Tracy K'Meyer: This is an interview with Ruth Bryant by Tracy K'Meyer onSeptember 27, 1999. From the information you sent me I got most of your biographical information. I knew you were from Detroit, for example. It didn't say when you were born on there.
Ruth Bryant: It certainly did, and I didn't take that -- Shirley got all thattogether some time ago. I just happened to find it and I found a lot of stuff but I had [unintelligible] and they were in the room, the bedroom, where I had all my stuff. And I had to move it and get it out of the way, my stuff. I know it's back there somewhere in that room but I haven't been able to put my hands on it. I found a couple of things there. 1:00
TK: Yeah, I noticed when I came in.
RB: Did I send you anything like that?
TK: You sent me some stuff about your father, I assumed that was your father.Booker? That was in the [unintelligible] you sent me. So I know about him. You sent your resume and a two-page biography and that was it.
RB: OK, that was it, OK.
TK: Do you mind telling me when you were born?
RB: It was a. . . I was in elementary school during. . . the years of the Depression.
TK: That's what I thought. From something about your father, I thought that wasthe case. I did want to ask one question about your dad. The article talked about your father and the thing that you sent, you sent the materials about him. 2:00One thing I did wonder is, he obviously was very involved in things himself. What did he try to teach you about how to respond to discrimination?
RB: You know, discrimination never came up.
TK: Really, is that because you lived in the North, do you think?
RB: I don't know. Discrimination never came up because the house was so full ofjoy, books, even during the Depression my mother saw to it that we went to camp. We went to Chicago on the bus to the Chicago Art Institute. We had relatives 3:00there, we stayed with them. The Detroit Art Institute was always available. The Children's Museum was available. And one of the most beautiful parks in the country, Bell Isle, which was basically designed by Frederick Olmsted, was there. And horseback riding, pony rides, canoe riding, you know, and then when Joe Louis came along, he built and set up a farm, a riding farm, in Utica, Michigan. And we all wore jodhpurs and I went horseback riding. All the 4:00teenagers did in our group on Sunday afternoons. Had dinner at the club. It was like a country club. Detroit has a great YMCA and YWCA, which were hubs for activities for black Detroiters. Lovely dining rooms. They had nice hotels where a lot of people would meet on Sundays after church and have dinner in the hotels. It was just so much going on, you knew there was something but it didn't 5:00affect our lives. However, in school if the teachers, if there was a teacher who -- well, let's just say got out of hand, the parents were always at the school immediately for conferences with the teacher and with the principals.
TK: Very involved. That's interesting.
RB: And then my -- I don't know where he got all this information from. But hetalked about global history, we could just visualize everything that he talked about. So you got history and I guess that's why I liked history and history was the most fascinating subject from elementary school all the way through college 6:00and then so, Daddy had talked about history. He knew everything. And it was good. And then he was, his mother was part Seminole, he's from [Oklahoma]. And he gave all of us Indian nicknames. And it was funny. And he talked to us about Indian culture. But I didn't know he was part Seminole, his mother was part Seminole, until years later. You find, you leave home at a certain time, you go to college and marry, go back to visit and that sort of thing. And then their 7:00younger children are still at home. So they hear things or thing come to his mind to talk about that you don't hear. Now, at this time in our lives, we discussed some things about the family and you find new information. You say, well, I didn't know that. Is that right? They never told me.
So that's the way that was. And then my grandmother lived two blocks down thestreet, my grandma and grandfather. Her youngest child, my mother's youngest sister, was a year younger that I was, so that was interesting. And then one sister, another of her sisters died and my grandmother and grandfather raised 8:00her daughter. So we were always together, doing things together. My grandmother was, this may sound odd to some people, however, she was in her nineties -- no, she died on her ninetieth birthday. She was born in Texas. And her father was an attorney and had been and was also the state legislator, and his daddy was the judge or the sheriff. He hired a tutor for her. She was French. And -- 9:00
TK: This is your mother's side of the family?
RB: Uh huh. And so this, she was global, too, in her thinking because she hadbeen exposed. Her mother, my great-grandmother, was a cook in that house, OK? But this girl --
TK: All over the place. From all over the place.
RB: This girl, she became a seamstress, a very fine seamstress, but her mind wasalways on books. And she was the leader in church work in religious activities in Michigan, a state leader. She wanted us to know about how other people lived. 10:00So my aunts and my mother would say they don't need to go into that neighborhood. They don't need to see that black women. They say they need to know how everybody lives, or they'll grow up ignorant of the needs of other people when they get older. So Sundays, we'd take these rides and we'd go to these bad neighborhoods in town and on the peripheral of Detroit because the neighborhood that I grew up in, my father was a developer, a real estate developer. And working with -- well, he had his license and everything and my 11:00mother, this was before the Depression, just before the Depression, she knew they had accumulated a lot of money, some money. And she had an intuition and said get the money out of the bank. This was that year.
They had built a home. A beautiful eight-room brick house. With a breakfastroom, a sun parlor, beautiful crystal chandeliers, bookcases, a mantel, a fireplace, all this kind of thing. And then all the houses in the neighborhood where we grew up were close to the houses, the design of the houses, on 47th Street.
TK: Ok, I think I've been down there.12:00
RB: 47th and 44th, Southwestern and further across Broadway, SouthwesternParkway. So that's why I like living in this neighborhood because so much reminds me of Detroit. There was no fear of policemen or anything like that because there was a tall officer in our class. And he came to school every year to teach us traffic safety; use your eyes, use your ears and then use your feet, that sort of thing. So that was the only time I saw a policeman other than when they came around to see if your dogs had a license, yeah, a dog license.
TK: That's growing up in Detroit?13:00
RB: Um-hum. So all of this gave you a sense of security. And the teachers wereall white. I never saw but one black teacher in school. She was the substitute and I remember we'd pass by her door, because the doors had glass at the top so you could see in, and we wanted to see what she looked like, although there were a couple of teachers in our neighborhood. But we wanted to see what this one looked like. So that was interesting. The teachers, I think they had the greatest influence, too, because they were -- all the teachers, with two, about three exceptions, were young Jewish teachers who had graduated from either Wayne 14:00[State] University or they had gone to the University of Michigan up there in Ann Arbor.
So we had a music teacher. We had music every day. We had an art teacher, an artroom, art every day. We had an auditorium teacher and that's where the drama came in. We had a library teacher and the library was just beautiful, beautiful. Two-door style building, you know, where the library was in. Fireplace. Ms. Wussloger was the librarian teacher. And they all dressed so beautifully so we were always looking at their clothes. They made pets of some of us, you know how 15:00that goes. My name was "B" because Booker was my last name. My hand was always up in the air for something. And they would give you errands, oh, this was good, take this note to Ms. Bunyan, or take this to Ms. Camtik, that sort of thing. I'd go down to the office and take this to the office. It was fun, it was fun. And they were always complimenting you on your clothes. Well, what was interesting, my mother learned to sew. But my grandmother took in a girl who had lost her mother and father, I think she was about fourteen or fifteen. My grandmother told her that she would have to work. So she got a job as a maid in the home of some well-to-do Jews in an area in Detroit called Highland Park, 16:00which is a city within the city of Detroit. And Patty Mums had all these beautiful things and Ms. Mums just kept us, my two cousins and myself. It was all kinds of new dresses. She would send Patty's white kid gloves to us, l learned how to wash white kid gloves, dry them and stretch them on your hands. And wore them to church and when you went out. But that was interesting.
So the Jewish teachers, you know, Jews know clothes. It was common because theysell them. They'd say oh, this is so lovely. This stitching is so beautiful. And they would pat and all this sort of thing. But those teachers, years later, some 17:00of them, when we got married, my sisters and my cousins, they were at our weddings.
TK: You were that close.
RB: They came to our weddings. And they knew where all of the children they wereteaching, from the black children they were children, they knew where they lived. The mothers sent the teachers flowers from their gardens.
TK: It was a very close kind of relationship, it sounds like.
RB: Uh-huh, that's unique.
TK: Did you study to be a teacher? I know you earned a couple of degrees but Icouldn't tell. . .
RB: No. Mostly it was after I came here. My mother said when I came toLouisville, she said stay involved and go back to school, keep going to school. 18:00I had my degree but she said go on. I just had a baby. And she said go to school. So I had to find a baby-sitter. She said take something, stay interesting for yourself. So I went over to IU [Indiana University] extension and I took a book review course by William Habbage. I think he wrote a column, he was a book reviewer for the Courier-Journal. It was all white. But I met people and conversed, we talked. Then when I came here I subscribed to the New York Times so I wouldn't be cut off. 19:00
TK: What did you think of Louisville when you moved here?
RB: I always wanted to come to Louisville.
TK: Really, why is that?
RB: Since my childhood. Because there was in the Pittsburgh Courier, a nationalblack newspaper, they spoke of and had articles on Charles W. Anderson, Jr., and I learned that he was the first black legislator in Kentucky. And many other things that he accomplished. So I wanted to -- I said they're very progressive there. Because by subscribing -- well, at home we had all of the newspapers, all of the black newspapers, national black newspapers. There were two, the Michigan Chronicle and the Pittsburgh Courier. The Pittsburgh Courier was national. But we had all these papers. Plus on Sundays, through the week, yeah, through the week, we had three newspapers. We had the morning paper at our house, we had the 20:00Detroit Times and the Detroit Free Press. Free Press was a morning paper, and then the Times, and the News. The News is still printing, being published. So you looked forward -- there was no TV -- you looked forward to the newspapers coming. Down on the floor, you spread the newspaper out on the floor and you just look and read and then you just knew what was going on. So it was the same way with the black newspapers. We had the national black newspapers and our local newspapers. I even saw once or twice, I saw a Daily Worker at home. And then, what's that, the ones that go door to door encouraging you to join you the -- 21:00
TK: The Mormons?
RB: The Jehovah Witnesses. We had their stuff because the lady across the streetwas always bringing it over. So we read all that stuff.
TK: So you knew about Louisville?
RB: Yeah, I knew about Louisville. So I felt if this was going on there, andthen I was mostly aware of other things that were happening like the Scottsboro Boys, the case down in Alabama. So I knew Utopia had not arrived in this country for black people. I knew that. But as I said, it didn't bother me. It didn't affect any of us, the kids that I knew. So I came here, but when you're actually 22:00here, it's different. I would go downtown to shop, they would ask me, folks would ask me where I was from. Because you just dressed differently, you spoke differently. It was kind of hard and where the housing part comes in. . . my husband had described where we were going to live and where we were going to stay. And I remember, we arrived here, I had a baby girl, two years old, and I 23:00was nine months pregnant when I came here. We pulled up in front of this house. And he said, I assure you, he said, this is temporary. And I saw this little house. I didn't say a whole lot, I just kind of felt very depressed, and it was a rainy day there. We stayed there, I guess, about fifteen months. The owners of the house had a house in, had just built a house next to a grocery store, which they were opening. They were black, too. They said we could stay there. Well Lord, that was place was called Little Africa. 24:00
TK: I've heard of it, yeah.
RB: And it was rough. The little house was nice. It was clean, it was planned. Ieven took a course in interior design. Well, I did that over at IU. And then I bought books on interior designs and my husband let me go to Burdorfs and [unintelligible] to fix this little house up in Little Africa. So it was nice and I had a beautiful nursery for the children. However, I never told my mother and father where I lived and I didn't tell his parents. There were no paved streets. People washed in their backyards in tubs. There was a woman who lived 25:00next door to me and she called -- all I knew of her name was that she was called Mammy. And I would send my laundry next door for Mammy to wash. So my sister came to visit me and she took her clothes over and she said she saw her dress in the tub with Pappy's underwear, and she said I'll never wear that dress again. I'll never wear that dress. She has my clothes with that old man's underwear, long underwear.
TK: This is in the early 1950s, isn't it?
TK: That's what I thought.
RB: Maybe some time in the -- yeah, it could have been -- yeah, I know it wasthere in the fifties and the forties. So anyway, I just saw how horrible living 26:00conditions could be. And this is what my grandmother was trying to sensitize us to as children and taking us into -- but I had never seen anything like this in Little Africa. But it did something to me. You know, you think about zoning and code enforcement and all of this. This was absolutely foreign to these people in that area. I was very, very upset. It didn't seem like I was going to get out of this. I think I had like a walking nervous breakdown. The thing that salvaged 27:00the living condition was when my father-in-law, he was a physician, and he came here for a medical meeting from Oklahoma. He and my mother-in-law came in at night so they didn't know. And that morning he was in the shower, I heard the shower running, and I heard him yell. He looked out the window, he pulled the curtain and looked out the window, and he said, "My God, Roscoe, Roscoe, oh my Lord!" He said "Son, where do you have your family living?" And I jumped out of 28:00bed and I said "goodie!"
TK: Now we're going to get out of here.
RB: So after breakfast he said bring me the paper. And he started looking thepaper for housing. We paid on these lots, I think we did that maybe all about the same time because all of this woods, all back here was nothing but trees. And there was a housing, what do they call it, covenant? So it had just been, what would you say, dissolved, released? So that's why we were able to get these lots. We got five lots. And then he bought lots down there, down the side street. So by 1956, we were able to get, we accumulated enough to build this 29:00house. So this house has eleven rooms, five bedrooms, four and a half baths, and plenty of room for the children to enjoy living here. So that's how that came about. But I still wanted to try to help other people. I don't know how I got involved in different things, but the children went to Virginia Avenue School.
TK: Just remind me, how many do you have?
RB: Four. I drove my kids to school in the mornings but a lot of children had to30:00walk. And it always hurt me that there was a row of old, broken down houses [unintelligible] where the kids had to walk past in the morning. They were deserted houses.
TK: Like broken down, deserted houses.
RB: Deserted houses.
TK: I'm just going to turn this over.
END OF SIDE A
START OF SIDE B
RB: So I think that's the thing that made me want to do some civic work. Seewhat I could do to help. It was a blessing to me when I was appointed to the 31:00Mayor's Committee on Community Development, the Citizens' Committee and the Mayor's Citizens' Committee. Highly prestigious committee. All the older people, like, have you heard of Minx Auerbach. TK: I've seen it written down, yeah.
RB: Yeah, she was on that committee. Bankers, architects. I would say theyrepresented the power structure. I was the only black woman.
TK: I was just about to ask that.
RB: Yeah, I think Woodford Porter was one at that committee and Mr. Maupin,Milburn Maupin. The school was named after him up here. Those are the only two I 32:00can think of. So when I joined that committee, I wanted to be on the Housing Committee, and I was appointed to the Housing Committee. But first of all, I had to research everything -- this was up to me. Because, you know, you could sit there and just say um-hum, that's nice. Not shake the boat, not rock the boat. But if you're going to be there and you're going to be there for a purpose, then you have to know what transpired and how you can help. And since you weren't the first person, you didn't organize it. You have to see the minutes, the papers, 33:00everything, and study. And that's what I did. And then I found out about all this housing, and found over here in the Southwick area, where the -- what is it down there? It wasn't Yellow Cab, it was a trucking company over there. They had already expanded into the area that was reserved for further housing or playgrounds. And I said oh --
TK: You mean this company had?
RB: Yeah, yeah. So I read everything, all of it, and I said oh, they're notsupposed to be over there. And I brought that up. And then the housing that was 34:00so detrimental to the safety of young kids walking to school. You know, winos, drunkards, whatever, just standing there and nobody was doing anything about it. So, you know, I brought all this up. I wasn't really popular for doing that. But it was tough. Then they decided to -- because, see, this committee oversees, what would you say?
TK: Oversaw --
RB: Oversaw all federal funds coming into Louisville and how they were dispersed.
TK: On other issues or just housing?
RB: On other issues, too, yeah, everything. But I choose housing. So that gave35:00some leverage. So that went along, that worked out, that worked out. But you had, and like I said, everybody wasn't interested in that.
TK: What kind of things would they have rather have been talking about? Whatkind of issues were other people. . .
RB: Oh, it was zoning, you know, they did zoning. Some of it could have been --whatever, I can't remember now, but whatever federal funds were used in this city, they came through this Mayor's Committee.
TK: The Citizens' Committee.
RB: This Mayor's Citizens' Committee, uh huh, Advisory Committee for Community Development.36:00
TK: Ok, I have heard of that. How did you get put on that, do you know? Was yourname recommended or did someone know you?
RB: Um-hum, and possibly through the work that I did in the West End Community Council.
TK: Which I did want to ask you about that, too.
RB: And then, I don't know if Vera [Dockery] talked about the committee weworked on for the Urban League.
TK: No, she didn't.
RB: Yeah, yeah, well, it was called the Women's Committee. And this wasinterracial group of women.
TK: This was through the Urban League?
RB: Um-hum. And we met in each other's homes. I don't know how often. It wasalways in the mornings, you know, for coffee and donuts or whatever. That was how that came about. First, we would review books. Talked about issues, but we didn't do a whole lot. We just didn't do a whole lot at that time. So it could 37:00have been through them. I was just thinking of another group, this group, Women United for Social Action.
TK: Yeah, I was going to ask you about that, too.
RB: Well, I gave it all, it's all there on that. And the interesting thing was-- oh, she and Lois Morris and myself, well, she and Lois and a beautician that was very well known and very popular. We organized all these women. I was politically involved, always.
TK: Oh really? Could you tell me about that because that's one of my interests,actually, is in black involvement in politics because it seems to be unusually 38:00high here compared to other cities in the South, as you can imagine. So when did you get involved in politics?
RB: Well, I think it was an outgrowth of say, like Women United, OK? And Ialways felt that I had my hands full with four kids and then I was in social clubs where I was with my own friends. We had a lot of fun and enjoyed going to dances and enjoyed going shopping. So everything got started here when the kids, these were the baby boomers who got involved first in civil rights. They changed Fourth Street around and they opened up the theaters. They got the theaters open and the Blue Boar and places like that. The restaurants downtown. I remember one day being on Fourth Street and I was down by, it was a music shop or bookstore, 39:00what was that? They moved out to Holiday Manor, this bookstore did, I can't remember the name of it now [W.S. Stewart's] but it's right across from the Kroger's out at Holiday Manor on Brownsboro Road. And I looked up and I saw all these black kids from as far as I could look and they were all standing, that's all they had to do was just go stand and protest of the theaters not being integrated. My daughter Vicki was in the group with Deanna Tinsley.
TK: Yeah, I've interviewed her.
RB: Did she talk about it?
TK: Oh yeah.
RB: Yeah, they were all in there. And then Stewart's, the department stores, allof it, and the restaurants. They opened the doors and they met every day. . . 40:00they met everyday after school, they went to Quinn Chapel. Did she say anything about Quinn Chapel?
TK: Deanna did, yeah.
RB: Yeah, and that's an old church. There's a lot of history in that church. Theleaders would march them down Chestnut, you know, downtown. And I thought how brave they were. So brave. The kids had to do that first. And then some of them were beaten by people who were managers. I know this because my daughter Vicki 41:00was in the hospital. She wasn't hurt. She was in the hospital on this particular day. And the girl was kicked in the stomach, knocked down and kicked in the stomach by the manager of the Fourth Street Blue Boar. And she was in Vicki's room in the Red Cross Hospital. So that's how I knew these things were happening.
TK: What had happened to Vicki?
RB: Vicki wasn't hurt. No, she was already there for an appendicitis. And I saidthey're so brave. A lot of people don't know any of this.
TK: You definitely get the impression people here don't think that anyone wasever hurt. Over and over again I've heard that, you know. I don't know why. 42:00
RB: Some people were killed in the so-called riots. But they were hurt, theywere hurt. A lot of girls who were hurt by white men. They gave a lot. Deanna would know, she was there.
TK: So you were witnessing all this?
RB: Yeah, I saw it. Then my husband said, because I really wasn't involved inthat part of it, you know, at that time. And he said, "well, I see Mary Nell's name in the paper. Mary Nell is doing this. And Lois is doing this." I said, "Well, Mary Nell," I said, I'm different. I'll get around to that at another time but right now it's important to me to raise the children. Their ages were 43:00differently. So finally, I did. But it was the West End Community Council that I had enjoyed very, very much.
TK: They seem like a very interesting group.
RB: Yeah. And then the nuns were -- the Loretto nuns were involved.
TK: Can you tell me a little bit about how you got involved in the West End?
RB: Um-hum, love to.
TK: Because I may want to write something separate on just them because I thinkthey're so interesting.
RB: Yeah, so anyway, the West End Community Council. I brought up -- becausesee, you could take your problems, really, to the West End Community Council 44:00because everybody was always on top of everything and ready to move. Most of the neighbors, I mean the people who were in the West End Community Council at the time lived in the West End. They lived in the West End. I moved here in 1956 in this house and was it 1965, we were in the movement. This neighborhood was stabilized all during those years. There was no moving out when we moved here or other people moved in the West End. It wasn't until the riots -- and I think the realtors were responsible by scaring people. And Anne Braden's goal was to keep the neighborhood stabilized. And there were signs that we would get to give to 45:00people who lived down here. We said we're not moving. And there are some families, white families, who are still here. And there's a strong Catholic community. But I think they were, I really and truly think that people were pestered and they felt well, I can get a better house, I can get a new house. Although they had lovely doctors. White doctors, white dentists, white attorneys, all of them down Southwestern Parkway, from Broadway going back. From Broadway going south up to for about three or four blocks anyway, yeah. So then 46:00things -- but the riot changed, I think it frightened them. Because nobody -- I didn't want it. I wasn't asking for it. I was in the West End Community Council, was, I guess, it was my pet. And then on Saturday mornings when Father, what was his name, Vernon Robertson, had a house.
TK: I've heard of his name.
RB: And that was like a clubhouse. And we would have meetings over there onSaturday mornings. I see Reverend [Charles] Tachau now. There weren't too many 47:00black ministers involved in the West End Community Council. There may have been some but I don't remember who they were. But like I said, I was on housing. And we got a grant from the government to get VISTAs here. So I had just broken my leg at a party over in Indianapolis.
TK: Must have been a heck of a party.
RB: Well, it was about three or four o'clock in the morning. We had been to adance and everybody was still in the mood to keep the evening going. And I took off my shoes and we were doing a line dance and I went down. They said "Get up! What's wrong with you? Why are you on the floor? Get up!" I said I can't get up, I can't move. So my husband had come on back, he left earlier that day because 48:00he had some patients he had to see. And he was so mad at me, he had to come back the next morning to get me and he took me straight to the hospital.
So anyway, what this led to was, they said Ruth, you go to, somewhere in WestVirginia, and there was a conference there and people who were anxious, people were anxious to get out in the hinterland and offer their services as VISTAs. So you select the VISTAs. And I did. I gave them applications, talked to them about Louisville and what the problems were and all of that. They came back and some 49:00of them became very, very good friends. One thing I was always interested in but I didn't select him was Carroll Schempp. He and another woman named Ella Weathers. Her daughter is an alderman for this ward. Her husband was a physician. And they helped produce the plays for the children, the theater group. All over Kentucky, really, throughout the city. Carol was white. He was from Baltimore, Maryland. Somewhere in Maryland, I think it was Baltimore. He gave his heart and soul to that, to the theater. I can't remember right this 50:00minute the name of the group but anybody else would remember. So that was wonderful. And the money that -- it wasn't free. The money that the customers paid to go into the theater to see the plays, all that money was given back to the kids who were on the stage. They didn't keep anything. This is what kids needed. They have these things in Louisville but they don't have enough of them. I sent my grandkids to, what is it, Stage One. And then out to Iroquois with 51:00another actors' group. It costs a lot of money. You put down two or three hundred dollars or something like that. Well, all the kids can't do that. And this is what they need more theater groups to give the children an opportunity. Even the kids in the suburbs, they don't have anything to do. They don't have anything, there's nothing going on out there. All this big park they just built downtown. All the activities that go on, all the things that go on. The hub of anything is always in the city. The banks are there, the art museums, the major libraries, the theaters, you know. And they go all the way out somewhere else. 52:00And black people finding this out who are moving out in these areas, but they do have a network because they belong to -- and your children belong to -- organizations where the mothers are constantly coming together no matter where the kids live. But it's a whole lot of driving back and forth. But the hub of everything is in the city. So these, Ok --
TK: What else did the VISTAs do?
RB: The VISTAs, they did that, but I had my VISTAs working in housing. And theytook that opportunity, they made surveys for whatever was needed on -- I can find all of that. I'm not articulate enough now to, but they were very, very 53:00good. Art and Judy, I'm trying to think of their last names, he went to law school out in California. And they're out there. They're a Jewish couple, they were married. They were here about three or four years. Very, very smart, very intelligent. And got a lot done. You asked me something else about the Council. Oh, so, how Southwick comes into the Council.
TK: Yeah, that was the next thing I was going to ask you about.
RB: Which was the housing meeting and the committee meeting. And I told the54:00committee all about these troubled buildings down here they're not doing anything about. They helped the work on that too, you see. But, my children were going to Duvalle School, two of them were at that time. I had to drive every morning, take a shortcut, I drove every morning, and I passed on 39th Street just a mountain of trash. And I said what the hell is going on down here? All this mess. I assumed, as anyone else would, that the people who lived there were piling all that trash up down there and were too lazy to put the stuff in dumpsters. I assumed that. So I went to the West End Community Council and had a 55:00meeting and I told them about this condition. And I said it's a health threat, too. So his father died out in Oklahoma and I had to drive the kids -- he flew and I had to drive the kids out there. So we, Sister [unintelligible] and them set up a meeting. First of all, we had to find out who the leaders were. Who you go to. You just can't go and knock on the person's door and say why don't you all get that trash thrown out. Do something about that. It's an eyesore. You can't do that. There's another way to work it.
So there must be leadership down here. So we found that these women had been --there was leadership. And they had been organized for five years, the Southwick Women's Improvement Club, and had a charter in Frankfort. And they were so glad 56:00that someone wanted to help them. And it's something like that that makes you say, oh gosh, this is worth it. This is beautiful. So when I got back the committee had met all the people in the area, the other ministers, church ministers, there was a store -- whomever was down there who was in a leadership position, and met with them, and we invited them to come to the West End Community Council. They didn't have any cars. And there were no buses coming from around there going down even Broadway. So we went down there and took cars 57:00and vans of people and met in the Southwick Community Center in a room. And that's how it all came about. And we had alternate meetings at the Y and down here at Southwick. And we saw all these people in their vans, station wagons or whatever they had at that time, and the cars loaded down going to Southwick to meetings to find out what can we do to help. That was what it was all about, 58:00about helping. So they did. Then they came over here. Then they got on committees in the West End Community Council. So at one meeting there was a woman here who was a part of all of this, her name is Margaret Young.
TK: Someone else just mentioned here to me. I've got to try to find her.
RB: Yes. She has some city job. I'll find out. And so one night she said, well,this is just for the people who live down here, this meeting is. This was like a subcommittee meeting. And you don't live down here. So we don't need you. That kind of thing. So I said, well, look. I said I'm interested. And whether you 59:00know it or not, I have lived down here before the projects were built. I lived in Little Africa, so I have as much right to be down here as you have. You know, I had to stand my ground, she was going to chase me out. So they said. "Oh." And then some of the women would say, "Oh, we're not all alike. Some of us are here quite by accident. We're not supposed to be here." But things happen in people's lives. This is what they said, things happen and you don't want to be here but you're here. But what was so beautiful, I told Dean [Marlin] Volz, who the dean of law school at the University of Louisville, he asked me to be on his committee, his planning committee. And he gave me Southwick, down here, 60:00Southwick and Duvalle. And I said well, OK. So his Head Start is coming, too. And I have been talking to the women about Head Start. So the women, of the two women down there that I really defended, we were more than too, but I was close to, I said, I told them about me being on Dean Volz's committee, he was running for mayor. And I said I need your help. So she would take me and we would go in the mornings, go knocking on the door after the children had gone to school and I was amazed. Everything was so clean. 61:00
END OF SIDE B
START OF SIDE A, TAPE II
RB: -- to do. They were not there.
TK: Who else do you remember as being important who was there? Make sure I havethe right names.
RB: Reverend [Charles] Elliot.
TK: Got him already.
RB: Reverend Elliot. They depended on Reverend Elliot. He was young at the time.And Reverend Leo Lesser. He's deceased. Reverend A.D. King. There were a lot of people, Cheri may be able to remember. There were a lot of women. I can't 62:00remember all of their names. I don't want to say anything if --
TK: If you get the wrong person, right. So, when I talk to Cheri I get thisright, when did she start being involved? Was it open accommodations that she started being involved or after that?
RB: I think it was, no, she stepped in [unintelligible] involved in open housing.
TK: So I know what to ask her about. Cheri, open housing. One of the things Iget this impression and I'm just wondering about this. When you read the newspaper and stuff about the years, the mid to late sixties in Louisville, it seems like the only issue you find about in the paper is open housing. I'm wondering if there were any other issues at the same time, any other civil rights related or race related issues going on at the same time that just didn't get the press that the open housing got? It's seems to overshadowed a lot of stuff. 63:00
RB: All I can remember is the issue of, let's see, I'm trying to think. . . Ithink that was -- I can't think of anything else that was going on at the time. Because in '75 the school integration came. And your paper won't go as far as that.
TK: No, I'm going to include that. That's the last thing I'm going to talkabout. Were you involved in that as well?
RB: I was teaching at that time but I decided that I would do some subbing. AndI got involved with the children because I love kids. And I remember that night, 64:00the first nights, well, I say night because it's daytime when you school now, it's night. And I would being going way to the suburbs somewhere to a school and a lot of times you have to ask directions and it's night and it's dark. And I'd see those kids on the buses. They were leaving the West End, going out this way, going that way. Oh, I just prayed and prayed and prayed for them. How brave they were. Well, I guess the white kids were brave, too, because they were coming in. But it still doesn't, there ought to be another way. I don't see why children 65:00have to get up and be up at dark like they're going to a factory to get an education. It's just so artificial.
TK: Those kids were on the bus for a long time, weren't they?
RB: Yeah, yeah. And I do remember having to stop at the gasoline stations to askdirections of where I was going. I said, God, I wonder how these people are going to react. All these buses with all these black kids were passing by every minute. Very, very nice. Very, very hospitable. Very nice. I said, you just can't always figure these folks out.
TK: That's interesting. The busing issue is one that I really haven't gotten to66:00study very much. I've only heard little bits and pieces about, I guess there was some violence in the South End around that?
RB: Yeah. But see, they had all the protest during the open housing movement andthen the one that you just mentioned. Now they have all the other ethnics over there. There are blacks that are living over there, too. But they have everybody.
TK: That's where the Vietnamese community lives, isn't it?
RB: The Vietnamese, the -- you name it. The Hispanics over there. I saw in thepaper the other day, there are about eight ethnic groups over there. 67:00
TK: Because of recent immigration.
RB: But if all this other hadn't come first, maybe they have calmed down. Andit's a lovely area over there. There are some beautiful homes over there.
TK: And some kind of newer homes, aren't they?
RB: I don't know. I think that some of them have been there for a little while.They're on hills. It's very nice. And of course, Iroquois Park is right there and that's lovely. So I'm sure that everything will work out.
TK: I had a few little detail-type questions along the way that I just wanted to68:00make sure I had correct things on. One thing is, while you were doing this, like when you were in the open housing march and you got arrested and stuff, you mentioned that your husband saw it on TV. What did he think of it?
RB: He had been involved by the kids who were arrested for the marching.
TK: In the open housing?
RB: Yeah, he put up bail. He and a friend of his, a bondsman, Claude Benboe.
TK: I've heard the name.
RB: They were always ready for the bonds to get the kids right out.
TK: That was in the downtown demonstrations? The open accommodations demonstrations?
TK: Oh, it was? Ok, housing. And you mentioned that he was involved in the69:00health center at Park Duvalle? How did he get involved in that?
RB: He had gone out to Tulsa to practice for a while and he came back and heopened his office but he still wanted his patients to know that he was where he was, that he was back in town. So he went down to the health center. They wanted him down there, they needed him down there. So he went down there and he stayed until he retired. But he also had his practice on Broadway. He would go down there in the mornings. And he had many, many, he had so many patients and people were always glad to see him. But he had eye problems so he had to stop.
TK: Park Duvalle, is that center still there?
RB: Yes, but I read that they're going to build a new one.
TK: As part of that housing development they're doing?70:00
RB: It's across the street. Have you ever been over in that area?
TK: I just bicycled down past it, you know, when you bicycle on Algonquin youpass where all the new housing are going up. We went by there. I haven't been it, I just passed it.
RB: Ok, so the housing, I mean the clinic is on the right hand side. And wherePark Duvalle apartments were, the projects, you would never know because the trees are growing up through there and there's a fence around it. They haven't started it as far as I know to build over there. But if you go up a little bit beyond the school and stay on the left and turn in anywhere there, you won't believe those are open housing over here. Just too many. I wouldn't -- what I'm 71:00concerned about is -- it's none of my business -- but the tax base with a small, say like a three-room house, and then next door they have a two-story looks like nine-room house. I don't know how they're going to distribute the tax base down there. A lot of people who lived in the area before are devising a way that they 72:00can come back. But I think they have to be working.
TK: And it's all mixed incomes from what I can tell. That they want it to be allmixed income in there which is probably a good thing. Actually, people -- I know because my husband and I were looking for a place to live and a couple people have recommended there but we want an old house and those are all new houses. They weren't for us.
RB: There are some lovely houses, they're just not the ones that face theparkway. But inside, you know, you can just go ridding anytime. Because people are living in some of them already. I understand that the builder says that he wants porches. And all the houses will have porches.
TK: That's a good thing.
RB: So people can communicate.
TK: That's what we like about some of these neighborhoods is that everybody hasa porch. Some of the older parts of Southwestern Parkway right by the park, 73:00right by Shawnee, all those houses with the big porches. That's what I like.
RB: Yeah, you grew up having a porch?
TK: My grandmother did. We never did but my grandmother did and that's why I'vealways wanted one. I told my husband that is the only thing I require in a house is a front porch. We can't start looking until next spring but we're saving money right now. So next spring I'll start looking really. I did have a couple of other little questions. One thing I just wanted to ask you is after all the Black Six, I know that the Black Six stuff as you said went on for a couple of years. What did you do after that? Were you still as involved or did you pull back or what did you do?
RB: I slept in the house for two years trying to figure it all out. I had acouch over on that side of the room, that couch was over there. I just sat. I didn't go out. Socially, I did things, you know, same friends. But it was a 74:00blessing to live across the street from the park because you had a place to walk and communicate. One great thing that happened was my husband's cousin lived in San Francisco and her husband was pastor of a church called the Glad Memorial Church. And this is one of those great big churches where -- and this is the time when everybody was kind of hip, you know, and you wore all your stuff to 75:00church on Sundays. Some girls wore bikinis. They came from all races and income status and some people like, who was that? It wasn't the Rockefellers. It could have been the Rockefellers. But their daughters -- these parents was coming from all around the east to have conferences with Cecil Williams, the pastor, about their children. This was the hippie days. They didn't understand and people were into whatever they smoked, weed and all this kind of stuff. They'd have dances and bands on the stage, I mean the church pulpit, everybody's doing their thing and then downstairs at the church after church the Black Panthers had tables 76:00with literature and were serving food to the people. But they were all young. It was so many people coming. But dominantly white kids.
They had a service at 8: 30 in the morning and it was like a football game,people were walking towards -- you'd see them walking, walking, walking. It was like they had come into church and then when they get through at 11: 00, 11: 30, there was another service. It was like a stadium. It was like people were coming and going. And all these wealthy people from out east coming to see how you can 77:00help them with their children. So, they called me and after this trial was over they called me, and said we're going with a group from California that's going to Africa and you need to come. You and Cheri need to come. Come on out here and go. Well, we didn't have to come out there. Come on, make your reservation, I'll make the reservation for you. So I talked to my husband about it and in about two weeks we got our passports and all and we went to Africa with them. Most of them were young teachers from San Francisco State, art teachers, history teachers, sociology teachers, gym teachers. Dick Gregory's two daughters were on 78:00the trip. They were chaperoned by someone because they were very young. And this guy, what was his name? On the Olympics, he had been a great star, I can't think of his name right now, down in Mexico.
TK: One of the three guys that did the salute? Yeah, I don't know their namesoff the top of my head. I know what you're talking about.
RB: His sister was on it. It seemed like everybody was connected with someoneelse. Oh, you want to hear all about this person! So we got out there -- no, first we went to Paris. We stayed in Paris about four or five days and everybody let their hair down and relaxed and had a good time. Whatever your thing was and we had a good time. Then we left and that night we were in the airport in Paris. 79:00I said what are all these white people doing going to Africa? What are all these white people doing spending their money? Where are they going? So finally it came to me that they're the ones who owned the businesses in Africa. I said well, I'm going to see Africa. But it was just, oh. . . it was good to get away. It was good to be there. Because everything was different from the way I thought it would be. We went to Ivory Coast first. Of course that's French. Everything 80:00about it is French. It was OK down there. But then we went up to, what was it? Ghana.
TK: I've been to Ghana.
RB: You've been to Ghana? We stayed at that hotel, can't remember the name ofthe hotel. It was nice, big hotel. And every night they had food and they had music. And I said if I was in Louisville I would be out here on the patio sitting, thinking. And I said here there's music downstairs because I hear it. And you go downstairs and you have dinner and you eat and you go dancing. And 81:00then, you see, it's [unintelligible]. So there are people there from all over the world. And we'd go out in the evenings and everybody had a whole lot of fun. We met people from all over the world. It was great.
But the first night we were very [unintelligible] at the hotel. I think so manypeople were very restless when they went to sleep. That morning when they came down to the dining room for breakfast the kids there, they couldn't sleep, and they had nightmares all night. And I think it was such a thing as the spirits of the ghosts of whatever. It could have been their own spirits. They talked about 82:00things that had happened that they couldn't possibly have known about. It's odd. They were very upset, they were very upset. But it was just great. So my cousin, as I said, her husband's a minister. So she said, there's a Methodist church. We just passed a Methodist church. She's regular, but she said don't you want to go in? It's open. Don't you want to go in and pray or say something? He says I will when I get a chance. I'm going to keep on driving. So he drove off. She never -- he never did because he told her, she asked him so many times aren't you going 83:00to go in and pray for people? He said on the last day and the last hour that I'm here in Africa. If I have the time I will go. But I will not go before that and I don't see myself having anytime on the last day. He wound up marrying his Chinese secretary.
TK: He's got other things to do, is that right? Did he figure he had otherthings to do? He was in Africa for the first time and had other things to do other than go to church.
TK: Yeah, there's a lot to do there. It's a great city.
RB: You liked it?
TK: I liked it, yeah.
RB: Did you go with a group or independently?
TK: I went with -- I wanted to go to Africa and found out I was going to go toKenya with [unintelligible]. So I was talking to a friend of mine at the university and she said you know we have a sister city in Tamale. And she's the person who help set that up. So she is considered a dignitary. In fact, she's 84:00considered a chief over there. So she said why don't you go and I'll just set you up with [unintelligible]. So Betty Baye from the newspaper, she had a friend who lived in Accra, so I stayed with his cousin, actually. His cousin's apartment for ten days. Stayed as a guest of the city in Tamale. So they set me up in government housing and everything. And I was on my own in one city, Kumasi. I just went by myself there on the bus, which was an interesting experience. I was there by myself for about five days and then back to Accra and to the plane.
RB: When was this?
TK: Two summers ago. Or maybe three summers ago. 1996. And it was wonderful. Itwas -- the experience -- I've been to Europe, I've been to Spain. I was actually in Morocco once but just for a couple of days. Been to Ireland and Scotland and 85:00all those places lots of times. But this was just completely different in terms of traveling there. It was just very different. And it was also different because I was a guest of people, so we had dinner with the mayor, we had dinner with this. . .Tours of hospitals and schools and that kind of stuff rather than going to museums and stuff like that you would do when you go to Paris on your own or something, you go to art museums and stuff. But I stayed in people's houses. Had dinner every night with families. Except when I was one my own. I ate in the hotel restaurant. So it was pretty wild.
RB: Very nice, wasn't it?
TK: Yeah. And very expensive. The plane ticket was kind of a lot of money. Butit was worth it. It sort of took a big chunk out of my savings account but it was worth it.
RB: Did you have your degree at the time?
TK: Yeah, I had lived here already. I had lived and worked here for one year or86:00two years when I went. Two years when I went. I got the job here in '95, so summer of '95 and then summer of '96. So I had been working here for a couple of years. So I had been to other places and this friend had asked me if I wanted to go to Kenya with her and she was going to arrange everything but it was going to be with her sister, too. At the last minute her sister couldn't go until later on in the year so they put it off to go, but they went in February. And I'm a schoolteacher, I can't go in February. I can only go in the summer. So I sort of -- left kind of in a lurch. And I was going -- traveling by myself -- although some places I've been, I'll go back to Britain because I've been there. And that's when she said if I really wanted to go, she could set it up for me. She did all the work. She introduced me to Betty and arranged for me to meet all the 87:00people in Tamale. She was there in Tamale at the same time I was.
RB: Betty was?
TK: Betty was. We went to Accra together, we went to Tamale together and thenshe left Tamale before I did. Because her trip was only three weeks long and mine was four weeks long. So she didn't go to Kumasi, I don't think.
RB: Oh, Kumasi, yeah.
TK: It was pretty nice. But anyway, I'm trying to think. The last couple ofquestions, is there anything else that you can think of that you were involved with or think you is important? Organizations or groups you think I should be looking up and making sure I know about?
RB: The Buddhist group, because that was the most important thing after --
TK: You mentioned that in your letter or something, I think. But no, could youtell me about that?
RB: Ok, so anyway, when I came back.
TK: When you came back from Africa, right?
RB: That was in 1970, and I was still trying to figure out what to do with88:00myself. I got a lot of reading in. But I just wasn't really sure about people. Who was right. So this came to me. Cheri went to a jazz festival up in Cincinnati. And a friend of hers, a young teacher, well, they're friends now, but she met her up there. And this girl introduced her to Herbie Hancock. So Herbie introduced her to true Buddhism.
TK: Your daughter or the friend?
RB: To my daughter. I think this girl was already practicing. She was, she was.And that's how she knew Herbie. This girl knew Herbie. So she came back home and 89:00she was very interested in it. So this other girl -- I said "Cheri," I said -- well, she set up an altar back in her room and she had the candles and the incense and they'd be back there. And the young people would be out in the yard, in the pool, having a party, having a good time. In fact, they chant. So I said um-um, I don't like her. I don't like her. I said something is, this don't make sense to me, it's not right. So I let it go on. And Cheri went back to school. 90:00She had subscribed to the Buddhist newspaper about the faith. And I called [unintelligible] and I had an end table down there and I let the papers pile up until she came home. She was down at Nashville at Fisk. So other people began to talk to me about this faith. Japanese ladies. I decided to go out and see. I have a seeking mind. So I went out and I started chanting. And to make a long story short, well, I found peace. 91:00
TK: After all this turmoil?
RB: Um hum, I found peace. I found happiness. My life was -- and I think it'strue what they say, cause and effect, and you make the causes. And whatever it is you want in your life --
END OF SIDE A
START OF SIDE B
RB: So, I began to understand karma, destiny, my role, you know, things justbegan to fall in line. So I was chairman for about fifteen years, just about, of the West End District of Women. So that's where my life focused. 92:00
TK: That's really interesting. I didn't know there was an organized group evenin Louisville.
RB: Oh yeah. And out on Bardstown Road in the community center, the BuddhistCommunity Center. Cheri will tell you. But it was so beautiful, so beautiful. And then we had the most fabulous festivals where they came from all over the United States, all over the United States. Yellow people. In Chicago. In New York. Tina Turner got her groove back in Washington, D.C. You know, she had been out of it for a number of years, and her leaders out there talked to her, gave 93:00her faith, talked to her. She chanted. So Tina, we were in Washington, up near the Washington Monument and everybody had their -- my son and them had brought blankets and chairs for us to stretch out, everybody was stretched out. The organization had -- and the Hawaiians came and they created a beautiful stage up there with all the stuff that they brought from Hawaii. And then everybody just laid back all afternoon. They waited and then Tina came. She came flouncing out there and boogied, all dressed, and started singing. And everybody just stood up and applauded. She got guidance in her life and her music and she just put me 94:00[unintelligible]. If she had stayed there and been abused, her life wouldn't have changed.
TK: Is this covered in the movie about her? Because I haven't seen that movie.
RB: I don't know if she has a movie out or not.
TK: Yeah, it was a movie that came out about her life in July. What was thatactress? Very pretty actress.
RB: Angela Bassett.
TK: Yeah, played her in the movie.
RB: Oh, did she play Tina? I don't know.
TK: I just wonder if this part was covered in it, I haven't seen the movie. Ishould rent it and see.
RB: But anyway, from there on in her life became more fabulous than it had everbeen, ever been. And I think she had started chanting before and he was in the [unintelligible], the story in her book. He hit her in the car. They were at an 95:00engagement somewhere down in Texas. And she had a beautiful white suit on. And he wanted some chocolate candy and he wanted her to feed to him. And she said, "I have a white suit on. I have white clothes on." So he started beating on her. So he beat her, beat the hell out of her.
And she went in that hotel through the lobby and by this time he had passed outfrom whatever he was on. He was in the bedroom, she left him in the bedroom and she ran down the alley to a hotel. And she told the manager of the hotel who she was and she needed a room to sleep in because she had to get herself together 96:00before she got back to California, which she did. And they gave her the room and she said, "I will pay you back." The girl has so much money now, she's all over the world singing. But she is a member. So I know when you're positive about what you want to do and you listen to guidance, and guidance is simply another way of looking at a problem that someone else offers you. And not knowing everything yourself about everything in life. You have to open your mind if you want to be happy.
TK: This group that you were in charge of for fifteen years, what did it do?What kinds of things did it do? Did it just run groups or. . . 97:00
RB: Yeah, if you knew someone who said I'm having problems at home, my mother issick or somebody is or something, or my neighbor, you say, oh, ask them to come to the meeting. And then you find out, you ask them to chant and you tell them all about the chanting. So the women's group, that's the one I was [unintelligible]. But then men and women, boys and girls, young men, they would be here in my office upstairs and I brought, I had it here in front of the fireplace. But I was told in front of the fireplace was not the best place, even though we don't use the fireplace. Stay away as far away from the fire. So I changed the furniture around and I put it over here for a while. And then now, I 98:00just wanted to change my living room around so it's upstairs.
But see, Cheri, the guy she married, he teaches, he's an English professor atJCC [Jefferson Community College] and he walked in here, he's from Connecticut, he walked in here and I was sitting over here and I didn't see him and I saw [unintelligible] and said this is the [unintelligible]. I could just tell. But they got married and all. And then five years later he divorces her. Well, you don't make a [unintelligible] especially when you have two children. Things are 99:00not going to work out for you because you're not going the right way about it. It's not going to work out. So he was supposed to be working on, he'd been working on his doctorate at U of L. And it's a thing where he thinks he knows more than the professors because he has an M.A. in journalism, really, from Columbia. And went to some fancy school up in Connecticut.
So I told my husband the other day, I said what they don't understand, he didn'tunderstand, is that you people are not particularly in love with people from New York and the East Coast, black or white anyway. And when you get out in the Midwest and go down South, it's not that easy. But that's the way it is. And I 100:00could have told him if he had asked. Just listen to what the professors at U of L are telling you. But don't know more than the person you're depending on to get your degree. So the time has expired. Yeah, the time is up. But see, that's [unintelligible] and again, this is getting back to Buddhism. This is making a very negative cause because your children suffer. And this little boy, my little grandson, he was four years old and I heard him just beating on his daddy. His 101:00daddy was standing against the car. He was just beating on him and yelling and crying and says please come home, please don't leave, don't leave, please come home. But he wanted to do personally didn't have anything to do with the family. So he left. He got a lot of debt. And Cheri just keeps rising up.
TK: Now Cheri is also practicing Buddhism, then?
RB: Uh-huh. I'm glad she brought it in to my son in Washington. He practices.And his wife, she's a teacher in Maryland. I know things go better for them. I know with the children. I know things go better for them because they're devoted. And it doesn't mean that you have to change your lifestyle or anything. 102:00It's a philosophy and it has to do with happiness for other people as well as for yourself. But you have to get yourself straightened out first. It's a beautiful philosophy.
TK: You said for fifteen years. Does that mean you're no longer?
RB: I'm not as active as I was, I'm not as active as I was. They say people justdon't leave. I couldn't -- he's in it -- her husband.
TK: He's still local? He still lives here?
RB: Over in Indiana. But I think he's trying to work his way back. Sometimeswhen people want to come back, the other person doesn't --
TK: It's like too late now.
RB: So I don't know. But I can tell you more sometime. I could tell you things.103:00
TK: I'm going to go ahead and turn this.
END OF SIDE B, TAPE II
START OF SIDE A, TAPE III
RB: And also there is the possibility that they could be trained as teacherassistants. Girl, you have never seen such a change. And this happened. I went in every day and knocked on the door and told them about Head Start coming and what it was going to mean to their kids and what it was going to mean to them. And getting back to Dean Volz. Those were the only to precincts he won when he ran. And these women, you'd go to Head Start over to the school and you'd go in 104:00there where the Head Start children were. And they'd looked so -- the teachers, you know, the women in the projects, the teachers' assistants. You couldn't tell who the teacher was and who the assistant was. Oh, so proper. Head up, dressed so neatly and so nicely. And, see, some of them had to go to U of L and take the training. Some of them stayed at U of L and got degrees. Imagine that. Others went into other fields. My husband was involved with the health clinic down here, Park Duvalle. And there's a bunch of them still over there. They went into 105:00health. He said they always ask about me. But this is wild. I saw an article in the paper, I think it was last week, that said that Head Start and been one of the most successful programs in government.
TK: And not just for the kids, it sounds like.
RB: Yeah, it's for the family. But at first they didn't want to, they werereluctant to get involved, get their children involved with the meals that they got, lunch and breakfast, breakfast and lunch. Because they said they're not used to eating like that and it's not fair to them for them to come and get this 106:00food and think it's going to be this way all the time. Because when the program is over or they come out of the Head Start age --
TK: They're out of luck.
RB: They won't get this. But they did. Some way they did because everybody --they all improved their lives. And then the next thing, they all would always talk about living down there. They'd say I don't know how many years I'm here for -- back in jail -- I'll get out. And they got their butts out.
TK: It was a project, right? It was a housing project, Southwick?
TK: Is that still there though?
RB: The government also had, what was it, housing for women, single women. If107:00they had to have job -- they had to have job. They could buy nice houses wherever. They didn't have to be stuck in one neighborhood if they didn't want to be. And the women got the jobs. Most of them did have husbands at that time. I know what happened in the sixties, but the women did get jobs and their husbands had jobs. So they got out. They really got out. And the group that came after them, I guess they were like rejects from everything that happened in the sixties. Because I really think that there was a plan to annihilate, just rip us 108:00up as much as they could, just rub us off the scene. I really do believe that. But that was shining, the sixties. It was so much. You think about things and then you have the [unintelligible]. You can tape this if you want to. And this tells about the Citizens' Advisory Committee under the Urban Renewal Program. That was it, under the Urban Renewal Program.
TK: That's why it was [unintelligible]
RB: Right, OK. And then during -- are you in the '60s or when are you starting?109:00
TK: I'm going even further back than that. So yeah, I'll take. . .
RB: OK, OK. So I have to get a cigarette. I think her name was Abby Clement Jackson.
TK: I've heard the name.
RB: You've heard the name. She was very prominent in church circles all overthis country. She went to Europe and all. But we read that President [John F.] Kennedy was having a summit at the White House. [interruption] So we read that 110:00President Kennedy was having a summit conference for the Women of America and Mrs. Jackson, I don't know whether she was the only women invited from Louisville or whether there were others, but we read this in the paper. So we said oh, isn't that wonderful. And when she returned to Louisville from the conference we called her, Lois, Vera and I, and asked her if she would tell us what the summit was about and what could we do to help her carry out President Kennedy's program for civil rights and for women and children. Well, she was 111:00delighted. So we asked her if she would be our mentor. And she said yes, she would. So we called, we sat down and said now how are we going to do this. We were really excited about this. And who we would have, at least the women we would invite who were interested in helping the community. And we found that there were social action committees in many of the black churches. We talked to the ministers and asked them if it would be all right to set up a social action subcommittee in our group as it would be related to their church. Well, they 112:00didn't mind that. So we did that. We had all the big churches and small churches and teachers and librarians and artists and just, you know, all these women.
TK: Was this black and white women or mostly just black women?
RB: This was all black because we thought the white women would -- it would bebetter if we worked in our own community and they worked in their community. And then at the time we had, I don't want to say there was a misunderstanding or a 113:00falling out or anything like that, but not all but many Jewish women are not easy to work with. And there were some conflicts.
TK: Because I know there's like a group of, there's like an organized UnitedJewish Women or something like that group.
RB: Yeah. We just felt that they wanted to boss, be the boss, so to speak, rule.And the sisters did, too. So we said maybe we can handle this by ourselves. We 114:00should handle this by ourselves. There's a subtle kind of individualism, there are some very nice people. Lovely to work with. But we don't always agree.
TK: I noticed that all the names that I recognized in the article, I didn'trecognize all the names in the article, but the ones I recognized were all black women. That's why I asked.
RB: So anyway, we did that. And then all those committees and all that are laidout in there. But our big thing was we'd go to registration with the Louisville Defender Home Show, exposition they called it. And that was always held at the 115:00Armory. I think now it's out to the Fairgrounds. But we got sponsorship from the Wonder Bread Company. They set up the booths and they gave us bread to give to people.
TK: As they were registering to vote?
RB: Uh huh. Wonder Bread. And we taught them how to split their tickets. And alot of things people wanted to know about the technicalities of voting rather than just making a mark on your ballot. And we registered, it's down there, I know we registered over 1,000 people in the week that the Defender was open. 116:00Then they got to the polls, too. So that was one thing that we did. We also, there was an author named Louis Lomax who wrote, I think, the first, the book, it was called, the first book on the civil rights movement. That was in the early sixties. It's called The Black Revolt. So, we said let's bring Louis Lomax in and let's have a dinner and a book signing. And we invited everybody, black 117:00and white.
Stouffer's, which is now the Holiday Inn downtown, on Broadway, had just openedor was getting ready to open. And we were having a few problems trying to get them to let us use the dining room for this dinner. So I called Whitney Young in New York, he was a friend, his family were also friends, and asked him if Frank Stanley, Jr., whose father was the publisher of the Defender and who was a very bright young leader, very intelligent, very bright, -- if Frank could come here 118:00to help us get this place. And Frank went up there and talked to the managers of the hotel and we got it. So then we had this dinner on Sunday, had sent out invitations and all, and had everybody's organization. We had big poles with placards saying who was sitting where. And Louis Lomax spoke and it was great. While he was here -- oh, he came here an hour -- we would talk about the movement and things that were going on and things that should be going on and blah, blah this, and blah, blah that. And we'd get really intense, we were down 119:00in my basement, in the recreation area. And he'd say turn on the music, turn on the music. Things are intense now. We'd just leave this on the table and we'll come back to it. And then everybody danced. We'd get out there and everybody would dance and do their thing, do their number for about twenty minutes, burn up this energy. And then OK, come back. We'd go back to the bar and sit down at our tables, wherever we sat down, at talked and planned. So he was in and out of here, assisting us and helping until he died in an automobile accident. I think it was out there in New Mexico. But that was a big thing that brought us together to really communicate. Also, during the -- maybe Anne and Father Tachau 120:00would have a clearer memory of this, but there was a group, a white group, who organized to support the Black Six.
TK: I haven't talked to Anne yet.
RB: You haven't gotten to Anne.
TK: I haven't gotten to her yet. And Tachau didn't remember very much about it.
RB: He didn't?
TK: No. But I'm assuming that Anne will.
RB: Oh, I can't remember the name now. They met in churches, white people did.Very, very supportive of things that were going on. The only thing that I regret is that I never sat down after this was all over and wrote to these people, at 121:00least a letter to a group, preferably letters to each individual who helped. But see, what I was accused of was so alien to me and my way of doing things and looking at things, I never identified with being a member of the Black Six. I was in it, I was a part of it, but I was aloof. And after it was all over, because it went on for several years. There were changes of venue and the trial lasted ten day, a week or whatever. But I knew who the culprits behind this 122:00were. But I didn't feel anything. Maybe one was just spent. But I should have written to them. I didn't even write to my lawyer and I didn't have to pay him anything, [unintelligible]
TK: (Ben ) was your lawyer?
RB: Um-hum. Each person had the best lawyers in town.
TK: I didn't know that. I thought you just had one lawyer that handled everybody.
RB: No, no, each person. And some of the -- you didn't even know these peopleuntil they brought everybody together.
TK: You mean the other of the Six?
RB: No, everybody didn't know everybody. I hadn't seen them. Isn't thatsomething? It was all the troublemakers, the so-called troublemakers that they wanted to punish. 123:00
TK: How were you considered a troublemaker though?
RB: Well, say, if you're talking about open housing and there's housingsegregation and you keep agitating that in various ways. Mayor [Kenneth] Schmied was a Republican mayor, and he said he didn't like criticism. He liked friendly criticism. Well, what the hell is friendly criticism, you know? So he said, he told someone, or least someone told me that he said that I used the ministers, you know, you can't use a man. You can't use a black man for your own -- 124:00
TK: Especially not a minister.
RB: Yeah, plus I'm not a minister. But that's what he thought. That's where he-- Reverend King had told me, he said you think you can get things done without the churches. And you can get nothing done without the support of the churches. And then the civil rights movement under Martin Luther King here, the open housing movement, we were in church, my kids and I were in church, every night for one solid year. A different church.
TK: Actually, I was going to ask you if you could tell me more about yourinvolvement in open housing, once the open housing movement got started because 125:00that's something I definitely need to know more about.
RB: Yeah, so, that's how that. . .
TK: Were there mass meetings or strategy meetings or?
RB: They were strategy meetings, they were meeting at churches for people tocome who lived in different neighborhoods. Because some people, if they live in one neighborhood, they're not going to make the effort to come out and leave their television and all and go all away across town to another neighborhood. And then the ministers were responsive to Martin Luther King and his brother, A.D. And that was Reverend Hodge. Reverend W.J. Hodge was pastor of 126:00[unintelligible] Baptist Church and the president of the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People]. And then Reverend King's brother lived here at the time. I remember one night at a strategy meeting before, I guess it was going to be a big march the next day. It was at Reverend King's house, Reverend A.D. King's house, that was his brother. And he said -- all the men were tired, they were tired and they were lying on the floor. Some were lying on their back talking and some were on their stomachs with their chins propped up by their elbows and hands, talking. Well, A.D. kept interrupting, just kept interrupting, not waiting until one person was through before he started. And I never shall forget, Martin Luther King said to him, he 127:00said "A.D.," he said the moderator -- oh, A.D. was supposed to have been the moderator -- he said, "A.D., the moderator has to be the coolest man in the room. You can't get carried away." I said, "Wow."
And then one time during the movement we were at someone's church in theafternoon having a meeting. I was leaving for Europe the next day. And he said to me, Martin Luther King said I never heard of anybody leaving the movement to go on a vacation to Europe. I said I don't want to go but these are my husband's 128:00plans. So I have to go. So OK, I went. I remember leaving Spain, Madrid, 12: 30, 2: 30, something like that, in the afternoon. It must have been a little earlier, about 12: 00, 12: 30, OK. And we had a nice [unintelligible] at home. Got in Louisville that night. I was a little fatigued. So there was a big -- at 5th Street, not at 5th Street, at the Quinn Chapel Church at night -- it was going to be a big meeting. Well we had told the housekeeper when we left that the kids could not go, could not be involved in the movement while we were gone. They could not go to any of the meetings or the marches. Well, they manipulated her and they went to marches. So they were telling me all about the marches when 129:00I got home. And this was about 7: 00, I had only been home a couple of hours, and my youngest daughter, Peggy -- you have to meet her, honey -- she said, "What's the matter? You're not going?" She said, "Are you afraid to go?"
They were going out to Iroquois, out here where all the ethnic groups are now,down on Fifth Ward, out there. And these people were very, very antagonistic to the open housing movement. So they used to go on buses and the people would throw, would break the windows in the bus throwing rocks at them and all. They'd start going in moving vans and get into all that business. Oh my God, is what she said. Well, if you don't go and you're back in town, everybody will think that you just chickened out. So to keep her mouth closed, I consented to [go] 130:00along with them since they wanted to go. Well, honey, the night we got there and Muhammad Ali was there. And he spoke. And he said that women, this was a man's job, and the women had no business going out there and being ruffled up by a lot of thugs, whether they were the police or the citizens who lived out there. He called them thugs. He said this was a man's job. There are things for women to do but they don't have to go to the front. And I thought to myself, well, 131:00there's a point. And I thought back to when those young girls were hurt during the marches for the integration of the hotels and eating establishments and stores. They were hurt. So anyway, I went on and they told me when I got in the van that night, Reverend Lessor or Reverend King said, don't be close to your children. Stay separate from your children because if something happens you don't want both the mother and the child hurt. So stay separate. So we had all 132:00these big -- what would you call it? Cheri would know. The people who came in here to help people.
TK: Like marshals? Or SCLC [Southern Christian Leadership Conference] people?
RB: Uh huh, SCLC people. They stayed here. There were a bunch of them here. Theywere in town while the whole movement was going on. So there was this one man named Big Orange, a young man named Big Orange. Big Orange was about 6'4" or 5 and weighed about 250, 300 pounds. That guy had a big Afro, a black man with a big Afro. And he said, "Ms. Bryant, I'll take care of Peggy, she'll be with me and nothing going to happen to her with me." So I said OK. And then A.D. said, 133:00the leader said, you're going to get her hurt if you're in the front.
TK: Seems backwards to me.
RB: If you're in front, that's when you're arrested. The police take you to thefront -- I mean, you'll be in the front so they take the front line. They take the leaders away. I said that doesn't make sense but --
END OF SIDE A
START OF SIDE B
RB: So that's what they did. So anyway, Peggy was in the back. And they saidkneel. And they had all these Ku Klux Klan signs up across the street when we got out over there by Iroquois Park. Looked like thousands of people. And they 134:00were holding up signs and they were yelling and calling names, calling us names and all of that. It was pretty scary and there were plenty of police cars out there and police wagons. They had vans or wagons at that time. Police wagons ready to take people in. It was -- I had never been in anything like that. So anyway, I heard this -- we were all kneeling across the street or sitting on the ground. Long rows of people. And I looked behind and I saw police and people all merge right where Peggy was sitting. And I shot out there. I ran back. I had a 135:00pantsuit on and a little jockey cap so l looked like a boy or something. And I ran back there to get her. And this cop got me by the neck like this and I was fighting him. And we fought all the way to the paddy wagon. And that was on national television. My husband saw it the next evening. He said, "My God, is that you out there?"
So I got in the paddy wagon. Well, after a while, the paddy wagon -- I never136:00knew exactly what had happened. I was taken down to the police station. Then they put you in holdover. Well, the rest of them though it was so something that I was in the police station and I had been arrested. But on the way, when it was full, this white boy was thrown in. He was a heckler. He was thrown in with us. And these black guys. And he'd been calling them niggers and all kind of stuff before. Throwing rocks and all. The cops threw him in there. So I know he was scared. I know that boy didn't know whether he was going to get out of that wagon alive. So they took him on down. And you know what they made him sing all 137:00the way? "We Shall Overcome." He had to sing it, not in unison with anybody else, he had to sing it all the way down to this police station. And he will never forget that. That boy will never forget that. Because he didn't know what was going to happen to him. I bet he never got [unintelligible] anything else. You know, the heckle people.
TK: What a great story.
RB: Yeah, he may be up in Idaho or --
TK: Somewhere else.
RB: Something like that. But it was very intense. So when we got in there thatnight in the police station. They thought it was so funny. As I told you, that I was there. "Well, they got you at last. They got you at last." I took it like, 138:00you know. . .
TK: Who was saying that? Other people arrested or the police?
RB: Other people. The other male leaders. So I called my husband and said, "I'min the police station and I've been arrested." And then there was a friend of mine, a women, Ella Weathers. She was there, she came in a few minutes later. She was the one who acted with the theater group.
TK: Yeah, you mentioned her before.
RB: And her daughter, Denise Bentley, is the Ninth Ward alderman. So that's howthat went that night.
TK: Did your daughter get arrested? Peggy? Do you know what happened to her that night?139:00
RB: No, no. But one night we were all thrown out of the aldermanic chamber whenwe came to hear, to see whether the housing ordinance was going to be passed. I don't think any of that -- they threw people down those iron, what are those steps? Iron, steel, on the Sixth Street side of City Hall. They threw people out and threw them down those steps. I don't know who all was hurt. But things like that did happen.
TK: You were there when they did that?
RB: Um-hum. I didn't go outside but I was looking out a window inside and I sawit. I was waiting until it calmed down somewhat. They weren't thrown down. But 140:00Cheri has -- oh, so what happened to the night of the riot? The so-called riot. My mother-in-law was here from Tulsa. It happened on the day of Cheri's birthday. And the next night we had planned a graduation ball for her at the Holiday Inn, which is Seelbach. Invitations had gone out, everything was set for that next night. This was her birthday when all of this happened. My mother-in-law was here for her birthday. They accused me of wanting to blow up 141:00the refinery. Well, the refinery -- this is the end of the block right here. The refinery is right next to the park. Why would you blow up your home? Yourself, your children, on your daughter's birthday, and your mother-in-law is here for the commencement. We left the house, we had dinner, and then we had left the cake on the table, the birthday cake on the table and we said we'd eat ice cream and cake when we came back. But all this other thing happened up there at 28th and Greenwood. So we went -- when we were up there, I drove a car up there. And 142:00everybody was waiting for Stokely because it was our understanding that Stokely was coming here to speak. And this fellow, [James] Cortez, whom I had met in Washington at a hotel where all the civil rights leaders were staying. And I think that he was attracted to that table because Andy Young was at the table, Jesse Jackson was at the table. All the prominent people. I can't think of the rest of them right now. And he came over and he said he was with Stokely. And he was flashing all these pictures and things out of a little attaché case and 143:00all. So I said "Oh" -- that was really dumb on my part -- "Oh, it would be nice if you could get Stokely at that time, to get Stokely to come since you're working with him at SNCC's office, if you could get him to come to Louisville. We're in the middle of the open housing movement there." And oh, he said, yeah, he would. He could do this and all that. Well, he came and I don't know if Stokely ever knew who he was. I think he was an FBI cover-up.
TK: What makes you think that?
RB: Because I heard it too many times. My son was away in college at the time144:00and I think he told a friend of his about it from Cleveland. And he described this guy, Cortez, and he said oh, he's FBI cover-up. And it kept coming from other sources.
TK: So not just from one place?
RB: Yeah. And my husband would hear him at night on the telephone talking to --these long conversations, guarded conversations. So he told me --
TK: So did he stay here?
RB: Once. Yeah, once. But after the riot, no, he wasn't here. No. It was toodangerous because we really hadn't checked him out closely enough. So he's up 145:00there telling the people that Eastern Airlines, Stokely was up in the plane, on Eastern Airlines plane, and they wouldn't let him land in Louisville. Well, that doesn't make sense. That doesn't make sense. Well, that's all the kids heard.
I was in the grocery store. I think there was an A&P grocery store there at thetime. And I was -- I -- the store while all this -- waiting for the plane. People were just milling around. So I said well, I'll shop for my groceries. I had parked in the parking lot right next door to the store. So when he came, when he said that, evidently the kids -- I don't know whether it was planned or what, I have no way of knowing -- there was down on the corner, A&P was a half a 146:00block to the corner of the intersection there. And everything, people started running as I came out of the store they were running. And Peggy -- because they didn't know what was going on -- I think that's when the cleaners was probably put on fire. And folks just dispersed. The police were standing like that, like this, because they didn't know what was going on either. So they just stood there. So Peggy saw a lot of people running and Peggy jumps out from the front of them. Don't run! Twelve years old.
TK: Is that how old she was?
RB: Yes. Don't run. Take your time and walk. You have nothing to be afraid ofbut fear itself. Don't run. 147:00
TK: A twelve-year girl said this?
RB: I grabbed her and said --
TK: Run. No.
RB: And I said you better come on here. So my mother-in-law was with me. Youjust didn't know what was going on. So we started running away from the sight. And Sam Hawkins, who was one of our visitors, who worked with the West End Community Council, he said "You all come down to my house. My mother's home." So I said "Gosh, you live about five blocks away. We're going to run five blocks?" So we were running down the railroad track. Everybody old and young, trying to get away. Just running, just running. And then I saw billows of -- I didn't know 148:00what it was at first. It was plastic in the sky all above our heads. Puffed out. I said "God, what is that?" He said, "Oh, the folks who robbed the cleaners. People ran in there and took the clothes."
The only building that wasn't destroyed, I think, or damaged was Ken Clay's giftshop, gift shop and bookstore. But people had been in there buying books and jewelry, whatever, artifacts. But they didn't touch that. So that night I said -- I was so worried, my husband didn't even know any of this was going on -- and I had left the car unlocked in the parking lot. In the Kroger's parking lot 149:00there or A&P, whichever it was. And I had to tell him I had to get through. I had to get back up there to get the car. But the whole area was sealed off. But you didn't want to leave an unlocked car. Somehow I managed to get back up there. Someone took me. I don't know who it was now. Maybe it was in Cheri's car, I think. So I went up there and asked them if I could take my car off and take it home. And that was the last of that, I thought. But when there was an arraignment. There was an arraignment and Sam and Kuyu were -- Kuyu was with 150:00SCLC and Sam was with our group.
TK: The West End Community Council.
RB: Uh huh. And so, let's see how this happened. I remember it was in theevening at the District Court here, and we went up to his arraignment. Something was happening. Several members of the Council were there, and I know Anne was there. I went out in the hall to get some water. I was thirsty. And there was the county judge, the mayor and I can't remember Marlow Cook's position at that 151:00time. They were wondering what [unintelligible] to find out.
TK: I don't remember either. I know the name.
RB: A lot of people would know but I don't remember right now. And there theystood, the three of them. And they were talking about -- they weren't talking about him in there so much but rounding up other people. And he said the word, they would call it a conspiracy. It would be referred to as a conspiracy. That's what it would sound like if they did what they were planning to do. And I had no 152:00idea at that time. I just thought it was an odd conversation. Who could they possibly talking about?
TK: Did they see you standing there?
RB: Um-um. If they did -- the mayor was the only one who really knew me. But theothers didn't know, but they were these three portly white men standing up there talking. And I said that's where it all came from. That's what they planned. To just get rid of troublemakers.
TK: And you knew Kuyu and Hawkins before?
RB: I met him when he came here from with the SCLC people.
TK: But he wasn't from here?
RB: No, he was from Alabama.
TK: Was Hawkins from here?153:00
RB: Um-hum. And see, they also were responsible for the [unintelligible] use onthe various campuses. That was one of their responsibilities in the Council was to help us establish black student unions. And they went on the various campuses helping and encouraging the students to establish [unintelligible].
TK: Was that under BULK? Was that under the organization of BULK?
RB: Uh-huh. I organized BULK.
TK: Yeah, I wanted to ask you about that, too. Actually, I have a lot to askyou. How did you organize that?
RB: It was called the Black Unity League of Kentucky. It was mainly organizedfor educational purposes. There were young men in the organization who gave 154:00tutoring in the evenings or after school to children. We had a setup at a place there at, was it, somewhere in the 3600 block or 3700 block of Broadway. Used to be a bakery. So the bakery left and this was, I guess the Council paid for it. I'm sure they did. And Kuyu would call me and he would say, Ms. Bryant, I met some young brothers today and their heads are really off and they need some help. Can you talk to them? And so I said I'll be by. And I'd go up to the 155:00Council, I mean go up to where we had our little BULK office. And then Father Tachau helped us to get a car through the, I can't remember the name of the group but the name is, the precise name for this group or organization, but it was the Episcopal Church. And then there was something else called, was connected with Sunday schools on a national basis. And they trained them, too, in Washington for how to approach kids and how to talk to them and get them 156:00interested in the subjects. That's all this was about.
TK: They trained BULK people?
RB: Yeah, this was the young children. That's all we were trying to do was helpthe kids.
TK: So you had educational programs, that sort of thing for them?
RB: Uh huh. And in the car he went all over. Well, you know, once at theUniversity of Louisville, he could talk to them. He had easy access to them. But on campuses where there were black students, that's where he went because that's where we really went.
TK: Into campuses rather than high schools?
RB: No high schools. But everybody at that time was so interested. These youngpeople were in learning more about their history. 157:00
TK: So was this an outgrowth of the Black Pride Movement? The black culturalmovement in the late sixties?
RB: I think everything just sort of flowed. Yeah, just kind of flowed intoanother thing. Maybe with a different name. But this black student movement, that was very, very important to the children or for the kids. And unless you had some knowledge of black history in your family and books in your family as you grew up, they were not in the schools. They were not in the schools.
TK: Really? Even the predominantly black schools like Central?158:00
RB: Well, I don't know what they had there because I didn't go there. But theyneeded more to understand. And then the white people needed to know, too. They have ethnic studies now on most campuses. And I think the schools offer some degree of ethnic studies. Well, it's good to know about Latins, but it's important because they own the country. They had the country before the Americans, not the Americans, but the English took the Spanish territory away 159:00through war. They own California and Texas. It's their country. And now they're talking about the Spaniards, Hispanics are going to be in the majority minority. And that's moving very, very, very fast.
TK: Immigration, yeah.
RB: And Cheri, that's one thing that she's working on, beginning to work on nowis the -- what's the word? Bringing them to organize, mobilize. And then Sunday, no Saturday, there was this cultural festival. Did you go?
TK: No, there was so much else going on at that day, so I missed that one. Therewere a lot of other things to go to. But I do remember hearing about it. Reading it in the paper.
RB: But I don't know. I think people are wondering how white people are going to160:00except this, well, numerical minority status.
TK: Yeah, it's a big issue for the millennium. So I read some stuff. I talked toBlaine Hudson about the black student group at U of L a little bit. So I guess I was under the wrong impression. I thought that BULK had mostly worked with younger men, but you're saying it worked with college age more than with the high schools.
RB: They went on campuses. Yeah, they did work here in the city. They workedwith the younger men. But then they went to and I can't remember the schools 161:00that they went to now. But they got a call for that purpose. They went on other campuses. But you see, I think the only thing that they could do in the short time that they had before all the Black Six thing came up was to plant the seed for BSU.
TK: Because it was only about a year after they found it that the Black Sixthing came up.
RB: That's why. You see, it just put a stop to all of that. It put a stop to[unintelligible], it put a stop to that. It put a stop to the housing thing. Of course, they passed the housing but at such a price.
TK: Were you involved very directly in the actual organizing of the ordinance or162:00trying to get it passed?
RB: No, that was Louise Reynolds worked with the leaders.
TK: What about any of the voter registration or anything? The campaign? BecauseI know that, leading up to the ordinance getting passed, there was another alderman race and that that had helped. Were you involved in any kind of political activity during that? Getting the people to elect the alderman or anything like that?
RB: For what?
TK: For open housing, before open housing.
RB: Well, there was only one.
TK: That's Louise.
RB: That was Louise and I can't remember who followed her. For a long time therewas only one black representative on the alderman board. They worked very closely with the black ministers and the NAACP and SCLC. Always, always. They're not there independent of --
TK: The community.163:00
RB: Uh huh, yeah.
TK: You reminded me of a question I had. Way back when we first started talking,before I even turned the tape recorder on, you said something about how Reverend [unintelligible] had asked you where the middle class was. What did he mean by that?
RB: The one at the meeting.
TK: Really? At the open housing meetings?
RB: At the meetings at the churches. At the rallies at the churches.
TK: So who was there? Working class people?
RB: It was a handful of people, always, who -- now, if he came for a speech --
END OF SIDE B, TAPE III