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A Tale of Two Universities

October 22, 2016 in 1950s-1960s, Primary source, Social history

A tale of two universities during the civil rights era — one black, one white as told by a Kentucky woman who attended both during the same time period.

Kith of the Famous, Student-Identified Notables

Before the regular routine of classes began and immediately after we transfer students had met our roommates and settled in, small gatherings of returning student hall mates toured us through the Oval, the Fisk yearbook.  They gave us a brief run-down of just who was who on campus.  On my floor, just two doors down were Jackie Barrow, daughter of Joe Louis (Barrow) “the brown bomber,” legendary boxer who was world heavyweight champion from 1937 to 1949. She was a quiet freckled-face student who pretty much stayed to herself.  Next door was Valerie Grant, niece of the triple threat entertainer, Earl Grant, talented as a vocalist, organist, and pianist. Valerie was a petite really small, student who spent most of her time with her boyfriend, my “homeboy.” (People from the same town were referred to and greeted as “homes,” “homey,” or “homeboy,” or “home girl,” as a way of feeling less isolated.) He was really responsible for my getting interested in the social life at Fisk that I was missing at UK, having shown me his yearbook the year before I decided to transfer. Then they pointed out others on other floors such as Judith Jamison a celebrated American dancer and now Artistic Director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.  Across the driveway in the WEB Dubois male dormitory was Bobby McCans, great-grandson of WEB Dubois (who needs no description).They pointed out all of the leaders in the fraternities and sororities and whom they dated. They discussed the teachers one should avoid; especially prejudiced white ones who concurrently dualized the teaching between Fisk and Vanderbilt just down the boulevard.  They seemed to know which students were from families of means and which ones weren’t.

Miss Fisk, Majorie Patricia McCoyMiss Fisk Material

One picture of particular interest was that of Miss Fisk and her court.  In that yearbook, Miss was a statuesque, chocolate-and crème, wavy haired, very attractive young lady, but my particular tour guides mentioned that she was not Miss Fisk material.

Huh?  Well they explained that she was not light-skinned enough, and her hair was not long or straight enough. Since I had been at UK where all of the females on the various courts reflecting a degree of beauty looked like that because they were white, I thought that almost every one there would make it on a Fisk Court.  Remember the “Black is Beautiful,” “I’m proud” mentality was a year or two to come when I was at Fisk. (Note: Before that, even most black schools of all types tended to exhibit the same mentality of trying to mimic and/or appease their former oppressors in many ways. And curiously enough in many instances, if even a brown-skinned “Negro” called a darker one “black,” he or she had a fight on hand.)  Kudos to the Black Pride movement, but  still more curious was that after the realization of  that movement set in, some lighter-skinned female “Negroes” sometimes had difficulty winning black beauty contests and riding on floats because they were not black enough!  Those were the times preceding the rare finding of black dolls for little girls at Christmas, lack of any black pictures in mainstream magazines other for sports, or entertainment, etc  Definitely an era when being black was associated with all kinds of negativities, heaven forbid.

Back to the yearbook. As I looked further through the Oval of that year, what my tour guides were trying to tell me was corroborated on quite a few other pages where most of the queens and their courts were light-skinned and had straight hair.  Only a very few have escaped those stringent requirements. (Sm.) I surmised that the ones who did survive either were very, very smart, had familial status, or were very wealthy.  Some one had hinted earlier that to make it at Fisk, a female had to be rich, high-yellow or very smart.  Not meeting any of those criteria, I am not sure to this day how I fit in as well as I did, but then, again, and somehow or other, I always seemed to make long-lasting  friends in any environment. Maybe it was that I didn’t try as hard.

Kramer, Sara Jane

Sara Jane Kramer, UK – “Look Girl”

University of Kentucky’s Sara Jane Kramer

Back at my UK college home, I did not see a yearbook until my senior year as I had no home boy or girl on campus, and yearbooks, therefore, did not seem to be an issue in the all freshman dormitory in which I dwelled. And since I was not Greek with an access to one of their “houses,” I was not privy to any yearbook touring.  There, in my freshman year, the notables were discussed by name.  They were cheerleaders, basketball players, teachers, and Sara Jane Kramer.  Sara, or Miss Kramer, as some of her teachers referred to her was a wisp of a young girl whose picture had been chosen by Look Magazine from the files of entering freshmen across the country as “most photogenic.” This gave her quite a status across the UK campus.  Females and males alike stared at her, male teachers deferred to her and the limited media that we had back then such as radio and newspapers did endless interviews with her. She, too, was a thin, wispy rather reticent but friendly young model type young lady who never smiled much.  She did blink her eye lids almost incessantly as what I considered was a sort of nervousness.  One can Google her in UK Portrait Archives as Kramer, Sara Jane “Look Girl.”

Oral history interviews with Black women in Kentucky–Part 2

April 16, 2015 in 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, 1960s-1970s, Oral history, Primary source, Social history

While listening to oral histories featuring Black women in Kentucky I’ve gotten to hear some amazing stories directly from the women who lived them: women who marched in demonstrations in Lexington during the 1960s, women who taught at integrated schools, women who faced discrimination daily no matter what job they held. It is so important that these stories not only be saved, but also passed on. So I’d like to share a few with you.

Picture of Julia Etta Lewis (1932-1998), from 2001 Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame

Julia Etta Lewis (1932-1998), leader in Lexington chapter Congress of Racial Equality

Marilyn Gaye‘s interview in 1978 by the great historian George Wright (now President at Prairie View A&M University) is one of my favorites out of the entire collection. Gaye grew up in Lexington and was a teenager during the civil rights movement. In her interview she talks about what life was like as a child living in Lexington under segregation, describing her experiences of having to sit in the balcony of the Ben Ali Theater to see shows. She talks about how she became involved in civil rights demonstrations in Lexington and describes the experience of a march from the very beginning, waiting in a basement for a phone call from Julia Lewis, the head of Lexington’s chapter of CORE, to tell them it was time to go.

She describes what it was like to march through downtown Lexington and talks about the songs they sang as they marched. She discusses the reactions of white Lexingtonians to the march, and what the demonstration accomplished. I think this is one of my favorite interviews because the perspective it offers is so uncommon. Of all of the interviews in this collection there are actually very few with women who actively participated in the civil rights movement in Kentucky, and to have done so as a teenage girl makes Marilyn Gaye even more unique.

RosettaBeatty

Rosetta Beatty during her interview with Joan Brannon on February 2, 2009

I found the Rosetta Beatty interview interesting mainly because of her detailed descriptions of the East End area of Lexington during the 1960s. The East End encompasses an area north and east of downtown Lexington, between Main Street and Loudon Avenue. Beatty describes many of the streets in the neighborhood and lists the businesses, churches, and restaurants along each street, including Shiloh Baptist Church, Club Hurricane, and the Lyric Theater. Listening to her describe the neighborhood gives you such a clear picture of the area that you feel like you’re walking along it with her. She talks about which businesses were owned by African Americans, and also describes the relationships between neighbors on Elm Tree Lane, stating that everyone looked out for each other’s children.

Lillian Buntin

Lillian Buntin during her interview with Joan Brannon on April 9, 2009

Like Rosetta Beatty, Lillian Buntin grew up in the East End area of Lexington. Her interview also provides a great description of the neighborhood, focusing mainly on Ohio Street where Buntin lived as a child, as well as local churches, restaurants, drugstores, and the Lyric Theater. Along with her descriptions of the area, Buntin’s interview is also interesting because she talks about attending a segregated school as a child before becoming a teacher at an integrated school. Her interview provides a personal account of not only what it was like to be a student under segregation, but also what it was like to be a teacher throughout the changes of integration in Lexington, including discussion of her relationships with students, parents, principals, and her fellow teachers.

Patricia R. Laine talks with Emily Parker about her family history, including her ancestors who were once slaves in Kentucky. Her interview (August 6, 1986) also provides an interesting look at the role of the church in the Black community and how it has changed since her childhood in the 1940s. One of the most compelling parts of Laine’s interview were her stories of the discrimination she faced both in her job as a domestic worker for a white family near Midway, but also throughout her employment at the National Institute of Mental Health Clinical Research Center (then known as “The Narcotics Farm” or “Narco,” now called The Federal Medical Center, Lexington). Narco housed both prisoners and self-committed patients attempting to overcome drug addictions. Her discussion of the treatment of Black employees is eye-opening, and Laine says that because there was also gender discrimination, Black women received the fewest promotions. Her description of the treatment of the patients is also fascinating, especially when she discusses the facility becoming a federal prison. Laine also discusses the impact of the civil rights movement in Lexington, stating that racism has not been reduced, it has only become more covert, and that many Black businesses closed because of desegregation.

Mrs. Charles Chenault Jones was the first African American teacher at Arlington Elementary School in Lexington after integration. During her interview she describes what it was like being the only Black person at PTA meetings, and discusses her interactions with school staff, students, and parents. She talks about witnessing discrimination against the Black students. Jones also discusses the effects of integration on Lexington businesses, neighborhoods, and, most interestingly, attitudes in the Black community. She gives her opinion on the decline of ministers’ and churches’ involvement in the community since her childhood days in Madison County of “basket meetings.”

These are not the only interesting interviews in this collection, just a few I personally enjoyed or considered particularly important.  There are many more in the collection worth checking out that provide different perspectives and experiences.

Oral history interviews with Black women in Kentucky

March 10, 2015 in 1920s-30s, 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, 1960s-1970s, Oral history, Primary source, Social history

While indexing interviews for the project on oral histories featuring Black women in Kentucky it’s hard not to become fascinated with a particular person or story. While every interview is, of course, valuable in its own right, some interviews are more detailed than others, and some interviewees have interesting perspectives or personal stories to add. These are the interviews I found particularly interesting while indexing the first batch of oral histories:

Dorothy Perkins

Dorothy Perkins during her interview with Joan Brannon in 2009

Dorothy Perkins grew up in Lexington during the 1930s and ’40s. One of my favorite things about this interview is that she describes the neighborhoods of Lexington at this time in great detail, including businesses, schools, and churches once located in the East End of Lexington. She not only paints a vivid picture of Deweese Street in its heyday, but also describes the fashion and clothing styles that were popular at the time. Perkins gives great detail in her description of Lexington theaters and what it felt like as a child only being allowed to watch shows from the balcony. Perkins’ life was full of interesting stories, including the one about being expelled from school for fighting another girl by attacking her with her fingernails.

Valinda Livingston

Valinda Livingston in an interview with Brannon 2009

Valinda Livingston grew up in the East End of Lexington and discusses attending both Constitution Elementary School and Shiloh Baptist Church in the neighborhood. Livingston describes Lexington during her childhood in great detail, including parks, restaurants, drugstores, and funeral homes. She also talks about being warned to stay away from Deweese Street, which makes for an interesting comparison with Dorothy Perkins’ description of the area. Livingston attended college at Kentucky State before becoming one of the first African American students at the University of Kentucky when integration began. She became a teacher and later, principal at Russell Elementary School. Livingston provides a great deal of information on the founding of Russell School, her time as principal, and the closing of the school.

Mattie Jackson was a teacher at George Washington Carver School from 1914-1960. In her interview with Edward Owens, Jackson gives a first-hand account of the experiences of an African American teacher working in schools prior to integration. She discusses the conditions in all-Black schools, from the lack of equipment to the lower salaries for Black teachers. She talks about the students’ reactions to White teachers at the school, including a story about a music teacher who made racist comments to the students.

Wilhelmina Hunter was the wife of Dr. Bush Hunter, an African American doctor in Lexington. Mrs. Hunter grew up in Boston, Massachusetts where she studied business in college before moving to Washington, D.C. to work for the IRS. Hunter talks about the discrimination she and her family faced when they moved to Lexington, and discusses her involvement in organizations dedicated to improving conditions for Blacks in Lexington. Throughout the interview Hunter paints a picture of race relations in Lexington from the perspective of someone who not only lived it, but of someone who had also experienced different ways of life in Boston and Washington, D.C. An interesting side note from the interview: Mrs. Hunter mentions her relationships with famous entertainers Duke Ellington and Marion Anderson, both of whom gave performances in her home in Lexington.

Elizabeth Harris describes her childhood community and discusses the close-knit relationships between neighbors, who she says often disciplined each others’ children. I feel like this interview is unique among most of the others in this collection because Harris expresses an opinion that may often be felt but is not often mentioned in discussions on race relations: opposition to integration. She also discusses what happened to Black businesses in Lexington after the civil rights movement of the 1960s. One of the most interesting parts of the interview for me was not only hearing about Harris’ experiences with segregation in movie theaters, hotels, and other Lexington businesses, but also her story about refusing to sit at the back of a bus.

As I said, these are not the only interesting interviews in this collection (nor even the only interesting parts of these particular interviews). Each woman interviewed offers a unique perspective on childhood, schools (both all-Black and integrated), race relations in Lexington, discrimination, and their own role in the civil rights movement, from the perspective of a Black woman in Kentucky.

New Project in the Works – Indexing Oral History Interviews of Black Women in Lexington

July 25, 2014 in 1920s-30s, 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, 1960s-1970s, Economic history, Oral history, Political history, Primary source, Religious history, Social history

SPOKEdb logoGood news alert! The Kentucky Oral History Commission of the Kentucky Historical Society has awarded us funding for a project to index the oral history interviews from the “Blacks in Lexington Oral History Project.” The interviews will be placed in the Oral History Metadata Synchonizer (OHMS) of the Oral History Collection Management System here at the University of Kentucky. After the interviews are indexed in OHMS, geo-tagging linked to the digitized segments of the oral histories will provide an important digital humanities geo-spatial component to these resources. They will be viewable via the ExploreUK Kentucky Digital Library.

About the interviews

The women who contributed their voices to the collection of “Blacks in Lexington Oral History Project” come from all walks of life. Their ages and backgrounds are highly diverse, providing a sort of prototype for a good micro-history of Kentucky in the twentieth century. The interviewers for this whole collection are highly regarded educators and oral historians whose work in the 1970s and ‘80s even up to the present day. The oral historians, Ann Grundy, Edward Owens, Emily Parker, Gerald Smith, and George C. Wright are respected local community activists, scholars and authors. The resulting interviews are nuanced in ways that evoke strong passion for the role of place and community in history, and the questions based in a strong historiographical methodology worth raising up for others to learn from them.

Similar to other twentieth century local history collections, this series has a wide scope of perspectives and serves as a good sampling of the many different types of backgrounds and occupations of the interviewees. However, Lexington’s history has traditionally been written from the perspective of its men – or at least a male-dominated political history. This project will use selected interviews from this collection to provide access to a unique and valuable overview of twentieth century Lexington from a female perspective. Most all of the women in this collection were wage earners and a solid majority of the interview time is voiced by women professionals: educators, clerks, administrators and managers, librarians, nurses and dentists, social workers and politicians. Several women represent the entrepreneurs and technical workers that fuel a thriving local economy: beauticians, cooks, housekeepers, and even a “Dorm mother” at a residence hall at UK. A few well-to-do women are identified as homemakers and a couple of women explain their views on Lexington from their work as a pastor’s wife.

This collection of interviews is an important component of statewide documentation of the Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky. Interviewees in this collection are typically older than those women whose interviews are archived at the Kentucky Historical Society (KHS) and made accessible by the Online Media Database and the Kentucky Educational Television website. By providing greater access to these interviews from Lexingtonians, a more balanced narrative (not just highly publicized events in Louisville) could expand the scope of the evidence presented in published scholarly monographs such as the highly useful book Freedom on the Border: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky, edited by Catherine Fosl and Tracy K’Meyer (University Press of Kentucky, 2009).

Out of 189 oral history interviews (a total of 194.25 interview hours) in the UK Oral History collection, “Blacks in Lexington Oral History Project,” only 56 were of women. Those interviews, while less than a third of the total collection however, made up nearly half of the total interview time (almost 64 hours or 3,832 interview minutes). The interviews average 68 minutes (from one as short as 10 minutes to one as long as 180 minutes). Only 9 of the interviews’ audio are in poor condition.

Women Interviewees, Occupation

Viola Greene, Teacher
Marilyn Gaye, Civil rights activist
Virginia McDonald, Librarian
Alvinia Newell, Dentist
Ann Miller, Teacher
Kay and Reverend Lamont Jones, Pastor’s wife
Ella Bosley, unknown
Abby Marlatt, Professor
Lulla Riffe, unknown
Faustina Cruise, unknown
Roberta Laine, Teacher
Estelle Tatman, Community activist
Mattie Jackson, Teacher
Mary D. Muir, Laundress
Mary Jones, Pastor’s wife
Mary Porter, unknown
Grace Cooper, Community Center Director
Laura Wendell Moore and Clara Wendell Stitt, Homemakers
Lillie Yates, unknown
Anna McCann, unknown
Helen Noble, Teacher
Sadie Reid Brown, Homemaker
Dorothy Pumphrey, Teacher
Bettye Simpson, Social worker
Loretta Nickens, Teacher
Wilhelmina Hunter, unknown
Mattie Johnson Gray, unknown
Elizabeth R. Harris, unknown
Patricia R. Spencer Laine, Beautician
Joanna Offutt Childress, Teacher
Laura Wendell Moore, unknown
Mrs. Charles Chenault Jones, Teacher
Grace Potter Carter, Cook
Virginia Hawkins Anderson, Housekeeper
Jennie Bibbs Didlick, Principal
Grace Grevious Coleman, Teacher
Florence Young, unknown
Verna Bales Williams Clark, Teacher
Frances A. Smallwood, Nurse
Dorothy McCoy Cooper, Principal
Ann Brewer Black, Teacher
Edythe Larcena Jones Hayes, Teacher
Delores Vinegar Oderinde, unknown
Cordie Wilkerson Briggs, Hotel Laundry Manager
Charlie Mae Brooks, Switchboard operator
Edna Unson Carr, Dorm mother at UK
Ruby Ragsdale Morris Benberry, Teacher
Sophia Dotson Smith, Teacher
Susie E. White, Beautician
Georgia Montgomery Powers, Politician
Helen Route Smith, Housekeeper
Elizabeth Parker Thomas, Teacher
Daisy Carolyn Bishop, Notary Public
Virginia Case Shelby, Housekeeper
Katherine Hardin Rollins, Teacher
Mary Edna Page Berry, Dental assistant
Additions to the collection since 1990:
Evelyn Livisay
Madeline C. Jones
Harriet B. Haskins
Elizabeth Beatty
Ann Hunter
Elenora L. Smith
Annie B. Coleman
Lillian B. Gentry
Alice J. Alexander
Martha L. Edwards
Eula Tatman
Sandra Richardson
Lilia Garrison
Mrs. Sidney Bell Johnson

What’s Happening Next?

I’m partnering with the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History to get the digitization and indexing done, and I am glad to bring Danielle Gabbard on board as the indexer. Ms. Gabbard will be blogging here about her work as she goes, so you can follow along too as the work progresses.

My Friend Suzy

October 11, 2013 in 1960s-1970s, Primary source

An update on the Suzy Post project (http://www.kywcrh.org/projects/kchr-hall-of-fame/post).

When I signed up to do a project on civil rights activist Suzanne Post, I was highly unaware of what all I would gain from that project. Suzy is a phenomenal woman, and she went from a figure in history, to a personal friend of mine. In studying her, I learned of her conviction and dedication. In knowing her, I have learned of her charisma, sweetness, and true passion. Since the interview, I have been fortunate to have correspondence, as well as to meet with Suzy again.  We have plans to meet up in the fall.

As a fellow activist, I find her insight invaluable.  She continues, despite her age, to be involved within the community.  She has never given up on the issues she is passionate about. Conversations with her provide a perspective unlike any other- a woman that has been through so much, and persevered so honorably. She never runs out of solid advice or stories.

This experience has reminded me the importance of seeking out the exceptional people within our communities. I want to raise Suzy up, to provide a role model for young girls across Kentucky and beyond. Imagine if a generation of young girls and women aspired to be more like Suzy, and less like the common idols and role models perpetrated by modern media. I believe in intelligent women, in women of substance, in women who can stand up and make a change even when it’s easier to be silent.

I am so thankful for the experience with KYWCRM for introducing me to a role model, mentor, and friend for life, Suzy Post.

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

WPA Pack Horse Library Project, 1936-43

July 22, 2013 in 1920s-30s, 1940s-1950s, Primary source, Social history

Though Kentucky politicians today and in the past have regularly bemoaned intervention from outside state, women and minorities  benefit from the influx of federal funds.  One of the most interesting projects that the federal government subsidized in Kentucky is the Pack Horse Library Project of the Works Progress Administration. The WPA hired women in Appalachia to deliver books and other reading material to remote mountain schools and homes from 1936-1943.

The usual library extension services in the mountainous region had declined by the 1930s, but the wonderful work of Cora Wilson Stewart and the brave teachers of the Moonlight Schools before World War I had whetted locals’ appetite for literacy. The Pack Horse Library Project eventually reached nearly every resident in the nearly 10,000 square mile region of Appalachian Kentucky. More details about this library project can be found in Donald C. Boyd, “The Book Women of Kentucky: The WPA Pack Horse Library Project,” Libraries & the Cultural Record, Vol. 42, No. 2 (2007): 111-128. You can see some of the wonderful photographs in a project by Angelia Pulley, now a graduate student in UK Library Sciences program. The images and their captions come from the Goodman-Paxton Photographic Collection in the Goodman-Paxton papers (PA64M1,Special Collections, University of Kentucky).

Visual Display of Packhorse Librarians in Kentucky - a WPA Project

Packhorse Librarians in Kentucky, 1936-1943

Kentucky Black Heritage now online

June 20, 2013 in 1960s-1970s, Historiography, Primary source

Mrs. W.H. Faus, circa 1944

Mrs. W.H. Faus of Lexington, holding a certificate of appointment to serve on the KY Commission for the Study of Negro Affairs, created in 1944 by Gov. Simean Willis.

The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights recently announced that its out-of-print history reference book, Kentucky’s Black Heritage: The Role of the Black People in the History of Kentucky from Pioneer Days to the Present (1971), can now be downloaded in its entirety from the Commission’s website. The Commission had charged a committee of prestigious scholars – including one woman and several men of color – and support staff to create it as a textbook supplement for Kentucky junior high school history courses. Only five years before, in 1966, the Kentucky Civil Rights Act had passed. The book is free and now widely available to the public.

Filled with photographs and profiles of many African Americans in the history of Kentucky from pioneer days through the 1960s, the book is still an interesting resource for us to use today. Though few passages in the book refer to women, there are some key points that make the book still valuable, especially for those of us searching for ways to craft a more inclusive narrative about Kentucky’s history.

It was common all through the Civil Rights Era to overlook and to forget to document women’s participation in the Movement – and this book was compiled and published just as Black Power and the feminist movements were taking off.  This booklet is no exception even though its purpose was to correct the wrongs of discrimination and exclusivity in traditional, mainstream histories.

The Kentucky Black History Committee for the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights were listed at the back of the book (pp. 141-144). There were 15 African-American and 2 white members:

  • Dr. Eleanor Y. Alsbrook

    Dr. Eleanor Young Alsbrook, KY Black History Committee

    Dr. Eleanor Young Alsbrook (daughter of Whitney Young, Sr.), assistant professor and assistant dean, University of Louisville

  • Dr. Rufus B. Atwood, President-Emeritus, Kentucky State College
  • Dr. Henry E. Cheaney, professor and chair of Afro-American Studies, Kentucky State College
  • Mr. Charles Franklin Hinds, Director of Libraries, Murray State University
  • Mr. Lyman T. Johnson, Assistant Principal, Manly Junior High School, and Treasurer of Louisville NAACP
  • Mr. Howitt C. Mathis, Superintendent, West KY State Vocational-Technical School (Paducah)
  • Mr. James O’Rourke, Head Librarian, Kentucky State College
  • Dr. Charles H. Parrish, professor-emeritus at University of Louisville, acting chair of Division of Social Sciences, Lincoln University
  • Dr. William H. Perry, Jr., Grand Sec’y of Prince Hall Grand Lodge, F.& A.M. of Kentucky; Deputy for Kentucky, the United Supreme Council, 33 degree, Southern Jurisdiction
  • Mr. Alvin M. Seals, assistant professor, Kentucky State College and President of Lexington Montessori Society
  • Mr. Frank B. Simpson, assistant superintendent, Jefferson County Schools
  • Tava Taylor

    Tava Taylor, staff support for KY Black History Comm.

    Mr. Maurice Strider, assistant professor, Morehead State University

  • Dr. Rhea A. Taylor, associate professor, University of Kentucky
  • Dr. George D. Wilson, professor emeritus, Kentucky State College
  • Dr. Whitney M. Young, Sr., President-Emeritus, Lincoln Institute
  • Miss Tava Taylor, student at Kentucky State College
  • Miss Charlotte Dunne, student at Eastern Kentucky University

The three women who were on the Committee probably felt tremendous pride in getting the book out at all.  I can’t help but wonder, though, if any one of them had wished for more information on women’s history to include in the book.  It may have changed some of the narrative as well when expressing the history of an event or series of events from a woman’s perspective too.

Charlotte Dunne

Charlotte Dunne, staff support for KY Black History Comm.

In addition to these women, the acknowledgements (p. 145) showed that more women scholars were involved in the creation of the booklet.  Librarian Jacqueline P. Bull (director of Special Collections and Archives) at the University of Kentucky, Mrs. Amelia Buckley of Keeneland Racetrack Library, Librarian Elizabeth Gilbert of the Hutchins Library at Berea College as well as Barbara Miller from the Louisville Free Public Library are thanked for helping the Committee members with information and archival materials.  Mrs. Charles Farnsley of the Lost Cause Press, Mrs. Lillie Gleaves of the Jefferson County Department of Welfare are also mentioned for helping to research facts and aiding the Committee in acquiring many of the rare pictures published in this book.

It’s worth taking a moment to reflect on how these women worked to create the book – and to wonder if they had been able to craft a different book than the one we now have in our possession.

 

 

 

 

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End of the Year

May 1, 2013 in Primary source, Research methods

It is hard to believe that the end of the year is already upon us. At the beginning of this class, I had no idea the magnitude of the projects I would undretake, and the feeling of accomplishment I would gain. I am so proud of the research I was able to do on Douglass School in Lexington, Kentucky, and hope that some one will find that resource helpful at some point in the future. It is enough for me that now the information that exists is at least mostly in one place; at least the information I could find.

I am so grateful for my group members for the project on Governor Martha Layne Collins for the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights. At times, we really struggled to find the information we needed or that would be helpful, but luckily I had group members that were not willing to give up or compromise their standards, just because the work was difficult. Shortly, we will have a finished product that we will all be proud of (see the Start page at http://www.kywcrh.org/projects/kchr-hall-of-fame/collins).

I am not sure what I was expecting of this class when it began, but I know I didn’t expect any of the work we did to have a direct impact on the community and the people we were researching. That opportunity is not one I have experienced in any other class in my college experience thus far. I have gained so much knowledge about research methods that I know I will use for the rest of my college career, and all of my future endeavors. I will forever be extremely grateful for the experience of this class.

Nearing the End

April 22, 2013 in 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, Oral history, Primary source, Social history

Viola Davis Brown at graduation in 1959

As the semester winds down rapidly, I am working vigorously on two projects regarding amazing women of Kentucky. The first, my article on Viola Davis Brown, has been published to Wikipedia. Fortunately, unlike many of my classmates, I have had the wonderful opportunity to share my work with Mrs. Brown herself and request feedback from her. Mrs. Brown was extremely enthusiastic to review my article and was very appreciative of the work my class is doing. Mrs. Brown’s unique achievements in the field of medical education in Lexington, Kentucky deserve recognition and thus I was extremely proud to share her story with the Wikipedia community. Although members of the community will continue to review and edit my contribution, I am also working with Mrs. Brown to clarify any details crucial to her life and accomplishments. Mrs. Brown has sent me small facts to change or incorporate as additional information. Furthermore, Mrs. Brown gave me permission to add a photo to the article, which further strengthens its credibility and value in the Wikipedia community.

View the Wikipedia article I published on Viola Davis Brown here.

                My second project, a web project on the life and work of 2012 Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame inductee Audrey Grevious, is progressing very well. My partner and I have been compiling the research we have gathered throughout the semester to provide a guide to the life and accomplishments of Audrey Grevious. Because we have not been able to gather significant amounts of new, original information about Grevious, we are organizing all the resources available on the web and in print that feature her. Many of these resources include oral history interviews which serve as perhaps the best resource for individuals looking to gain a perspective on the civil rights movement in Kentucky. While the resources are crucial, we are struggling to group the information appropriately on project pages because it is all very interrelated. We are building context around Grevious’ work via locations and events addressed in oral history interviews but also want to incorporate what already exists about her life.

Meeting Suzy Post

April 22, 2013 in Oral history, Primary source, Social history

Picture of Suzy Post

Suzy Post

For the project that I am doing for the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, my partner and I wanted to do an oral history interview with Suzy Post, who are project is focused on. After contacting her, we set up a time to interview and began anticipating what to expect for the interview. However, my partner and I got much more than just an oral history interview. We ended up hanging out with Ms. Post and truly seeing how passionate she was about the issues that she is known so well for fighting for.

When we went to interview Ms. Post, she told us that she had several things to do and asked if we would like to come along with her. We agreed and were able to experience many things that we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to. We first went to a memorial service for Ruth Booker Bryant, a woman who worked with Ms. Post during the Civil Rights Movement. While at the service, we were able to meet many other people who worked during the Civil Rights Movement, see their enthusiasm towards the project that we are doing and the influence that the Movement had on so many people. It was amazing to be able to see how alive the movement still is and how involved so many people are in it.

After the service, Ms. Post, my partner, and I all went out to dinner. Here we were able to talk to Ms. Post outside of the context of an oral history interview. We were able to see her views on current and past issues, how she was still involved in working to end these issues, her advice to younger activists, and able to simply just get to know her. It was incredible to see her point of view and how passionate she is about everything that she has and is fighting for. Finally we returned to her home and she showed us some newspaper clippings, letters, pamphlets, and brochures that she wrote or was mentioned in. It was extraordinary how involved she was in the community and how many people she was able to affect by her actions.

It was absolutely fantastic being able to get to know such an incredible woman, who has done so much for the community of Louisville and for all of the movements that she was involved in. She is a remarkable person who has so much to offer. I can definitely say that I learned far more than what I ever bargained for and wouldn’t change that experience for anything. Suzy Post is a truly outstanding woman who I had the honor of spending an entire day with.

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“Civil Rights Movement.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 19 Apr. 2013. Web. 22 Apr. 2013.

“Hall of Fame 2007.” Kentucky: Kentucky Commission on Human Rights –. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2013.

“Kentucky: Kentucky Commission on Human Rights – Home.” Kentucky: Kentucky Commission on Human Rights – Home. N.p., n.d.          Web. 22 Apr. 2013.

“Notable Kentucky African Americans Database.” Notable Kentucky African Americans. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2013.

“Suzy Post.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 24 Feb. 2013. Web. 22 Apr. 2013.

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