You are browsing the archive for Dunbar High School.

1964-65 at UK

November 15, 2016 in 1950s-1960s

Since my major was English with a minor in psychology within the University of Kentucky’s College of Education, a new experience as a student teacher confronted me.  I was assigned to Lexington Dunbar which was then a large all-“Negro” high school.  I had no choice in the matter; UK made the decision.  I was delighted, because I had never seen that many black students, teachers, and administrators in the same facility.  In addition I was assigned to teach advanced seniors, an area in which I had been thoroughly prepared.  My supervising teacher Miss Sally Moore was a great advisor.  She gave me great experience because she just left the room and left everything to me.  I really thought that was better because I never liked someone hovering over me.  I worked hard for a whole year–unlike today’s student teachers who only practice for one semester–produced a play at my own iniative that all of the faculty and students really enjoyed.  I continue to remember it today:  “Beyond the Door” by Douglas Farr.  I made a great reputation from that production.  Best I can remember, I was the only student teacher pictured in that yearbook. Today, Dunbar is a Magnet school in Lexington.

Another caveat was there were quite a few black male student teachers from Kentucky State, Eastern, etc.  So, to a degree, it was party and dating time again.

By that time UK had enrolled five black medical school students, two of whom I dated, and one of whom I dated regularly.  I think he was looking for a future wife as he even brought his parents from Ashland to visit me at Ms. Bentley’s house.  (I was too immature then, of course, as I became engaged three different times in later years before I felt that it was time for me to finally get serious enough about the possibility.)

In the spring of my senior year, I received a note from the Registrar’s office that in checking, they had no record that I had completed my Physical Education Service course!  At that late time, they said I could not graduate without it.  I got really busy, went to an older Dr. F. at UK who was nice enough to issue me an excuse.  We came up with “pes planus” or “flat feet” which kept many men out of qualifying for armed services.  (In high school, I disliked what those feet did to my new shoes—overrun them fast!—I was truly glad for them now.)  But, that excuse did not satisfy whoever it was doing the checking at UK.  They said I would have to have that excuse approved by another doctor.  Woe was me!  Hey, my family members had all being preparing and getting geared up to come to my graduation as I would be the first family member on both sides to ever graduate from college.  My father had gone to Kentucky State for a brief period but had dropped out to help my widowed grandmother with four younger siblings. My extended family was huge.  I finally found a doctor out in town who made the approval.

On graduation day they came in a never-ending caravan from Bowling Green. One uncle was driving a relative-filled station wagon of his boss who was running for mayor.  It had a huge sign on top that said “Elect Pop Weis for Mayor.”  The caravan drew much attention all the way into Lexington.

At graduation, we had fun.  I could not believe that we could hide treats underneath our robes and turn around and wave to our families in the bleachers during the ceremony—a far cry from what students do today at Stanford University’s uniquely known graduation with all of the campus wide “Wacky Walks” all over campus. There were other dlicacies that I can no longer recall, but I continue to have the feeling and can emulate the steps to this day. All of these proceedings were a novelty to me, and I am fortunate enough to this day to have rounded out my college social life by attending Fisk University for one year.

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.

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.

Profile photo of becca

by becca

Kentucky Forefathers of New York’s Rev. William A. Jones, Jr.

November 4, 2010 in 1960s-1970s, Genealogy

I began looking up different churches in Lexington that were around during the Civil Rights Movement. I came across a website and found Rev. William A. Jones, Jr.’s name, so I decided to look up more about him. Google was overflowing with information and articles about him – born in Louisville and growing up in Lexington – so I decided to take a look.

Rev. Dr. William Augustus Jones, Jr. (1934-2006)

Rev. Dr. William Augustus Jones, Jr. (1934-2006)

Before his death, Jones eventually had a 5,000 member church in Brooklyn. Reverend Jones was the grandson of the late Reverend Dr. Henry Wise Jones, Sr., of Green Street Baptist Church (in Louisville) and the son of the Reverend Dr. William Augustus Jones, Sr., of Pleasant Green Baptist Church, Lexington.

Reverend William A. Jones, Sr., KY Civil Rights Hall of Fame

Reverend William A. Jones, Sr. (1907-1968)

Reverend Jones, Sr. (1907-1968) was a very influential voice during the Civil Rights Movement and was the advisor of the Lexington chapter of CORE, or Congress of Racial Equality. It was in part because of Reverend Jones Sr. that the first African American City Councilman, Harry N. Sykes, was elected in Lexington.  He stood out publicly in opposition to the closing of Dunbar High School where hist children had graduated. After he died, Rev. Jones, Sr. was also the first African American to be buried in the Lexington Cemetery, which before had only been for white people.

The three generations of Rev. Jones are great to learn more about considering how many firsts they accomplished and helped to accomplish for the black community, not only in Kentucky, but in other parts of the country also.

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