Rex Nelson chronicles the story of Charlotte Schexnayder, former State Representative and the former editor of the Dumas Clarion.
Schexnayder spoke recently at the Clinton School of Public Service, which sparked Nelson's look at her life.
She's 88 years old now and is near-legend in southeast Arkansas.
Schexnayder recalls her first legislative session in Little Rock in 1985:
“As a newspaper editor, I was treated with obvious wariness, a bit of suspicion and even a tinge of distrust by a few,” Charlotte writes. “With quiet dignity and hard work, I tried to overcome those attitudes. There was one huge advantage, however. No one dared to offer a shady deal; I owned a newspaper.”
Veteran state Rep. Bill Foster of Keo, who had served in the House since 1961, once told her: “I was determined to dislike you. You were a newspaper editor. But it took me only a week to change my mind.”
During her first week in the House, Rep. Geno Mazzanti of Lake Village approached Charlotte and said, “No one expects much of a freshman representative. Just sit and listen and you will be fine.”
She replied: “You obviously don’t know me very well. I am not a sideline sitter, and I always have plans.”
Nelson also outlines Schexnayder's incredible career as a journalist in a small Delta town.
Access the full essay here.