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The Non-Violent Movement

October 15, 2010 in 1960s-1970s, Oral history, Social history

From Greensboro, North Carolina to Lexington, Kentucky, 1960 marked the beginning of the non-violent civil rights movement. Although there had been other sit-ins before 1960, Greensboro sparked a nationwide trend, which began to change the country from one town to another. Our own Lexington was one of these towns, which took notice and began developing its own plan of action.

At the head of Lexington’s nonviolent movement was Audrey Grevious, a teacher and the President of the Lexington chapter of the NAACP at this time. Grevious, an amazing professional and community leader, worked with the Lexington members of CORE to decide which places to sit in first. They finally decided their first task would be to get more jobs for African Americans in the community. Not only would this bring the obvious, jobs, but would also boost the self-esteem of the African Americans in the community.

First, they picketed at the local grocery; they marched for blacks to be hired as cashiers. In the ‘60’s groceries were all white owned, and the white owners would only hire blacks as maintenance help. Their next task was to take on downtown, still trying to get blacks as cashiers in the local businesses. They marched on Main St. in front of businesses like, Purcell’s and Mitch Bakers. In listening to Ms. Grevious’ interview, I found it very interesting that Grave’s Cox was the only downtown business, which supported the movement. Unlike the two businesses above, Grave’s Cox is still in business today.

After the Lexington NAACP had succeeded in their mission to get some salespeople and cashiers in grocery stores and downtown businesses, they took on the lunch counters. This proved to be the most difficult. The actions of these narrow minded people, in something as simple as eating in the same place as someone else, were simply barbaric. Those involved in the non-violent movement were successful in not only getting the jobs and rights blacks deserved, but also in rising above the inhumanity of it all.

Much of my research came from the oral history the Kentucky Historical Society  did with Audrey Grevious’.  http://205.204.134.47/civil_rights_mvt/util.aspx?p=1&pid=14984

1 response to The Non-Violent Movement

  1. I’m so glad you emphasized this part of the wonderful interviews that Audrey Grevious gave – yes, Graves Cox was indeed one of the first and few stores on Main Street that moved toward equal treatment for African-American employees and customers in the early 1960s. You should look at the oral histories that Joe Graves gave (one is in the KY Historical Society’s database – http://205.204.134.47/civil_rights_mvt/util.aspx?p=1&pid=15136) on why he chose to do this – he and several other members of the downtown churches with predominately white congregations, e.g., the Episcopaleans at Christ Church Cathedral (esp., Rev. Robert Estill) were critical in getting local dialogues happening. Mr. Graves went on to serve as a reformer in politics also – see his bio posted when he was elected to the KY Commission on Human Rights’ Hall of Fame in 2003 – http://kchr.ky.gov/hof/halloffame2003.htm?&pageOrder=0&selectedPic=4

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