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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

EXTRA EXTRA Anne Braden Headlines

April 25, 2013 in 1950s-1960s, Political history

What would YOUR newspaper headline be?

 

Little woman, big heart, megaphone voice for Civil Liberties…

Anne and Carl Braden promote unity within the community…

Braden continues to defy all social norms…

Anne Braden revolutionizes civil rights communication with newspaper southern patriot…

The Other America, reflecting on a lifelong activist who break social norms…

 

 

Project Collins

April 22, 2013 in Historiography

Martha Layne Collins

As of right now, as a group we have made a lot of head way but have encountered some road blocks where they were least expected. After getting help from Miss Puckett about some new leads, we found that in most cases they were either disconnect or not the quality of source that we were expecting. However, we have quite a bit to go on as of now as we near the completeionof the project, namely some old classmates of Collins’ that we still have yet to contact. We are meeting this week before class to try and consolidate our research so that way we can put the information into the webpage as quickly as possible. We’re still in the gathering information stage however, so asthetically, the webpage may not be very pretty, but we still hope to fill it with as much information as possible on Collins from before she was governor. Hopefully once we get a good look at her nomination for the Hall of Fame, we’ll have a better idea of what she contributed to in the context of Kentucky Women in the Civil Rights Era. Until then we just have to continue to meet and bring our ideas into one cohesive unit.

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.

*************************************

“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.

Fair Housing Proclamation Trip

April 11, 2013 in Economic history, Primary source, Social history

John Johnson speaking about the fair housing proclamation

John Johnson speaking about the fair housing proclamation; photo from @rhollingsworth twitter feed

Honestly, I wasn’t entirely sure about what to expect in our trip to Frankfort, but I think overall it was an enjoyable trip and a great way to see what we are studying come to life within the rotunda of the capital.

When we first talked to the Commissioner of Kentucky Women, we got a really good glimpse of what the struggle was in Kentucky for powerful women in Kentucky and how it was not uncommon for these amazing women to be overlooked simply because they were women.

dolls of first ladies of Kentucky

First Ladies In Miniature

The exhibit of the portraits of the women and even with the dolls of the women are wonderful tribute to their impact, but even the commissioner called for more; more portraits, statues, and recognition.

The proclamation of the 45th anniversary of the fair housing act was also a powerful thing to witness because we were able to see the level of pride that both blacks and whites who have grown up in the fair housing association in Kentucky had for the progress that has been made here in Kentucky. It was also amazing to hear the references of the powerful women that influenced the movement, like Georgia Davis Powers and Mae Street Kidd, completely unprompted. It really made history come alive for me. It also increased my awareness of the impact that woman made in the lives of future generations. Although we saw that these women were constantly under-appreciated, their impact on Kentucky today is entirely clear.

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.

“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

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by mookygc

Mae Street Kidd, Passing for Black

February 21, 2013 in 1920s-30s, 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, 1960s-1970s, Oral history, Political history, Primary source, Social history

Passing for Black

The Life and Careers of Mae Street Kidd

Wade Hall

Mae Street Kidd was a determined, independent woman that defied the boundaries of race and ignored the restrictions of gender. To Mrs. Kidd, personal image was significant in presenting who you were and what you wanted to accomplish. She was a tireless force that allowed those around her to keep her motivated to do her best. She demanded the best from everyone, because that is what she gave of herself.

Career

Education: Lincoln Institute

From her first job at the age of 17, Mae Street Kidd took a stand and advertised her skills to the world, demanding that she be given a chance.

Mae worked at Mammoth Life and Accident Insurance Company, which was one of the most popular insurance companies for African Americans of the time. She worked as a saleswoman, selling policies and collecting premiums. Promoted to file clerk, then continued up the ladder, becoming the supervisor of policy issues.

Kidd states in Passing for Black that it does not matter where she lived, as long as she likes her work.

Helped several different companies pioneer Public Relations departments, creating goodwill between the companies and their communities. She was among the first to develop the field of Public Relations, and the skills she gained would help her to later win elections.

Following her return from being stationed overseas with the Red Cross, Mammoth Insurance refused to allow her to take control of the Public Relations Department that she created. She was forced to return to an entry level position as a saleswoman. In this position, she sold more insurance than anyone else ever had.

“I’ve got too many guts in me to let you embarrass me. I will do the dirty job you give me better than anybody ever did it — and better than you ever dreamed I could” (Passing for Black p 51).

Retired in 1966 at the age of 62 before pursuing her political career.

Overall, Mae helped to build up many companies run by blacks for the black community. She helped to turn Mammoth Insurance into the large and profitable company it became, and helped many companies create relationships with their communities through Public Relations.

Social Impact

born to an absent father and a multiracial mother she was led into an ambiguous view of race (in herself and others) and also considered it irrelevant.In the midst of segregation and violence, Kidd’s childhood was presented as wonderful and peaceful (recounts going to hat and dress stores and being allowed to shop there even though her mother was black).

her father not being there created her independence from men which translated to her attitude in her two marriages: “I loved my husbands but I didn’t really need them.” This was obviously unique for the time.

appearance was very important; she was always considered very good-looking and made sure she looked put together at all times. Weird how appearance was so important yet she cared very little about race….She also believed that everyone should be treated the same regardless of gender or race. She was very proud (page 51).

She expected the best work from everyone around her just as she gave her best in everything she did.

Finally, although she respected others, she never let anyone around her allow her to feel inferior. Ex: when she told her brother’s superior officer to relocate him closer to her. or when she decided she wasn’t going to go somewhere hot for her overseas service. Or when she came back to her job at Mammoth and was replaced and she gave her boss a piece of her mind. Never was she intimidated by authority figures, white or otherwise.

“We’re gonna solve today’s problems by strengthening the family first.” page 148 Her interactions with her step-sister shows her encouraging words on acting like a lady.

Political Career

“Lady of the House” from 1968-1975. Served in Kentucky General Assembly in Frankfort as a representative from Louisville’s 41st district.

Reluctantly Joined the world of politics. First black woman in the Kentucky House of Representatives.

Open Housing Bill: introduced in senate by Georgia Powers, prohibits discrimination by reason of race, color, religion or national origin in sale or rental of housing, gave Kentucky Human Rights commission power to enforce the law.

1970, bill passed to provide mortgage loans for low income people.

Ratification of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, along with Georgia Powers in 1976. Most proud of this accomplishment. Same year as the Bicentennial- it was important to her that she was American above all else, regardless of race or gender.

Considers her political activities the capstone of her career.

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.

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Mae Street Kidd, An Inspiration

February 17, 2013 in 1940s-1950s, Primary source

Mae Street Kidd

Mae Street Kidd, Kentucky Commission on Human Rights

Mae Street Kidd had a lot of things to say about life in her narrative about her experiences growing up as a mixed race female in Kentucky during the Civil Rights Movement. In Passing for Black by Wade Hall, Kidd spoke quite a bit about how others perceived her. What struck me is that she mostly spoke about how she didn’t care what others thought about her. “People have told me they like me because I will fight for what I believe. It is true that I am a fighter, but I fight fairly (p. 13).” Mae felt torn between two worlds her entire life- her black heritage and also her very light skin. “I will repeat it. I never made an issue of my race. I let people think or believe what they wanted to. If it was ever a problem, then it was their problem, not mine. I never, ever advertised my race, and I still don’t (p. 41). ”

Mae has a lot to teach current and future generations about not letting other people define you. Her interpretations of her experiences throughout her life are expressed with a sense of pride that she was who she was and other people could deal with it or not. For many people, this was not a common attitude, but for those who did feel that way, it became the driving force behind the Civil Rights Movement, and more and more people began to adopt this attitude.

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Resource

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

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