Dr. Ellen Gaddy, granddaughter of NC’s famously reactionary U.S. Senator, the late Jesse Helms
If you’re an American of a certain age, you undoubtedly remember Jesse Helms. Helms was a North Carolina U.S. Senator from 1973 to 2003 – a period in which he was widely recognized as America’s best known and most outspoken arch-conservative politician. On a long and sobering list of issues – race, reproductive freedom, equality for women and LGBTQ people, and dozens of others – Helms was consistently reactionary, outspoken, provocative, and uncompromising.
Interestingly, as has often been the case with reactionary historical figures, some of Helms’ descendants have gone on to chart a very different path, and one enormously impressive example of this is his granddaughter, Dr. Ellen Gaddy. Gaddy spent some of her childhood years aiding her grandfather’s Senate campaigns and has some fond personal memories of him, but as an adult she’s dedicated herself to exposing and ending his legacy – especially when it comes to a federal law that still bears his name. And recently, Gaddy was kind enough to join NC Newsline for a special extended conversation. In Part One of our talk, we discussed her journey and how it coincides with that of so many other individuals who’ve sought to escape cycles of family trauma.
In Part Two of our conversation, we delved into the details of her present-day work – including, in particular, her efforts to secure repeal of the Helms Amendment – a federal law that greatly restricts access to reproductive healthcare for women in nations that receive U.S. government aid.