Work with the NAACP and CORE of Lexington

In 1955, Audrey was working at a department store when her brother came back from service, wanting to go back to school under the GI Bill. She then decided to also go back to college and became involved with the NAACP in Lexington. After attending an NAACP national convention in New York, Audrey felt that something needed to be done about discrimination in public places.  She had volunteered for a project to drive down to Kentucky through Washington and Virginia from New York and stop at restaurants and hotels to be served. She and the other NAACP member who accompanied her were refused service in most places, while some areas offered to only serve by giving the food in a paper bag through a side window or back door. What frustrated Audrey was that when dressed like an African queen in silk, fur, and diamonds, and accompanied by a chauffer, they were finally served: “Here I am, an American, and they would not serve me.”

In 1957, Audrey was elected as president of the Lexington NAACP, the same year she had come out of college and was looking for a job. The anger from the trip organized by the NAACP fueled her passion to get involved in the civil right movement. As the president of the NAACP and vice president of CORE, the two organizations collaborated to begin boycotts. They had a boycott for all stores on Main Street and two of the grocery stores in hopes that the grocers would open up more opportunities for blacks. Between 1958-62, both organizations began organizing sit-ins at local ten-cent stores. In one incident, the owner of a restaurant they had been demonstrating at for a few weeks decided to swing a chain that continually hit Audrey’s leg for three hours as she sang Yield Not to Temptation. For years, she had to wear bandages for the damage inflicted on her leg. Protests at movie theaters were also common, since black had to enter through the back door or weren’t allowed inside at all. Through these protests, Audrey was arrested for the first time. Now, Audrey is still a card member of the NAACP, though she is no longer active in its activities.

Audrey Grevious would have maintained the following card as an active member of CORE:

core CORE membership card

Grevious also became active with the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE). As the civil rights movement continued to remain in the forefront of local politics and social issues, Grevious rose to become the president of the Lexington chapter of the NAACP while her friend and vice president Julia Lewis became the president of CORE. The two brought the two organizations together, organizing protests, pickets and sit-ins, and successfully and peacefully achieved their objectives. This union represented the first time that the NAACP and CORE had worked together in this area due to vast ideological differences at the national level that had previously divided the groups.

Julia Lewis

Read more on Grevious’ coounterpart, Julia Lewis here.

On February 20, 1961: owners of Lexington’s Strand Theatre filed suit on the Lexington chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality and seven of its members, including Audrey Grevious. The suit was filed to prevent further stand-ins, “claiming the defendants created a dangerous situation likely to cause injury or bloodshed.” In response, Julia Lewis, the Lexington Chapter Chairman at the time, told the Associated Press: “For this to be America, 1961, I am very shocked at the suit that has come from this.” “It is not stand-ins that are dangerous, she added, but ‘segregation which is concocted and might explode at any moment.’

 For more information on the suit, click here to read an article entitled
“UK Professors, Students Sued for Stand-Ins”.

 

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Table of Contents

  1. About Audrey Grevious
  2. Additional Resources
  3. Audrey’s Voice
  4. Community Activism —- Charles Young Community Center, Douglass Park, Tensions in Lexington
  5. Experience as an Educator
  6. Work with the NAACP and CORE of Lexington

Return to the home page of Kentucky Women in the Civil Rights Era.

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