Kennedy Foundation honored NC delegate for standing up to GOP

Posted September 5, 2012
Updated September 6, 2012

— One of the North Carolina delegates who nominated President Barack Obama on Wednesday night at the Democratic National Convention for re-election was in a very different position when Obama was nominated for his first term four years ago.

Elizabeth Redenbaugh was elected to the New Hanover County Board of Education in 2008 as a Republican. The attorney and mother of three had campaigned on a platform of diversity in Wilmington's schools, but once in office, her Republican colleagues pushed for a neighborhood schools system at the expense of diversity.

When Redenbaugh refused to go along with it, she was yelled at, threatened by angry parents and ridiculed by her own party. The local newspaper published an editorial using her own words, and her world exploded.

"I had stood up to racial segregation in our schools, and I made a lot of people angry," she said. "I got to see the underbelly of our local Republican Party."

In the end, she voted with the Democrats on the school board.

"It was awful, really," she said. "I thought, 'Oh my gosh, if you have segregated schools, there is no dignity, no value and no respect whatsoever. That was a big push for me."

Wilmington delegate turns from GOP, gets Kennedy award Wilmington delegate turns from GOP, gets Kennedy award

After voting with Democrats, Redenbaugh became one. She had been a Republican for 26 years before that.

Then, a Democrat with a famous name gave her a call one afternoon.

"She said, 'Hey, Elizabeth. It's Caroline Kennedy," Redenbaugh said.

Kennedy called to tell Redenbaugh she had won a 2011 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. The Kennedy Foundation had selected her not because of the party switch but for her courage to stand against the tide, absorb the hate and vitriol that came her way and keep turning the other cheek.

"I got off the phone and went to YouTube and pulled up an interview with Caroline Kennedy to make sure the voice I heard was the same voice as on the phone," she said.

It took a call to her best friend before she realized it wasn't a hoax.

"I'm telling her about it, and she said, 'I'd really think you were making this up except for the fact that you're so nervous I can hear your earring hitting the phone," she said with a laugh.

Redenbaugh shared the Boston stage at the awards ceremony with Wael Ghorim, the young Egyptian who, through social media, started what led to the revolution last year that ousted that country's president, Hosni Mubarak.

Caroline Kennedy praised Redenbaugh with a quote from her late father: "One person of courage makes a majority."

"It still hasn't (sunk in)," Redenbaugh said of all the changes she's been through. "It really hasn't."


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • solarcableguy Sep 6, 2012


    Those former Democrats stampeded towards the GOP party in the 60's and 70's.

    Wolves in Sheep's clothing perhaps?

    Bottom line is the sentiment. Currently, the Democratic party is pro-diversity and the GOP party is pretty lame on that account being over 90% white.

    That is as racist a statement as I have read on these boards. What I have seen is democrats going after people of diversity including attacking Romney because he is Mormon. You and your cohorts should be ashamed of yourselves with your class warfare shtickt too!

  • solarcableguy Sep 6, 2012

    She is a joke! I can not believe that she said that she stood up against racial segregation! What a lie! She will not be re-elected.

  • jdupree Sep 6, 2012

    Democrats had to look pretty far down the list to find a traitor to the GOP. She will not be re elected!

  • batcave Sep 6, 2012

    So it just dawned on this lady that Republicans are in favor of neighborhood schools? Not real bright , no wonder she switched parties, given her lack of intuitiveness it should be a good fit. The Kennedys , live one way , talk another. So neighborhood schools lead to segregation, so that means neighborhoods are segregated , what do you know about that, bet she lives in a all white neighborhood just like the kennedys.

  • MakoII Sep 6, 2012


    Those former Democrats stampeded towards the GOP party in the 60's and 70's.

    Wolves in Sheep's clothing perhaps?

    Bottom line is the sentiment. Currently, the Democratic party is pro-diversity and the GOP party is pretty lame on that account being over 90% white.

  • must b crazy Sep 6, 2012

    Did anyone else notice that she was a brunette as a republican, but became a blonde when she switched to a democrat? Probably just a coincidence, but...just sayin...

  • ao2perry Sep 6, 2012

    She is nothing but a sale out and betrayer. Just like the turncoat Arlen Specter, who changed parties (Dem to GOP back to Dem)as the political landscape changed, she serves herself at the expense of the people that foolishly believed her lies.

  • kodac31 Sep 6, 2012

    She's nothing more than a carpetbagging turncoat!

  • Ashen-Shugar Sep 6, 2012

    "And THAT is why Republicans will once again lose the White House this November. We don't need a country ruled by fear, ignorance, homophobia, racism and misogyny, which is all the Republicans know."-----monca

    Funny, it is the democrats that have killed more black people then any political party in history. Such gullible sheep, to believe that the party that has held you down for so long we be the deliverer of your hopes and dreams. Talk about mindless robots.

  • MakoII Sep 6, 2012

    That happened in Wake County, only it was because they ignored her as a woman.

    Where is HER award?

    I'm not against diversity, but education is about LEARNING, not counting skin color. If ENLOE is "divirse" then why do they have a building with mostly African Americans taking sub-AP, sub-Honors classes?

    Guess what? The OLD system has SEGREGATION too. Show me where integrated school busing in the last 15 years has closed the learning gap and I'll be for it.