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Evelyn Williams, a great role model for us all

February 11, 2017 in 1920s-30s, 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, 1960s-1970s, Oral history

Appalshop In 1995 the great Appalshop filmmaker Anne Lewis featured Mrs. Evelyn Williams (October 31, 1915 – December 13, 2002), a Kentucky woman whose wisdom and heroism continues to teach us great lessons in patriotism, love of land and community, and for equal rights. The film (available for viewing free online at the Appalshop website) is worth watching again if you’ve seen it before – and certainly worth sharing with others if you are seeing it for the first time.

Evelyn Williams

Evelyn Williams on her farm near Redfox, in Knott County KY

Born in the mountains of Tennessee, Mrs. Williams remembers her family moving back to eastern Kentucky to coalmining camps near where her ancestors had lived and extended family owned land together in Perry County. She tells of how the actions of white supremacists in the 1920s affected her even later in life, and she warns us to pay attention how racist violence today touch and change our youth today. You will be fascinated by her stories of motherhood in the mountains, working as a domestic servant in West Virginia, going for a college degree at age 50 and what it meant to her as she learned what it takes to create a positive community spirit in the midst of despair and powerlessness. The death of her son and the inhumane way the military establishment treated his remains led her to a new appreciation for those around her who were struggling. Unlike so many other histories, the narrative kept its focus on this woman’s life — keeping true to Mrs. Williams’ own assertion that the long history of Blacks in Appalachia is mostly the story of women and children who far outnumbered the men. We need to remember this as so much more is learned and understood when we see our work in the world from the eyes of women and children.

This short film (about 25 minutes long) is powerful in drawing in its audience. I appreciated the loving and respectful way that Lewis shows us how Mrs. Williams holds herself, her home furnishings while she is being interviewed about her family, and her interactions with old friends in New York or with KFTC activists on her land as they negotiate with the mining company.

Thank you, Anne Lewis. Thank you, Appalshop. And even heartier thanks to Mrs. Evelyn Williams for sharing her powerful and important story.

EXTRA EXTRA Anne Braden Headlines

April 25, 2013 in 1950s-1960s, Political history

What would YOUR newspaper headline be?

 

Little woman, big heart, megaphone voice for Civil Liberties…

Anne and Carl Braden promote unity within the community…

Braden continues to defy all social norms…

Anne Braden revolutionizes civil rights communication with newspaper southern patriot…

The Other America, reflecting on a lifelong activist who break social norms…

 

 

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by mookygc

Trip to Frankfort, Kentucky

April 23, 2013 in 1960s-1970s, Economic history, Social history

A couple of weeks ago, April was declared “Fair Housing Month” by the governor of Kentucky, Steve Beshear, in honor of the Fair Housing Proclamation’s 45th anniversary. Luckily, my honors professor decided that it would be beneficial for our class to attend the remembrance ceremony.

On our trip to the capital, we got the privilege of meeting Eleanor Jordan, the director of the Kentucky Commision on Kentucky Women. Jordan walked us through the “Kentucky Women Remembered” exhibit, a series of portraits that honors the many varied accomplishments of strong Kentucky Women, that hangs on the capital’s walls. It was inspiring to hear her talk about all the future plans she has for the exhibit, and the long and strenuous process for selecting each year’s nominees. It was wonderful to hear that they have a very difficult time choosing which portraits to commision, because they have such a wide range of women to choose from.

At the Proclamation rememberance, it was very powerful to hear John Johnson, the Director of the Kentucky Commision on Human Rights speak about discrimination and equality and fairness. I believe we were all very moved by what he had to say. Most interesting were the comments shared by Mr. Colmon Elridge, the executive assistant to Gov. Beshear. It was amazing to heaar him talk about how much the Fair Housing Proclamation meant to him, as he is a young African-American man, and his wife is caucasian with a disability, yet they were faced with no difficulties when purchasing a house, which meant quite a lot to him.

Overall it was a wonderful day speaking with wonderful people about the amazing things happening in Kentucky, and I am grateful we were able to attend.

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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by emme23

A Southern Patriot

April 18, 2013 in 1950s-1960s, Oral history, Social history

In the past few weeks my partner and I have made great strides in researching for our project on Anne Braden. The hardest part about researching Anne is not finding information — in fact, there is so much information it is a little overwhelming — but rather figuring out what information is the most important to focus on. I just finished reading the book Subversive Southerner in depth, as well carefully watching the documentary Southern Patriot. We were especially privileged because this week Cate Fosl spoke to our class and we were able to learn some amazing things about Anne firsthand. We are very lucky she was able to talk to our class and I am so grateful for the opportunity.

The best part about researching an important person in history is that after a while you don’t feel like you are just reading about events, but you actually get to know the person. I think Anne is one of the most amazing people I’ve read about and it makes me sad that she isn’t mentioned more often on a national level in connection with the civil rights movement.

Carl and Anne Braden after his release from prison in July 1955.

A few notes on my favorite things about Anne: Her feminism in a time when feminism wasn’t as prevalent as it was in later decades. Even after having children, Anne did not give up her career to become a stay at home mom as many other women did. She found a way to balance her career and her home life. Second, her career in journalism. At the time female journalists weren’t very common, but that didn’t stop her from working for multiple newspapers. As a female student with an interest in journalism, I really enjoyed learning about how she approached writing for the paper and how she used it not only as a way to report on the news, but also as an oppertunity to record oral history. Third, her relationship with husband Carl Braden. Anne and Carl’s relationship is not your typical 50s love story, but that is what makes it so interesting. Its easy to tell how much they loved each other just by looking at looking at photos of them together. The fact that they were able to work so well together is part of the reason their efforts towards fair housing were so successful.

 

 

Inspiration from Audrey

April 16, 2013 in Social history

This semester, I have been working on a Hall of Fame project on Audrey Grevious with granestella. I have learned so much about this local activist and have come to greatly admire her past work while researching about her life and accomplishments. Indeed, it surprises me that she has not received much recognition for the many trials she experienced during the civil rights movement in Kentucky, but I hope that through this project, Audrey Grevious can receive a little bit of recompense for the work she has done in the Lexington community.

While there are many articles looking back at her previous achievements, we have found virtually no articles published about Grevious from before the 1980s. There are also very little pictures of her except for the two from The HistoryMakers and KET Living the Story. There seems to be many roadblocks to finding more about Audrey Grevious. I feel as if her story is one that must be told to all African American women aspiring to make a change in their communities. She truly took steps to make changes to things she saw as wrong and stayed true to what she believed in. This is well exemplified in the time when Grevious decided to desegregate the lunchroom of the Kentucky Village. She simply went into the lunchroom reserved for the white staff members and sat down!

Grevious was very much involved in the local efforts to fight segregation, whether it was in participating in sit-ins or as the president of the Lexington chapter of the NAACP. She shows us that just one person can make a difference through their actions and character. In fact, we can all use a trailblazer like Audrey to look up to and celebrate in her achievements that will bring inspiration to our own quests in making a difference in the world.

Sources

“KET | Living the Story | The Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky.” Glossary, Audrey Grevious.          http://www.ket.org/cgi-bin/cheetah/watch_video.pl?nola=kcivs+000112&altdir=&template=

“National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 02 Jan. 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NAACP_in_Kentucky

“Audrey Grevious.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 02 Jan. 2013.              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audrey_Grevious

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.

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by mookygc

Martha Layne Collins

March 26, 2013 in 1950s-1960s, 1960s-1970s, Political history, Research methods

My group and I are working on a web based project designed to honor Governor Martha Layne Collins’ contribution to the Civil Rights history of Kentucky. We are struggling to find footing with a thesis about Governor Collins, because a good portion of the information we are finding about her is in relation to her time as Governor of the state of Kentucky, which is after the time period we are looking at, from 1920 to 1970.

Also, people close to the former governor are extremely hesitant to speak about anything regarding Governor Collins, because of a scandal involving her husband after her governorship. We are not interested in what she did as a governor though, instead, we are looking for any information regarding the work she did to promote fair civil rights for all.

We are aware that she had a lot to do with education reform, due to her background as a teacher, but are having difficulty finding anything about her life before that, aside from the fact that she was in a lot of beauty pageants and a young adult and created an organization called the “Jaycettes”. WE had an interview set up with a family friend of Collins’ but said interview was later cancelled. Our next step is to go to the Woodford County Historical Society, where there is a file about Governor Collins during her time there. Hopefully while there we will be able to form a thesis about why Collins was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

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.

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