review of her 1987 book, “Getting Better All The Time,” her first assignment as an American-Statesman reporter “was to interview Texas's Democratic National Committeewoman in her room in the Driskill Hotel. ‘I had never been in a hotel in my life," writes Liz, ‘or even walked through the lobby without my father. You didn't want to be seen there in those days; hotels had a negative connotation.’ She found the committeewoman smoking and drinking. It was the first time Liz had ever seen a woman smoke, except in the movies, ‘and I had never been around people who drank, not even eggnog at Christmas.’ But there would be many more smoke-filled rooms and they would supply ‘some of the best times of my life,’ she tells us, but unfortunately without elaboration.”