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by kcjohn2

Libraries in the South

December 9, 2010 in 1940s-1950s, Social history

In today’s age of technology and abundant resources, we take many things for granted. Most things are right at the tips of our fingers, only needing a click of a mouse to find whatever it is we would like to know more about. Libraries like the New York Public Library, for example, have even begun to publish books on the Internet for more accessibility to a larger number of readers. With that being said, it is hard to imagine a time when people did not have this abundance of knowledge so readily at hand. It is even harder to think of a time when not all races were afforded the opportunity to, simply, set foot in a public library.

Historic Carnegie Library of Hopkinsville

Hopkinsville Carnegie Library (currently the Carnegie Library of Kentucky Architecture)

This was the reality for Hopkinsville, KY natives like Odessa Chestine, who in her interview for the Oral History Project on the Civil Rights Movement by the Kentucky Historical Society explains how she was not allowed in the public Carnegie library. Instead, her father, who she describes as an “avid reader”, would have to buy the books they wanted to read.

Carnegie libraries in the South were yet another segregated place. In some places funds were established to build a separate library for black patrons, but in places where they did not black citizens were faced with the same reality as Mrs. Chestine. In Houston, Texas, African-American educators who had been turned away from the segregated public library worked to get a Carnegie grant to fund the construction of a new library, referred to as the “Colored Carnegie Library.” For most library patrons in Southern Black communities,  libraries would only be a few rooms in someone’s home, unlike the large, beautiful Carnegie libraries open to whites only.

Louisville Free Public Library upon completion in 1907

Louisville Free Public Library built in 1907, whites only

Louisville set the tone for Kentucky in 1941, when a sit in occurred to protest the segregated library. It then took another eight years (1949) for the main branch of the library to become open to all races.

Resources

“Andrew Carnegie and the Carnegie Library Legacy.” Celsus: A Library Architecture Resource. Web. 09 Dec. 2010. <http://libraryarchitecture.wikispaces.com/Andrew+Carnegie+and+the+Carnegie+Library+Legacy>.

“Louisville’s 1961 Civil Rights Demonstrations: The Interviews” Anne Braden Institute forSocial Justice Research, University of Louisville. Audio and visual clips, transcripts. 09 Dec. 2010. <http://exhibits.library.louisville.edu/omeka/sitins/interviews.html>.

Malone, Cheryl Knott. “Autonomy and Accommodation: Houston’s Colored Carnegie Library, 1907-1922,” Libraries & Culture 34 (Spring 1999). Web. 09 Dec. 2010. <http://www.gslis.utexas.edu/~landc/fulltext/LandC_34_2_Malone.pdf>.

“Odessa Chestine.” Interview by Betsy Brinson. Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky. The Kentucky Historical Society. Web. 09 Dec. 2010. <http://205.204.134.47/civil_rights_mvt/util.aspx?p=1&pid=15141>.

by kcjohn2

“Colored Notes” Segregation in Newspapers

December 8, 2010 in 1950s-1960s, Political history, Social history

In the days of Jim Crow laws, the “Colored Notes” section was a staple in every mainstream newspaper in the country. The “Colored Notes” included social information concerning the African American community. Not only did the section report on the activities of the professional and middle class, but also included special honors or events pertaining to African Americans. In addition, this section typically carried the obituaries of prominent African Americans – separated from the main Obituary section of the paper. In Lexington, all three of the big newspapers had these separate sections: the Lexington Herald, the Lexington Leader, and theSunday Herald-Leader. When searching newspaper archive databases for research purposes of African American events or people before 1969, you are sure to get of list of almost all articles labeled “Colored Notes.”

To some in the African American community this was one more way to perpetuate segregation, while others felt it was the only way to have their news even reported. Especially in Lexington, the part of the community that felt this way was afraid if the “Colored Notes” were wiped out, the community as a whole would just vanish from the news and have no way of knowing what was going on within.

Not until the end of the 1950’s did people in Lexington begin to voice their opposition to not only the separation of the news, but also the use of the term “colored” to describe the African American community. At the forefront of the movement was CORE and a few other civil rights activist groups. In 1964 a reader’s poll was taken to determine whether readers wanted to keep the section or do away with it. This poll reported the readers wanted to keep the “Colored Notes” in publication. Finally in 1969, the Lexington newspapers did away with the “Colored Notes” section. (See “Colored Notes to be Eliminated,” Lexington Herald-Leader, 02/01/1969, p. 22.)

African Americans were faced with racism in so many avenues of life. Some may say this was not the perpetuation of segregation, but I disagree. Separate is not equal even in regards to the newspaper.

Resource:
“Colored Notes in Kentucky Newspapers,” Notable Kentucky African Americans. University of Kentucky Libraries. Reinette Jones, 2003. Accessed 08 Dec. 2010. http://www.uky.edu/Libraries/NKAA/subject.php?sub_id=178.

What is Your Perspective?

October 15, 2010 in 1920s-30s, 1940s-1950s, Primary source

If asked to define Women’s Civil Right’s Era, what would you say? My head is instantly flooded by multiple subjects and ideas that are complex and dynamic. What if your assignment was to describe Women’s Civil Right’s Era through the perspective of a particular person. How does one go about this? I’m trying to figure this out for myself, but what I’ve got so far is: what is this persons life philosophy? How did they contribute to their community?

My perspective choice is Lucy Peterson. Her most known and prominent years span 1930 to 1942. During this time she was Superintendent of the Kentucky Female Orphan School. Lucy attended the University of Kentucky where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree. She was also made a member of the Kappa Delta Pi, an honorary fraternity in the field of Education. Her Master’s Degree in High School Administration was received from Columbia University.

My first question to ask is what was her philosophy? In the Master Thesis “ A Study of the Female Orphan School” written by Alberta Luanna Balmer, University of Kentucky 1942, she mentions Lucy’s regard toward character education as her philosophy in her school work. During the years of 1931-1933, Lucy was a member of the Kentucky White House Conference on Child Health and Protection, working with the committee on Character Education. Reports are published in the Bulletin of the Bureau of School Services, College of Education, University of Kentucky.

The next question is how did they contribute to their community? Lucy Peterson served 35 years at the K.F.O.S. Twenty-two as a mathematics teacher, one as Principal, and twelve as Superintendent. In an article upon her retirement, The Lexington Leader (August 20, 1942) said:

“During Miss Peterson’s term of service at Midway, the school activities and plant have been materially expanded. She has contacted and advised with hundreds of girl students. Miss Peterson is a member of the Altrusa Club of Lexington and was instrumental in that club’s contribution of the Altrusa Bridge on the school campus. The club also contributes a scholarship fund which finances a girl through each school year. Under Miss Peterson’s direction, a guidance program has been instituted at the school which has gained national recognition in educational circles.” (page 1).

Since I’ve answered both my questions, what is my definition of Women’s Civil Rights through the perspective of Miss Lucy Peterson? Well, I’ll let her tell you! She writes, in Miss Lucy’s Story: As She Saw It, “With the well planned course of study and grades from seven through four-teen given, a girl receives a wonderful background to help tackle life from any angle”. Even more descriptive, she continues:

“In the class of 1919 there were twenty-four out of twenty-six graduates who went to Versailles for the examinations (teacher certification). After 1900, many fields began to be opened to girls and they ‘gathered their skirts about them, jumped the broom-stick and became emancipated.’ The pendulum swung toward the business course rather than teaching and our students were sought as stenographers and bookkeepers as well as teachers. As the years went by and other fields broadened, courses of study became fuller. In 1943 two years of college were added. Our girls then entered almost every line of work open to them. There are artists, writers, musicians, teachers, secretaries, doctors, engineers, nurses, and all types of business.” (page 4-5).

Balmer, Alberta Luanna. A Study of the Kentucky Female Orphan School. Master Thesis, University of Kentucky, 1942.

Lexington Leader, Lexington, Kentucky, August 20, 1942.

Peterson, Lucy. Miss Lucy’s Story: As She Saw It. K.F.O.S., 1960.

by Mary

Lexington and Segregation

October 15, 2010 in 1950s-1960s, Political history

The textbook definition of segregation is “the seperation or isolation of a race, class, or ethnice group by enforced or voluntary residence in a restricted area by barriers to social intercourse by seperate educational facilities, or by other discriminatory means.” [citation needed here]  From the AASRP Race Dialogues “Sisters in the Struggle” talk yesterday I think it is fairly safe to say that Lexington still enables segregation in the community.

 The facilitator, Mrs. Valinda Livingston, was addressing issues with Lexington’s North and South end schools and how there is not much diversity.  The “white ” schools have more resources while the “black” schools are lacking in technology.  This is not what activists from the Civil Rights movement, like Lexington’s former NAACP president Audrey Grevious, would like to see.  It is modern day segregation and not fair for individuals that live in less than ideal socioeconomic conditions.  When Mrs. Livingston was talking about when she was a prinicipal in the 90’s and another principal called her to ask about to deal with those “type” of children (meaning the African American students), that shows a racist mentality that has been imbedded in the community. 

There are studies that show how segregation can affect a child’s self identity and how they perceive others.  An example of one of these studies was the Clark Doll Experiment done in 1939.  This experiment brought in black children to choose between a white or black doll, most chose the white doll to play with.  When the experimenter asked the children which one was the “bad” doll they pointed to the black one.  This shows a direct effect on their self identity. 

One of my professors last year was talking about how his daughter goes to a school that has mainly a white population here in Lexington.  One day she came home and told her father how she was ugly because she did not have white skin and blonde hair and none of the boys would talk to her.  This is a direct effect on African American children and not having a diverse learning environment to find their identity.  It is not fair that the Civil Rights activist endured all of these struggles and Lexington in a way is still stuck in the era of segregation.

by Mary

Anne Braden: an advocate for change

October 1, 2010 in 1950s-1960s, Social history

Anne Braden was born in Louisville, Ky in 1924 but spent most of her childhood in Mississippi and Alabama.  She attended the Randolph-Macon Woman’s college and returned to Kentucky in 1947.  Her occupation at first was reporting for courthouse trials but then took a deeper approach at the injustices and behind the scenes of the courtroom.  She became outraged toward the inequality of African Americans in the court system.  Anne and her husband decided they wanted to advocate for African Americans and be a part of the freedom movement.

Anne worked with the Southern Conference Educational Fund from 1957 to 1973.  This was an interracial organization that was across the South with a mission to bring whites into the civil rights movement.  The SCEF was victim to multiple attacks and most white southerners resented this coalition.  This group has been accredited with the dissolution of the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1975.

Anne was very passionate about helping to overthrow the injustices and inequalities toward African Americans and I think that is an extremely admirable trait considering how dangerous it was during that time to be an advocate of change in the South.  The most famous act of lashing out against the system and showing they wouldn’t stand for these injustices was when the Bradens, in 1954, purchased a house in an all white neightborhood for an African American family.  When the family moved in they were victims of white supremacy and intimidation by burning crosses and setting off bombs in their yard and house.  Anne’s husband was charged with sedition for purchasing the home and was sentenced to 15 years in prison but only served 8 months and was let out on the highest bond ever set in Kentucky. 

Anne also wrote a book in the 1950s about her experiences during this time (The Wall Between) talking about the cruel acts towards African Americans during this time that I think would be a good book for our class to look at. See a book review of the second edition of The Wall Between in the back issue of the PeaceWorks Magazine online at http://www.peaceworkmagazine.org/pwork/1200/122k23a.htm.

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