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TRACY K'MEYER: Where I always start is with very basic information; when and where were you born?

TONY HEITZMAN: Here in Louisville, February 23, 1931.

TK: And could you tell me about where in Louisville you grew up?

TH: The Highlands. Right near here.

TK: And what school did you go to?

TH: Grade school was St. Francis of Assisi elementary, and then the seminary, high school, Saint Meinrad--

TK: Oh, okay, I've heard of that one. Is that the same one that Pat Delahanty went to?

TH: No, he did not go there, I don't think.

TK: Someone else I talked to.

TH: St. Meinrad . . . and it's St. Meinrad, Indiana, southern Indiana. It has the same postal . . . and then I went high school, college, theology there. I kept it simple.

TK: All one fell swoop.

TH: I did do some post graduate at U of L and master's in science and community 1:00development; did that in '71, I think was my diploma, '71 or '72.

TK: I've heard about that program and I call people about that.

TH: And Pat did that, too, Pat Delahanty did that one, yeah.

TK: Yeah, right. I think he actually gave me something that is written out of that program. I understand that you have quite an extended family in the area?

TH: Yes. The family of Heitzman's Bakery. You might have heard . . . my father was J.C. Heitzman and the current bakery is Charles Heitzman. That's all part of my family.

TK: How long has your family been in Louisville?

TH: My grandparents got here in the 1880s, married here. All four of them were immigrants and then they married here and all their roots are here. Yeah. And the bakery over a hundred years, 125 years. So when people say they've been 2:00here, the roots thing, I always tie it in with the bakery. It's in its fifth generation, I guess, or sixth.

TK: That's amazing. I know my department gets stuff from there every Thursday. [laughter]

TH: Yes, there you go. That's it. That's the roots.

TK: One question I have is . . . so you went to seminary as well as high school, so how did that happen? How did you get interested in doing that?

TH: Being from a very deeply Catholic family, the concept of vocation or calling was a big thing in those days and I was one of nine children, second youngest and the question was raised early on, maybe sixth or seventh grade, "What's your calling?"

[interruption-"You have a visitor."]

TK: You were saying around the sixth or seventh grade, the subject came up?


TH: Hm-hm. And that was always a question that was raised to everyone, really, in the elementary Catholic school and I had some good role models as priests and also other buddies were also talking about that as part of a peer thing so I gave it a shot. And I was encouraged and I really, once I got there I really liked the environment and the boarding school aspect, you know; made a lot of friends and it was from a Midwest region, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, you know. Obviously, it widened my vision real fast once I got there and began to get into the rhythm of study, prayer, reflection, very, very high standards academically 4:00and spiritually but it challenged me and I think I sort of liked the challenge.

TK: Did you ever waver?

TH: Oh yeah, every year. [laughter] Yeah. I mean, every year you would do a retreat and review whether you wanted to go ahead and pursue your next year or your studies so every year there was this wavering, especially a couple of things, you know, that was pretty normal. I was a pretty good athlete and I had friends of mine who were pretty, doing the high school thing here and I was envious of that and said, "Gee, if I'd just gone on, I would have probably been in that environment." And that was one of the things that would sort of pop up now and then. And then the whole idea of the academic challenge; I mean, "Gosh, 5:00do I have to go another course, another year, another. . . ?", you know, and that got tiresome after awhile for any student but I would wonder, gosh. But we'd have a break in the summer, so I'd come home and work in the bakery and stuff like that.

TK: You lived there then. . . ?

TH: Nine months, nine months of the year and three months here.

TK: And this would have been in the late '40s?

TH: Yes.

TK: High school would have been late '40s and then college?

TH: Yes.

TK: Was the intention always to be a priest in Louisville?

TH: Yes. And I was ordained in 1957 and the anniversary was yesterday.

TK: Really?

TH: Yes. So we had a little celebration, yeah.

TK: Long time ago. One of the questions I like to ask people is, what in sort of the religious context at seminary and church did you learn about social issues and social involvement and things like that?


TH: Very early on in high school and college--and the way it would come about would be in the context of initially missionaries that would be doing work in the South; missionaries would be doing work in poverty areas; missionaries, both men and women who would be doing foreign missionaries; and there was a community called the Maryknoll Fathers and religious Sisters and so on and they would very often--and I was sort of interested in that for awhile even though I stayed at Meinrad and was thinking study for Louisville, there was this pull every once in awhile to, you know, and I was enamored by the Maryknoll spirit and the ones I knew. And I had a couple of friends who went there and we would correspond.

So the social issues would be talked about in context of poverty, in need of 7:00faith, education, prejudice and then the ethnic question would be coming up, the South America, Central America sometimes, but that came a little later. It was Korea, Japan, China. And probably the two most dramatic things and it has come up just recently: one was this young lady by the name of Dorothy Day appeared and, you know, she was introduced as a radical woman who did the streets in New 8:00York City and dah-dah-dah and you need to go to this talk, this lecture. She's going to make a retreat and be on the, we called it the hill, this Meinrad thing, she's going to be with us for awhile and she's going to give some talks and this was almost revolutionary at the time, that a woman would be invited to Meinrad which was all male and she's going to inspire us and teach us and tell us about something. That was a deep impression for me.

TK: What did you think of her when you met her?

TH: Oh, just was, you know, gosh, maybe I'd like to go to New York and spend . . . she would get invitations; "if you want to spend a month with us in the summer, you're welcome to come," and I wondered about that. And similar things were happening in Chicago, those two major cities, and I questioned myself. That 9:00would be interesting. And some of the fellow classmates did that or, you know, and then they would come back the following year and tell us about it or I'd learn about their experience and it sort of tugged at me to, boy, that would be interesting. And it may be the first time I heard inner-city, poverty, heard street people, alcoholism, I don't remember hearing drugs at that point but homeless. . . . And another speaker other than Dorothy Day talked about--he was a priest from the South--talked about racism, particularly African American.

In those days it was the Negroes versus the whites and again that sort of intrigued me about prejudice and we had, at that time, we had maybe a few African Americans in the seminary, not a whole lot. But I was hearing about integration here in Louisville and the Catholic setting, curious. And now I'd 10:00like to give you a couple of sidebars here. Not too far from here is where I grew up on Dundee Road. A block over was Yale Drive. Strangely enough, in this all-white community, there was a block of Negroes and as a kid, fourteen, fifteen--or twelve, thirteen, fourteen--we would associate with them and play some ball, streets, you know. And I began to question, you know, we're doing this in our neighborhood and yet I'm hearing stories about this doesn't happen in Louisville, you know, there's not this relationship. And I became really 11:00curious. In the meantime, my family, my mom and dad particularly, would always address that issue very clearly. You never use the "N" word, either in the house or the bakery, never. You will never say that. Always respect, even love, because it's your neighbor, you know. No matter what you hear, Tony, dah, you know. And boy, you know, it was very clear, very clear. And so this is in me very early on so when I began to hear the opposite, I really became curious and questioned and thought it was wrong, I mean, I got in this whole ethical stuff early on. I didn't use that word but they're wrong, I'm right about the "N" word, about relationships with blacks--in those days Negroes. So that brought on 12:00some real curiosity.

Near that same age, we had a home, temporarily, out in J-town, out in Jeffersontown--we called it our summer home--and there was a little church there, a Catholic church and I walked in the back of a church and saw for the first time, "Colored Only" and this was, you know, really a shock to a fourteen year old kid, fifteen. And I deliberately sat in there and then this little maverick in me was saying, "I wonder what will happen?" Well, I was told by the usher to move and I was a seminarian at the time so I naively go to the pastor and say, "This isn't right, why can't I. . . ?" "Well, those are for the Negroes," and I might have heard the word nigger even, you know, but I said, 13:00"Well, that doesn't sound right, we're a Catholic church." I started my little preaching but he said, "Don't say anything more, Tony." This pastor was telling me, "No, you don't say anything." So he shut me up and I took that little notion back to the seminary and I remember going over that with the spiritual director or with some priest there and he again said what my parents said, love your neighbor, don't use the "N" word, respect them. And this sort of began to grow in me, this concept of relationship and why not? And it's right, according to the gospel, although I wouldn't have said that in those words. But my point here is that the roots I had not too far from here taught me and to my parents, taught me that we're all the same and we all have the same dignity as human 14:00beings and looking back that probably made the difference. Because there were others from, other classmates, other stuff that was going on that was just the opposite of that.

TK: Now, you said that when you were at school it was, over in southern Indiana was when the integration stuff was going on here; how aware were you of the stirrings of civil rights activity and school integration?

TH: Okay, I'm still there in the early '50s. Stuff that I was hearing was like in the service, things were changing and we were beginning to have the GIs. They were coming back and coming to the seminary. Now, they were coming with their stories a little bit. Now, I don't want to exaggerate this but I was hearing 15:00little folk, "In the army we were beginning . . ." and I remember the Truman story of he stood up at one point, President [Harry] Truman, and said, "They are going to be, our troops will be integrated." I can remember sort of seeing that in the headline and Time magazine. So I was hearing other places were integrating, quote, unquote, barriers were breaking down and I thought to myself, I thought, "Well, if there's a model, it should be the church." The church should be leading that or should be certainly supporting integration. And we'd have talks about it; I can remember, what about marriages, what about mixed color marriages? Whoa, that was the biggie. And I can remember discussion about 16:00that and then a question-answer to one of the speakers that in time, that'll be okay, you know, but it's difficult for couples who want to get married and dah-dah-dah. Church-wise it's okay, they're free to marry, dah-dah-dah.

But in Louisville at that time I really didn't know much that was going on, I mean, I didn't hear any headlines. In the early '50s, there weren't any big things going on; what was going on was very subtle, I suppose, and people were still being kept out of certain areas and I did know something about that, I thought, you know. So, if I could jump at this point, the next thing that happened, you know, I ended up being ordained in '57; I did experience a couple 17:00of things with a classmate who was Negro, John [unintelligible] and I was trying to befriend him and get to know him and during the summer we're heading to a Cincinnati ballgame to see the Cincinnati Reds and we're going through, not Covington but halfway there, Levinworth maybe, and it was in those days not the interstate and so we get in this small town, I'm stopping to get lunch and he said, "I can't go in there." And I said, "What do you mean?" He said, "They won't let me in there. I don't want to have any trouble, Tony, just bring me a sandwich out." Well, this lead a whole discussion; I learned from him what was going on in Louisville. This was probably in '53 or '54. He said, "Tony, one of these days I'll take you around and I'll show you the signs and I'll show you the bus station downtown, I'll show you the churches that won't let me do what 18:00you do and that would be, you'd really learn a lot." I said, "Oh, I bet I would." When we get to the Crosby Field, the old Reds baseball field, he again tells me, "I can't sit there." I said, "What do you mean?"

TK: In Cincinnati?

TH: Yeah. He said, "I can't sit there. My section's over there." And he points to, you know, all the Negroes are over in this one end section. He said, "I can't sit here." He said, "Follow me." So I followed him and he took me over to the section next to the Negro section that was overloaded anyway and boom, we sat there. No trouble. We were near enough.

TK: Close enough, yeah.

TH: So this was all, it hurt me. I mean, I came back, I just felt awful, you 19:00know, after that one day with him. About that same time, and I just re-experienced this because of Pee Wee Reese, I was his chaplain and so that whole Jackie Robinson story came about. Okay, now, my part of that, or my experience of that, again, was here in Louisville during the summer. Jackie is first place for Montreal and Louisville Cardinals was playing Montreal in the play-off--maybe you know this.

TK: No, I just read a little bit about it in the paper.

TH: Yeah, okay, so they're playing, they're in the playoffs for the tournament, I mean for the championship. Well, Jackie's coming to Louisville. "Oh my God, he's going to play here." I'm hearing all this. And I love baseball so . . . [phone rings] I might need to answer this.

TK: I'll pause it. [off] We're talking about Jackie Robinson.


TH: Right. So I assume this was the late '40s, maybe '49, '50--so, okay, Jackie's coming with Montreal and I'm a kid wanting to see him play so I talk my brother into taking me with him, he's three years older and I'd tag along and he sometimes would say yes, sometimes no. This time he said yes, so we get there and in those days kids could pretty well roam around and sit anywhere you wanted and so we got down sort of like under and beside the dugout of the old Louisville Cardinal . . . anyway, when Jackie was introduced--and this stuck with me--the boos and the cat calls and putting the cat out on the playing field and all that stuff just drove me nuts, I mean, it was just so loud and so harsh 21:00that it stuck with me that, "Gosh, what's this all about?" I mean, it raised a lot more questions about treating a human being that way.

TK: Putting a cat out on the field?

TH: Yeah, that was the big sign, a black cat.

TK: Oh, really?

TH: Yeah, and somebody would have to chase it to get rid of it and that was symbolic of chasing him and getting rid of him. It was done in the major leagues and so, I'm sorry, I mean, it was done in the minor league and then it happened again in the major league.

TK: Oh wow, I've never heard that before.

TH: I mean, that's what I remember. It stuck with me and then came back, of course, I followed that then in the major leagues and I see Pee Wee Reese, he's one of my heroes, God, he's hugging Jackie in Cincinnati a year later and I'm thinking, wow, this is powerful. And it stuck with me. This is really something 22:00for Jackie Robinson from Louisville, Kentucky, I mean, Pee Wee hugging Jackie, you know, and that whole story and that stuck with me. But again, the feeling of treatment to . . . and it was against all what I valued and learned as a child growing up here in Louisville from my parents and seminary and the contrast was, it caused some aching and some heart stuff.

TK: What was--were there very many blacks involved with the Catholic Church in Louisville?

TH: Well, I found out, yes, there were. And just a bit of this, there was St. Peter Claver on Lampton Street, and the Franciscan priests, that was the mission church and they had very wonderful pastors who would "take care"--it was very 23:00paternalistic but that was the style that would pastor those black Catholics, Negro Catholics and different ones would assist that. Well, my mom and dad were what were called thurarter [?] members and occasionally they would talk about, let's go there for a picnic, let's go there for something or other and what stuck to me because I found it was amusing, they had what was called drum and bugle corps and they were good, and they were, you know, it's like the Grambling Band, it's better than most because of their gifts, their style. And we would have these occasions where our little band from our school would march and we would have little contests and they would always win.

TK: Creamed every time.

TH: That's right. And I'd hear them and see them and think, "Gosh, they're 24:00really good." But that's how I knew the Catholic, there was a black Catholic church.

TK: Which church did you grow up in?

TH: St. Francis [of] Assisi over here on Bardstown Road. This was St. Peter Claver on Lampton, which is . . .

TK: I've heard of it, actually.

TH: Yeah. And I knew three others. I later found out exactly what was going on but there was another, I don't know if I knew that St. Augustus [Augustine] existed or not but I later found out about another one and it was St. Augustus at Thirteenth and Broadway.

TK: I think the name I'm thinking is Episcopal, the Holy Father or something like that? I can't remember. When you got ordained, what was your first job?

TH: Teaching at Trinity High School.

TK: And how long did that last?


TH: Ten years.

TK: Did you ever have your own church or did you ever have a parish?

TH: Yes, later on, yeah.

TK: Ten years. So that's about until 1967.

TH: Right. Now, significantly, what was the ending of those years was when the big open housing started, you know. And we had one, you might have picked up on this name, a Rich Grenough, picked up on him and he'd be fun to interview.

TK: I actually did already.

TH: Good. Well, you know his story. And I lived with him, so here was a priest who was in the midst of the fight and he would encourage us to go with him and I had this longing to do this and then I'd chicken out. I'd find some excuse: "Oh man, I don't want to go to jail tonight. There's no way. My parents would . . . oh God, Tony in jail." You know, it was that kind of thinking. He knew that 26:00things would be happening to end up in jail and to be arrested and I wasn't there yet. It wasn't in that mode. I wasn't sure I could handle that and so I would back off almost every time.

I think one time I ended up on sort of the side line, I wasn't in the midst of it out on Central Avenue but I was a bystander more than an activist in the front line. Anyway, I learned from him and several others. I learned that, oh gosh, sometimes you have to do this and I was getting that into the [Martin Luther] King [Jr.] thing and I was beginning to see King on TV and I was beginning to see Selma and the march and I was beginning to hear, Oh my God, what in the world was happening? I was trying to sort it out. And there were really no teachers that I went to. It was role modeling and picking up but I 27:00longed, I had this longing, I wanted to jump into it one of these days. And one of these days happened in '67 and the question came, would I be willing to work in the War on Poverty and would I supervise the neighborhood youth corps and that was some big money for kids for jobs. And I said yes and the bishop said okay. And I basically at that point left Trinity High School; I didn't know at the time because it was a summer job. I was at that time working on my master's in mathematics in St. Louis. There I learned also that the picture is broader than Louisville. They were doing their thing there and it was an I'd befriended 28:00someone there who knew a lot about the dynamics of even the Jackie Robinson thing. And I heard the story of St. Louis accepting . . .anyway, I won't get hung up there.

In '67 then I shifted and I learned, I would begin then to learn about the story of the poverty in Louisville and that the poverty was closely connected with the race issue. And so for the first time I'm with young people who experienced not only prejudice but they're living in a situation that was way different than mine and way different than Trinity High School. And because of their background, they qualified for these crummy jobs but they did get some money and 29:00they liked it and they could go on Friday downtown and shop, buy some clothes and dah-dah-dah. So they liked working and I liked supervising this big budget. It was in those days, probably, I mean the biggest budget I ever handled and it involved about 300 kids.

TK: How old?

TH: They would range from primarily sixteen to nineteen and then they lowered it from fourteen to nineteen. And they would work for churches, non-profit groups, city of Louisville, parks, recreation, summer programs. But I learned so much in six weeks. It was a crash program on Louisville and poverty.


TK: Let me turn this over.



TK: These neighborhoods where there's high poverty, had you ever been to any of these neighborhoods before or did you ever know very much about them before?

TH: No, I didn't fear them, you know; in the summers I would deliver for my father's bakery and I would drop off orders at churches and I would notice that, boy, that neighborhood's different than mine. But I didn't know any families there, I didn't know what was really happening there. For the first time, maybe, I might have noticed that there were projects but I certainly didn't have any idea what was going on in there. I didn't know the sub-culture at all, I really didn't. So this was my just wide-open vision, it opened the big door that, gosh, 31:00Louisville has at least six pockets of poverty because we began to hear, I began to hear names: Portland, Russell, Manley, Jackson, you know, I began to hear that they're identified. Because of the poverty guidelines you had to get so many kids or families out of that area to serve to meet the guidelines and I began to hear all that stuff for the first time.

TK: Who actually approached you about doing the. . . ?

TH: The superintendent of schools for the archdiocese for the church. We were classmates, we knew each other real well and he called me up and said, "Tony, this is crazy, you know, but I need to get somebody in two days, I need to get somebody to head up this program. I can't do it myself and all this money is coming in and there's kids out there who need jobs and you could do it." And I 32:00said, "Oh really?" Anyway, he talked me into taking it. He said, "You can do it and I'll help you and you can have an office in my place down here"--it was up on Fifth Street and it was right in the midst and it was a good location to have an office to have an operation and he gave me everything I needed--"and come in Monday and start." And this big check was sitting there and it was like, use it for the kids, use it. Put these kids to work. There was advertising going on that I wasn't even aware of--call this or come by and fill out an application--and two weeks later we had kids working. It worked because of a lot of the support and a lot of quick action.

TK: What was the funding source for all this?


TH: Federal government. Neighborhood Youth Corps was the official name.

TK: That was a federal program?

TH: Yeah.

TK: But was it run through the churches then?

TH: No, each group would subcontract with the local Jefferson County. See, by then the War on Poverty . . . there were agencies all over the country and the local one, as you well know, is Jefferson County Community Action Commission.

TK: Right. Was it a community action agency at the time or community action commission?

TH: Commission. And then they contracted, they sub-contracted to local groups and they expected the archdiocese would be able to pull this off. And then the Jefferson County School Board had another contract so we had two contracts and, of course, we had Catholic high schools and although there were very few poor kids, there were some, so we got the overflow from the public school system and they were sent to us to give out applications and so on and so on.

TK: Did you have a particular neighborhood you were in charge of or. . . ?


TH: It was city, the city was the boundary, I think; it might have been county but we dealt mostly with city kids. And within a couple of weeks, had a staff of about ten people and most of them were school teachers who were not working during the summer or school counselors, you know. They were very capable of doing this stuff, this work real fast.

TK: Was it just a summer program?

TH: Yes. And at the end of that, about in middle, August I was ready to go back to Trinity. I was approached by the head of the Community Action Commission or staff person in those days, "Father, can you work full time in this? You did a good job and dah-dah-dah and we're going into a new program year and we're going 35:00to have coordinators of all these areas: Russell, Manley, Portland, so forth, and you would make a good leader of one of the areas." So I go to the superintendent, I go to the bishop--he referred me to the bishop--he called the head and cleared, you know. And by then I was turned on, using that language, I was, "Oh yeah, this is going to fulfill a dream of working in the poverty program, working in, you know, and using my skills to serve maybe the downtrodden, the poor." It was real idealistic and today people would probably . . . "What, what are you saying?" But anyway, the culture changed so much but anyway, I thought I'd jump on the band wagon. Because in the meantime there were 36:00the marches, there were . . .

TK: It was all that summer.

TH: Yeah, and the theory was, or what was going on behind the scenes and church circles and pastors, you know, why don't we get into some positive action? Why don't we turn this around? Why don't we address the issues of poverty and housing, you know, and why don't we organize the neighborhoods? Why don't we dah-dah-dah? And this was an opportunity, and across the country I later found out there were probably, I don't know, fifty priests that did this, you know. I was hearing about other clergy, oh yeah, bishops are allowing the priests to jump over, so to speak, jump into a new work, a new ministry other than teaching, other than pastoring a church. They could get into this and make a 37:00mark or make a difference, not make a mark, make a difference. So I said yeah. I said yes.

TK: Was this when you were, was this the Russell area that you were in charge of?

TH: Yeah. And then they assigned me--they interviewed me and very quickly said, "You're coordinator for Russell area and there's going to be seven other coordinators and you're going to form a group and there are going to be community organizers." I said, "What?"

TK: What's that?

TH: Yeah, right, exactly, "What's that?" "Well, we're going to teach you, we're going to teach community organization." And I said, "It sounds great, exciting." And so that took me into this new work, you know, new community organization.

TK: How do they teach you to be a community organizer?

TH: It was subtle, yet not so subtle. They said, "First, we're going to give you 38:00a staff and you're responsible for issues and problems in this area." And so we did the geographic thing and it was this, this and Russell area was easy because it was a rectangle going from Eighth Street down to Fortieth Street and Broadway to Market, it was easy to describe. And the very first thing was to find out a store front or a place where you could work out of and there already was a little nucleus of a community council and I met with them and they said we would like this place--and it was Twenty-sixth and Walnut--this would probably be the best spot; it's in the middle, it's store front, it's dah-dah-dah, it's cheap, 39:00you know, dah-dah-dah. So the sight was selected and the concept in the beginning to come across, be with the community, develop leaders, go out and you're going to have a staff of eight people and one of them's going to be a community organizer and then there's going to be neighborhood workers they call them--they gave them all different names--they gave them job descriptions and I was hired to start in September; probably by the middle of October I had a staff and we're going to organize and what issues are burning, what are the burning issues? And have a council meeting once a month and talk about it and see where you go.

TK: What were the issues?

TH: So the issues that started coming was jobs, so we pressed to get a job coordinator in our office three days a week and, you know, people would come in off the streets and apply for jobs and this helped them in the sense of, rather 40:00than going downtown there was--to the main office, you could-- there was a need for basic skills like typing, so one of the teachers at Trinity would come down nighttime and we got some typewriters and just started teaching people how to type and write and do English, basic skills. Then the issue that evolved that was pretty big was we need a new school and the school was Taylor Coleridge. The community organizer came to me and said, "Tony, there's a group called Mad Mothers and they want to talk to you and they want to go over the full gambit." I said, "What do you mean?" "Well, we're going all the way on this one." "What do you mean?" "Well, they want to call a press conference, they want to display 41:00how terrible this school is and it's a fire trap. They want you to back them." I said, "What's that mean?" "Well, they want you to call the press and they're going to be out on the streets at ten o'clock in the morning and they want the press there and they're going to talk about it. And they want to get it changed. They want a safe building and probably they want a new school because it's that bad. And they know it's condemned, but nobody has ever probably said it's condemned by the fire department. The fire department will not approve this for their children." And, of course, they were all poor, black kids. We didn't have the integration yet, you know, it was all black. Right close to Central High, which was all black. So I said, "Golly." "Well, get in the car, ride with me and I'll show you." Well, I had this quick visit of this school; gosh, it was awful, 42:00I mean, it was a fire trap. I said, "Yeah, we'll go with it," you know, without really knowing what I was doing. I said, "Yeah, let's go with it." And I don't even think I called my supervisor. Maybe I had him call my supervisor. Now, for the first time, I have--my supervisor's a black man and I'm a white priest and I'm accepting this supervision, I mean, all my structure changed. I was not really a leader, I was being led and this was completely new for me but I was learning.

So the press conference was called, they show up, the Mad Mothers are all there screaming and yelling: "My children are in a fire trap, come with me, come with us and I'll show you." So WHAS and whoever, they followed in and it makes the 43:00news that night, the superintendent is just raked over the coals and, "We're not going to send our children there any more, we're going to take our children somewhere else and we're going to dah-dah-dah-dah-dah." And so the superintendent, out of sheer demand, had a call meeting--I'm asked to be a spokesman with them, with the Mad Mothers--and within, I mean, it was unbelievable, within a month they committed to a new school.

TK: Wow.

TH: But they worked, the community organization worked in spite of me.

TK: So it's around you.

TH: Yeah, it was. And I spoke at the school board meeting, I think one thing redirected their anger. One thing that I was told helped is that I was the buffer between the rage and the actual getting something done in a positive way 44:00and my role was one of being a spokesperson who could articulate the need in a formal way at the board meeting. And, of course, the press is there and I found out later that there was a lot of pressure from the East End to do it, you know, don't cause more problems, do it. There's got to be money somewhere to build a new school; you can't have those children going back in those fire traps, you just can't. You can't risk that as a city and as a, you know, I found that, like I say, I learned that later.

TK: That's interesting.


TH: Yeah. So it worked and because everything was in line really, I mean, everything we did, not knowing exactly the steps. I later restudied that and I found out when I did the master's program that what we did was intuitively correct. Or was what you do in community organization, you know: identify the problem, you tell people about it, you get the public behind you, you press the right buttons, you get a decision, you don't let up. You know, I learned, in school I learned later what we did was right, was effective.

TK: You mentioned before, a minute ago that you're this white priest and now you have a black supervisor; I'm assuming that most of these Mad Mothers were black?

TH: Yes, they were.

TK: What was the reaction to you in this program as a white person?


TH;Good question. I think there was this fine line between the collar, you know, the priest--and I wore my collar, I didn't identify who I was--I wore the collar and it was helpful. Strangely enough, in all my experiences, and I think Pat Delahanty would agree with me and others who got in this same kind of work, the strange thing, the white priest was always respected. I was never disrespected by blacks. The only disrespect I got actually were from other white racists, you know, but I was fully respected in the black community wherever I roamed and frankly it surprised me. Now, I don't know what they said behind my back but 47:00publicly they were with me. Now, looking back again, one of my techniques was empowering others; any time I got a chance I backed off leadership. I would have, even in the most important meeting in this school thing, I had one mother who was a spokesperson for the Mad Mothers and I introduced her. I said, "This is Mrs. So-and-So." And of course, she and these women have children in this school. I backed off and I think that empowerment gave credibility, you know, I was credible. Because what I knew, what I found out from some people, some 48:00blacks who were honest with me, they don't want to see a white person use them to rise in popularity or to rise in the job market. They don't want to be used and they told me that, I learned that. You follow me on that?

TK: Yeah. I'm wondering if it's because, was it more because you were a priest you think or because you were white or some kind of the combination of those two things?

TH: Probably a combination, when I look back on it--and I have done this before, I've been asked that question before--I think it was a combination.

TK: I know Richard Grenough had a great story about Patty's [unintelligible], I guess during when the riot was just sort of percolating and how he said it felt like he was walking around with like a bubble around him, kind of thing.

TH: That's right.

TK: So sort of a similar story.

TH: And the night of the one riot we were having a Russell area council meeting and someone rushed in and said, "There's rioting going on at Twenty-eighth 49:00Street, you should know this." Of course, I didn't know what to do, I really went for safety, I protected myself first. But the next day some of my staff were picked up and charged with rioting and that was the first time I learned about police brutality. In fact, the only reason that it's up in the memory now was a month ago I was, you know, police brutality--"You know any stories?" I said, "Yeah, I know one, I know a story." It was the first time I went with my supervisor to jail because they were trying to get these guys out.

TK: Who were these staff people?

TH: These were young guys, young blacks, they were probably on drugs at the time 50:00and I wasn't aware of it. They got into the whole, you know, all this breaking into stores, just get up on the cars and set some fires. I mean, they were not innocent but they were arrested and they were brutalized by the police and the first time that I had seen welts on blacks and that's a different, their skin reacts differently than a white's and it scared me to death, I mean, it just blew my mind.

TK: Really? What happens?

TH: It's more welty, it's a real dark purple-bluish look because it's a combination of the blood and--I'm assuming this--the blood is with the black skin and it makes a different . . .

TK: From being hit.

TH: Yeah, with the bailey, with the stick. And this one was really beat up, he was just beat up and it crushed me to see my worker so beat up and I didn't know 51:00what to do with it except that we got him out, we got him out of jail the next day. And I don't know what happened, I think he had to appear in court two weeks later or something. But we put a bail up for him.

TK: I actually meant to ask a little while ago and held the question; you talked about how you had all these staff people, neighborhood workers and stuff.

TH: Now they were all black.

TK: They were all black; where did they come from? How did you get these workers?

TH: Well, they had this advertisement, you know: "There are jobs available and you don't have to have much training." And these were unemployed people, unemployed young people and this community organizer who, I later found out, was really popular in this Russell area, he went out and recruited these guys and a few women.

TK: Do you know who your community organizer was?

TH: Yeah, he's deceased now--it'll come to me--Paul Daniels, his name was Paul 52:00Daniels. He was probably an undercover, no, they nicknamed him "Mayor" of, what was it, "Mayor of Walnut Street." Now, what that meant was that he had the power to manipulate women, to manipulate drugs and to manipulate betting and all that that would mean. But he was trying to come clean, when he was hired, he was told, "You got to come clean, you cannot do any of that if you're a community organizer with Tony, with Father Heitzman. You cannot risk that." Now I wasn't told much except I was to observe if there was anything hanky-panky going on, I 53:00was to report that to my supervisor. And I never reported it. I mean, I never, I probably turned my head the other way a couple of times but I never reported it. And he probably did the best he could with the skills. . . . And I was at least told by my supervisor we were the best organized council because, and mainly because of Paul, because he knew how to get the folks and he knew how to deal with folks and he identified some issues and he was able to organize and I could step back. Yeah, Paul, if that's an issue, let's go with it. So I got a break in the sense that I thought I had a guy who was sincere in his own way. And he would get mad at me every once in awhile and I'm sure he used every name in the book but I never heard it, you know, he would respect me and he would call me into meetings when he saw his staff, you know, I would let him run the staff of 54:00the neighborhood workers and then when he would, when things got out of hand he'd say, "Come on in here Father, and straighten this out," or something. But for the most part I let him empower them and do what they needed to do.

TK: Do you remember any of the other programs or initiatives that got started? You talked about the school.

TH: Recreation became an issue and Charlie Vettner who was very, very popular at the time, we invited him to come to our council and we were looking for some space that would be playgrounds in the immediate neighborhood and he assured us that, before he left that night, he assured us that there would be some 55:00evaluation and there would be two to three maybe, new playgrounds and a swimming pool would maybe be coming. And what happened was there were two areas cleared and developed for neighborhood playgrounds other than, you know, Shawnee Park was far away and there are a lot of kids and, you know. And the concept was already on the drawing board to clear some areas for little neighborhood playgrounds. But the swimming pool thing became a reality at Shawnee High School and it was a big surprise. It was the first city school to have an in-door swimming pool. Now, the irony of it, the dumb thing about that was blacks didn't give a [unintelligible] about a swimming pool, [chuckle] but they joked about this. They said, "Well, yeah, if this guy's going to get us a swimming pool in our neighborhood down here at Shawnee High School, hey, let's get behind it." It 56:00was a big joke, it was an inside joke. And it happened, we got the first swimming pool because this guy came to the Russell area council and he was turned on, I mean, he was convinced that something needed to change. And then also these two or three children's playgrounds happened. And later on, it's amazing how in my present work this stuff comes back, later on Charlie Vettner's wife had, was the first case of Alzheimer's that I had as a chaplain and I was learning a lot about Alzheimer's, it was just the new thing that came out, ten, twelve years ago, the new disease that was identified and his wife was dying of Alzheimer's and he sat me down, I mean, when I was at the front door he said, "Oh, my God, you're the same Tony Heitzman . . ."


TK: You're that guy.

TH: I said, "Yeah, Charlie." He said, "I never will forget that experience at the Russell area council. I never will forget it." He said, "I was really incensed by that group that things had to change. I had to begin as director of Metropolitan Parks and Recreation that things had to change because we were unfair, we weren't seeing the priorities that the neighborhood needed." And he said that was really a changing moment for him, a changing experience. I learned that many years later.

TK: Yeah. That's interesting. How did people in general react to the War on Poverty programs, the level of support for them?

TH: Well, let's see, I don't know if you've heard this story yet but the Head Start program was part of this and it was very successful. I mean, no one could 58:00deny, no matter if you were anti-Johnson, anti-money, anti-whatever on the War on Poverty you had to say, any thinking person had to say that Head Start was working and that was in the early days. And we had a terrific Sister, Sister of Charity who did the same thing I did, she opted out of the normal channel for a nun at that time to be principal of a high school; she opted out to be in charge of Head Start.

TK: Do you know what her name was?

TH: Doyle. Sister Something Doyle. She's still living, I think. In fact, I have a book in there, I can give you her name. She would be a good one to talk about Head Start. And I began to see these Head Start classes in various places in the Russell area and I thought "Oh, my God", this is really something, this is . . .




TH: You know, and I didn't know all that much about what they were doing but just to see them in a structured setting at four, five, six years old, wow, it just blew my mind. And the headlines began and if I'm not mistaken, she made testimony in Washington on Head Start in Louisville and it made a difference in keeping it going. See, the early years was, it was only scheduled for two years, maybe four, and the populace around the country was saying this was good.

TK: Yeah, it was like the most popular program, wasn't it.

TH: Yeah, and then to see it first hand and then know later on that what we were doing here in Louisville was making a difference was really inspiring. It made a difference. But she would be good if you wanted to zero in on Head Start, she would be a good one to. . . . So I saw that happening. And again, in the meantime, there was a lot of stuff going on nationally: King died, I mean, he 60:00was shot; the next day I was scared and this might be on file, you might find this, it'd be the day after, it'd be filed on the day after he was assassinated, WHAS called up to my supervisor and said they wanted to do a walk through the neighborhood and get reactions from the blacks and they picked Russell area so myself and Minor Daniels who was my supervisor, we walked with the photographer and the reporter for about three or four hours and they did a half hour program, they got it down to a half hour, and it might be something to check out. Because they showed it, I don't know, about ten years ago, I remember seeing it on one 61:00of those documentaries.

TK: Yeah. They sometimes archive that stuff.

TH: Yeah, right. But that might be of interest to you to see the reaction. Again, in the black/white thing, for whatever reason, they were trusting me even in that moment. Again, I wore the collar, again, Minor Daniels, he would take the lead sometimes and sometimes I'd just be observing but we were a good pair for that area for Russell area for bringing folks together and trying to make a difference. But the anger and the sadness, I'll never forget that walk. And I wasn't sure of all my feelings but I had a lot of similar feelings, the anger, 62:00the rage, the why, why would someone kill him so brutally and who could aim so well? And of course, [President John F.] Kennedy was already gone, I mean, all that happened earlier but. . . . Oh, another, you asked the question how the church reacted in certain instances; two major things went on near that same time: the archbishop called me and said we ought to have a mass at the cathedral, we ought to do something to honor Dr. King; now this was pretty brave at that point in church history time because, you know, we didn't, as a church we were just beginning to become ecumenical and yet to honor someone of another 63:00faith with a mass was very important.

TK: This was after King was killed?

TH: Yeah. So maybe two days after he was assassinated there was a major liturgy by the archbishop [Thomas McDonough] in the cathedral and the mayor was invited, the county judge, all the leadership was there to pay tribute and have a memorial mass. And I felt honored that I was invited to come celebrate, to be there. I don't know if I said anything or not, I don't know if I spoke that day or not, but anyway, a lot of the folks from Russell area and around came. Because it was a breakthrough in . . . there were many memorial stuff going on but I thought it was significant that our church would do that, I mean, to be sensitive . . .

TK: It was an integrated service?

TH: Yeah. And to be sensitive to that.

TK: I would think just the fact that it was an integrated service at that time 64:00was, you know.

TH: Exactly.

TK: Not only inter-religious, but inter-racial.

TH: Yeah, it was.

TK: That's interesting. Then the Louisville riot, of course, happens about a month later, two months later--it's in there somewhere--what kind of impact did that have on your work in the community and on the War on Poverty in general?

TH: I became a little fearful of where I would go and when I would go, I mean, just personally I was advised to be a little careful, even though, like I say, I would wear the collar and all and I was respected, but I was beginning to feel, I don't know if I want to . . . and actually what was going on behind the scenes for me was that the church, the West End churches--and I'm sure Father Pat got 65:00into this--they were beginning to say to themselves, Catholic churches, they need to do something different and the difference was to have a coordinator that would begin to work with all fourteen churches or all twelve churches. Several of these priests asked me if I'd be interested and with the things changing, my leadership role, I was wondering if it would remain effective, there was the Black Power thing coming and I was hearing about it and I'm thinking, this might be a time for me to shift back to . . . so I shifted, I resigned and I shifted back to the church and I was selected to be coordinator of the Catholic churches in the West End.

TK: Did the Russell area council continue on without you?

TH: Hm-hm.


TK: Okay, what happened to it?

TH: They selected a new leader and it was, and again, it all depended upon how the money was coming down from Washington, you know, there were some rumbles about community organization being funded by the federal government, you know, how much freedom do you put on that money? And [President Richard M.] Nixon came in and there were some cutbacks, there was a whole new Republican approach to the funding, you know, what's it called, block grants, you know, got into block grants and the dynamics started changing. Well, let's don't go for community organization, that's nebulous, let's go for housing or let's go for small business, let's go for only schools that are in the structure already. So the 67:00council sort of had to go on its own and the staff was cut each year, further and further. So it lasted for maybe three or four years. And it might still be going because it was a different, jobs became an issue.

Again, the community organization was sort of frowned upon, that's too much like King, gosh, how much can the city take, you know? And see, you had all these little pockets of organizations so every neighborhood was pressing for something. City Hall was getting tired and running out of money probably, or at least they thought they were but how many priorities can you have, you know? So I went a different direction. But one thing that happened--I don't know if this 68:00is significant--did anyone talk to you about the March through Louisville, the March on Washington through Louisville?

TK: The Poor People's Campaign?

TH: Yeah.

TK: I knew that it happened but that's all that I know.

TH: Okay, I'll give you a little bit of it. It was announced that they were coming through and the goal was to get to Washington and change some legislation. And they were coming through Louisville, the western wing of this. By this time, and I don't want to sound braggadocios, by this time I was somewhat popular in being a white priest with blacks and somehow, especially after that documentary they were feeling, "He's got some leadership skills." So anyway, I was called by City Hall through my supervisor, would I be responsible 69:00for getting food together for the march because they were going to come through and they threatened the city enough that they got Churchill Downs--I guess you knew that piece?

TK: No, I didn't know that piece.

TH: Yeah. They got Churchill Downs which was a real . . .

TK: That's interesting. I thought it was Louisville Gardens, for some reason.

TH: No, it was Churchill Downs. And a couple of churches welcomed them, a couple of black churches and so on. Okay, maybe Louisville Gardens, maybe sleeping, you might be right, maybe they offered that for sleeping. Because there was this conflict between Churchill Downs; "Boy, that's so sacred, come on, you can't have that." And they wanted the infield. "Well, can't have that, don't want to tear it up."

TK: Oh, like it doesn't get torn up on Derby.

TH: Exactly. Yeah, again a lot of jokes about that. So, okay, they're going to have Churchill Downs and they need food and, "Tony, can you gather the 70:00wherewithal to put on a main meal?" And this was good, too, "They like hot meals occasionally." Well, this was fun. This was going to be--my granddaughter. [tape off]

TK: A hot meal.

TH: A hot meal, that's right. So that was quite a challenge to plan that and I didn't know the number; they said maybe a thousand, maybe two thousand. So I used the network of the Catholic Church by calling some key priests and I said, "Hey, can we pull this off? Can we have a hot meal?" And, "Where could we cook it and get it there?" Well, lo and behold, within about forty-eight hours it came together. I mean, we had some money, had a place to cook and had some cooks, you know, near Church of Our Holy Name which was right by . . .

TK: That's what I was trying to think of before.


TH: Yeah. Holy Name was right there, so everybody was saying yes, you know, so yeah, we'll pull off a hot meal. And lo and behold when it all came together Churchill Downs was turned into a beautiful, placid, calm park. No disturbance, they were resting because of the other group coming from the South and they weren't quite ready to get there and they were having some logistic problems in Washington, if you read the story, they didn't have permits and so this group was on hold. So they were just spending that Sunday, or Saturday--it was a weekend if I remember--the races weren't going on anyway so it wasn't any disturbance at all. And it was sort of fun and all we got were just hugs and thank you's and there were native Americans, there were Spanish-speaking, there 72:00were blacks, of course, there were a lot of religious, at last they sought me out, they began to see me and maybe I was in a collar, I probably was and they, you know, "Thank you, Father," and all that jazz, you know, and I said, "Well, thank the cooks." So that was a neat experience: the multi-culture, the goal was to get to Washington and change legislation, things were changing. King's dream was coming true. Lyndon Johnson's stuff is happening. I was in the midst of this almost euphoria of, maybe unrealistically, you know, at the time, things were looking up for changes. And I got interested in this degree, you know, Community 73:00Development degree which again was community organization and I forget the authors, hell, you know, Alinsky, oh gosh, it'll come to me.

TK: Saul Alinsky?

TH: Yeah, Saul Alinsky, you know . . .

TK: Saul Alinsky.

TH: Saul, that's it, thank you. We were learning the techniques, we were reviewing what you can do in community organization.

TK: What was the name of this program?

TH: It was, the degree was Community Development in Urban Studies and again, this was funded, see the funds were being redirected and this was part of, well, we'll fund the universities, they won't get into this radical stuff and all, but there was a pretty radical guy out at U of L.

TK: Oh, there was?

TH: By the name of Joe Maloney, he came in from somewhere and he was directing this Community Development program and he was teaching Saul Alinsky, and these 74:00professors, I mean, they weren't all that radical but they were teaching how to become a change agent. That was the big key word: become a change agent. This is the way you do it. And it was multi-disciplinary. They had--and the only reason we got, it was given to me free, along with Pat, they wanted a mixture of bankers, clergy, educators, CEO's-like if you could get them, or middle management--that was a big, get middle management, police. So we were guinea pigs in this new degree, new program under Urban Studies.

TK: Was it mostly whites in the degree?

TH: Yeah, eighty percent, we did have some blacks. In fact, my supervisor, he got in it and a few other of these coordinators. We were like middle management 75:00folks in the structure of CEC, or Community Action, so they invited all these middle management folks that were already doing it to come in and get a degree to have the credentials to do it some more.

TK: And this was the first year?

TH: Yeah.

TK: That's what I thought.

TH: And it was fun, I mean, exciting. It was real exciting. And what I really liked about the approach was you use what you're already doing. You don't develop, you don't create something that is not part of your work, you do your work and bring it into the classroom, bring it into the, you know, your papers, bring it into your reading, bring it into your, you know, and we did a lot of team stuff. The panel next week will present Russell area; or panel will present 76:00job development; the panel will talk about fiscal responsibility on the part of the city, you know. And then you'd do your homework and do your research . . .

TK: Part of the project.

TH: And bring in the mayor if you could or bring in somebody.

TK: Did you co-write the thing with Delahanty?

TH: Yeah.

TK: Okay, he gave me a copy of that and he told me West End . . .

TH: I was the . . . [unintelligible].

TK: Yes, yes.

TH: Yeah. You got a copy?

TK: Yeah, he gave me a photocopy of it.

TH: Yeah, I've got one downstairs if you want to see the real thing or whatever.

TK: I have the real thing, I photocopied it and gave it back to him.

TH: Good.

TK: Were you involved--tell me if you talked about something called the West End Team Ministries, were you involved with that?

TH: I was one of the members.

TK: So could you tell me a little bit about that program?

TH: By the time, okay, when I finished CAC, when I left there to do this coordinator, there was a concept focal now amongst clergy about team ministry, brand new concept, okay. It was very quickly, "Yeah, why don't we do it as a 77:00team?" There were about five or six clergy, other priests that I knew, in fact, two of them were on the faculty out at Trinity--I was still living there so I'd come in and tell these wild stories--and they were like, "Oh, I'd like to try that." And some of them were originally from the West End so, "Oh, you know, that would be fun to try to create something different." And it was somewhat breaking the authority image, you know, team versus a pastor who rules, so, yeah, let's do it. So there were four of us that started the Team Ministry and Pat came in on the second round but myself and there were three other priests that . . . Vernon Robertson, you might have heard that name, he's deceased now; 78:00and Paul Devon and Charlie Macken, they're both out of the city now but they were both teachers with me at Trinity. One of them stayed on, just transferred and became a faculty member of Flaget but it was part of this team and another one was doing PR, public relations and working with the Record and trying to change the Record's stories involving the West End.

TK: That was the Catholic newspaper?

TH: Yeah, the weekly Catholic newspaper.

TK: Hm-hm, [unintelligible].

TH: Yeah.

TK: Vernon Robertson, he was a . . .

TH: Priest.

TK: His church was down there?

TH: That was St. Charles, and that's where we lived, that's where the team started was at St. Charles, Twenty-seventh and Chestnut.

TK: Yeah, I have heard of him a lot, we've talked about him a lot.

TH: Yeah, right. Of course, he was extremely creative, he had a way to get money 79:00that nobody could figure out but nobody asked him too many questions, he got the money and a lot of it was maybe his family but he had connections with very wealthy people and they would remain anonymous and all of a sudden we'd have a program going.

TK: What was your goal with this team?

TH: Generally reaching out, breaking down barriers, changing structure, whichever would work to reach into the poverty change. Getting back to some of my initial feelings, this church, St. Charles, had--this is '68--that church was in the midst of the black community and still had these little signs in the back, colored only, and we ripped them out, just sort of, it was symbolic of 80:00maybe who we were, you know, we were going to rip the old and start anew. And we didn't know what we were doing, I mean, you asked the question of goals but we knew that things had to change. So we just thought of new ways.

Well, one little new thing that popped up was obviously a rapport in the neighborhood and in the old structure was that people would ring the doorbell, ask for food and the St. Vincent de Paul Society, which has a long history of serving the poor, we would use their funds and give them a voucher to go up to the neighborhood grocery and get some food. Well, that was so recognized that maybe we ought to have a person take care of that for not only one church but maybe for six churches. Because again, in the Russell area we were . . . so this 81:00one priest, Charlie Macken, got interested in that and so he recruited a nun that would do that kind of work and she got permission to do it full time. Wow, this was again another biggie, out of the classroom into the streets, you know, new ministry. So she started what is still going, the Sister Visitor program. A program that serves the poor and needy primarily but they get into real creative things, too: the homeless, dah-dah-dah. They're located at Twenty-third and Market and it became really a neat--and we helped fund that, we helped get it started. They worked out of the back of the church for awhile at St. Charles and then they got so big that we found a spot for them.

TK: And which order was she?


TH: A Sister of Charity.

TK: Sister of Charity.

TH: Yeah. And that stayed on, you know, it sort of broke away from us, as a team they originally were sort of with us as a team but then was good enough and they could become independent and get on their own and the archdiocese funded them and they're still going. Clothing, housing, but primarily food.

TK: But St. Vincent de Paul Society is still there because I call them.

TH: Yes. And this forced them to become more organized. Originally the time period we're talking about it was out of each parish church; there wasn't so much central stuff. And it became needed, I mean, it was identified as a need that they need to have their own place, they need to develop their own soup kitchen, quote, unquote, and that has mushroomed, too, into housing and home for the women. Another priest, a name that you might have picked up on, was John Morgan.


TK: Oh no, I've not heard that.

TH: Okay. John Morgan was developing his mission, what he called the Mission House and this was again, right on the fringe of Russell and Portland--he identified the need for the homeless so he started a home for the homeless men and then real early on, very early on and no one hardly knew about this, began to have homes for the homeless women and the abused women and the alcoholic women and this was far out, at that time, which evolved into almost a model for 84:00other groups to look at the homeless women and homeless men. And he created what I refer to as the only clean building for homeless men and the only clean homes--he had individual homes on Third Street and Brook Street for women and he stressed the cleanliness, that give them dignity, do it with dignity. The meals. . . . And so he stressed . . . and he got into health, a healthy environment and that lead to doctors getting involved and nurses and programs for addicted men.

TK: That's interesting.

TH: It took a different twist. Now he was sort of very independent of this other team that I'm talking about but we knew it was going on and we supported that and eventually I ended up working for him for about six months but that's 85:00another story. But he identified the poor and needy homeless and he was a tough guy to deal with but boy, he got the job done. He was a maverick in the best sense of the term. He broke all systems to do. . . . And he refused government money; he said, "If I ever accept government money, I'm dead. It's only if I keep it independent of government, independent of even church then I can run this thing the way I want to and the men will be better off." And they were, I mean, compared to. . . . Nowadays, the Wayside Mission would model that. They began to change, too. He set a model and it was interesting, the men would 86:00compare, you know, "Hey, it's better down at the Mission House." So it became sort of an inside joke.

TK: Now, how long did this all, when you're working on the West End Team Ministry, how long did this all last?

TH: It didn't last long. '68, '69, '70, let's see, I left it, well, I hung on with it--it developed into the Council, as you know, okay, the West End Catholic Council, I remained coordinator of that till about '75 and then Pat Delahanty became the next coordinator. And the Team Ministry broke up probably '72 or '73 and I opted then to become pastor of an all-black church in the West End, the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Yeah, so my role changed.


TK: I've never heard of that one.

TH: Yeah, it's in the Park Duvalle area.

TK: Okay, Immaculate . . . I was going to ask, what did you do next?

TH: Right.

TK: Immaculate Heart of Mary. I have heard of that, it was once one of the two that's always mentioned actually, St. Augustine and then . . .

TH: Yeah, St. Augustine and Immaculate of Mary.

TK: And how long did that last?

TH: That was '71 to '79 for me. I was pastor during that time but I also wore the hat of coordinator of West End Council during some of those years, I was wearing two hats for awhile, which was okay, it worked for awhile.

TK: What was it like being pastor of a black church?

TH: Boy, what a, you know, what an experience; I mean, what a change, what a learning experience. Because even though I had worked primarily with War on Poverty, I was organizing this West End Catholic Council, I was going to school, 88:00I wasn't pastoring, per se, so now the role was . . . and again, it was changing a situation. They were used to what were called the Verona Fathers and they were Italian and so the language was a barrier and I was hearing these complaints, as coordinator I was hearing these complaints and I would refer them to the bishop, "Take your complaints to the bishop." Well, it kept--I want to be careful here--the complaints were not all necessarily true or real but they were perceived as being, "Oh, we maybe need to make a change here." At the same time, the Verona Fathers didn't have someone who could follow this particular pastor so . . .



TH: So there was a desire on the part of some of the members of the church that 89:00they ought to have an English-speaking, I mean, a native American--that's not right--ought to have a local clergy person because these were people who were not really from the States, they were from Italy. They loved them but it had a, it was the old mission, what they call the mission mentality: these were missionaries and they wanted, rightfully, to have their own clergy, to have just like every other Catholic church, have an American, somebody from Louisville, you know, why not? We can do . . .

TK: Home grown.

TH: Yeah. And we can get on our own feet. So the bishop appointed me to be pastor there and would I accept it and I said yeah, that would be a wonderful 90:00experience. So by then I knew the first thing to do is not do anything, just listen. So I just listened. What kind of changes do you hope for? Dah-dah-dah. What are your hopes and dreams? And again, I was using my skills from community organization; you've now developed this faith community and empower them to become whatever, whoever they want to become. And use their culture, not mine, use their culture. And I did know that was a mistake that some of them, some missionaries unfortunately use throughout the world; they would bring the European, white culture to . . . and I heard that and I wasn't going to make that mistake so I began to listen. And I had some good advisors, I had some people I trusted, who were either members of that parish or they knew the black community and I would consult with them. And they encouraged me to do certain 91:00things and let that culture come forth. An example would be like the music that was being used was European, was white-European, it was just like the music at Holy Spirit, or St. Francis where I grew up; it wasn't any different and here these were black Catholics. Gosh. Why do they use the same music we use? They've got a rich music background. Well, lo and behold, yeah, let's change. And I found out that we had church members that would come to church at our place, in fact, nine o'clock and then they would go down the street at the Baptist church and really participate. They knew their music; they knew the rich, black, Baptist church music.

TK: Gospel music.

TH: Yeah. So, oh, let's hire somebody that'll bring all this together. So we did 92:00that radical thing, we hired a non-Catholic, black, Gospel minister and it radically changed the service; within six months it was completely changed. The only criticism was we're becoming like the Baptists down the street. I said, "Yeah, I guess we are, we are. But is it okay?" "Well, I guess so." So that changed the church and people started coming that never came; especially young people: "We can use that same music that we like that we heard down the street, we can use it here." And that is still going, and believe it or not, that same woman is still directing that choir. She's now Dr. Brown, she's a dentist by profession and does the music on the side. And that would make an interesting interview, I'm sure, if you'd want to do that.


TK: Do they still have a white priest?

TH: Yes. Now, in the meantime, we were trying to develop black clergy, the big barrier was celibacy, you know, young men wouldn't want to try to, yeah.

TK: Delahanty gave me some names of some local African-Americans who became priests but didn't stay in Louisville.

TH: That's right, yeah. They would start and then drop out. Like even my buddy, my buddy that I went to Cincinnati with, two years later he quit and he didn't want to go through all the hard struggle, it just didn't appeal to him. And that happened over and over again, they would start and then, "Oh no . . .", you know. But the point I'm trying to make is after listening and these goals became 94:00clear with the parish council, it became clearer what they wanted to do and that was they wanted to become their own culture, they wanted to bring their culture into their liturgy, into their mass, into who they were.

And one example that I think was a turnaround as time went on was that there was an archdiocese money drive every year--in those days it was called ADF [Archdiocesan Development Fund]--and they had a goal for each parish and the goal for Immaculate Heart was very low but they would want to reach that goal anyway, they knew it was not like other churches but they wanted to do their part. Well, the priest that preceded me would encourage . . . or if white folks out in the wealthy neighborhood would call and say, "Well, we'll make our 95:00donation through your church and you can get credit for it and that'll help you reach your goal." Well, when the drive was starting I was getting these phone calls--and this just peeved me off--and it got so much into my rage that the following Sunday I told the people what was going on. I said, "I don't know if you're aware of this but I'm getting phone calls of people out in the other end of town"--they knew who I meant--"they're making contributions and I don't think that's right. I think you all, we, we can do this if we really want to. We can make a contribution. We can turn it around." And I got so carried away that particular sermon, I mean, I went out of my mind, I was crazy. I started crawling, with my vestments on and everything, I started crawling across the sanctuary. I said, "I don't think we ought to crawl anymore, I think we ought to stand up. As a community, we ought to, you know, as black Catholics, stand up 96:00and we can do this, we can be on our own. We don't need them." Well, by then, as you can tell, I was identified completely with them versus . . . and they responded, "Yeah, we can do that. We don't, tell them no, tell them we don't want their money anymore. We can do it on our own. We can have our own school, we can have . . .", you know. So that began to turn, you know, the paradigm shift happened after that; we had our own music, we could be self-supporting, we can do our thing and be okay and still be Catholics in this neighborhood. And of course, in the meantime, Black Power was going on, the mindset was beginning to change, we can be self-determined, we can be ourselves, we can be who we want to be and all that stuff and that's what started to happen.


TK: So they never rejected you as a white priest?

TH: No.

TK: Interesting.

TH: But again, I think the reason was is that I would back off, soon as we'd hit a certain point, then the parish council chairman would set the agenda, I wouldn't have to set the agenda, he or she could set the agenda; I didn't have to lead the choir, it was a black minister leading the choir; if I could have a black priest, which occasionally I would, come in and have the mass, that black priest would have the mass. And then I knew in time, again, you know, something told me--I call it the Spirit--told me it's time to move on. So after nine years, it was time to move on.

TK: And what did you do next?

TH: So that took me up to 1979 and '80, about the time that, you know . . .

TK: Yeah.

TH: I was appointed pastor of an all-white church out in East End. [chuckle] But the rationale behind it was it was time to move on.


TK: Time to do something different.

TH: Well, it was time for this community to have a different leader. And that was becoming vogue anyway, amongst the Catholic, there was a ten year limit so the limit was being put on each one of us and I think I moved a year early because--I forget the exact reason--but it was time for me to. . . .

TK: Did the person who came after you sort of continue in the same vein?

TH: Yeah, pretty much so. By then it was already established, this music minister, there was no way he would let her go, I mean, they wanted their choir. We celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of this church and we had this 99:00minister in place and we sent, we collected enough money to bring the original founding priest from Africa to--he was white but he was a missionary in Uganda, I mean, it'll come to me--anyway, we sent him a plane ticket to come back and be with us, to be with this church for the twenty-fifth anniversary and it was exciting. We celebrated a whole week and had a youth night and an adult night and this kind of night and so on and then we had a future night and he was there through this whole thing and he couldn't believe the development. They were so proud to be able to tell their story and this church began in a barn and literally it was an old barn that they started in and he was their pastor and he got them started. They were just so happy to have him back, you know, it was a very rich experience that they could say, "Here we are. We're a church on our 100:00own and we have our own culture, we're developing our own . . . we've got our school, our children can go from this school to high school to college." An unbelievable amount of kids became masters and doctorates and leaders through this little start. And it was called Little Africa; that was another little thing that that area was called Little Africa.

TK: Yeah, the neighborhood, yeah, I've heard that before.

TH: And he had a funny story he loved telling, the original pastor, he always wanted to work in Africa and he was very disappointed that he was assigned to Louisville, Kentucky; didn't know where it was, you know, he was sent over from [unintelligible] to Louisville, Kentucky. "Gosh, I wanted to go to Africa." Well, the taxi cab driver that picked him up said, "You know where you want me to take you?" And he said, "No." He said, "You're going to the worst area in 101:00Louisville, it's called Little Africa." he said, "Oh!" [laughter]

TK: [unintelligible] the taxi cab driver. [laughter}

TH: Right.

TK: You got me up to about the right time period so I have two sort of thought questions that I like to end with. The first one is kind of broad which is how do you think the sort of War on Poverty type activities that you have been involved with affected race relations?

TH: A lot of these folks that I work with that were receptive to working with the War on Poverty, they, as time went on, they moved into what was already in the existing structures or the establishment so their skills and development 102:00that they experienced or learned they began to use in other agencies. And a number of them got this degree, you know, started working on different degrees; some of them became teachers, some of them became members of the school board staff, the central office staff, some of them, a couple of them I remember sort of got into banking or their own private business; quite a few, as in the white world got interested in politics and I still hear names every once in awhile of somebody running for alderman or alderwoman, you know, that started way back when in this War on Poverty. . . . And it's so hard to measure that the problem, 103:00I think, with the War on Poverty is always condemned, pretty much; it was a waste of time, a waste of money, but it's hard to measure what Ms. So-and-So learned or Mary learned or Yawanda, what did she learn or why did she change and it's hard to say. Well, maybe it was because they were in the neighborhood youth corps, you know; maybe it was because of that crazy job she had working for Parks and Recreation in the summer of 1969 that motivated her to think or her own education; she didn't want to be in that position for the rest of her life. And a number of folks, I know, it made a difference in their life, even though they were only in it a short time and the one, the obvious was the Head Start as I already mentioned, you know, that some things continued, some structures continued that started way back then. But I think the biggest thing was the 104:00awareness was raised that the whole idea of self-determination, you know, it was taught and learned in this experience called War On Poverty.

TK: Good point.

TH: You know, like one lady that was like a secretary for our office and that could mean anything, she ended up getting married--there was this guy she met during that time--they got married and they moved to the West Coast and I found out like five, ten years later when she came visiting back here in Louisville, well, she goes to the West Coast and becomes a teacher in some L.A. school system or somewhere and she was so proud that she could go from Russell area, 105:00they were just taken off the streets and become this secretary and end up out there a school teacher, you know, and did the whole gambit. And taught her children education priority. Or the kid that goes to a Immaculate Heart out of the projects, the learning there, education is real important, okay, we can even get a private education, you know, Catholic education. You know, work was out, you could go there even though you weren't a Catholic and get an education. Oh, wow. And then they go from there to Male High School and then from Male to U of L or wherever, you know, and I can name you four doctorates out of that. And the awareness was raised back in the late '60s that education . . . I can become 106:00someone, I can become someone and so it was more that kind of a change than structural changes. There were some structural changes but I think it was the paradigm shift happened up here.

TK: Well, speaking of [unintelligible], my last question for you is to turn it back a little bit and say how did being involved in all this stuff affect you?

TH: I was a changed person forever. Let me describe that: I went from the head to the heart; I mean, the academic world was interesting, fascinating, but I learned that there's another side of life and the side of life that became important to me was the heart, was the passion for human beings and the dignity 107:00that is in each person, no matter what the color, no matter what the economic status, that individual person is key to life and that changed me. And I forever was different. I was a different kind of pastor in the East End, you know, I mean I had . . . and people would say that, "You're different," you know, and the difference was that I think I began to function from the heart and go with my guts rather than maybe what the rule is. I became a maverick in some ways, you know, of doing things creatively instead of just follow the book. And I learned that from the folk that I dealt with and lived with and worked with. So 108:00the person is the key and not the rules, you know. It's the person's needs and wants and hopes and dreams that's important and not the rule book. Break the rule if you need to. I've gotten in trouble but. . . . And of course, I also learned, and this becomes real personal, the celibacy became an issue for me. I began to really want to be in love with someone and have a family and I struggled with that for fifteen years until I met Judy, my wife. Thirteen years, our anniversary will be in a couple of days, you know, so I let . . . and the next part of, you know, was I left [St.] Barnabas then, I was at that parish seven or eight years, I fell in love so I left the structure that I was in for so many years, you know. So it became a, let's see if I can summarize it: the 109:00heart was changed but primarily I recognized that every individual has his or her own dignity and finally led to also complete paradigm shift for the value of the woman as a person, that whole women's movement I picked up on early because I think I was sensitive, but black woman taught me that.

TK: Well, it sounds like you had a lot of strong black women around you.

TH: Yeah. And that changed my image of woman, you know. And the whole male dominance thing was obviously something that I became aware of. And I had a woman supervisor for awhile, too, and so I was learning in doing that there's a 110:00lot of shifts that need to be, there's a lot of changes that need to be worked on, including the women issues and so on and so on.

TK: That's real interesting. I'm done.