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The Work is Far From Over

April 28, 2013 in 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, 1960s-1970s, Intellectual history, Oral history, Social history

The end of the semester has finally arrived and our final project on Audrey Grevious has been posted (http://www.kywcrh.org/projects/kchr-hall-of-fame/grevious). Without question, I thought rather pessimistically about our contributions to this project for most of the semester. Consistently, I thought in terms of quantity rather than quality in consideration of how much (or rather how little) information we were able to gather about Grevious. While our investigations and connections seemed less than successful at times, I have come to realize that our work has indeed been significant. I have learned SO much about Audrey Grevious and the movement in its entirety throughout this process and also hope that I have helped illuminate her life for others conducting similar research.

After utilizing the internet, texts, and most importantly, oral history interviews, I have observed the transformation of history and its record in just a period of 50 short years. The work my class has done this semester has been incredible – listening to the experiences of brave women, reading and analyzing literature about their lives, and even meeting them personally to record new history. I have never been more impressed with the success of a class.

Something I found very interesting from one of Audrey Grevious’ interviews that I studied closely was the following quote:

“And I feel like the generation now have lost out on that sort of thing. There’s not that closeness. There’s not that interweaving of cultures, of friendships, of anything.”

While this may be true from her perspective, from what I’ve gathered through all our research, today’s generation is better connected and more intertwined than ever. In examining the stories and backgrounds of students in our class alone, the sensitivity of our generation is ever increasing thus constantly embracing cultural difference and promoting friendships every day.

Nearing the End

April 22, 2013 in 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, Oral history, Primary source, Social history

Viola Davis Brown at graduation in 1959

As the semester winds down rapidly, I am working vigorously on two projects regarding amazing women of Kentucky. The first, my article on Viola Davis Brown, has been published to Wikipedia. Fortunately, unlike many of my classmates, I have had the wonderful opportunity to share my work with Mrs. Brown herself and request feedback from her. Mrs. Brown was extremely enthusiastic to review my article and was very appreciative of the work my class is doing. Mrs. Brown’s unique achievements in the field of medical education in Lexington, Kentucky deserve recognition and thus I was extremely proud to share her story with the Wikipedia community. Although members of the community will continue to review and edit my contribution, I am also working with Mrs. Brown to clarify any details crucial to her life and accomplishments. Mrs. Brown has sent me small facts to change or incorporate as additional information. Furthermore, Mrs. Brown gave me permission to add a photo to the article, which further strengthens its credibility and value in the Wikipedia community.

View the Wikipedia article I published on Viola Davis Brown here.

                My second project, a web project on the life and work of 2012 Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame inductee Audrey Grevious, is progressing very well. My partner and I have been compiling the research we have gathered throughout the semester to provide a guide to the life and accomplishments of Audrey Grevious. Because we have not been able to gather significant amounts of new, original information about Grevious, we are organizing all the resources available on the web and in print that feature her. Many of these resources include oral history interviews which serve as perhaps the best resource for individuals looking to gain a perspective on the civil rights movement in Kentucky. While the resources are crucial, we are struggling to group the information appropriately on project pages because it is all very interrelated. We are building context around Grevious’ work via locations and events addressed in oral history interviews but also want to incorporate what already exists about her life.

Suzy Post Research

March 25, 2013 in 1950s-1960s, 1960s-1970s, Oral history, Primary source, Social history

Suzy Post is an activist, who has worked tirelessly her entire life to gain equal rights for all people. A few of the many causes that she has devoted her life to are opening housing, desegregating schools based on both race and gender, and fighting against the Vietnam War. Each of these causes has greatly impacted Post and pushed her to fight for equal rights for all. All of these organizations and campaigns have several different resources that have helped to gain a greater knowledge and understanding of what Post’s involvement in each of these organizations. However, one resource that combines all of these resources and many more into one is an oral history interview by Sarah Thuesen for the Southern Oral History Program Collection. This oral history puts all of Post’s

Picture of Suzy Post

Suzy Post

achievements and activities into one place that allows for great research to be done on Post’s life.

This oral history is extremely useful first of all because Post talks about all that she has done in her life. This allows for overviews on each organization and cause that she was a part of. She goes through what she did for each of the organizations and the positions that she held. This shows a step by step process of the movements that she was a part of throughout her life. By using this oral history interview, a lot can be seen about her life. Not only are the actual steps that she took shown but the importance of each of these steps is also shown.

By listening to or reading through the transcript of this interview, a lot can be gained about what Post saw to be the most important causes she was involved in during her life. The interview is Post talking, which is extremely important. This lets her stress certain topics by talking about them more and in more detail as well as talking about what she wants to talk about. A lot of the questions that are asked during this interview are open-ended which permit Post to talk about what she feels is of greater significance. This shows what Post was truly passionate about and which jobs and causes she dedicated more time and energy into. This also demonstrates which ones she enjoyed working for.

Post isn’t afraid to let her voice be heard. She says what she wants and how she feels about certain people and topics, which is extremely useful. This illustrates a greater understanding of who Post is and what she enjoys, dislikes, infuriates her, pleases her, and what she thinks should and need to be changed. This, among the other things that were expressed above about the usefulness of this interview, add up to this interview being the most useful resource that I have found so far on Suzy Post’s life, accomplishments, and causes that she has been a part of. This interview is one of the best research materials that I have found that incorporates Posts past and present actions, her feelings on what she has done, and how she believes society has and should change to better benefit equality in all areas.

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“Hall of Fame 2007 – Suzy Post.” Kentucky: Kentucky Commission on Human Rights. http://kchr.ky.gov/hof/halloffame2007.htm?&pageOrder=0&selectedPic=10. 25 March 2013.

“Suzy Post.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 24 Feb. 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzy_Post. Accessed 25 March 2013.

“Interview with Suzanne Post, June 23, 2006.” Interview by Sarah Thuesen. Documenting the American South: Oral Histories of the American South. http://docsouth.unc.edu/sohp/playback.html?base_file=U-0178. 25 March 2013.

Empowering a Movement: Fearless Women of the Civil Rights Era

February 17, 2013 in 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, Primary source, Social history

Photo of Audrey Grevious

Audrey Grevious

“If you’re willing to march in the rain,” I said, “I’m willing to march in the rain.” As a quote from an interview with Audrey Grevious on April 13, 1999, fearlessness emerges as a common theme amongst the strong women whose individual actions prompted mass movements in the 1960s.

Women, at the center of oppression in this era of discrimination, have formed the basis for movements that took place throughout the nation as a result of their own observations of societal injustice. As Audrey Grevious explained in her 1999 interview, she recognized injustice and knew that she must possess the strength to change her reality. Beginning with subtle movements and transitioning to large scale demonstrations, Grevious is representative of numerous women who emerged from a life under discrimination to see through to its demise. In the interview, she discussed her approach and how she sought out support for the movements she planned. She explains:

“We were fortunate here in Lexington. Chief [Edward Carroll] Hale was the police chief at the time. And we met with him and talked to him about what we were going to do, and that we were going to try to remain as peaceful as possible. That we were not going to start any riots or anything. And that we wanted to see, you know, how we could work together. And after we had talked for a long, long time and just went over a whole lot of things that could happen and had happened in other places and this sort of thing, he agreed with us that they would not arrest…And this was fantastic, unique, unheard of and everything else but he wanted to keep Lexington as calm as possible.”

Furthermore, Grevious expresses the strength and intuition of a woman to know her role and her duty to fulfill it. She shares a story regarding a lunch room sit-in:

“I walked in and took a seat and destroyed the lunchtime for everybody even those who supposedly were friendly, you know, and glad that you are here and all that. All right, glad you are here as long as you stay in your place; and I decided that my place was going to be in the dining room. And there was a male teacher from Paris, Charles Buckner, who I told that I was going to do this. And he said, “Well I’m not going to let you do it by yourself.” And so he went in, you know, with me. And a whole lot of people threw their food in the trashcan, and on the floor, and everything else and marched on out but I was there to stay.

Photo of Mae Street Kidd

Mae Street Kidd

Audrey Grevious was not alone in her actions. Stories have surfaced regarding other fearless women who strived to make racial equality a reality, especially here in Kentucky. Mae Street Kidd is no exception. From the compilation of oral histories in Wade Hall’s book, Passing for Black, Kidd expresses a similar burning passion to obliterate the racial divide that plagued Kentucky communities. Like others, Kidd shareed a drive to consistently improve upon strategies and demonstrations that will continue to make a bigger impact with each movement. The section of the book that I found particularly striking is entitled “Today’s Problems, Tomorrow’s Solutions”. In this section, Kidd shares the commonalities among women and those who strive for justice and acknowledges that several core values comprise those who can attain success. Her concern foBook cover, Passing for Blackr a fortified family structure is particularly valuable to her strength as a mother-figure for this movement. She shares, “We all need a better self-image…We need pride in ourselves, but a healthy pride based on true self-worth. Children must be taught that education and hard work will pay off.”

As you can see, women of this movement were not only fearless and resilient, although this aided their tremendous successes. Women such as Audrey Grevious and Mae Street Kidd are representative of women who acknowledged the injustice around them, even though they had never been exposed to a world without segregation.

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Sources:

“Mae Street Kidd.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, 16 Feb. 2013.<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mae_Street_Kidd>. 17 Feb. 2013.

“Audrey Grevious.” (1999). The Civil Rights Movement In Kentucky. Kentucky Historical Society. <http://205.204.134.47/civil_rights_mvt/util.aspx?p=1&pid=14984>.15 February 2013.

“Audrey Grevious.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 17 Feb. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audrey_Grevious>. 17 Feb. 2013.

Hall, Wade. Passing for Black. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1997. Print.

Profile photo of OneTon

by OneTon

Through the Eyes of a Teacher: Lucille Griffin Brooks

November 5, 2010 in 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, Primary source, Social history

After learning in our history class at the University of Kentucky about the achievements of the Kentucky Historical Society‘s Oral History Project: Civil Rights in Kentucky, I chose to research the extensive interviews on the website. I began my research by searching women who made an impact in educating the state of Kentucky. My mother, Mary Fitzpatrick Singleton, is a very important person to me. She taught for many years in Louisville, KY and Charlotte, NC and is a true hero. During my search, I found another impressive lady who had the opportunity to teach during the integration process of Kentucky schools.

Born in Simpson County, Kentucky in 1922, Lucille Griffin Brooks grew up on her grandfather’s farm. The farm helped her learn life skills which would help her during the Civil Rights Era of the United States of America. She attended Sand Bank, Madison Street High School (graduated in 1939), Kentucky State College (graduated in 1944), and finished at Atlanta University. This resume of schools for a woman in the mid-20th century is very impressive and shows great determination to better herself and others around her. Her favorite subjects were math and science based classes too.

Throughout her interviews (see the full text of the interview transcript at the Kentucky Historical Society’s website) she explains what integration meant to the black community and how it affected the community. She explains that if teachers had tenure that they had the best chance of keeping their jobs. Tenure at that time meant having four years of teaching on your resume. She also explains that the black high school teachers were those that were chosen to teach at the predominately white schools too. Brooks spent her first year of integration at Franklin-Simpson High School, but she did not return for her second year. She had been promoted to the job description of Visiting Teacher, but it only lasted a year. She returned to teach the next year and is seen as a major face in the education system of Kentucky. For further insight into the life of Lucille Griffin Brooks, you are welcome to read and listen to the audio recordings of her interviews conducted by Dr. Betsy Brinson for the Kentucky Oral History Commission.

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          Lucille Griffin Brooks, interviewed by Betsy Brinson, African American Heritage Center in Franklin, Kentucky, June 6, 2000, catalog 20 B 50, The Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky, Kentucky Historical Society Oral History Project, http://205.204.134.47/civil_rights_mvt/util.aspx?p=1&pid=14991.

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