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Fair Housing Proclamation Trip

April 11, 2013 in Economic history, Primary source, Social history

John Johnson speaking about the fair housing proclamation

John Johnson speaking about the fair housing proclamation; photo from @rhollingsworth twitter feed

Honestly, I wasn’t entirely sure about what to expect in our trip to Frankfort, but I think overall it was an enjoyable trip and a great way to see what we are studying come to life within the rotunda of the capital.

When we first talked to the Commissioner of Kentucky Women, we got a really good glimpse of what the struggle was in Kentucky for powerful women in Kentucky and how it was not uncommon for these amazing women to be overlooked simply because they were women.

dolls of first ladies of Kentucky

First Ladies In Miniature

The exhibit of the portraits of the women and even with the dolls of the women are wonderful tribute to their impact, but even the commissioner called for more; more portraits, statues, and recognition.

The proclamation of the 45th anniversary of the fair housing act was also a powerful thing to witness because we were able to see the level of pride that both blacks and whites who have grown up in the fair housing association in Kentucky had for the progress that has been made here in Kentucky. It was also amazing to hear the references of the powerful women that influenced the movement, like Georgia Davis Powers and Mae Street Kidd, completely unprompted. It really made history come alive for me. It also increased my awareness of the impact that woman made in the lives of future generations. Although we saw that these women were constantly under-appreciated, their impact on Kentucky today is entirely clear.

New Wikipedia Articles on Kentucky Women’s History

April 9, 2013 in Oral history, Political history, Religious history, Social history

With congratulations to the terrific UK Honors Program students who wrote them, I list the newest Wikipedia articles on Kentucky women’s history below:

I Shared The Dream: Georgia Davis Powers & Others

March 31, 2013 in 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, 1960s-1970s, Intellectual history, Oral history, Political history, Social history

After reading Georgia Davis Powers’ autobiography, I Shared the Dream: The Pride, Passion, and Politics of the First Black Woman Senator from Kentucky, my group led a book discussion on the most important themes and events addressed in the book. Most prominently, my group agreed that Georgia Davis Powers sought to portray herself as a real woman, someone who faces adversity and obstacles and makes conscious choices regarding her life which may not be seen in the public eye. In the book, Powers addresses her life and achievements but also her personal reflections on situations and relationships that had not been published until this book was written. My class has studied numerous influential women in Kentucky during the Civil Rights Movement and was able to draw important similarities between Senator Powers and other major figures.

The charts below represent a comparison of Georgia Davis Powers, Mae Street Kidd, and one other prominent figure of the student’s choosing. These diagrams intend to show relationships among the female leaders of the Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky as well as highlight key differences in their tactics and methodology.

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Finding Audrey

March 26, 2013 in 1950s-1960s, Social history

When you mention the name “Audrey Grevious”, it will most certainly ring a bell among activists and Lexington civil rights advocates alike. While it is a taxing struggle to find many pictures of Grevious, there is much information on her efforts in local schools and protests during her younger years.

Grevious was quite active in Lexington, participating in various protests and sit-ins, while being involved with the local NAACP and CORE chapters. She eventually became the president of the Lexington NAACP and worked as a teacher before becoming the principal at the Kentucky Village Reformatory School (now called the Blackburn Correctional Complex) and Maxwell Elementary School. Grevious’s time at the Kentucky Village allowed her to bring about desegregation in the lunch rooms, a landmark moment that nearly echoes a sit-in at a local restaurant in which Grevious continued to persevere while the owner repeatedly swung a chain at her leg.

Indeed, Grevious was one of the pivotal leaders during the civil rights era in Lexington, KY, but it is difficult to find pictures from her active years. Grevious is still alive, but much weaker and ill, making it more challenging to get in touch with her. In attempting to find more information, granestrella and I are looking at the transcripts for a couple oral histories. I am also working on getting in contact with Eastern Kentucky University, Kentucky State University, and possibly Dunbar High School (though the existing one is not exactly the same as the one previously attended by Grevious). If we succeed in our quest, we may be able to bring more insight into the life of a dynamic woman underrepresented in the playing field of civil rights.

Sources

“KET | Living the Story | The Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky.” Glossary, Audrey Grevious. Web. 25 Mar. 2013.

“National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 02 Jan. 2013. Web. 25 Mar. 2013.

“Audrey Grevious.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 02 Jan. 2013. Web. 25 Mar. 2013.

Fosl, Catherine, and Tracy Elaine. K’Meyer. Freedom on the Border: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky, 2009. Print.

Suzy Post Research

March 25, 2013 in 1950s-1960s, 1960s-1970s, Oral history, Primary source, Social history

Suzy Post is an activist, who has worked tirelessly her entire life to gain equal rights for all people. A few of the many causes that she has devoted her life to are opening housing, desegregating schools based on both race and gender, and fighting against the Vietnam War. Each of these causes has greatly impacted Post and pushed her to fight for equal rights for all. All of these organizations and campaigns have several different resources that have helped to gain a greater knowledge and understanding of what Post’s involvement in each of these organizations. However, one resource that combines all of these resources and many more into one is an oral history interview by Sarah Thuesen for the Southern Oral History Program Collection. This oral history puts all of Post’s

Picture of Suzy Post

Suzy Post

achievements and activities into one place that allows for great research to be done on Post’s life.

This oral history is extremely useful first of all because Post talks about all that she has done in her life. This allows for overviews on each organization and cause that she was a part of. She goes through what she did for each of the organizations and the positions that she held. This shows a step by step process of the movements that she was a part of throughout her life. By using this oral history interview, a lot can be seen about her life. Not only are the actual steps that she took shown but the importance of each of these steps is also shown.

By listening to or reading through the transcript of this interview, a lot can be gained about what Post saw to be the most important causes she was involved in during her life. The interview is Post talking, which is extremely important. This lets her stress certain topics by talking about them more and in more detail as well as talking about what she wants to talk about. A lot of the questions that are asked during this interview are open-ended which permit Post to talk about what she feels is of greater significance. This shows what Post was truly passionate about and which jobs and causes she dedicated more time and energy into. This also demonstrates which ones she enjoyed working for.

Post isn’t afraid to let her voice be heard. She says what she wants and how she feels about certain people and topics, which is extremely useful. This illustrates a greater understanding of who Post is and what she enjoys, dislikes, infuriates her, pleases her, and what she thinks should and need to be changed. This, among the other things that were expressed above about the usefulness of this interview, add up to this interview being the most useful resource that I have found so far on Suzy Post’s life, accomplishments, and causes that she has been a part of. This interview is one of the best research materials that I have found that incorporates Posts past and present actions, her feelings on what she has done, and how she believes society has and should change to better benefit equality in all areas.

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“Hall of Fame 2007 – Suzy Post.” Kentucky: Kentucky Commission on Human Rights. http://kchr.ky.gov/hof/halloffame2007.htm?&pageOrder=0&selectedPic=10. 25 March 2013.

“Suzy Post.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 24 Feb. 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzy_Post. Accessed 25 March 2013.

“Interview with Suzanne Post, June 23, 2006.” Interview by Sarah Thuesen. Documenting the American South: Oral Histories of the American South. http://docsouth.unc.edu/sohp/playback.html?base_file=U-0178. 25 March 2013.

Audrey Grevious: A Project of Obstacles

March 24, 2013 in 1920s-30s, 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, Political history, Social history

Photo of Audrey Grevious

Audrey Grevious

Without question, our project on Audrey Grevious has presented numerous challenges in obtaining information about this woman’s life and work.  According to Belinda Robnett’s classifications of women leaders in the civil rights movement (see her book How Long? How Long?, I believe Audrey Grevious falls in between the categories of Professional and Community bridge leaders. Grevious, though an extremely successful woman in her endeavors in the local civil rights movement, worked largely out of the public eye and utilized her community resources well in order to accomplish her goals, thus making much information about her specific work unavailable.In regard to internet searches of Audrey Grevious, many web pages have yielded the same information.

We are certain of her attendance at segregated schools (Dunbar, a city high school in Lexington, Eastern Kentucky University and Kentucky State University), involvement with the NAACP and CORE organizations within Lexington and her work at Kentucky Village Reform School. These facts are crucial to creating the framework of her life and accomplishments; although, we feel we owe more to the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame than what is already in existence.  In an effort to learn more about Grevious’ specific involvement within these organizations, we have reached out to all of the local chapters of the organizations listed about with little luck. We have been referred to her church in Lexington, in which she was an active member, but have not yet received a response.

CORE logo

CORE logo

The Louie B Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky has been helpful in releasing the transcripts of two of her oral history interviews. From these documents, we can hear Grevious’ voice and understand her personal motivation for participating in the local civil rights movement. The oral histories have thus far been our most important source of information regarding Grevious’ life deserving of publication in the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame.

Flamenco dancer clappingFlamencoclap and I would like to find pictures of Grevious from this time period as well, if at all possible, to build the context of her work. After searching through archived documents in the Special Collections at the King Library, we have gathered a few articles that feature information on Dunbar High School but nothing directly pertaining to Grevious’ attendance.  Alexis is in contact with EKU and Kentucky State University to obtain any information that has been saved regarding Grevious in the schools’ archives.

Selection in the Louie B Nunn Center for Oral History

Without a doubt, Grevious’ work is deserving of publication but it has been extremely difficult to locate details that delve beyond her surface involvement in the local civil rights movement. Because Grevious is elderly and loved dearly by many members of the community, many are trying to protect her from being bothered or any negativity that could arise regarding her work. This complication has proved very challenging but Flamencoclap and I will continue to persevere in search of photographs and other details to elevate Audrey Grevious’ life and work.

Scientific Racism, Germ Theory and Segregation – A Woman’s Story

March 10, 2013 in 1920s-30s, 1940s-1950s, Social history

Segregation blossomed in the U.S. not just from a rigid adherence to codes of behaviors but also from so-called scientific findings based on race. In the early twentieth century, new disciplines of the social sciences (such as anthropology) and the sciences (such as new research in evolutionary biology, racially based pathology and genetics) promoted scientific racism. Public intellectuals, politicians and educators began attributing “race” or “culture” to the reasons for the disparities between the health of people of color and whites. By blaming the victims of injustices such as disproportionate access to healthcare and proper nutrition, leaders could avoid addressing the difficult, systematic social inequalities of their times.

Scientists, bolstered by scientific racism, undertook unethical studies that would never have been allowed with white subjects. While many emphasize the horrors of Nazi-supported science, white supremacists in the U.S. conducted their research and published their findings with impunity. While working as the Assistant Secretary of Labor, Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote a controversial report in 1965 (The Negro Family: The Case for National Action) using sociological methods to define a “pathology” inherent to families of African-Americans — that black mothers caused their own poverty and destroyed their own progress toward economic and political equality. Another federally supported study took place at the Tuskegee Institute, where black men (many were sharecroppers without formal education) infected with syphilis were followed in a 40 year study, 1932-1972. Even after penicillin had been found to treat syphilis and ethical standards had been created for medical research, researchers in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study continued to deny those infected with syphilis any medical advice or treatment. In all areas of the U.S., public health policy followed racist interpretations of heredity by promoting involuntary sterilization and abortion to address black women’s ill health.

The Maid NarrativesGerm theory influenced by scientific racism came to influence public policy for segregated water fountains, bathrooms even public transportation waiting rooms. Casual contact between the races could, in this racist interpretation of germ theories, transmit the illnesses from blacks to whites. In the clip below (from the BackStory episode “Rinse and Repeat,” broadcast in February 2013), Charletta Sudduth –co-author of The Maid Narratives — talks about the contradictory ways cleanliness was understood. A black woman worker was not allowed to use the same wash basin as her white employer, even if she was about to prepare his meal.

**** Additional Resources ****

Semmes, Clovis E. Racism, Health, and Post-Industrialism: A Theory of African-American Health (Greenwood Publishing Group, 1996).

Solinger, Rickie. Wake Up Little Susie: Single Pregnancy and Race before Roe v. Wade (Psychology Press, 2000).

Washington, Harriet A. Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present (Random House, 2006).

Women’s Influence in Post-WWII Civil Rights Movement

March 4, 2013 in 1940s-1950s, Oral history, Political history, Social history

“Women polish the silver and water the plants and wait to be really needed.”

~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960

While this quote seems a little extreme, I think it is fitting for the discussion of women as a part of the Civil Rights Movement following World War II. During this time period, women stepped up as leaders in their communities – they became the heads of NAACP chapters in their towns, they spearheaded protests such as sit-ins, and were great advocates for educational reform. Women who had previously been counted on solely in their own homes were now of great use to the general community.

Anne Braden

Women such as Anne Braden, an active Civil Rights Leader for many years throughout Kentucky, were critical to the many developments in racial relations that occurred throughout the United States following World War II.

Another such woman was Mae Street Kidd, who stepped up as a legislator, leader, and role model for women everywhere. Helen Fisher Frye‘s story of influence was included in Chapter 3 of Freedom on the Border.  Her oral history details her influence as the President of the NAACP in Danville, Kentucky.

Another area in which women demonstrated their abilities following World War II was in organizing protests. The 1964 March on Frankfort was attended by many notable Kentucky women, including two who give Oral History accounts detailed on page 112-113 of Freedom on the Border.

In addition, many student led organizations were spearheaded by women following World War II. Several of the Oral Histories in chapter 3 of Freedom on the Border are accounts by female students, such as Helen Fisher Frye and Anna Beason speak on their influence and participation in protests and organizations for Civil Rights.

All in all, the Civil Rights movement was greatly affected by a great number of women in a variety of ways. They led campaigns, held offices, led NAACP chapters and other local organizations, organized protests, influenced students, participated in national marches, and changed the face of the Civil Rights movement. Without the influence and determination of women such as these, the Civil Rights Movement would not have been as successful as it was, and our nation would not be where it is today.

“Women really do rule the world.  They just haven’t figured it out yet.  When they do, and they will, we’re all in big big trouble.”  ~Unknown

Resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Braden

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mae_Street_Kidd

http://books.google.com/books?id=kBN_GwAACAAJ&dq=Mignon+McLaughlin&hl=en&sa=X&ei=OgU2UZPJNqfh0QGvuYD4DQ&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAA

http://www.uky.edu/Libraries/NKAA/record.php?note_id=764

http://books.google.com/books/about/Freedom_on_the_Border.html?id=bnj0JHhoZ4oC

http://media.concreteloop.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/braden1.gif

http://owl.library.louisville.edu/2005/Owl0205.pdf

http://www.quoteidea.com/authors/doctor-leon-of-drleonscom-quotes

“Quiet” Determination

March 4, 2013 in 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, 1960s-1970s, Political history, Social history

In the years after World War II, protests began to invade society with calls for change among the African-American community. Peaceful demonstrations were common after being inspired by Gandhi’s pacifism in India. Sit-ins by young people became widespread among members of the NAACP and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), in hopes of stirring change in the hearts of Kentucky legislators.

Most of the prominent activity of the 1940s and 50s were in the larger cities of Lexington and Louisville. Often times, demonstrations would be in front of or inside stores or restaurants refusing to cater to African-Americans. One such demonstration involved Audrey Grevious, a former president of the NAACP and member of the Lexington chapter of CORE. She and a group of NAACP and CORE members decided to have a sit-in at a restaurant. They had been sitting at the lunch counter for some days, when one day, the manager decided to chain off the area. While sitting on a stool, he swung the chain at Grevious’s leg. To keep herself from trying to “wring his neck”, Grevious began to sing, not realizing how much damage the man would be doing to her leg in years to come.

CORE members in protest

CORE members in protest

Youth and others working in menial jobs performed a lot of the protests. In fact, young people comprised most of the members in the NAACP and CORE. According to Mary Jones of Lexington, if “it had not been for the children, young people in this town, CORE would not have survived.” Often times, women workers would recruit their students to join them in protests. Helen Fisher Frye—who was president of the Danville NAACP and worked with youth at her church—would meet her students after school to have sit-ins at the local drugstores.

Interestingly, smaller towns outside of city life handled segregation a little differently. In an account by Anna Beason, she describes how she and her friends had engaged in a sit-in unknowingly. They had gone in to a drugstore for sodas and were waiting for a long time, until the waitress finally served them. It was as if these smaller towns did not know how to handle segregation. Another instance was when George Esters and a group of his friends went to the white teen center to dance in Bowling Green. The next year, a teen center was built for African-American teens.

Out of all the women in this chapter of Freedom on the Border, Helen Fisher Frye seemed to be the most striking. Living in Danville, race relations were not severe, but she had a few white friends through church. Because of her Christian philosophy, Frye felt it important to have a place in politics, specifically through organizations such as the NAACP. In fact, Frye re-organized the Danville chapter of the NAACP and even worked to integrate public housing. Like Mae Street Kidd, she was a fearless woman who was not afraid to voice her opinions. Kidd would demand what she wanted and stand firm in her beliefs, as seen in the time when she was working for the Red Cross and did not want to travel to a humid location. In the same way, Frye threatened to drive away when the gas attendant left her to attend to a white customer. Through the leadership of these two women, much was accomplished for the advancement of African-Americans by making known their societal inequalities.

Sources

“Audrey Grevious.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation.17 Feb. 2013. Web. 04. Mar. 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audrey_Grevious

“Congress of Racial Equality.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 27. Feb. 2013. Web. 04 Mar. 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congress_of_Racial_Equality

Fosl, Catherine, and Tracy Elaine. K’Meyer. Freedom on the Border: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky, 2009. Print.

Jones, Reinette. “Helen Fisher Frye.” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database. University of Kentucky Libraries. 4 Mar. 2013. Web. https://www.uky.edu/Libraries/NKAA/record.php?note_id=764

Kidd, Mae Street, and Wade H. Hall. Passing for Black: The Life and Careers of Mae Street Kidd. Lexington: University of Kentucky, 1997. Print.

“Mae Street Kidd.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 03 Apr. 2013. Web. 04 Mar. 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mae_Street_Kidd

“Mohandas Ghandi.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 2 Mar. 2013. Web. 04 Mar. 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohandas_Karamchand_Gandhi

“NAACP in Kentucky” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 2 Feb. 2013. Web. 04 Mar. 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NAACP_in_Kentucky

Post WWII Protests by Women

March 4, 2013 in 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, Political history, Social history

Mae Street Kidd

After WWII there was certainly a larger push for civil rights because as we were fighting for democracy and against genocide overseas, we began to more readily question our nation’s own race relations. Kentucky women that got involved in this process made huge contributions to the civil rights movement and also to the progression of this country’s views on prejudice. An example of this is opening public institutions to blacks as well as whites. An example of the injustices in an incident that was reported by Anne Braden, of Louisville, KY who witnessed two blacks who were seriously injured being dropped off outside a hospital that didn’t admit blacks and said “They let them lie there, on the waiting room floor and one of them died. There were a lot of incidents like that.” After this case and many others though, women, in this case Mary Agnes Barnett, worked to pass legislation to require public hospitals to provide emergency care to blacks. This eventually expanded to the voluntary treatment of blacks in hospitals in Kentucky.

Another example would be Mae Street Kidd, who worked in the time period, primarily in the Kentucky government as well, to provide fair housing to those in lower income brackets, which primarily encompassed blacks. Of course these are only two examples, but there are many women who also followed in these footsteps to increase equality for blacks after WWII. In both of these cases we see women who are fighting the status quo in order to build a more equal and fair community for all races. While here there was only mention of hospitals and housing, hundreds of other facilities were integrated more fully in this time. For example, theaters, restaurants and schools. Even today, with almost every public institution in Kentucky integrated, there are still pushes for more equal distribution of resources and equal opportunity.

****

“World War II.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2013. <http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii>.

“Genocide.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 03 Apr. 2013. Web. 04 Mar. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genocide>.

“Anne Braden.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 03 Apr. 2013. Web. 04 Mar. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Braden>.

“Mae Street Kidd.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 03 Apr. 2013. Web. 04 Mar. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mae_Street_Kidd>.

Fosl, Catherine, and Tracy Elaine. K’Meyer. Freedom on the Border: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky, 2009. Print.

Kidd, Mae Street, and Wade H. Hall. Passing for Black: The Life and Careers of Mae Street Kidd. Lexington: University of Kentucky, 1997. Print.

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