Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Search This Transcript

Tracy K'Meyer: I'd like to start with some basic biographical information on your father. We'll start with your father first and then you. When and where was he born?

Phil Hodge: He was born in a little southern Texas town called Growsback, Texas. It was located in tLimestone County, by what he used to tell me.

TK: And what did the W.J. stand for?

PH: Willie James. But you dared not call him that.

TK: Everybody called him W.J.

PH: Hodge.

TK: Hodge.

PH: My mother called him Hodge 'till she died. In fact, I was just listening to a sermon and the reason Dad didn't care for Willie -- James probably would have been alright -- but Willie was a name given to children who were not expected to make it. He was a sickly child when he was born, so he was not expected to make 1:00it. So it was given to him. And once he did make it, Willie was one of those names that was given -- in our culture, to those who symbolized laziness and lack of initiative and intuitiveness. So he did not like to be called Willie. So we called him Hodge. That's how he was referred to by the family. We called him Hodge.

TK: That's interesting. Did he grow up his whole life in Texas?

PH: He stayed there until he got out of high school. Then he went to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He went to Southern University in Baton Rouge. Then in Baton Rouge, during the summer, he worked on the train line. It went from south to Kansas City. That's where he met my mom, in Kansas City. But following his stint at Baton Rouge, he then went to Ohio, Oberlin College in Ohio. Then from there 2:00he went to Lynchburg, Virginia, which is where he had his first pastor at Diamond Hill Baptist Church. Then in '57 we came to Louisville.

TK: I forgot to ask what year he was born?

PH: 1920. October 4, 1920.

TK: You said that he met your mother in Kansas City. What was your mother's name?

PH: Marian.

TK: Maiden name?

PH: Talbot.

TK: Do you know what year they met and married? Maybe just married.

PH: I'll call you. I think I've got the wedding book somewhere at home and I can get you the exact date. I'm not really sure.

TK: When were you born?


PH: I was born in 1948. October of '48. He was in his senior year at Oberlin when I was born.

TK: Now, was that undergraduate?

PH: Well, they changed it up to a master's degree. But at the time it was a bachelor's in divinity.

TK: Bachelor's in divinity at Oberlin. Are there any other siblings?

PH: No, just me.

TK: Did he ever talk about why he became a minister?

PH: Hum. You know, now that you bring it in that light, I don't think he ever, ever said why. I just always knew he was a minister. I never thought about why. I can tell you why he was the way he was. It may have been that in 4:00African-American community, the church holds or has held such a political and social power. Growsback was a hard place. Texas was a hard place for him and most minorities, at that particular time. I remember him talking about the fact that one of the things he would tell people about racism was when he was picking cotton, he and his brothers and dad, that the workers had two cups. One had a ring around it, which was for the black workers and the other was for the white workers. They couldn't drink out of the same cup. But they only had one barrel of water. So they had to dip those cups in the same barrel of water. So what was 5:00the difference? He always talked about the sheriff in Growsback, who even referred to my grandfather, Reubert, as a boy. If any Caucasians or whites would come on the street, they always had to get on the sidewalk. They had to get out of the street. It was a kind of -- I think for him he probably got the message that all people were right in the eyesight of God, were equal in the eyesight of God. So there was one place where he could exercise the equality of mankind, it was going to be in the church. Now, that's a theory on my part. But I know he never talked about his calling, as far as I know. It was always just a part of us. I never did think about it and I don't think I ever talked about it. But I know one of the things that drove him was the injustice of our society.

TK: That he experienced growing up. So you were born when he was a senior. You 6:00said his first pastor was Diamond Hill. How long was he there.

PH: He was there about eight years.

TK: Do you know if he got involved in any civil rights activity when he was at Diamond Hill.

PH: Oh yes. Almost the same kind of activities that he did here. He was the president of a branch of the NAACP there, as well as in the state branch. So he was a political, social activist down through the years. It didn't just start here. It was something that he continued when he got here.

TK: Had he been in World War II? Or was he out because he was a student or too young?


PH: I don't know. Some of my uncles were but he didn't. It probably was because he was in school.

TK: So from your memory, he was always involved in the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People].

PH: Always.

TK: Then Diamond Hill. The next pastor was here?

PH: It was here.

TK: How did that come about?

PH: I was away so I really don't remember. I was at my grandmother's. It happened over the summer. I left Lynchburg to go to grandmother's.

TK: In Texas?

PH: No, she lived in Nebraska. When I came back, I came to Louisville. So how it happened -- I know that Fifth Street had been looking for a pastor and had extended a call, I believe, to some other preachers and had not been able to fill the pulpit. One of his friends -- I don't remember which one -- had 8:00mentioned it to him and he said he was called here. So that's how we got here. By the time I got here it was in the fall of '57.

TK: Was the church at this location at the time?

PH: Right.

TK: How old is the church?

PH: It's a hundred and seventy.

TK: Gee whiz. It's one of the oldest black churches in town, right?

PH: Yes, it's going to be our 172nd anniversary. So it's 171 years old.

TK: Can you describe the church at the time your family moved here?

PH: It was -- Fifth Street was the church of the classes in black society. It had a lot of teachers, principals. We had two doctors that were here at the 9:00church, some businessmen. This church was very progressive for that particular period of time. So it had a strong history of leadership in the Baptist denomination. The first pastor, Dr. Adams, for example, wrote to the -- that's another name I have to look up for you because I can't remember -- to the basic white-attended district association to say that it was unfair for the church to represent, with financial aid, but its representatives were not allowed to participate in any of the activities of the association, in terms of making policies and procedures.

It was under his insistence and his direction that Fifth Street should be 10:00allowed -- along with other African-American Baptists churches pulled out and began what is known as the General Association of Kentucky Baptist Church. And from the General Association of Kentucky Baptist came the Women's Educational Convention, the Women's [unintelligible] Bible College. So the church has had that kind of involvement when he came. So with his activist spirit, it still kind of continued. One of the things that happened was that when he got here, one of the first issues that was looked at -- because of the number of teachers that were in the church. He had the complaint that in the Louisville Board of Education, there was a difference in the pay scale between African-American 11:00teachers and Caucasian teachers. That created a forum. I never will forget because the windows were open at the time. There was no air conditioning at the time. And the church was absolutely packed all over. When the superintendent came, was strong-willed enough just to come. And those kinds of questions were asked, if teachers had been educated on an equal basis, then why was it that they were not paid the same? So we had political forums of that nature in the church. The church had a kind of activist kind of history and it just continued.

Of course, when he got involved in the NAACP and the desegregation movement here 12:00in Louisville, the church played a role in it. I'm sure that there was some -- you see, once you get me talking, I can't stop. There was not a lot of backlash like "You're moving too fast." I think that sometimes the question was asked of him but he always let it be known that he had the freedom to do it. He was not tied into any system that could cause him not to do it. The church gave him the levity and freedom to do what some people could not do. They might have felt like they wanted to. But if you tied it to the police department, it's hard for 13:00you to rise up again. But he had the freedom to do that. The church, as he got more involved in the NAACP, from a member to the president of a local branch to the president of a state branch in NAACP. Then, I can't remember what year, but he became program director for the NAACP. It was just a progressive thing socially. Then we moved from the social realm to -- he was approached to go into the Board of Aldermen. So it was an increasingly growing involvement. I'll tell you what I know about my dad is he was not afraid of any man. If he was, I never 14:00knew it and the men never knew it. He may have talked to God about it in his private prayer life, but he never showed any fear about anybody. He was not a compromising person when he felt like he was right. So he just kept on moving, moving.

TK: You don't happen to know how he got to be president of the NAACP, do you?

PH: No, uh-uh.

TK: The open accommodations, desegregating downtown, you would have been a young teenager at the time.

PH: Yeah, very. He didn't let me get too much involved in that.

TK: I was going to ask about that. You were just a little younger than the people who were doing it.

PH: Right under. You know Woodford Porter, Jr.? Woody? I was right under him. So Woodford was able to, but I was not. I would sneak out with him sometimes and 15:00he'd turn around and I'd be there. He didn't send me home. But I didn't do a whole lot. I stayed home, which was a harrowing experience in and of itself. The home was where the nasty calls came.

TK: Can you tell me about that?

PH: You heard "Nigger, stay in your place. We're going to get you." Threats of violence and bombs, the whole nine yards, were often heard. So that was enough for me. I went every now and then but not a whole lot of involvement.

TK: Yeah, if you were born in 1948, I'm figuring you were about thirteen at the time during the '61 demonstrations. How about your mother? What did she think during that period during the demonstrations?

PH: She was always solidly behind her husband. In fact, she herself was quite a community activist. She had, to my recollection, when we were in Lynchburg, she 16:00worked for the YWCA as social director and youth development council there. And she was a teacher. When we came to Louisville, the first job I remember her having was in the community development department of the Louisville Urban League. So she was kind of right there with him. She was a very supportive helpmate to her husband. Quite an activist. Like she had several neighborhood clubs, neighborhood improvement, that kind of thing. I would go along with her. That was the safer ride, I guess. I would hang with her a lot of times. But she 17:00was right there.

TK: Where did you all live during the time of the demonstration?

PH: 19th and Jefferson, right in the projects. 1909 West Jefferson.

TK: I want to ask just a couple more questions about the downtown desegregation. You didn't go to the demonstrations yourself. Did you go to the church rallies or anything like that?

PH: Every now and then. They were a festive rejuvenation kind of service. Before they went to the walk, you know how Indians have a war dance, that kind of thing to get themselves in the mind for what was to come? That was what the services were like. They were always jubilant and celebratory and strengthening for what had to be. And then, what would happen is they would come back and have another 18:00service at the end of it to talk about what had happened. To celebrate the fact that whatever had happened during that particular time. We had overcomed, or we dared to go into this particular neighborhood or that neighborhood. I remember Dad saying at one time that the demonstrators -- and there were a few hecklers behind. He somehow got caught at the rear, kind of watching the back. And then his watching the back, the demonstration went on and kind of left him. He realized he was there by himself and began to run to catch up. That kind of thing. We would get instruction, we would hear what things we accomplished from 19:00that particular walk or what developments had happened.

TK: What kind of roles did your father play during the open accomodations struggle?

PH: As far as I know, he was right there in the mix. I can remember Frank Stanley and some others, Neville Tucker -- golly, you got me going back. Reverend A.D. King.

TK: He was at Zion Baptist, right?

PH: He was at Zion. And some others, Rich Powell. They were all -- Porter -- that was [unintelligible] the strategist. He was in the mix of it all.

TK: I'm going to ask a very specific question so you might not know this. I read an article that said -- because most of the sit-ins were in 1961, so you would 20:00have been about thirteen. I read an article in the newspaper that said he organized a boycott of downtown stores in 1963. I never heard anything about that before. Do you have any idea about that? At that point you would have been about fifteen.

PH: Yeah, "Buy Nothing New For Easter."

TK: Oh, that was it. I've read about "Nothing New for Easter," but I wasn't sure if it was the same thing. Because nothing for Easter was '61, but this was in 1963. Again, this is a very specific question so I don't really expect you to remember. I was just hoping by some chance you might know. I had never heard a reference to that one before. I can find it out from more newspapers.

PH: I don't know.

TK: Now I've also seen his name in conjunction with open housing. He was also involved in open housing. You would have been a little bit older back then. Were you involved in open housing yourself?

PH: Um-um.

TK: OK. Do you remember anything specific about the open housing part?

PH: Not really. You know, things went from --


TK: Well, this is one of the things I've learned from doing interviews is when you read the newspapers and stuff, these are two separate events, open accommodations and open housing. But when you talk to people, it's all one big thing.

PH: It's all one continued -- I don't remember it being looked at, I don't think it was looked at as separate in my mind. It was just we should continue the struggle for open -- whatever things should not have been opened at the beginning, we continued to try to press for the, for thing.

TK: That's the next thing you remember. That really helps me because it's one thing that, if you read just the written sources, you learn one thing, but from the interviews, you learn a different perspective. This program director position that he had, what was that?

PH: The NAACP wanted to have a pilot program where individuals were constantly 22:00on site to take care, to keep a feel on the pulse of the community. And to be an activist. Rather than it running amuck or running into violence, trying to have an impact in the process. One of the things that he did a lot of doing was a lot of job development, a lot of complaint taking about discrimination on jobs. Those kinds of things. I heard testimony all the time in places like -- excuse me. If I went to preach, for example, I went to Portland Memorial this past summer. This is when he was still alive. I took him with me until he felt ill. So he was with me constantly for the five years that we were together. I 23:00remember when we got there, even in the midst of the service, people got on their feet and clapped their hands. One of the young men, who now owns his own electrical company, said that day that he thought it would be a shame that if he did not let the world know that the reason he was able to have his electrical company was because when he first got started, and the electrical union had done so much to keep minorities out, that it was Dad that was able to have an impact in opening the door for more fairness. So that he could get in.

I've heard that over and over again. Like a young lady here that works at Dupont. They had that same kind of squabbling terms. I think there was some 24:00difference in the salaries. Dupont made an offer and told that if they didn't take it they were all going to be discharged. Dad said "Tell them we ain't taking it." They didn't and none of them got discharged. They finally got what they originally asked for, the higher wage, that kind of thing. In fact, that young lady right now -- well, she's my age. She's one of my buddies here. She is a supervisor at that place. So I've heard that over and over again, that if you even said -- I've even heard them say that if you even threaten, I'm going to W.J. Hodge, that you could almost instigate some change with people because they knew of his stature. They knew he didn't play. He had that respect. He was not one of those individuals that could play along if they knew they could get 25:00something done with him.

TK: The dates I have for that, 1968 to '73, was that at all related to either the riot or the rise of sort of militancy?

PH: I would think so. Because the riot took place around the same time. I think it was a kind of madness. The thing that was happening is we were destroying our own. If you're going to burn something, let's go out there on Shelbyville Road. So it was kind of a reaction to things that had still not gotten down. The seething anger that had -- and the NAACP was one of the more, not passive because it certainly wasn't, but it didn't have the violent mindset. So it was 26:00trying rational thinking. "Think about what you're doing. Don't just react, think about what you're doing." So I think it probably was a way to stem that tide that was going.

TK: You were in Louisville at that time in 1968? Or did you go away to college?

PH: I was going to college at that time.

TK: When did you leave and when did you come back?

PH: I left in the fall of about '67. I came back in the fall of '71.

TK: Where did you go to school?

PH: Hampton Institute, which is now Hampton University.

TK: Was that a regular undergraduate degree or was that a divinity degree?

PH: No, I had no intention of being a preacher. I was going to be this great lawyer, so I majored in political science. Then I came back to U of L and tried to get into law school. Got married and went to work. Then that went by the 27:00wayside. So I got my master's in community development.

TK: At U of L?

PH: Yes.

TK: I've heard a lot about that program. What years was that?

PH: That was '73.

TK: One question I'd like to ask is, between 1967 and '71, when you leave and when you come back, how would you describe changes in Louisville or in the movement in Louisville during that time?

PH: I can't. I don't think -- I think my second leaving, when I left in '77 and came back this last time five years ago, is when I see the most change. But I can't remember.

TK: OK, then we'll get to that later question in a little while. The last thing in your father's career after the NAACP is the Board of Aldermen. What do you 28:00remember about his race for the Board of Aldermen?

PH: I can't remember the little guy's name. I do remember that he wore a derby. This guy who had been in the ward here in Louisville.

TK: African-American or white?

PH: He was a white guy. 10th Ward Alderman. Basically, his power came from the other side of Market Street, right over there in the Portland area. You know what, we hardly ever ventured over there. They were right next door to each other. This community was a very vibrant area when I was a kid. My wife gets tickled when I talk about all the [unintelligible]. All of that here. But we didn't go across there. We dared not because that was a different mindset. But that's where this guy -- I know his name but it won't come. He was in the 10th 29:00Ward and he was approached about becoming the 10th Ward Alderman. He thought long and hard about it and he decided it would be another way to have influence. So he ran on a ticket with other progressives, Democrats, and won.

TK: Who was running for mayor at that time? Was that Harvey Sloane yet?

PH: Yeah, it was Harvey.

TK: I've heard about this, where there was this progressive white and some black Democrats finally came together. So the 10th Ward would be Portland and this neighborhood?

PH: And Russell.

TK: Russell is what this neighborhood is called?

PH: Yeah, it's a large area.



TK: So he ran with this ticket and won. How many times was he re-elected? Was it 30:00two-year terms?

PH: I can't remember how many terms it was.

TK: I have from '75 to '82. Does that sound about right?

PH: Uh-huh.

TK: Did you come back at all for -- so you must have been here for that.

PH: Yeah, I was here. My grandson, he had them all here. My sons, he had them on his campaign, said "Vote for my Poppa." Yeah, so we were here. I lived on 39th Street at that particular time. I stayed here from '71 to the fall of '77. I was here for a little while.

TK: Can you tell me what you remember about the campaign? What kind of issues it stressed or who got involved? Or even who his opposition was?


PH: I can't remember this guy's name. But one of the things that I know -- again, for him, it was a way of having influence in policy. The Board of Aldermen was a way of continuing of having a positive influence. So his whole political agenda was to open city government for the African-American community. Some of the things that I know that he did while he was in there was the city, if it had a major contract, they had to make sure that some subcontractors were African-American. That it could no longer be total majority. It had to include some minorities. Some of those laws that he helped get in place are still in 32:00place. This is why I'm afraid of this merger thing. A lot of the laws that we really fought hard for during that period of time are on the books. I'm wondering now with the new merger if that's going to be included. That's a great concern. I don't know the total body of the law, but I do know that they helped individuals of African-American descent to get some of the economic empowerment that came. [interruption]

TK: We were talking about contracts and stuff. Do you remember any other specific issues that he liked to work on?

PH: Uh-huh. Not singularly, but I do know -- no, not singularly. I'm not even going to try. Denise Bentley was going to get me some of the facts about 33:00legislation that he worked on, so I could know it. I might be able to get it, see if she followed up on that. Once I get it, I'll let you have it.

TK: OK, that would be great. Do you remember how he became president of the board?

PH: Oh yes. I believe it was from the mayor. What's the guy's name? Jerry Abramson had been slated to run for the Board of Aldermen. Then Porter Hatcher from the 12th Ward decided he wanted [unintelligible]. They fought it. They fought and fought. It got split, split, split every time they tried to elect the 34:00president of the aldermen. The compromise was W.J. Hodge. He was able to garner support from both sides. That's how he became the Board of Alderman president after a very hard fought battle. Dirty. But I'm not even going to tell you about some of the stuff I know. It was dirty. I saw people get dossiers pulled out on them and threatened to get them to withdraw. That kind of thing. It was pretty rough.

But the one person who could seemingly draw them together was Dad. That's how he became the [president] of the Board of Aldermen. It was not long after that that he decided to leave the Board of Aldermen. Those of us that were there, we 35:00thought that possibly the next step could have been the mayor. But he still had what I call I shepherd's heart. I asked him why and he said "You get tainted. You get dirty and bloodied." He felt like it was beginning to mess with what his real calling was. So he decided it was time to come out of it.

TK: Was he still minister of the church this whole time?

PH: Sure.

TK: And when he went to Simmons, he was still minister of the church?

PH: Uh-huh.

TK: Ok, I wasn't sure of that. When he went over to Simmons, did he still stay involve in the NAACP and civil rights work, too?

PH: Yes, he did. None of that ever stopped. I guess he was an evolving individual as to who he was. The last five years were perhaps the hardest years 36:00in my lifetime. I watched a mind that was keenly, keenly superior in intellect. Had a way of taking problems and just tear them apart, getting to the root of it. And then synthesizing and putting them back together with a solution. He could absolutely just sit in a meeting and listen to the bull jive, you know what I'm saying? And almost tell where people were going with the crap that they were trying, pulling the wool over their eyes. He would bring them right back. 37:00That's why I'm sure he had some enemies. Because he was just that way. He had an uncanny way, in whatever meeting we were in. I've seen him do it when we would go to the national convention.

I remember an issue came up about conjoining our congress with the convention. He had grave concerns about it. But the leadership was really pushing this thing. But he didn't mind standing up, challenging. I was sitting next to him, which was how I was taught, I hadn't done as much as he did. I've done a lot of other stuff, quietly, I think. But I would sit next to him and I would say "Ask so and so and so and so. Ask this question." And he would say "You ask." I would say "No, no, no. You ask." That's how he began to push me to not be afraid. 38:00Teaching values. "You go ahead and ask. What are they going to do? They can't do anything to you." He was fearless, but he had that kind of mind that would just -- he could tell problems, knew solutions for problems. Had a bold spirit in terms of being to have a problem and never worry, that I'd know of. Like I said before, of having any physical harm done to him. He had that kind of faith in God. That God would take care of him. I know he told me, I've seen some of the antics that they would play when he was going up for positions. He said "What's to be for me will be for me. They can delay. They can keep you from it for a little while, but if God has it for you, you're going to get it." That was just his mindset about things.

TK: I had asked you a little bit about the impact of his activism on your 39:00family. You talked about it when you were really little. How did it change over time, in terms of what it was like to have him as a dad and the impact on you as a family?

PH: I think my father and I became friends when I acknowledged my call.

TK: When was that?

PH: That was in '75, '75, '75. Up until that particular point, I think I held Dad as the icon. He was W.J. Hodge. That kind of guy. To some extent, I didn't have him as a father. We didn't go hunting or fishing or play pool together. That kind of thing. But he was always at the home. But I just saw him as my 40:00pastor, preacher. As this activist. But we became friends when I became a preacher. Of course, we became, in the last five years, as his health deteriorated, we became greater friends. It made us independent and learn how to stand on our own. I guess because of both my parents' involvement in the community and in the church and everywhere else they went, I was kind of a loner kind of person. I learned to entertain myself. Grew up kind of an inward child until I went to high school. Then I became more outward and that kind of thing. But I had a very healthy respect for him. Even when I became an adult. You began to realize the impact as you become an adult. You see him in one way, when 41:00you're a child. But when you become an adult, you really begin to see the footsteps. And to really be able to watch some of his influence. Like when my sons grew up and needed jobs, he could call people and get them.

I heard my grandson -- my son -- tell about at the funeral about how my older son was able to work for one of the good engineering companies, Cordino something. I think they would have him go pick up cars. He would call his brother on the cell phone, "I'm driving a BMW" or this, that and the other. So they were always able to get good jobs because of who he was. He was able to have a strong impact. A lot of people were able to get some of the jobs they had 42:00just by word from Dad. So I came to appreciate that kind of thing. Knowing that about him when I grew up as well.

TK: I got a sense from reading the newspapers at the time when he passed away about what the African-American community saw him. How did the white community see him? Did that change over time?

PH: You know, I really don't know. I think I got more of a feel for it when I had [Mayor Dave] Armstrong speak as his funeral. And [Steve Magre?], when he spoke at his funeral. Because I didn't go into the white community that much. When I went to Male, it was an integrated school, but for the majority of the time I spent it with folk from my own community. Then I went to Hampton, which 43:00is African-American. I went to U of L for my master's degree. But I really don't know. Except every now and then some of the community leaders like [Edna?] Beard and that kind of thing. I would see them and she would say to me "You have a great father." So I'm sure that as high esteem that he was held in some circles that he must have been held. Because of what he fought for. And would push for it. So he probably made some folk do stuff they did not intend to do or did not want to do. But even if they held him in hatred, or whatever term is better for you when you write it, they had a respect for him. So I think it was a respect.


TK: He's the person that whenever I ask people, when I started this project and I asked people who I should be interviewing, people said it would be great if you could interview W.J. Hodge. But by the time I got here, he was already gone.

PH: I'm telling you -- are your parents still living?

TK: Yes.

PH: You take care of them. Alzheimer is a robber. It's a terrible robber. I wish you had met him. Let me see, we came back here in '75, and it began periodically in '74.

TK: That early?

PH: He started repeating himself. And his cover-up would be "Did I tell you this before?" You didn't pay it any mind. And then it became more pronounced. You could tell he was uncomfortable with it. We would make a joke, "Go on and say it 45:00again if you feel like telling it again." That was because of who he was. "If you want to say it, W.J., you just say it again." He was just losing his way as it progressed.

At that time, when it would have began, I was in Texas, at Antioch Baptist Church in Texas. His friends, as it progressed while I was away, would begin to call me. His dentist called after he had had an extraction. Had a very hard time becoming re-acclimated from coming back from the surgery. I think he went out 46:00and came back in. So she called, very concerned about him. In his driving, he would forget to put on brakes and he would have wrecks. I would call him, I said "How are you doing, Dad?" "I'm doing fine, Philip." Blah, blah, blah. "Did you have a wreck today? Did you have some trouble with the car?" "Who told you!" You would go through that and he would say "I don't know why you folks are messing with me." That kind of thing. I tried to get him to come to Texas with me and he would not. So I came back here.

At the church -- he fell and hit his head on a counter at the license bureau right down there in the West End. It knocked him really bad. We think he was having wrecks, because he was passing out. So we spent a number of days in the hospital. About fifteen days in the hospital. When he got out, he told some of 47:00the officers in the church that he was very tired and he felt like he needed to give it up. One of his requests that he'd like to see, or hopes, that I would come back home and pastor Fifth Street. That's how I got home. They took his recommendation, wrote it up, called the other deacons in. All but one or two of the deacons said yes. Then they took it to the church and the majority of the church, I think about seventy-seven percent of the church said "Yeah, let Phil come back home." Which gave me an opportunity to pastor still, but to take care of him.

TK: Was your mother living all this time?

PH: She was dead by that time. Which is really one of the things that started him in the loop.

TK: When did she pass away?

PH: . . . about '93. See, he would do the church. He would do Simmons. And he 48:00would take care of her. That was his ritual. On his way to Simmons during the week, he'd stop at the nursing home. From the nursing home, he would go to Simmons. Then he'd stop by here and it would be the same way. He stopped at the nursing home on his way home. When my mother died, it seems like a piece of him died. It's like he kind of slowly took his hands off of what was going on. It was a progressive thing. I could tell you some stories. But what I started to tell you is, just love them and keep them close to you. Things just happen so fast. I never would have thought -- I kind of knew my mom's illness and the way it was going to go. But I never would have thought that my father would have gone this way. I thought he'd die of a heart attack or diabetes or something. 49:00But for his mind, which was what made him who he was, was a very hard thing to watch. You would have -- he would have had your pen going. Getting a little[unintelligible]

TK: I'm listening very closely to this -- his 1989 interview. So far it sounds pretty good in terms of sharpness and stuff. So I will give you a copy of that as soon as -- I have to buy some [unintelligible] of tapes.

PH: I can get you some.

TK: Oh, I need to get them anyway. So I'll just make you a copy. There's a couple of questions I like to ask everybody as I wrap up. They're sort of 50:00general, theme type questions. One is, if you were writing a book on the civil rights movement in Louisville, when would you start it and when would you end it?

PH: Goodness gracious. It would be ongoing. I don't think you can -- it has taken on a different nature. But the battle to some extent continues even today. Gosh, I went to the March on Washington in '63, [unintelligible] --

TK: It sounds like it was already happening before you got here.

PH: It was. You want to know in Louisville? I would say it must have to some extent going on when we got here in '57. I don't know if you remember much about 51:00Martin Luther King. But Martin, his first church was in Montgomery. But there was a preacher there before him whose name was Vernon Johns.

TK: A friend of mine is writing a book on him.

PH: Is that right? If you really wanted to get Daddy off talking, talk about Vernon Johns. Oh yeah, they were tight. One of the things about that church is that it was very much like Fifth Street. Very much like the older black churches, African-American churches. Very bourgeois. In our quest to prove to white society that we were as good as they were, our service at the time was high. Our church didn't do anything but [unintelligible] that kind of thing, in an effort to show society that we had it as well as they did. And Vernon Johns' 52:00church was very much like that. So he was -- you know, he sold fish in front of the church, vegetables and all that stuff. They finally were able to get Vernon out. But it was in preparation for [mud?], I saw a documentary on Vernon Johns. It was short. I heard about this guy and I had read a small article on him. When I got to see the re-enactment of it, I could see why Dad was enamored with him. He prepared the way for Vernon Johns. So something I think had to have been going on when Dad got here. It was just waiting for him to plug it right on in and move it out. Now, I can't tell you what or who it was at that time. I was just eight, nine, ten years old at that time.

TK: Just a little nipper, as my husband would say. A wee nipper. And this is 53:00another question I like to ask everyone. It gets back to what you asked me in the beginning. When you're talking about all the activities that your father did, would you say that he was a civil rights activist, or fighting for black freedom, or fighting for racial equality? I mean, what terms would you use to describe him?

PH: It's going to be controversial to some extent. I'm a part of the inter-denominational ministry of [unintelligible]. Some of the individuals there want to make it clear that they are not civil rights workers, or civil rights preachers. Above and beyond anything, whatever he was, whether he was president of Simmons Bible College or whether he was program director for NAACP, or any of 54:00that, whatever it was. Underlying in that thing was that he was a preacher of the Gospel for the Lord Jesus Christ. He'd let you know that. In his mind, everything that he did was because of the effect that Christ had on his life in breaking down barriers, as Jesus saw it. So for him, anything he did as a social activist, or anything that he did, he was primarily a preacher of the Gospel. His love of Christ and his interpretation of what Christ did and of his life moved out from there. So it encompassed racial equalities, civil rights, academia, whatever. When he worked at Simmons, he brought a higher level of academics to the school. He would get on those students about being lazy in their talk. "If God calls you to excellence, then you have to display 55:00excellence." Because the God we serve is an excellent God. So underlying everything he did was his love of God and the effect that God had on him. So name then again. You said civil rights --

TK: I said was he a civil rights activist, was he fighting for black freedom, racial equality, some other kind of --

PH: It's all of it. I guess racial equality is kind of a catch-all in my mind. When you're talking about racial equality you're going to fight for civil rights and social activism, education and all that. So it's kind of a combination. I would not say just civil rights but racial equality.

TK: That's my last question. I'm going to turn this off.