Virginia Changemakers
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Mary Aydelotte Rice Marshall (1921 - 1992)







Mary A. Marshall (June 14, 1921–October 15, 1992) represented Arlington County in the House of Delegates from 1966 to 1969 and again from 1972 until 1991. After studying political science at Swarthmore College, from which she graduated with honors, she worked for the U.S. Department of Justice during World War II. The mother of three daughters, Marshall got involved in politics during the 1950s to keep Arlington's public schools open when the state's policy of Massive Resistance threatened to close schools that obeyed federal court orders to desegregate. She sponsored voter registration drives and was the first woman elected chair of the county's Democratic Committee before winning election to the General Assembly.

Marshall was a strong supporter of public education, health care, help for the mentally ill, and issues relating to children and the environment. During the 1970s she was a leader in the unsuccessful attempt to have the General Assembly ratify the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Smart and funny, Marshall was a skilled legislator and served on some of the most important House committees, including Privileges and Elections. For her last six years in the assembly she was chair of the Committee on Counties, Cities, and Towns, which was of critical interest to her Northern Virginia constituents, and during her last term she was also a member of the influential House Committee on Appropriations. Considered one of Northern Virginia's most effective delegates and sometimes spoken of as the likely first female Speaker of the House, Marshall retired from politics in 1991.

2018 Virginia Women in History honoree, Library of Virginia.

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Image Courtesy of the Library of Virginia.