Louisville, Kentucky: Social Segregation

February 3, 2013 in 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, Social history

Image of Freedom on the Border, including Kentucky Oral Histories

Freedom on the Border, including Kentucky Oral Histories

Without a doubt, segregation plagued Kentucky in the mid twentieth century, in cities and rural areas.  In the urban areas, however, segregation infiltrated all public forums and created immense segmentation of communities. In areas such as Louisville, segregation not only limited education and workplaces, but also leisure activities and social environments. In the book Freedom on the Border, an oral history from Eleanor Jordan of Louisville discusses segregation in a local amusement park. She recalls, “We would always ask the same question: “Can we go?” My mother and father would almost simultaneously say, “No, you can’t go.” We’d kind of sit there and then as we passed it, we’d say, “Well, why can’t we go?” That’s when there was just this deafening silence in the car.” (Life under Segregation, 17) This conversation was undoubtedly shared among many African American families in the area whose children experienced similar societal limitations. The children of this era, however, would grow up to live in a society that would not see public equality for quite some time.

Photo of Anne Braden, ALCU

Anne Braden, ALCU

In a similar mode, housing communities were segregated, especially in urban areas such as Louisville, where neighborhoods were in close range of one another. A home should be a beacon of safety, regardless of the location, yet many African American families were forced from their homes and from all-white neighborhoods. Anne and Carl Braden of Louisville attempted to eliminate the housing segregation of the area by purchasing a home in an all-white neighborhood for an African American family to live in. This house was soon bombed, threatening the safety of the family, and placing the blame on Carl Braden for his attempt at integration. At his trial, he was defended by a member of the ALCU, the American Civil Liberties Union, and his conviction was eventually overturned, making headway for the integration of the community and membership in the ALCU. These gains were small, but notable, and were important steps toward equality in Kentucky’s urban areas.

 

 

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Wikipedia contributors. “Anne Braden.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 23 Jan. 2013. Web. 4 Feb. 2013.

Wikipedia contributors. “American Civil Liberties Union.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 27 Jan. 2013. Web. 4 Feb. 2013.

Wikipedia contributors. “History of Louisville, Kentucky.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 30 Jan. 2013. Web. 4 Feb. 2013.

“KET | Living the Story | The Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky.” Glossary, Anne and Carl Braden. Web. 3 February 2013. http://www.ket.org/civilrights/glossary/popup_bradens.htm

3 responses to Louisville, Kentucky: Social Segregation

  1. I think that you did an excellent job in this blog post. I especially like how you used the excerpt from “Freedom on the Border” about the amusement park. I think that this story and the way that you connected it to the points you were making in the blog post is really really fascinating. It allows for everyone to truly see how segregated our community was. Excellent job!

  2. Your commentary on the home being a safe haven is really great because it really puts in perspective how even the home is threatened when segregation is allowed to affect neighborhoods and the children within them.

  3. I found the part about Anne Braden very interesting. That bit of information really strengthened your argument.

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