Political and civic leader Lottie Shackelford was born on April 30, 1941 in Little Rock, Arkansas to Bernice Linzy Holt and Curtis Holt, Sr. Shackelford graduated from Horace Mann High School in 1958, and later earned her B.A. degree in business administration from Philander Smith College in 1979. Shackelford also later served as a senior fellow at the Arkansas Institute of Politics and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
In 1978, Shackelford was appointed to a vacant position on the board of directors for the City of Arkansas. She was then elected in 1980, and re-elected in 1984 and 1988. In 1987, she became the first woman to serve as Mayor of Little Rock. In 1992, Shackelford worked as the deputy manager of Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign, and later served as a member of his presidential transition team. In 1993, Clinton appointed Shackelford as a U.S. Delegate to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in Vienna, Austria. In 1994, Shackelford became the executive vice president of Global USA, Incorporated, an international business facilitator. She also co-founded the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas. Beginning in 1980, Shackelford has served as a delegate to every Democratic National Convention for over thirty years. A longtime member of the Democratic National Committee, Shackelford served as co-chair of the platform committee in 1984, the rules committee in 1988, and on the resolutions committee. She also served as the Democratic National Committee vice chair from 1989 to 2009; and in 2014, she was elected to chair the Democratic National Committee’s Women’s Caucus. She also served as secretary, vice chair, and chair of the Arkansas State Democratic Committee, and was elected secretary of the National Association of State Democratic Chairs.
An active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Shackelford received numerous honors and awards from the organization, including the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Trailblazer Award in 1980, the Mary Church Terrell Award in 1998 at the National Convention, and the Delta Legacy Award at the 42nd National Convention. Shackelford was also named one of Esquire Magazine’s forty most influential African Americans in 1984. She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1993. In 2017, she received a Humanitarian Award from the Just Communities of Arkansas. Shackelford served on the board of directors of Medicis Pharmaceutical Corporation from 1993 to 2012. She also served on the board of directors of Philander Smith College, Chapman Holdings, and eChapman Incorporated.
Shackelford has three children: Russell, Karla, and Karen, and six grandchildren.
Lottie Shackelford was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 14, 2018.