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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

Suzy Post Project

April 15, 2013 in 1960s-1970s, Oral history, Research methods, Social history

Picture of Suzy Post

Suzy Post

Suzy Post was a civil rights activist, worked towards gaining equality for women in all areas, joined the anti-war movement, held many positions in different organizations such as the Kentucky Civil Liberties Union and the Metropolitan Housing Coalition, and worked towards creating a better society for everyone. Post recently was inducted into the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame and for one of my honors classes I am working with another girl in my class on creating a webpage on Post’s life and all of her accomplishments. This project allows for all of Post’s accomplishments and hard work to be recognized and appreciated by all.

For our project, my partner and I have found many different sources, one of the best being oral history interviews. Suzy Post has given a number of oral histories that highlight different movements that she was involved in, how she felt about society, and the influence she had during this time period. Through these oral history interviews, my partner and I have gained much deeper understanding of what Post was going through and how she was affected by it. We have gone through all of these interviews and are working on compiling the information and putting it into a format that is accessible to everyone else.

Not only have the oral history interviews been helpful but so have many other sources. By looking at the organizations that she was a part of and talking to those who knew her and have done extensive research on her, we have gained more of an insight into her life. We have contacted Dr. Catherine Fosl and some of Dr. Fos’l’s colleagues at the Anne Braden Institute at the University of Louisville to obtain more information about Post’s involvement in the Louisville civil rights movement. They have provided us with more sources and have been extremely helpful in our gaining a larger comprehension of what Post was like and how she was involved during this time period.

As we contacted these people, we were pointed to talking to Suzy Post herself. After contacting Post, she has agreed to do an interview with my partner and I. We believe that this will allow us to be able to ask the questions that we haven’t been able to find answers to and to be able to fully understand what this time period was like coming from Post herself.

Our project is going exceptionally well, and my partner and I are in the final stretch of putting all of the information together. We believe that we have researched the time period, the organizations, and Post, herself, very well. We are looking forward to seeing the finished project and being able to provide a great wealth of information on a truly wonderful person.

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“Suzy Post – Hall of Fame 2007.” Kentucky: Kentucky Commission on Human Rights –. http://kchr.ky.gov/hof/halloffame2007.htm?&pageOrder=0&selectedPic=10. 15 Apr. 2013.

“Suzy Post.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 24 Feb. 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzy_Post. 15 Apr. 2013.

“Catherine Fosl, Women’s and Gender Studies Department.” University of Louisville. https://louisville.edu/wgs/catherine-fosl.html. 15 Apr. 2013.

Suzanne Wolff Post

March 25, 2013 in 1960s-1970s, Oral history

If I have found out anything about Suzy Post over the course of our research this semester, to be quite frank, it is that she has one hell of a spirit.  Up to this point, much of the information we have acquired has been through her oral history interviews. Despite her age in some of the interviews, her spunk remains strong.

Post spent a life dedicated to activism. She was a prominent figure in the Kentucky Civil Liberties Union.  She was a strong supporter of school desegregation in Louisville and open housing. She was also strongly involved in the anti-war movement.

She was raised in the Louisville Jewish community. From an early age, she was exposed to the horrors of World War II.   In a 2009 interview she describes seeing a connection in the genocide and the treatment of African Americans in the U.S.*

Her feminist ideology stems from the treatment she experienced throughout her life because of her gender.  She describes in detail a situation in which she realized how blatantly men expected her to remain silent, and how dramatically that encouraged her to do the absolute opposite.**

Overall, research on Post has gone well, and we have been almost swamped with good information to use and organize.  Even more exciting in regard to our research is that Post has agreed to meet with us!!! Needless to say we are thrilled about the opportunity to speak with this remarkable woman.

~~~

* Timothy, Patrick McCarthy. 2009. Interview with Suzy Post. Journal for the Study of Radicalism 3, (1): 145-173. http://ezproxy.uky.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/213913050?accountid=11836 (accessed March 3, 2013).

**”20B1 Suzy Post.” Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky. Kentucky Historical Society. 205.204.134.47/civil_rights_mvt/util.aspx?p=1&pid=14969 (accessed January 30, 2013).

See also:
“Suzy Post,” Wikipedia. January 13, 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzy_Post. Accessed March 27, 2013.

“Hall of Fame 2007 – Suzy Post.” Kentucky: Kentucky Commission on Human Rights. http://kchr.ky.gov/hof/halloffame2007.htm?&pageOrder=0&selectedPic=10 (accessed January 30, 2013).

Anne Braden – A Project in Progress

March 24, 2013 in Research methods

Anne Braden

Anne Braden

I’ve been working with Emme23 on a project about Anne Braden for the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame. For the most part, this project has been wildly successful. Our main issue has been sorting through the wide array of information available about Anne Braden’s life and career. We are using many different resources, including Subversive Southerner, a biography by  Catherine Fosl, as well as Southern Patriot, a movie about Anne Braden’s life. In addition to both these incredible sources, we have discovered many online resources as well.

Our next step is to visit the University of Louisville and their Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research. While we’re at the University of Louisville, we are hoping to speak with Catherine Fosl. She wrote Anne Braden’s biography, and we are hoping to use her as a resource to help us sort through the plethora of information available about Anne Braden. Hopefully Dr. Fosl will help us to sort through the information to choose the most important parts of Anne Braden’s life to focus on for the Hall of Fame.

Hyperlinks used in the above narrative:

Enid Yandell, Kentucky Artist-Activist

March 22, 2013 in 1960s-1970s

Cross-posted from the Kentucky Foundation For Women’s Hot Flash: E-News For Everyone (Marc 22, 2013)

IN HONOR OF WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH KFW CELEBRATES KENTUCKY SCULPTOR ENID YANDELL

“It is the development of character,
The triumph of intellectuality and spirituality
I have striven to express.”

Enid Yandell speaking of her aims
In sculpting “The Struggle of Life”
For the Carrie Brown Memorial Fountain

Born in Louisville Enid Yandell (1870-1934) studied at Hampton college and in Cincinnati. With the support of her parents, Yandell continued to develop her skills through apprenticeships with established sculptors such as Lorado Taft, Phillip Martiny, Fredrick McMonnies, and August Rodin.

Yandell and several other women, who became known at the White Rabbits, were hired by Taft to help design sculptures for the World’s Columbian Exhibition in 1893. In 1897 Yandell created a forty-two foot statue of Pallas Athena for the Nashville Centennial exposition. She became the first woman to be accepted into the national sculpture society. Yandell created several acclaimed sculptures in Louisville that survive today including: Daniel Boone and Hogan’s fountain in Cherokee Park, and the wheelman’s bench on the corner of Third Street and Southern Parkway.

Yandell founded the Branstock school in Massachusetts, a summer art school that taught wood carving, drawing, illustration and painting, which continued until her death. She actively supported women’s suffrage, did humanitarian work with war orphans in France after WWI, and worked for the Red Cross. Today, the Filson Historical Society holds the Enid Yandell collection, containing photographs, papers, and busts by the important sculptor. For more information visit: http://filsonhistorical.org/2009/10/06/happy-birthday-enid-yandell/#more-447

Yandell’s legacy lives on through the Louisville women’s sculptural collective Enid. The group was founded in 1998 based on the desire to give greater representation to women sculptors in Louisville. Members range in age and training, supporting one another to create and exhibit their work. For more information about recent Enid exhibitions visit: http://looklouisvilleart.com/enid-2013.

“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

Passion for Justice

February 18, 2013 in 1940s-1950s

Audrey Grevious

Audrey Grevious

Two of the most prominent women during the era of desegregation in Kentucky were Audrey Grevious and Mae Street Kidd. Grevious pushed for integration in the educational system, while Kidd seemed to defy the boundaries of color everywhere she went.

Grevious was inspired to be a teacher while attending segregated schools as a child. Initially, she wasn’t aware of the segregation, saying, “things were different, but not so unpleasant.” It wasn’t until she reached adulthood and attended a convention in New York that Grevious realized how different things were in Lexington, KY.

As a teacher, Grevious worked to integrate the Kentucky Village, a school for delinquent boys and girls across the state. Around this time, Grevious was also involved with the NAACP, who asked her to try an experiment. She and another NAACP member were to make stops along the way to Lexington from New York in order to see if they could be served. Not surprisingly, they were denied service at every stop except for one. On the way back up to New York, Grevious and her companion dressed nicely, wearing furs, diamonds, and a suit, respectively.  Though they were served at every place this time, the incident made her angry: “Here I am, an American, and they would not serve me.”

Mae Street Kidd

Mae Street Kidd

Similarly, Kidd also identified herself as an American first before anything else. In Passing for Black, Kidd never distinguished between whites and blacks when it came to their character. Though she had fair skin and blonde hair, she did not try to pass for white even though she easily could. She “never made an issue of [her] race.”

Passing for BlackKidd was successful in every career and job pursuit she immersed herself in. She began in sales at Mammoth Life and Accident Insurance Company based in Louisville. Kidd didn’t finish college, but she was a skilled salesman and was even able to open her own bank account at the young age of seventeen. She worked her way up in Mammoth, eventually becoming the director of a program she created, which concentrated on public relations. In addition, Kidd organized the Business and Professional club for black women and was a successful saleswoman for Fuller products, a cosmetics company with branches in Chicago and Detroit. Because Kidd seemed to “present a certain image of success” with the way she dressed and carried herself, it was really no surprise that she was able to excel in every endeavor she pursued; however, her quest for success was not an easy one. Many people were jealous of her and she was often mistreated and did not always receive credit for her achievements.

Though these women probably faced many trials in their pursuit for a better quality of life for themselves and others, both were still able to make an impact on society through their hard-earned accomplishments. I don’t believe that these women are the only ones with such extraordinary passion for justice. There are women who are working hard daily in their jobs to defy the boundaries of race and gender, but don’t receive recognition for their efforts. To an extent, this passion is burning within each of us, pushing us to reach our dreams and ambitions of making the world a better place—no matter the color of our skin.

Sources

“Audrey Grevious.” The HistoryMakers. 11 Dec. 2002. <http://www.thehistorymakers.com/biography/audrey-grevious-39>. 18 Feb. 2013.

“Audrey Grevious.” Wikipedia. 17 Feb. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audrey_Grevious>. 18 Feb. 2013.

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

“Mae Street Kidd.” Wikipedia. 16 Feb. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mae_Street_Kidd>. 18 Feb. 2013.

1975 Kentucky Busing Law

February 10, 2013 in 1960s-1970s, Social history

Segregation in schools has always been a de facto thing in Kentucky until the Plessy vs. Ferguson case ruled separate but equal was constitutional. With this segregation in schools around the state became legal and remained this way until Brown vs. Board of Education. However, the schools remained segregated de facto until 1975 when the court ordered mandatory busing to make sure schools were desegregated. However, this movement was met with great resistance from the white population. In fact, many of the Whites that stood up to the busing movement were women who didn’t want their children to be bused so far from their homes and be in class with black children.

The busing movement was met with great resistance from the white community in a variety of forms. There were the well-known white supremacy groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and the White Citizen Council that combated the busing rule. There were other people who contributed to trying to end this mandatory busing rule and a huge portion of these people were women. These women organized demonstrations and boycotts such as having their children stay home from school. In fact Sue Connor lead an anti-busing nonviolent demonstration to show support for ending mandatory busing of black children from inner city schools to schools in the suburbs of Louisville.

Picture of white women protesting busing to desegregate schools

Women protesting busing

The more interesting thing about women leading these demonstrations is the women who did lead them and the reasons why they did. There were two main groups that participated in the fight to end busing in Kentucky. The first was a group of women that from the beginning opposed the law. This was a group of white women that didn’t want their white children having to go to school with black children. They disliked the idea that their children would be associating with the African American children and viewed that the schools that their children were now going to be going to were in the slums, not as good, didn’t live up to the standards they set for their children, dirty and unacceptable for their children. The other group, comprised to of both white and black women, stood up against busing because they felt that busing took away from their children’s schooling rather than helping it out. Students were being bused 30-45 minutes away from their homes so that the schools could make sure that each school was not over 45% African American and many parents felt that busing their children so that schools would be desegregated was causing more problems than it was helping. Many of the worries concerned the students being on the buses for so long and feeling uncomfortable being so far from their homes especially at such a young age. Parents didn’t feel comfortable with their children being taken so far away for a cause that had little to do with their children receiving a quality education. While these women didn’t hold protests, demonstrations, or were rude to the students who were bused, they did work to get their children out of the busing system and allowed others to know that they stood against this law.

Women played a crucial role in working to end the measures that were taken to desegregate schools, especially concerning the law that required busing to be mandatory in Louisville, Kentucky. These women actively spoke out against the issues, held protests to stop busing, and withheld their children from getting on the bus to boycott the law. Both black and women worked to end the busing law in the community and in their homes. They felt that it caused more problems than it cured. Whether they felt this way because they were uncomfortable with their children going to school so far away and their grades dropping, or because they didn’t like African Americans, these women worked to end the busing law.

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“6 Sep 1975 Jefferson County.” Kentucky: National Guard History EMuseum. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2013.

“Labor Unions Protest Busing Plan in Louisville, Kentucky.” Mike Jackson, correspondent. NBC Nightly News. NBCUniversal Media. 12 Oct. 1974. NBC Learn. Web. 5 September 2012.

Marriott,, Michel. “Louisville Debates Plan to End Forced Grade School Busing.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 11 Dec. 1991. Web. 10 Feb. 2013.

“1975 Year in Review.” UPI. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2013.

Integrating Education in Kentucky

February 10, 2013 in 1950s-1960s

Integration in Kentucky was a diverse affair.  Sentiments for integration varied both due to unique regional ideals and the manner in which different counties went about integration.  Some areas, like Louisville saw easier transitions than places like Sturgis.  Integration in higher education was generally accepted with less violence, although individuals faced harsh discrimination.

Louisville was a remarkable city in its ability to transition to integrated school smoothly.  As described in Freedom on the Border, much of this was due to the hard work of the superintended Mr. Carmichael, who went to lengths in order to understand the ideals of his community. The system eventually integrated successfully by offering families a say in whether or not they wanted to send their child to one school over another. As explained by Louisville resident Ruth Higgins in Freedom on the Border, “I think it gave parents more of a feeling of integrating because we wanted to rather than because we had to.”  In regards to the “fight” to  desegregate education, much of this was stalled by Mr. Carmichael’s firm insistence to “stick to the law of the land.”

Unfortunately, the same passive transition was not true for all of Kentucky.  When integration came to Sturgis, genuine hatred arose from anti-integration groups. The immense hatred exploded, as was described by James Howard in FotB. Angry whites took over a local park, where they donned Klan insignia and burned a cross. Howard described a night spent in fear in which he laid on the floor with his family in hopes that if bullets were shot through their windows, they would avoid being hit. Eventually, the integration that had begun was halted by the violent opposition shown.

Students integrate

Higher education was a different affair; however it also varied from school to school. At Western Kentucky University, students were allowed to integrate, however a sense of segregation was maintained. Black students were placed in separate dorms so that staff would know which rooms housed them. Howard Bailey, a student attending the Bowling Green college noted that, “There were people who were very nice to us, but there were other people that made it clear that they tolerated us.”

Black females entering into higher education faced unique challenges. Jesse Zander Berea in 1951 with the first group of African American students able to attend since the appearance of the day law spoke. In FotB she spoke of the unique challenges, such as dating and finding someone capable of doing her hair. Mattie Jones of Louisville explained the difficulties in an integrated college but segregated society through her inability to take a bowling classs at the school because the local bowling alley would not allow her to enter.

 

Fosl, Catherine, and Tracy Elaine Meyer.Freedom on the border an oral history of the civil rights movement in Kentucky. Lexington, Ky.: Univ. Press of Kentucky, 2009.

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by mookygc

Segregation in Kentucky

February 5, 2013 in 1920s-30s, 1940s-1950s, Social history

There is a “myth” of sorts in Kentucky that suggests segregation in Kentucky was not as bad as it was in parts of our country further South. Mainly, the example used to support this fact is that buses in most local communities were not segregated, and African Americans never lost the right to vote. Historian George C. Wright called the segregation in Louisville “Polite Racism”. Regardless of these examples, most things about day to day life for African Americans in Kentucky were segregated. For example, most public facilities, such as libraries, bathrooms, water fountains, swimming pools, amusement parks, stores and restaurants were segregated. It was even specified which door of a house you were to use depending on the color of your skin. Anne Butler of Stanford spoke in Freedom on the Border: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky about a time when she went to get something from her father at a house he was wallpapering, and was told “The next time you come here, you go to the back door.”

Many of the voices in both The Maid Narratives: Black Domestics and White Families in the Jim Crow South and Freedom on the Border suggest similar notions that often people on both sides of segregation didn’t know what was going on, or how big of an issue it was. In the Introduction of The Maid Narratives, a white narrator is quoted in saying “That’s just the way things were done; we didn’t really stop to think about it.” Similarly, in Freedom on the Border, Joyce Hamilton Berry explains that she “never knew that they had black and white bathrooms in Kentucky, because I had never been to one.” Parents often shielded their children from the harsh realities of the world, and many African American and White children alike can remember specific moments when they realized something was going on.

Like many things, when you are in the middle of an issue such as the implementation of segregation or the concept of “Separate But Equal” Policy, it is nearly impossible to see the forest for the trees. One might see specific instances of injustice, but not question it or even be able to because that was “Just the way  things were done.”

_______________________________

Van, Wormer Katherine S., David W. Jackson, and Charletta Sudduth. The Maid Narratives: Black Domestics and White Families in the Jim Crow South. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 2012. Print.

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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