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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.

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.

The Fight for Women’s Rights

April 19, 2011 in 1960s-1970s, Historical Decades, Social history

Carol Hanisch, powerful civil-rights activist starting in the late 1960’s bringing awareness to black oppression, and women suffrage. I found most of my information from her formal website, and from “Daring to Be Bad: Radical Feminism in America,” by Alice Echols, published in 1989. “Daring to Be Bad,” explains how Hanisch worked together with other activist on women rights. Hanisch was born on a farm in Iowa; she graduated from Drake University in the early 1960’s. She started working with the Southern Conference Education Fund (SCEF) around 1966.

The SCEF was established in 1946 which was the leading proponent of integration and civil-rights. The SCEF held offices in New Orleans, Louisville, and Atlanta. After working with the SCEF she moved to New York City, and help established the New York Radical Women (NYRW), by the fall of 1968, over one-hundred women had joined the liberation movement (Daring to Be Bad, 1989).  These women wanted to fight for their rights that was wrongfully denied to them because of their gender. And in 1968 these women took their stance when they protested the Miss. America Pageant in Atlanta City. Over one-hundred and fifty women from six major cities join them. The huge group of women stood outside and threw feminized items into a trash can: high-heels, bras, aprons, skirts and make up. Hanisch helped some women sneak a banner inside the pageant and shown it to millions on national television. The banner and protest worked, springing huge amounts of attention for the movement.

“One of the reasons we came off anti-woman was our lack of clarity. We didn’t say clearly enough that we women are all forced to play the Miss America role-not by beautiful women but by men who we have to act that way for and by a system that has so well institutionalized male supremacy for its own ends.” Carol Hanisch (Page 95, Daring to Be Bad.)  The NYRW soon fractured after the huge success from the protest.  Hanisch went on to help recreate the Redstockings of the Woman’s Liberation Movement, which is a radical feminist group that was most active during the 1970’s. Redstocking is a compound word red coming from the revolution being created, and “stockings” from the Bluestocking movement of higher intellectual women. The Redstocking’s helped fight for the rights of abortion, funded speak-outs and radicalized thousands of women by distributing movement literature (free of charge), the organization is still being operated today.

Carol Hanisch is still promoting equality for women today. Her website contains information over her past achievements, you can read her articles, “Hard Knocks,” and “The Personal is Political.” The site sells online merchandise such as: her own publications, buttons and T-Shirts related to the  rights of women. Hanisch writings describe women’s rights for equal pay and to their own body. Carol has worked against racism, U.S. Imperialism, and even spent time in South Africa. She participated in environmental situations, and even saved a mountain from being destroyed and helped turn it into a state park. She currently works as an editor and a graphic design artist. She continues to find practical ways to get involved in the ongoing struggle for women’s liberation.

Profile photo of Syle

by Syle

March on Birmingham

November 19, 2010 in 1960s-1970s, Social history

Charles Moore photo for Life Magazine of Young Protestors in Birmingham, Alabama, 3 May 1963In 1963 a movement led by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and by Martin Luther King Jr. marched into Birmingham, Alabama. At the time Birmingham was known as one of the most, if not the most segregated cities in the southern states. There goal was to use non-violent demonstrations and make a stand to fight laws that were unfair to African Americans. The thinking was if they could successfully fight segregation in Birmingham, then it would help them fight it everywhere else.

I chose to write about the March on Birmingham, because as I learned more about it I was more amazed at how dedicated these people protesting were. They were, not surprisingly, met with police brutality led by one of the most famous supporters of segregation, Eugene “Bull” Connor. Police violently tried to discontinue these protests and sit-ins with jailings, beatings, police dogs, and even used fire hoses to break them up. The demonstrators did not retaliate however and continued to use their non violent demonstrations.

What also amazed me while learning about this, was not only how, but who was part of these demonstrations. Of course there were the leaders of the movement including Martin Luther King Jr. (who was also arrested here), but once in Birmingham they recruited students not only from high school but even from Elementary Schools. Young children participated in all of these movements and yet were still subject to the police brutality. They were however successful in their movement, by attracting much media attention and slowly began desegregation, and even resulted in Eugene “Bull” Connor losing his job.

*** for more on this topic, see…
We have a Movement” excerpt in Free At Last – The U.S. Civil Rights Movement, “America.gov,” U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Information Programs. Accessed 19 November 2010. http://www.america.gov/publications/books-content/free-at-last.html.

Courage Under Fire

November 7, 2010 in 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, 1960s-1970s, Oral history, Political history, Social history

Anne Braden, KET bio

Anne Braden, 1999

The more one examines the life of Anne Braden, the more one realizes how strong a resolve she possessed. Without the proverbial “dog in the fight” she embarked on a mission for social equality for blacks, when, as a southern white women she had nothing to gain by doing so. Her journey began in 1945 as a young liberal reporter for the “Anniston star” a newspaper in Birmingham AL. She would confess though that the true turning point for her was what became know as the “Truman Doctrine” in 1947.

Knowing that there were things like the “Loyalty Oaths”“Red Scare” and the dreaded “HUAC” to contend with, she persevered. She and her husband and any group or organization they were associated with were constantly under the surveillance by the authorities. She was indicted for sedition in 1954 while she and her husband Carl had two (2) toddlers. Her husband was convicted and sentence to 15 years that same year. She was arrested on numerous occasions. One of her last arrests was at 72yrs old in 1996 for protesting the lack of hiring of minorities in professional golf.

One of her daughters died at the age of ten (10). Her husband passed away in 1975, eleven (11) years after the death of her second born. She continued her work to bring about racial equality for another thirty (30) years before passing away in 2006. Why would someone who had so much to lose, especially in the 50’s & 60’s, continue to fight for the rights of others?

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See the Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research, http://al.comm.louisville.edu/abi/

Desegregation: Who really benefited?

November 1, 2010 in 1960s-1970s, Economic history, Oral history, Social history

Who really benefited from desegregation? This may seem like a foolish question in light of what many suffered during the Civil Rights era to where we are today. This question arose after hearing from most people of color, especially women about their post segregation experiences.

Alice Monyette Wilson, interviewed for KET Living the Story

Alice Monyette Wilson (from Mayfield, KY) tells her story on the KET website - click on her picture

Many black students, like Alice Wilson, who went to integrated schools stated that their white teachers were not very interested in their educational well being. If students were sent to schools where they were not welcomed or cared about was this good for them.

Sit-ins were a popular form of civil disobedience to force the integration of public places. When she wanted to join in protesting a local restaurant, Joyce Hamilton, now Dr. Joyce Hamilton Berry, was told by her father, “why would you want to go into a place that did not want you?” It seemed like good advice to her, so she did not join the protest.  Marching to spend your money where you were not welcomed was ludicrous as far as her father was concerned. This may have led to closure of many “black” businesses after desegregation because many took their business to those places. 

Jackie Robinson’s entrance into the Majors, many believe, led to the downfall of the Negro League. Many blacks lost a lot of the money they invested in the league when that happened.

In Lexington Kentucky, most black owned businesses in the Martin Luther King, Jr. neighborhood closed after integration. Women and children suffered the most as result of the economic hardship that hit that community. It still has not recovered after all these years.

The place to showcase their artistic expression in the community was also closed after desegregation. The Lyric the only African American theater in Lexington would be closed for a generation.

 Was desegregation a good thing? Many would answer yes. The question remains, who really benefited?

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