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Celebrating the Fair Housing Law 1968 in Frankfort today

April 9, 2013 in Political history

232 222 223 224 225 227Remembering today the bravery of all the Kentuckians who protested and put their own lives (and the lives of their families) on the line for the freedom to choose where they wanted to live.

We traveled to Frankfort today to help celebrate the anniversary of the signing of the Fair Housing Law of Kentucky (the first of its kind in the South).

Commissioner Eleanor Jordan treated us to a tour of the Kentucky Women Remembered exhibit and talked with us about her work to keep women’s history alive and to celebrate those unsung heroines on whose accomplishments we depend everyday. She also talked about her personal interactions with Mae Street Kidd who mentored her in her first run for political office out of Louisville.

During the proclamation ceremony, Commissioner John Johnson acknowledged the work we’re doing in partnership with the KY Commission on Human Rights.  It was a great adventure, and I was proud of my students and the very positive impression they made on everyone there!

I Shared The Dream: Georgia Davis Powers & Others

March 31, 2013 in 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, 1960s-1970s, Intellectual history, Oral history, Political history, Social history

After reading Georgia Davis Powers’ autobiography, I Shared the Dream: The Pride, Passion, and Politics of the First Black Woman Senator from Kentucky, my group led a book discussion on the most important themes and events addressed in the book. Most prominently, my group agreed that Georgia Davis Powers sought to portray herself as a real woman, someone who faces adversity and obstacles and makes conscious choices regarding her life which may not be seen in the public eye. In the book, Powers addresses her life and achievements but also her personal reflections on situations and relationships that had not been published until this book was written. My class has studied numerous influential women in Kentucky during the Civil Rights Movement and was able to draw important similarities between Senator Powers and other major figures.

The charts below represent a comparison of Georgia Davis Powers, Mae Street Kidd, and one other prominent figure of the student’s choosing. These diagrams intend to show relationships among the female leaders of the Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky as well as highlight key differences in their tactics and methodology.

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by mookygc

Martha Layne Collins

March 26, 2013 in 1950s-1960s, 1960s-1970s, Political history, Research methods

My group and I are working on a web based project designed to honor Governor Martha Layne Collins’ contribution to the Civil Rights history of Kentucky. We are struggling to find footing with a thesis about Governor Collins, because a good portion of the information we are finding about her is in relation to her time as Governor of the state of Kentucky, which is after the time period we are looking at, from 1920 to 1970.

Also, people close to the former governor are extremely hesitant to speak about anything regarding Governor Collins, because of a scandal involving her husband after her governorship. We are not interested in what she did as a governor though, instead, we are looking for any information regarding the work she did to promote fair civil rights for all.

We are aware that she had a lot to do with education reform, due to her background as a teacher, but are having difficulty finding anything about her life before that, aside from the fact that she was in a lot of beauty pageants and a young adult and created an organization called the “Jaycettes”. WE had an interview set up with a family friend of Collins’ but said interview was later cancelled. Our next step is to go to the Woodford County Historical Society, where there is a file about Governor Collins during her time there. Hopefully while there we will be able to form a thesis about why Collins was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

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.

Women’s Influence in Post-WWII Civil Rights Movement

March 4, 2013 in 1940s-1950s, Oral history, Political history, Social history

“Women polish the silver and water the plants and wait to be really needed.”

~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960

While this quote seems a little extreme, I think it is fitting for the discussion of women as a part of the Civil Rights Movement following World War II. During this time period, women stepped up as leaders in their communities – they became the heads of NAACP chapters in their towns, they spearheaded protests such as sit-ins, and were great advocates for educational reform. Women who had previously been counted on solely in their own homes were now of great use to the general community.

Anne Braden

Women such as Anne Braden, an active Civil Rights Leader for many years throughout Kentucky, were critical to the many developments in racial relations that occurred throughout the United States following World War II.

Another such woman was Mae Street Kidd, who stepped up as a legislator, leader, and role model for women everywhere. Helen Fisher Frye‘s story of influence was included in Chapter 3 of Freedom on the Border.  Her oral history details her influence as the President of the NAACP in Danville, Kentucky.

Another area in which women demonstrated their abilities following World War II was in organizing protests. The 1964 March on Frankfort was attended by many notable Kentucky women, including two who give Oral History accounts detailed on page 112-113 of Freedom on the Border.

In addition, many student led organizations were spearheaded by women following World War II. Several of the Oral Histories in chapter 3 of Freedom on the Border are accounts by female students, such as Helen Fisher Frye and Anna Beason speak on their influence and participation in protests and organizations for Civil Rights.

All in all, the Civil Rights movement was greatly affected by a great number of women in a variety of ways. They led campaigns, held offices, led NAACP chapters and other local organizations, organized protests, influenced students, participated in national marches, and changed the face of the Civil Rights movement. Without the influence and determination of women such as these, the Civil Rights Movement would not have been as successful as it was, and our nation would not be where it is today.

“Women really do rule the world.  They just haven’t figured it out yet.  When they do, and they will, we’re all in big big trouble.”  ~Unknown

Resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Braden

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mae_Street_Kidd

http://books.google.com/books?id=kBN_GwAACAAJ&dq=Mignon+McLaughlin&hl=en&sa=X&ei=OgU2UZPJNqfh0QGvuYD4DQ&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAA

http://www.uky.edu/Libraries/NKAA/record.php?note_id=764

http://books.google.com/books/about/Freedom_on_the_Border.html?id=bnj0JHhoZ4oC

http://media.concreteloop.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/braden1.gif

http://owl.library.louisville.edu/2005/Owl0205.pdf

http://www.quoteidea.com/authors/doctor-leon-of-drleonscom-quotes

“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

Post WWII Protests by Women

March 4, 2013 in 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, Political history, Social history

Mae Street Kidd

After WWII there was certainly a larger push for civil rights because as we were fighting for democracy and against genocide overseas, we began to more readily question our nation’s own race relations. Kentucky women that got involved in this process made huge contributions to the civil rights movement and also to the progression of this country’s views on prejudice. An example of this is opening public institutions to blacks as well as whites. An example of the injustices in an incident that was reported by Anne Braden, of Louisville, KY who witnessed two blacks who were seriously injured being dropped off outside a hospital that didn’t admit blacks and said “They let them lie there, on the waiting room floor and one of them died. There were a lot of incidents like that.” After this case and many others though, women, in this case Mary Agnes Barnett, worked to pass legislation to require public hospitals to provide emergency care to blacks. This eventually expanded to the voluntary treatment of blacks in hospitals in Kentucky.

Another example would be Mae Street Kidd, who worked in the time period, primarily in the Kentucky government as well, to provide fair housing to those in lower income brackets, which primarily encompassed blacks. Of course these are only two examples, but there are many women who also followed in these footsteps to increase equality for blacks after WWII. In both of these cases we see women who are fighting the status quo in order to build a more equal and fair community for all races. While here there was only mention of hospitals and housing, hundreds of other facilities were integrated more fully in this time. For example, theaters, restaurants and schools. Even today, with almost every public institution in Kentucky integrated, there are still pushes for more equal distribution of resources and equal opportunity.

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“World War II.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2013. <http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii>.

“Genocide.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 03 Apr. 2013. Web. 04 Mar. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genocide>.

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

“Mae Street Kidd.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 03 Apr. 2013. Web. 04 Mar. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mae_Street_Kidd>.

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.

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

“The Maid Narratives” and Cognitive Dissonance

February 25, 2013 in 1920s-30s, 1940s-1950s, Political history

Cognitive dissonance is when a person feels different emotions about the same thing. The authors of The Maid Narratives encountered this when they were doing interviews of whites that had formerly had black maids.  They are conflicted with the way they felt when they were younger and the way they feel now.  When whites with maids were growing up they felt a sense of security from their maid.  Now, they feel a sense of remorse after learning the difficult conditions that their maids sometimes worked in.

I am currently researching Florence Thompson.  Thompson was the first female sheriff in the United States that had to carry out a conviction.  She was from Owensboro, Kentucky, where the last public hanging took place.  Rainey Bethea, the man committing the crime, was convicted of raping an elderly woman and was sentenced to hang.  Thompson conferred with a priest before the hanging because of the personal, internal struggle she was having.  She was faced with having to be a strong leader that her position required while still having terrible feelings about having a man’s death on her hands even though the man had already been convicted and sentenced.  Ultimately she decided to have a man from out of town perform the hanging while she supervised from a distance.

When people are placed in a conflicting situations they are required to look within themselves.  This reflection brings out thoroughly thought through decisions, considering the repercussions, particularly personal.  This dissonance sometimes occurs well after the fact, such as the whites in The Maid Narratives.  This is also beneficial because the reflection shows the next generation the flaws of the older generation’s decisions.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance

http://www.owensboro.org/

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.

by emme23

Audrey Grevious and Mae Street Kidd: Empowering KY Women

February 18, 2013 in 1950s-1960s, Political history, Social history

Though nationally people may not regard Kentucky as place of importance during the civil rights era, women such as Audrey Grievous and Mae Street Kidd prove to be pillars for desegregation in the south. Though both women came from different backgrounds, their determination and dedication to civil rights issues  make them two of the strongest women in Kentucky civil rights history.

Audrey Grevious, The History Makers

Audrey Grevious

Grievous, born and raised in Lexington, had grown up in a desegregated world, where she received her early education in all black schools. After receiving a degree in elementary education, she returned to the school system. However this time, it was to teach. After entering a desegregated school system, Grievous realized black students were still at a disadvantage to white students, and in some ways the desegregated schools were more detrimental to the education of black students than the segregated schools were. Grievous recalled an incident with her nephew in an interview in 1999 with Betsy Brinson for the Kentucky Historical’s Society’s Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky project.

 “When I checked into it to find out what it was they said that they just stopped studying at all cause they weren’t ever called on. Never held up their hand anymore. Sat back there and talked, you know, just, just did it. And I said but you are falling right into their trap. And I got the whole little group, never will forget it, here in the middle of my floor, of the group that were here and had always been and we had to talk about this. And that all the time you can not live up to expectations of other people especially if those expectations are not high. It’s better to fool them and let them know they made the mistake rather than you.”

In addition to teaching, Grievous was heavily involved with CORE and the NAACP.

Mae Street Kidd

Mae Street Kidd

Like Grievous, Mae Street Kidd was determined to achieve her goals and prove wrong the people who stood in her way. Kidd built a strong reputation for herself at Mammoth insurance after starting work at the young age of 17. The man she worked for was hesitant to hire her because of her age, however she proved to be a valuable asset working her way up in the company. At one time, Kidd’s job was given to someone else, but because of her determination she earned it back, selling over a quarter of a million dollars worth of insurance. This spirit and determination eventually earned Kidd a seat in Kentucky’s General Assembly, where she continued to fight for civil rights.

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“Audrey Grevious.” Wikipedia. 17 Feb. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audrey_Grevious>. 18 Feb. 2013.

Grevious, Audrey. “Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky.” Interview. Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky. Kentucky Historical Society. 11 April 1999. <http://205.204.134.47/civil_rights_mvt/util.aspx?p=1&pid=14984> 18 Feb. 2013.
Hall, Wade H. Passing for Black: The Life and Careers of Mae Street Kidd. Lexington: University of Kentucky, 1997. Print.
“Mae Street Kidd.” Wikipedia. 16 Feb. 2013.<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mae_Street_Kidd>. 18 Feb. 2013.
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