Paper pub. date
January 2008
ISBN 9780870711992 (paperback)
6 x 9 inches, 288 pages. B&W photographs. Index.

With Grit and By Grace

Breaking Trails in Politics and Law, A Memoir

Betty Roberts
with Gail Wells.

In the 1950s, Betty Roberts did what most of her contemporaries considered audacious and inappropriate when she returned to college as a 32-year-old wife and mother. This was only the start of Roberts' lifetime commitment to overcoming obstacles to women's equality.

With Grit and By Grace follows Betty Roberts' rise from a Depression-era childhood on the Texas plains to become a teacher, lawyer, state legislator, candidate for governor, and eventually Oregon's first woman Supreme Court Justice. In this memoir, Justice Roberts reflects on her role as a mother, wife, and political trailblazer. Her story is important to the history of women's struggles to challenge prevailing stereotypes, but it is also a deeply personal story of a life sometimes stark, sometimes humorous, often exhausting, and always brightened with friendships and family.

Justice Roberts began her career during a politically complex time — the Civil Rights Movement was in full swing, sentiment against the Vietnam War was growing, and the nascent women's movement would soon burst on the scene. During her 13 years as a legislator, she was instrumental in the passage of Oregon's first legalized right to abortion and the state's ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, as well as pathbreaking environmental and land-use legislation.

Roberts tells her engrossing story with honesty and warmth. With Grit and By Grace is about life's disappointments and promises, its rejections and rewards, and its demand for the determination and commitment that bring success. Politicians, civic leaders, feminists, and anyone interested in Oregon history will be fascinated by this recounting of events that influenced the political and social landscape of Oregon and beyond.

About the author

After her retirement from the Oregon Supreme Court in 1986, Betty Roberts began a new career in mediation and arbitration. She made international headlines in March 2004 when she performed the state's first same-sex marriage ceremonies in Multnomah County. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

Read more about this author

"Betty Roberts has captured the true nature of strong women in this compelling personal history. It evokes proud memories of bold pioneers in the women's movement, women who were elected to public office and passed the legislation necessary to give all women equality under the law. Betty Roberts, also a native Texan, didn't stop there. This memoir will inspire its readers, both women and men, to move forward together to work for equality for all members of society."

Sarah Weddington (professor, legislator, and lawyer who at age 26 successfully argued and won the landmark Supreme Court case, Roe v. Wade)

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