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AAUW Community Action Grant proposal features KYWCRH.org Open Knowledge Initiative

January 23, 2014 in 1960s-1970s, Oral history, Research methods

AAUW logoAfter several weeks of planning and creating new partnerships here in central Kentucky, I submitted an AAUW Community Action Grant for 2014 that features our KYWCRH.org initiative. The title of the proposal nearly tells the whole story (it’s long enough, anyway):

Empowering Girls in Central KY with Digital Humanities and Writing Wikipedia Code: Women’s History and the 1964 March on Frankfort for Civil Rights

Here’s the list of partners who wrote letters in support of the proposal:

When the project moves forward, it is exciting to know that it is likely that there will be many more organizations and people involved.

The aim of this proposal is to engage women and girls in researching, collecting and recording women’s civil rights history in Kentucky. In support of the Fayette County Race, Community & Child Welfare initiative, the proposal builds on the commemoration of the 1964 March on Frankfort by spotlighting the work of Kentucky women in that event – before and after. The target audience is 10 families whose teenaged girls are/were part of the Fayette Co. child welfare system. The partner organizations will recruit those who are African-American/Black or Hispanic/Latino or mixed race to work together on oral history and multi-media projects. The girls, together with one or more family member, will partner with University of Kentucky undergraduate female students to learn about their community’s leaders and strategies undertaken by politically active citizens and organizations to improve the quality of life for all.  In brief, the proposed program will rely on collaboration among the above partners in these four major components:

  1. Learning about Kentucky women’s history in the context of the 1964 March on Frankfort (for desegregation of public accommodations and the implementation of fair housing laws) through a series featuring Kentucky civil rights activists and oral history projects.
  2. Orientation and training in appropriate use of research resources and digital media for creative digital storytelling and for the development of general knowledge articles on women in Wikipedia. Learning how to find and use community resources and government documents crucial for our citizens to use in life-long learning and for self-empowerment.
  3. Training in and applying skills in basic coding languages used commonly in creating webpages and social media – HyperText Markup Language (HTML) – for the KYWCRH.org site and the markup coding used in creating effective Wikipedia pages. A Kentucky WikiMeetup will allow for the teams to work with experienced Wikipedia editors.
  4. Developing skills in civic leadership and college/career readiness modeled by local community members in partnership with higher education students and faculty.

CKCPJ and the Lexington-Fayette NAACP branch will collaborate to offer a series of community-based lectures, films and neighborhood walks on KY civil rights history and women’s roles. The Project Director will work with the UK Nunn Center to prepare and train project members in how to conduct oral history interviews (to be digitally archived in the OHMS database) and with MATRIX staff at MSU to teach UK undergraduates and their partner teams to create multimedia projects showcased in a redesigned KYWCRH.org Open Knowledge Initiative. The celebratory showcase will not only celebrate the project teams’ work but also increase the visibility of AAUW-KY’s contributions toward achieving educational opportunities and equitable resources for women and girls.

The proposed timeline is for the program to begin in Summer 2014 and conclude by the end of the school year in Spring 2015:

Summer 2014: 10 girls aged 13-17 selected from a pool of applicants recruited from the Fayette Co. RCCW target audience. Lexington NAACP and CKCPJ plan a community-based series (lectures, films, neighborhood-walks) by experts in civil rights activism, history and racism in the U.S.  The series is recorded and posted on KYWCRH.org – which will be updated and redesigned courtesy of MATRIX at Michigan State. The families involved in the project will be encouraged to ask for reimbursements to reoup costs for childcare and food costs to attend project-related activities as well as transportation to conduct oral history interviews, to work with the UK undergraduate students while research or working on multimedia projects at the University, or other required meetings with the project director.

Fall 2014: UK offers EXP396 (Experiential Education) and faculty oversee learning contracts for each of the 10 undergraduate females recruited. UK students will be trained in the use of the oral history interviewing equipment available from the UK Libraries Oral History Department. Also in the UK Libraries for students are the PresentationU and Media Depot @ the Hub which support the students and community partners as they build their Wikipedia articles and multimedia projects showcased on KYWCRH.org Open Knowledge Initiative. The educational series and training meetings with the project teams will take place at The Plantory (in Lexington’s East End neighborhood) or Imani Family Center (north of Lexington) during the Fall and Spring. The project partners will also journey to the Kentucky State Capital to visit the Kentucky Commission on Women offices and to view the Kentucky Women Remembered exhibit. The families and their undergraduate mentors will take the free School of Open course (either self-paced or live webinar sessions) on Wikipedia. Basic training in coding and publishing in Wikipedia will accompany skillbuilding exercises in how to find and analyze general resources in the community and government documents crucial for citizens to use for self-empowerment.

Spring 2015: The oral history interview digital files are processed by the Nunn Oral History Center staff and indexed for use by the project teams and community in the OMHS data repository. A Wiki-Meetup allows the teams to work on their entries in a face-to-face setting with experienced Wikipedia editors. The project teams are invited by the UK Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education to present their digital media projects in April at the UK Undergraduate Research Showcase. The AAUW Bluegrass Central Branch hosts a celebratory showcase event and highlights specific projects via social media.

 

 

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.

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.

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.

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by emme23

Kentucky Women in Civil Rights after WWII

March 5, 2013 in 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s

At the beginning of the 1940s, the suffering and unemployment created by the Great Depression created nationwide protest movements, which continued after WWII. One of the issues that invoked protest was the treatment of African-American soldiers. Those these men were traveling overseas to fight in the war just as white soldiers were, when they came home they were still not allowed to eat at the same counter as whites in a restaurant or sit in the same section on a bus. This segregation created national movements that are well known, such as the 13month bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, however efforts to stop the segregation were also taking place in Kentucky.

In Louisville, Kentucky, the NAACP Youth Council would host sit-ins and pickets in an effort to desegregation Louisville. This council was led by Lyman Johnson, who had earlier helped desegregate the University of Kentucky in 1949.

Other organizations such as CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality, and SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, also help protest efforts. CORE was an especially active group in Central Kentucky. The organization help regional workshops on non-violence for students, which helped students prepare to handle the abusive language they might face.

NAACP members protest against segregation.

Not only did organizations play a large role in addressing racial discrimination, but Kentucky women did as well. Anne Braden lead a hospital desegregation drive in Kentucky, and was arrested in 1951 after she protested the execution of an African-American man who was convicted for raping a white woman. She is most famous for her attempt to purchase a house for the Wades, a black family who was unable to purchase a home on their own because of the Jim Crow laws.

Another outstanding woman, Helen Fisher Frye, worked to organize the Danville chapter of the NAACP and worked to desegregate public housing as well as hosted sit-ins with students.

These women, though not made famous by history books, played a key role in creating a desegregated America. Often times their efforts are looked over, however it is important that we realize what a large role Kentucky women played in desegregating America.

***Resources***

“Anne Braden.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 03 Apr. 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Braden. 04 Mar. 2013.

Fosl, Catherine, and K’Meyer, Tracy Elaine. Freedom on the Border: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky, 2009. Print.

Frye, Helen Fisher. Interviewed by David R. Davis.   Eastern Kentucky University. 1980. http://nyx.uky.edu/oh/render.php?cachefile=keu1981oh065-Frye.xml. 04 Mar. 2013.

“Notable Kentucky African Americans – Frye, Helen Fisher.” University of Kentucky Libraries. University of Kentucky. http://www.uky.edu/Libraries/NKAA/record.php?note_id=764. 04 Mar. 2013.

Women Taking Action

March 4, 2013 in 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s

 

The NAACP became a powerhouse for the Civil Rights movement in Kentucky, due in large part to a handful of strong, dedicated Kentucky women.  The association became especially prominent beginning in 1940, when female teachers turned to the courts to deal with the issue of unequal pay in Louisville.[1]

Centre College

Helen Fisher Frye

One woman with a particularly strong presence was Helen Fisher Frye.  Frye served as the president of the Danville NAACP until 1968.[2]  Her work in the NAACP came after smaller efforts in organizing with local faith based efforts.  In describing the NAACP in Freedom on the Border, she stressed her assurance that the organization was non-militant.  Her work with the faith based organizations helped build the NAACP.  When reestablishing the NAACP in Danville, they went through the churches to spread the word and to find meeting places. While NAACP president, Frye helped campaign the first black man in many years to be put on the city council.  She also helped integrate public housing.

Frye was among many incredible women.  Audrey Grevious was a prominent Civil Rights activist in Lexington engaged in work for the NAACP and  CORE.[3]  Grevious was arrested for her efforts toward theatre integrated, and faced injury for attempts at integrating lunch counters. She was eventually elected president of her NAACP.

 

 

 

 

 

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NAACP_in_Kentucky#Women_in_the_Kentucky_NAACP NAACP wiki

http://www.kynaacp.org/index.html Ky NAACP

http://www.core-online.org/ CORE website

http://www.centre.edu/web/news/2002/images/speaker.jpg

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.

 


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NAACP_in_Kentucky

[2] Freedom on the Border

[3] Freedom on the Border

“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

Women as the Foundation, not the Face

March 3, 2013 in 1940s-1950s

NAACP Logo

NAACP Logo

According to the book, Freedom on the Border, the conclusion of World War II initiated the return of nearly twenty thousand African Americans from Kentucky who had served overseas. These soldiers had heightened expectations for social equality when they returned to the States, however, they soon faced the unfortunate reality that equality had not yet been leveraged. To promote the radical change demanded by society in order to uproot long-standing traditions of prejudice and discrimination, mass action had to be taken. The key to success during the 1940s-50s was organization. Groups supporting these causes already existed but the masses observed that no change would come if national campaigns were not launched.

CORE logo

CORE logo

In order to open public accommodations to all citizens of the United States, professional groups such as the Congress of Racial Equality and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee were formed to promote progress. The SNCC held a much stronger following within the Deep South, while CORE made significant strides in the Bluegrass State.  Alongside the NAACP, members of CORE began planning – they were planning for the attention-grabbing actions and protests of the early 1960s. While leaders of this time for these organizations were predominantly men, women composed overwhelming majorities of membership within each organization. Women, such as Audrey Grevious, would hold membership within these organizations and work actively within chapter projects in order to promote local change. These women gathered petitions and plan sit-ins while men within the organization rallied support throughout the region in the public eye. This example also unfortunately showcases another form of discrimination and stereotype that has traversed racial boundaries – gender equality.

One crucial action of the local NAACP and CORE organizations within Lexington, Kentucky prompted the integration of the University of Kentucky in 1949. While this is largely credited to Lyman T. Johnson’s successful case against the state’s Day Law, many women of color, who were part of these organizations, played a crucial role in gaining support for Johnson’s case. Upon integration, many women of color capitalized on the opportunity to attend the University of Kentucky as well. Two of their stories can be heard here, via oral history interviews regarding their experiences at the University of Kentucky upon the era of integration.

UK Logo

UK Logo

Without question, Kentucky women supported the official mobilization of organizations and movements within the state during the 1940s-50s. Their activity, however, is largely overshadowed by their male counterparts who often represented the face of campaigns. It should be noted, however, that women’s roles within this portion of the movement are not insignificant as their membership and commitment to the cause gave way to radical demonstrations during the 1960s that finally demolished the barrier preventing equality in Kentucky and in the United States.

Sources:

Wikipedia contributors. “Congress of Racial Equality.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 27 Feb. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congress_of_Racial_Equality>. 3 Mar. 2013.

Wikipedia contributors. “Lyman T. Johnson.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 28 Nov. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyman_T._Johnson>. 3 Mar. 2013.

Wikipedia contributors. “University of Kentucky.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 1 Mar. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Kentucky>. 3 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.

Lead by Subtlety: Viola Davis Brown

February 24, 2013 in 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, Intellectual history, Social history

By researching Viola Davis Brown and her accomplishments to publish a Wikipedia page about her life, I have discovered one of the subtle leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. Viola Davis Brown, born in 1936, was certainly a pioneer of the movement in Kentucky, although not in the traditional context. The contrast in Brown’s involvement in the Civil Rights Movement does not exist in her outward protest and open discrediting of segregation, but rather in her career and her personal accomplishments.

Photo of Viola Davis Brown

Viola Davis Brown

My research, though not complete, has not yielded any indication that Viola Davis Brown was involved with any organization such as NAACP or other traditional movements promoting integration during her lifetime. I found no record of Mrs. Brown openly addressing her race as a limiting factor or protesting for equality. Rather, her achievements and perpetual promotion in the work place has led her to be an extremely prominent figure of the Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky.Viola Davis Brown became the first African American student in Lexington to attend and graduate with a nursing degree. She continued her education at the University of Kentucky, where she became a certified Primary Care Nurse Practitioner.  Mrs. Brown’s career was merely beginning when she was appointed Executive Director of the Office of Public Health Nursing for the Kentucky Department of Health Services in Frankfort, Kentucky. The accolades have not since halted.

Book cover, The Maid Narratives

The Maid Narratives

The most appropriate connection I was able to draw between the life of Viola Davis Brown and the ideas regarding the themes of The Maid Narratives fell among the ideas of Cognitive Dissonance and the Defiance of the Norms to Stand Up against Injustice. Viola Brown did not have to join strident organizations that proudly announced their cause within the movement. Brown’s actions, including the pursuance of higher education and career promotion at her own discretion, represent the subtle ability of an individual to overcome substantial barriers such as those dividing race in Lexington, Kentucky during her lifetime.

The descriptions in the text of The Maid Narratives carefully describes the acknowledgement of racial difference and the societal belief that two races, namely Black and White, are psychologically inconsistent. Viola Brown did not have to address this societal injustice head on. Rather, she committed herself to education and advancement within the sector of public health. Not only did she overcome the customs of her society and traditional role of the Whites to assume positions of medical care, she did so without personally addressing her race as a reason to see justice through. The textual example of the maid employer, Elise Talmage, would directly parallel, I can only imagine, the description of a white observer commenting on Brown’s progress in the field of health management. While it was entirely unheard of for a Black woman to hold such a position of prestige, Mrs. Brown continued to secure these positions and became a representation of triumph over segregation for the community and state, at large.

********

Sources:

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.

College of Public Health. “Hall of Fame Past Inductees: Viola Brown” University of Kentucky College of Public Health (2011): n. pag. Web. 11 February 2013.

 

Black women artist/activists of note

February 22, 2013 in Social history

The Kentucky Foundation for Women sent a message recognizing the rich history and legacy of African-Americans across the Bluegrass by highlighting two women who made important contributions to art and social justice in Northern and Eastern Kentucky. You can read about more great Black Kentuckians by visiting the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights’ gallery online at http://kchr.ky.gov/about/gallergreatblack.htm.

Summers

Jane Roberta Summers, 1895-1992

JANE ROBERTA SUMMERS: A COVINGTON ACTIVIST
Born in 1895, Jane Roberta Summers was a longtime activist against social injustice, racism, homelessness, and hunger in Covington. Ms. Summers was the first woman manager of government subsidized apartments in Covington and held this post for 25 years. She played an important role in the original local Meals on Wheels organization and joined the staff of the Covington Community Action Commission. At the age of 77, Ms. Summers earned a paralegal degree to help meet the need for low cost legal services in her community. She was an active member of the NAACP and the Poor People’s Coalition. She passed in 1992 at the age of 97. The Jane Roberta Summers Foundation was organized to continue her work for social justice. See more at the Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (http://www.uky.edu/Libraries/NKAA/record.php?note_id=308).

Smith

Effie Waller Smith, 1879-1960

EFFIE WALLER SMITH: A POET FROM PIKEVILLE AREA
Effie Waller Smith was born in 1879 on a farm in Chloe Creek to parents who had been formerly enslaved. Ms. Smith completed 8th grade and then trained as a teacher at Kentucky Normal School for Colored Persons in Frankfort, but her passion was writing. Her first poems were published in 1902 in local papers, followed by a volume of poetry Songs of the Months, which was published in 1904 by a press in New York City. Three short stories were published in Putnam’s before two more volumes of poetry were published in 1909, Rhymes from the Cumberland and Rosemary and Pansies. Her writing examined life, spirituality, religion, and the land. Although Ms. Smith only published for a span of 15 years, her work remains in publication today. See more at the Kentucky African Americans Database (http://www.uky.edu/Libraries/NKAA/record.php?note_id=1033) and Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effie_Waller_Smith).

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