November 16, 1983.
On this day, Virginia Dill McCarty, Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis graduate of 1950, announced her candidacy for the Democratic Party nomination for governor of Indiana. At her announcement, she told assembled reporters that her platform could be summarized in four words: "equal justice under law."
McCarty was a prominent figure in Indiana law and politics by 1983. A Plainfield native and former student at Indiana University-Bloomington, she entered the School of Law in Indianapolis under a program in which she took her senior-year classes at the same time she was a law student. She obtained the B.A. degree after her first year of legal studies, and went on to graduate first in her law-school class. She was editor of the law review to boot. Today the IU School of Law-Indianapolis is the IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law.
McCarty held various firsts. She was the first woman nominated by a major political party to run for Marion County judge in 1966. She was the first woman nominated to run for Indiana attorney general in 1976. In 1977 President Jimmy Carter appointed her to be the first woman to serve as U.S. attorney for the southern district of Indiana for the full four-year term. She served until 1981.
McCarty eventually lost the Democratic nomination in 1984 to Wayne Townsend, who lost to incumbent Governor Robert D. Orr. A supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, she died in 2006 after a lifetime of important service. Being first allowed many women to follow after her.
To learn more about important women leaders, please contact IUPUI Special Collections and Archives firstname.lastname@example.org.