START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A
Tracy K'Meyer: Well then, what I thought I'd do is start, you had mentioned onthe phone that you were pretty aware of sort of your long family history, so I thought we'd start if you could talk to me about some of those previous ancestors and what you know about them and their activities.
Sterling Neal: Okay. On my father's side, I can go back as far as just mygreat-grandfather whose name was John Neal. And he and his father, whose name I don't know, fought in the Civil War, and when his father got killed, he went back to Alabama, got his mother from a Cherokee Indian reservation and came to Louisville. And then apparently he married my great-grandmother, her name was Emma, and out of that marriage came my grandfather Robert who was born on 1:00Sixteenth and Oak. And then as it turns out my grandmother Anna Mae Neal, who was the daughter of a person named Harp Harper, my grandfather, and Birdie Harper. They called her Birdie but I have a real strong suspicion that her real name was Roberta. I believe that because my grandmother, you know, we sat down when she was about ninety-eight and did a kind of an interview tape and I have a copy of it but it hasn't been proofread yet. I had it transcribed and it turns out that my oldest sister really remembers it, I don't even remember being there, but she says that I was and I can tell, but my grandmother was born in 2:001881. She says that her great-grandfather was some Caucasian and she didn't want to tell us his name because she felt that born here in Louisville in Jefferson County out in Shively, and she felt that he wouldn't recognize her even though she was saying in this little document. She said she quoted, she said that he gave me grandfather's property or a home and my Uncle Sam, and I remember his name was Sam Kemp, and his Aunt Liz. And this Sam Kemp had property out in Shively near Seventh Street. He was a farmer and apparently, I don't know what happened to my Aunt Liz, I think she might have sold some of the property without anyone else knowing about it, but it turns out that she wouldn't tell me 3:00the name of this, she called him, said that her great-grandfather was a white man. At the time that she was saying all this, the Black Power revolution had just about petered out and I remember she used to tell me that we've got English in our blood and I would tell her, "No, the only blood I've got is African."
But we basically must have agreed on that because when we asked her, "You know,well, who is this man?" She would say, "I'm not going to tell you." And the reason that's she wouldn't was that she felt that he didn't recognize her and as a consequence she just simply blanked it out and to her death, she wouldn't tell. But she did say that whatever his name was that a school was named after him and a street. And what I concluded was that the name was Kemp and it was 4:00spelled C-, they spell it now K-e-m-p, but it was spelled C-a-m-p and it was like English, probably translation was probably Camp Ground Road. Whoever they were, they owned some of the distilleries around here I think, or made whiskey, Old Taylor or something like that. One of these days I'll look it up but it's not really all that important to anybody in the family. We do have a genealogy that my great-uncle Joseph Harper's son developed and it turns out that he traced the genealogy of the family back to the Harpers, because he was interest in that and it's filed with the Filson Club.
TK: Oh really, okay. So I can look at that easily.
SN: Right and then my grandfather on my mother's side, you know, I think she's5:00been traced back to 1833.
TK: Wow! Now the Harper family is that on your mother's side or your father's side?
SN: I'm sorry?
TK: The Harpers, is that your mother's side or your father's side?
SN: Right, the Harpers are my father's side.
TK: Your father's mother was a Harper?
SN: Yes, yes, her name was Anna Mae Harper. And so you know, actually there's alot of material that could be researched but most of us active, so tied up with in what we do in life that we really haven't had the real opportunity to do that. Now it turned out that a real rich sort of thing my Uncle Joe wrote that kind of gives an idea of how life was here in early Louisville, not early Louisville, but when they were children. And it's really funny to a certain extent, but on the other hand it's kind of informative, because they lived on Fourth Avenue at 620 Fourth Avenue where a number of, where a optician. 6:00Evidently they lived on the second floor, the optician's shop was first and the optician lived on the third, which is [unintelligible] with the heat rising up and it being more comfortable in the wintertime. It turns out that . . . now John Neal is somebody that I recognized early on.
TK: And John Neal was . . .?
SN: Was my great-grandfather.
SN: And apparently when he came from the Civil War, he must have had some sideeffects from the war because, you know the way it was explained to me was that he was a dangerous man and many of the black soldiers were. For instance, he was supposed to have strangled a Caucasian for calling him the n word around the turn of the century and had to hide out until my grandfather who apparently knew 7:00somebody. They used to call in the old day, "Big white folk." I guess whoever he strangled was somebody that wasn't very important and eventually they settled it without my great-grandfather going to prison or anything like that or jail. And so when I was young I heard all these sort of things and my grandfather was probably a Marcus Garvite [supporter of Marcus Garvey]. You know we didn't talk about these kind of things except by accident, you know, I mean, just over time things came up. We didn't have history lessons as such in the family, but I know when I was younger that I can tell the influence, because when I got to high school one of the, that was second year of integration, at Male High School, one of the professors, Professor Gerhart, happened to say to me, called me Mr. Neal. 8:00He was kind of a little [unintelligible] man, but he said, "You know, we brought you people here because you don't have a history and you don't have a culture." So I was in the tenth grade and automatically without really giving it a lot of thought, I said, "Well, that can't be true because when Africans are smelting iron, Europeans were in the cave." He jumped up and down, you know, he was really agitated and I didn't have a very successful time at Male High School, you know, because of that. I believe it was because of that but it could have been because of other things. And let me digress a little bit, this goes to my father and my grandfather. We have a strong history of social service in our family, community service. It probably began with John Neal and his fight for his freedom. In my father's line, we've never gone to the military except that 9:00time to fight for our own freedom.
TK: Only in the Civil War?
SN: I'm sorry?
TK: Only in the Civil War anyone from your family fought?
SN: Right, in my father's side.
TK: In your father's side.
SN: And that includes his brother and anybody else I know along that line. NowRobert Neal, my grandfather, there was a woman who lived around here at one time where you see of these houses. And you may know that just before they built these houses they had a housing, public housing project, government sponsored poverty down here. Well, it turns out that before that there was a labor camp down here called Little Africa. Now the old people, I'm thinking about my grandmother when I say old people, they called it the new addition because it was a railroad cross-tied labor camp that was populated by individuals from Georgia and Mississippi and they all lived down where the Southwick housing 10:00project was. And really, just about when this school was built, they built Southwick. And they basically had an independent form of living down there, you know, they owned their lots, they had porches, they had meathouses, they worked a real hard rough life with, you know, making railroad ties. And it turned out that I know that my grandfather and other men down here helped build a cinder road from this area to Southern Avenue and Southern Avenue was about as far as you could go without going into a wilderness. And they evidently had a strong sense of community because they were some of the first people that settled down beyond Thirty-Fourth Street, and these were mainly black people that settled down into what was. . . . Thirty-Fourth at that time was the city limits and at various times the limits would be at one time Twenty-Sixth Street, another time Twenty, not Twenty-Six, but another time Fifteen, you know, through the years it progressed. 11:00
So he was somebody that people came to for advice, my grandfather, Robert Neal.He worked as a crew leader for Reynolds Metal Company and he was over all the black men, so my father when he grew up, he grew up during the Depression and he was thought by some people to be highly intelligent. He basically, you know as a young man, made his own, as a teenager really, made his own money. He graduated from Catholic high school. My grandfather was a Catholic and my grandmother was an African Methodist Episcopal, A.M.E. So my father, I remember there was guy 12:00here named Houston Baker who was from a long family here, wanted to put my father in college. But as he told me, he made more money then his father and as a consequence of that, it didn't make sense at that time, you know from his mother's point of view, for him to go to college. But he joined the labor union movement and I would have to get you all those dates, but the way it worked out was something like this. It was sort of a radical movement in the late forties and the early fifties. And what they did when International Harvester came they actually were probably the first persons, and this is really in the South, to effectively implement integration. And what they did was they convinced the workers here in Louisville not to accept, the white workers, not to accept to a 13:00higher wage than the black workers. And the reason was, the argument that they had was that the bosses were dividing them and that they had what they called the Southern differential, which was that they paid workers in the North greater than they paid workers in the South. And I'll tell you I have a copy of something and I think I've got another copy at home, but it's called the Louisville Story. It doesn't mention him but it really gives a real good understanding of that early, maybe I better have this copied.
TK: Yeah, I would.
SN: Yeah, because the reason I'm thinking is that, you know, actually anything Igive you, these are actually the family's stuff.
TK: Yeah, I wouldn't want to copy everything.
SN: But this gives a real good understanding. Now in those early days they hadtwo different sort of things going on, they had an organization called the Negro Labor Council.
TK: Yeah, I wanted to ask about that.
SN: Now that was a national organization that the executive secretary was14:00Coleman Young, who later became the mayor of Detroit. And they had a number of individuals in there. I can remember some of the names because when I was young, probably nine, I used to sit in the living room and they used to call me Bubba. That was the name my sister some sort of way gave me and it doesn't mean the same thing it does in European-American culture, because you've got a number, I could name several people, at least four who have the same name, and it's always been thought to mean brother, but I met some guy who was of European origin who said, "You're the smallest bubba I've ever met!" And it passed over my head until the governor at one time, Wallace Wilkinson, had made some famous statement, "Bubba don't know about two languages," you know. And then I found out that Bubba was supposed to be a big dumb, but that's the differences in culture. So I used to sit in these meetings and I can remember there were 15:00people, Bud James, he's still living probably in his eighties up in Minnesota, and there's an attorney named Robert . . . it's going to come to me. He and I went to Male together and even though I didn't know it, he knew me by way of my father's labor union and he knows Bud James. But there was Coleman Young, Lou Luker, who was the mayor of Halifax, Nova Scotia, at one time, Freddie [unintelligible], just a wide range of guys. Freddie [unintelligible] was what they used to call a Creole and he lived in a place called South Louisville and if you ever wanted to know anything about him, you could ask Joe McMillan.
TK: Oh really?
SN: Yeah, he lived out in, Joe came from that area. But he remembers Freddie[unintelligible] because he mentioned his name to me once. I've got a picture of 16:00Freddie, too, and all these other guys. But I would sit there in the room while they were discussing strategy and this sort of thing, and my father was the kind of guy that he didn't believe in physical punishment but he had a very harsh tone, you know. And he was a very aggressive kind of individual, too, and we think that that's a genetic thing that runs in the family, a real short fuse that will move to action very quickly. But it turns out in those days, and it's really funny, I used to see him, you know, for instance, in heated discussions jump up and, you know, I guess, curse some of these guys out or talk to them very harshly, and you know they were white, black, and one Filipino guy. Well, it turns out as I was growing up, I didn't see Caucasians at that top of the heap, because where I lived was mainly blacks and then went across Eighteenth 17:00Street which was mainly Caucasian. Coming up, we might go to fight, not because the guys were white but because they were not on our block, you know, and we didn't lose very often.
So I came up with the notion, you know, that well, these guys can't really fightand seeing individuals dominated, you know, by my father because it was real rough movement, this labor movement, very violent. But we went out on strike lines, I and my sister when we were very young, you know, and we looked at people trying to break the strikes at Harvester and called them scabs and might have even threw some rocks at them, batteries at them. But early on in our family, the working man, the common individual was heightened. We didn't look at the middle class or the rich. As a matter of fact, I consider the middle class, I grew up until really eighteen believing that they were a corrupt bourgeoisie; 18:00that's really the way I saw it. It was more of kind of a socialist orientation. Before he died, my father said, "Yeah, I was a socialist." Now let me see if I can make this coherent. Anyway the Negro Labor Council eventually dissolved. I've got some of the articles of dissolution somewhere at home. And also they came under attack. During that time, no, you don't look like you're old enough for that, but during that time, the labor union movement was involved in a number of issues that have become more prominent today, like, for instance, female rights. You know I would hear my mother tell my father, "You're a male chauvinist!" And that disturbed him greatly and so he would claim that he wasn't and, you know, that's how she was able to throw a stone if she wanted to. 19:00
The whole idea of race was considered to be in my family politically backward,for instance, we've never used, as a routine, racial words, you know, that was a forbidden thing. If I were to try to use a word in a derogative term about any other ethnic group that was just simply not done; it was a cause of punishment. And even today, if you are around my children and use a word like that, you know a N word or anything they will, you know, either tell you no or I don't appreciate that. Or my brother, he'll say the same thing. I've seen my daughter in front of a guy that uses the n word a lot where I go down and talk to guys about this that and the other, come down to see me and talk to me and Ebony will, you know, the guy said the word, even though it's his store, you know, 20:00Ebony rebuked him! And it turns out the same guy said the same word in front of my brother and he rebuked him. And I found that you won't hear anybody using that word. Now in this little commentary, my grandmother used it, but from my father forward you would not hear that kind of word in our house, or really you wouldn't hear any curse words except maybe God's name in vain.
Damn, yeah he was a rough character on that one. So he was at this time thegovernment considered labor unions to be, some labor unions, to be tools of the Communist ideology and especially the ones that didn't collaborate with what they called, what my father would call the bosses. So as I was coming up, you know, I understood all this terrorism by government to exist and even though I 21:00don't remember this, he tells me that when I was young, I'm thinking it had to be around nine or ten, that the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation] used to come and sit out in front of the house just to kind of intimidate on Ormsby, 1749 Ormsby, and that was my grandfather's house, my grandfather on my mother's side, his home, house rather, he didn't live there. As it turns out, he claims that I got some of the neighborhood boys together and we made mud balls and threw it at the FBI and drove them off. I can't remember that but it's not out of, wouldn't have been out of the ordinary because we always considered ourselves to be [unintelligible] and able and really were willing to meet, I'm talking about the young guys I grew up with. We thought that we could handle ourselves.
So, as it turns out, in the labor union movement I got deeply influenced by22:00that, and probably in this school, for instance, there is a teacher who must have been a Korean War veteran, it was the printing teacher. I was here in the eighth grade and he used to come to me and talk against the type that I had set and tell me, he said, "Neal, you're a Communist." And he and I would actually grapple with each other and the students would have to break it up and I didn't think to tell my parents because I actually thought and had been reared to take care of myself. And I remember, I'd say to myself, "When I grow up, I'm going to whip this man." And one day during the sixties when we had embraced Black Power, we were going door to door organizing and who could open the door but Mr. McBride, the man I'm talking about. Just before I saw him and remembered and just before I could give him his duly deserved whipping, he told me, he said, 23:00"Neal, we got to stick together. These white folks are really bothering us." So it threw me off so I went home and thought about it and I said, "No, this man needs to get his punishment." So I went back the next week and his house had burned down right on Sunset and Cecil and I went next door and asked this lady, "Where's Mr. McBride?" And she said, "Oh, he moved to Indianapolis." And I said, "Well, so be it." [Laughter] But I had, those sort of things did happen, you know, we're an official society, because I probably because of my father, I didn't think of it that way I just thought he was a fool.
TK: Right, yeah. But your father had quite a reputation, I guess, at one time.
SN: Right, because early in the fifties Anne Braden and her husband Carl hadpurchased a home for Andrew Wade and his wife out in Shively, and Shively was 24:00totally white at that time and it was ruled by a community group called the White Citizens Council headed by a person named Millet Grubbs. So when they found out that Wade was moving into the house they burned it down or something or blew it up; I think they burned it. And then they arrested Carl Braden, put him in prison for sedition for a year until the Supreme Court overthrew it, and then, you know, tried to charge my father and others with some sort of complicity and you know this sort of thing. So you had the Commonwealth's Attorney and all that. So I grew up looking at that knowing that it was unfair and knowing that it was a product of a corrupt society, you know, and that's just the way I looked at that. So by the time I got to, but at the same time I grew up with kind of a street culture also, you know I mean where you actually had to defend yourself, had to be able to talk your way in and out of things, 25:00and then occasionally you had to run. And you had to have enough sense to know when to run and when to fight and that sort of thing. And as a consequence I [unintelligible] two different things that made me look at this society in a quite negative kind of way; one was the street culture and you know where we saw the police as the enemy, where we saw the larger European base culture as unfair, corrupt, not in our favor. We had to make it anyway that we felt like we had to make it and it was kind of violent, you know, people died and that sort of thing. And then I grew up in a politically charged culture which was to see the racism as a politically backward kind of thing and to see that as a tool used by the elite to divide society and advance their own wealth. And so by the time I got to the ninth grade, that was the first year of integration and I went 26:00to Manly Junior High School, and it was really funny now that I look back.
TK: Now was Manly a primarily black school or was it . . .?
SN: Manly Junior High is at, was at Brook and Oak.
SN: And I remember, when I was leaving this school, the counselor called me inbecause in the black community the schools, the teachers were very, very strict. They were determined to make something out of you and consequently, when integration came, some of them were apprehensive about people like me because they sort of saw me as a. . . . And at this school, they thought I was, you know, intelligent and not the smartest in the class, but they also looked at me a different way that I didn't understand at the time because we had an intelligence test here and I remember doing the test. My mind was always kind of racing and I'd get bored inside of a classroom so I just simply marked anything 27:00down and evidently it gave me a score of eighty-eight.
Now I didn't find this out until I was in the tenth grade, but I remember thecounselor called me and said, "Mr. Neal, we don't want you to go to Manly. If you stay here, you can take the courses that you want, algebra, Latin and this, but if you go to Manly, you can't take those." So I didn't understand that. She said, "Because we think you're going to embarrass us." And I said, "Well, you know." I thought that she was mad at me because she lived on the block I lived on and that my sister beat her son up or something, my oldest sister. So, of course, in my childish mind I thought, I dismissed her and went to Manly. And it turned out that at Manly, they put me in a retarded class, which I flunked by the way. I flunked the ninth grade. But again the counselor came to me, said, "Mr. Neal, you flunked the ninth grade but we don't want you here. We're going 28:00to round your grade up and you're going to Male." She really frightened me when she said that. And it turned out, though, that I didn't understand this at first. All I knew that I was the best looking person in the class and I was the smartest. And there was a guy here now who is an administrator, there are eight administrators over these things, and one of them was in the ninth grade with me, a Caucasian named George Holmes. And I use him to verify because I laugh at this myself and tell me people, "Well, I know my IQ was an eighty-eight and my community's proud of me because I raised it." Or at least if I didn't, I know it just takes an eighty-eight to succeed in America. Well, there was a guy in there that looked exactly like Uncle Fester in the ninth grade with a bald head, kind of round, just like him that used to run up to me and say all these crazy things! And you know, the street culture that I was in we had a thing where we 29:00supposed to be cool, we walked a certain kind of way, we all dressed what we called a "Joe College." You know we had a style of speaking and we didn't, we called it maintaining our cool, you know, we didn't get upset over things. If there was a fight, we didn't jump up and down, you know, we just looked. And we were quick to offend and defend ourselves. Well, it turned out that again, here I am now going to Male High School and somebody told, at Manly, you know, my opinion was with these teachers are totally corrupt because I knew what adults were and how they were supposed to respond to a child. And they would basically discharge great racial sort of things. And the guys I ran around with, we just didn't take it and consequently we got behavioral grades, circles around our 30:00grades. So we went Manly, but we thought it was natural for people that were different like that to, you know, I mean the European history was quite consistent with the way we were treated. And it just so happens, like I said before, we weren't going to take it, didn't take any whippings because my father instructed me not to take paddlings from anybody but to call him. And let me digress one little bit. He also instructed us not to call people, yes, ma'am or no, ma'am, and I've taught my children the same thing, just call them yes, Ms. Jones or no, Mr. Jones. And I happened to read in my grandmother's little commentary where that really came from. You know, they moved to Cleveland where my father was born and she was saying in the . . .
END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A
START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B
SN: The bridge going into Indiana, she left yes, ma'am and no, ma'am behind, youknow, and she thought she had kind of a bias against Southern people whether 31:00they be black or white believing that the great causes of the problems was that they brought the traditions with them, which she found in Cleveland was not a race discrimination but really a discrimination against foreigners, you know, especially police people and this sort of thing. They used to say racism in the South, fascism in the North. So that's the way I came up, not, you know, really standing my own ground because that's just what was expected from my family and when I got to Male High, somebody just showed me the IQ. Said Sterling, said, this girl's mother was a teacher, said, "Here's your IQ," on this card you had to take the first day, and I saw eighty-eight so immediately I said, "Eighty-eight!" And it confirmed what I thought, twelve points away from being a 32:00genius, you see! And I was in my sophomore year in college in the education course when I found out what eighty-eight meant. And it really was interesting to me; you know the whole thing. But while I was at Male around the second year, that would be '58, I joined the organization and my younger sister joined an organization called CORE.
TK: Oh, you joined CORE too?
SN: Yeah, the Congress of Racial Equality. And most of us were teenagers, butthere was some adults and the person that led it was Bishop C. Eubanks Tucker, who was an A.M.E. bishop. And we used to picket everyday after school on Fourth and Chestnut; there was a Taylor's Drug Store there. And you know, we just did this. We didn't think that it was unusual or that it had any connection with school. While I was at Male, we had a race riot there also but it was unrecorded 33:00nobody . . .
SN: Yeah, some guy walked up to a black guy and accused him, as matter of fact,I think the guy's name was Sizemore, and accused him of looking at his girlfriend's leg. So there were three black guys and they were standing together, so this white guy and bunch of buddies tried to surround them and I was out there. And I wasn't thinking about it on really race basis at that time. I didn't know these black guys but it turned out that there were about twelve white guys, but these black guys, when the white guy threw the punch, they whipped all these white guys, you know, just running from one to the other. And you know, I didn't think much of that either because that was my belief!
TK: Yeah, you grew up with it so, yeah.
SN: So then the next day however, somebody called me and told me, "Man, youbetter bring something to school." So we came essentially armed and then the 34:00teachers came and kind of broke up what was coming. We had combination locks, chains, I don't know what they had but essentially we had about two days of a race riot and finally eventually that race riot dissipated but this tooth, which my mother keeps telling, "Get that [unintelligible]!" "No, that's sacred." She doesn't recognize but while I was there and this just shows how the system works, one of the guys, a bunch of us just ran together. The school principal called us down one day and said, "Look, I want you all to transfer to Central High School," which was the black school. So we cursed the principal out. His name was Milburn, William Milburn, and see, we weren't taking a whole lot 35:00because we all carried hookbill knives that we could flip open in a moment and one of them got me in trouble, though, because in the classroom once some guys was pushing my chair and the teacher said, "Neal, stop playing!" I said, "Mr. . . " He said, "Shut up, if you say another word, you're going out of the class!" So this guy took advantage of that and did it again, so I took my hookbill out and snipped him. So he told me, "I'm going to get you after class!" I said he was going to get me, well, where I was from, if people threatened you, they usually carried it out, so I believed that and you know, tried to jump the guy first, but somebody broke it up and I had a misunderstanding about the size I was. He was probably about six feet. I was probably about the size I am now. I'm a 113 but some reason, internally I had a belief, I don't know what it was. I really laugh at it because you know, maybe occasions I might, you know, start 36:00something because somebody was talking too loud or being aggressive and then the guys I ran with might jump in, "No, let me do this!" But they probably were looking at me. They must have thought I was totally mad! You see what I'm saying. So this guy I remember when I grabbed him I threw him and he spun around rather than going to the floor the way what I thought about myself should have indicated. So he caught me one day when I was outside of the, I remember there was a Christmas tree, so it must have been December. And we had a style that we called macking where in our imagination we thought that all the girls were looking at us and we was desirable and we were cool and we were this, so they called it macking. And all of the sudden I felt this excruciating blow in the back of my head. I thought it was the race riot again and I was going to run 37:00downstairs where my friends were at lunch and I just happened to turn and then I saw this black girl, as a matter of fact, her name is Juanita White. She used to be connected with Farmington in some way or another, a little controversy.
TK: Yeah, yeah.
SN: And I don't even know if she remembers this but when I saw here, and she andI, we were in the ninth grade together and she may have been in one of those classes, too, the retarded classes even though she's got a master's degree and this, that, and the other. But as it turned out, when I saw her, my pride got evoked so I just ducked my head and turned around to face whatever was there. Because it would have been just too much shame for me to run from a Caucasian, that's the way we felt those days. But when I turned around it was just one person and that was delightful for me. Well, the teachers tried to break it up after he went and fell into the Christmas tree, but afterwards they grabbed me. 38:00He hit me in the mouth; years later it fell out while I was eating a hamburger.
TK: Oh, that's how you lost the tooth.
SN: Right. And what they did with me, they called the police, you know, and putme out of school and didn't care enough to call my parents and I was really glad for that. So I went and hung down at Central and they thought I was a real tough guy because I was cutting school when in fact, I couldn't find anyplace to go. But my experience in high school convinced me that America really wasn't a good place to be, so I had decided what I was going to do was join the service and desert to North Africa and become a revolutionary. Because, see, by that time, by the time I was in the twelfth grade, I had read the collected works of Mao Tse Tung, was really kind of familiar with revolution, had examined [Albert] Camus and Jean Paul Sartre and the existentialists and was alienated myself towards . . .
TK: All this is before college?39:00
SN: Yes, right. I just got to college by accident, because what I did was tookthe test for the Air Force and then what I was going to do was find my way toward North Africa, and I believe I might have gotten to Algiers was the place I think I was going to try to get to. And my father, he thought I was trying to join the military, because I didn't necessarily share any of this with him because again I was my own person and did the things I did in life. I was always very respectful to my parents, never yelled at them or back at them, never cursed at them and essentially did what they said to the extent that my mother used to always brag on me about being the perfect child. But when I went out with the guys, of course, you know, we drank wine, we fought battles, we did all sorts of things.
TK: Did they not know about the fighting?
SN: No, because the school didn't . . .40:00
TK: Didn't tell them?
SN: Right. At [unintelligible] we just said that there was just problems andagain that would have been embarrassing because in my family we always had to explain things and probably the only reason I stayed out of real serious trouble was a lot of it couldn't be explained. You know, like I was with some guys real deep in the territory that was totally Caucasian and some guy says, "Well, let's steal this car and do this!" But that wasn't morally offensive, it would just have been a way to get home. But thinking about getting caught and then trying to explain to my father that I had stolen a car and to explain why it just didn't make any sense. So they went on and I had to walk through the alleys and look both ways and run across to get home because I wouldn't going to be able to explain anything that made sense to my father. Now what made sense he would have 41:00been backed me up on but something stupid, you know, he just wasn't going to so that so I just said it was unbearable actually. So I couldn't participate in some things that young guys my age did. He could understand a fight or something like that or whatever. So, as it turned out, I was so alienated but I had my own particular point of view in life and the young guys that I ran with had their own points and views, too. I mean we just had a way that we were looking at things that were divorced from my parents' point of view which would be to promote well-being and that sort of thing. And as it turned out, these crosscurrents got me, you know the street culture plus this political culture so I just decided to leave America. And it turned out that my father, thinking that I was trying to join the military, something that was really not a tradition in 42:00our family at all, as a matter of fact, would have been contributing to warmongering and other kind of things and he probably thought something was wrong with him. But he also had enough respect and enough understanding to know that there was no way to convince me anything if I didn't want to be convinced. So he had the next door neighbor, Crumblin. He's an attorney, he was a . . .
TK: Oh yeah, I've interviewed him; James Crumblin.
SN: Yeah, his son Wiley, we used to play chess and his son was older and hadbeen to the Air Force. So Wiley used to beat me so bad, and I used to be pretty good and was hard to beat, but we played two games at a time and he used to beat me so bad that it just disorganized my thinking. The only thing I could think about was how to go in there and get, you know, win the game. But while he was beating me, he was talking about the Air Force in a real negative way and that process caused me to become disillusioned. I forgot my goal and all of the 43:00sudden it was the Air Force. So then I went to my father and said, "Look, I want to go to college." So what he did was call the Kentucky State [University], and I was really against going to college because I had seriously considered college students as part of a corrupt, bourgeoisie, backward class of individuals. And I remember getting in the car and I looked at a . . . I was sitting in the back seat. There was an assigned seat for me, you know, my mother and father sat there so I sat on the left-hand side behind my father because I was the oldest male. I was thinking in my mind that I'm going to an army barracks, I mean really just something very negative, but I decided I was going to make the best I could. I wasn't going to associate with people. I was going to be a, you know, a scholar if I could.
When I got to Kentucky State all of the sudden I saw some of my friends, people44:00I knew from Louisville, the college campus was beautiful and it was completely different and so again I can understand younger individuals. And so when I went there I went there in a very challenging kind of way. I always sat on the front seat. I didn't carry any books to class until they made me because I always studied, and even though some people who know me from college, they thought I was smart, but I thought that I worked hard, you know while they were playing and joking, I studied. And then there was kind of, you know, the college life, you know the party part of it and I participated in it but I always considered that to be secondary. So when I went to college, what I decided to do was develop my leadership skills. So in the second year I became the secretary of the dorm, in the third year, let me see, I became something else. My sister 45:00Beverly, who became the president of CORE, the first year I came to college, Beverly became the president of CORE, that was 1960 and that's when they had mass demonstrations downtown Louisville to open up lunch counters. But then Beverly came the next year in '61 and we both, I would have to look through my yearbooks, but by the time I became a senior, I was a senior class president, the president of the fraternity I was in, the secretary of something else, "Who's Who Among American Students" and this, that and the other. And Beverly followed, too. As a matter of fact, Beverly was the junior class president when I was the senior class president and she became the president of the student council. And the person that she ran against for the student council president, 46:00Herb Watkins, he'd actually been to the military as an intelligence officer or something like that and a football player and a straight A student. After Beverly beat him, he married Beverly.
TK: Oh really! Oh, because her last name is Watkins, now that's right, yeah.
SN: Yeah, they're still married. They have two children, you know, they're allgrown now and out of college themselves. And you know, I had a basically an independent stance at college but the professors there took some sort of liking to me for some reason. When I think about, because I see people now who knew me then, and for instance, when I went to the classes, I wouldn't take the books. I might in biology start reading the newspaper so the biology professor, Dr. Ragell would tell me, "Mr. Neal, put that paper down." And I would just say, "Dr. Ragell, I know what's in the book but I don't know what's in the paper. Can 47:00I read it?" You know some sense of humor or something I had. And you know, "Put that paper down!" And so, you know, the girls would call me Dr. Ragell's favorite child, and I didn't understand what they were saying I just, "Mmmm," and just kept on about my business. But I used to be challenging to the professors, you know, sit on the front row, look them right in the eye, and make them . . .
TK: We hate those people! [Laughter]
SN: Yeah, well I didn't have a real [unintelligible] part of the backwardbourgeoisie political class because some of the things they taught weren't consistent. My father was victimized by the McCarthy era. He was in the union. He had been elected [unintelligible].
TK: That's okay.
SN: He had been elected to a union, and I'm trying to think. . . . Yeah, I thinkit was the Former Electrical Union, F-E- and I think U-E, United Electrical, they eventually joined. And then actually, there were about twenty-five thousand 48:00members, I've got a newspaper that says all this, and there were probably wasn't probably about three hundred blacks in the whole union but he was able to gain their confidence and became the president of it. And you know, I pointed out this, he was basically believed in social integration and I basically believed in black nationalism. And we had one discussion about that, you know, where he felt that Martin [Luther] King, whom I marched with but I didn't embrace non-violence and never have, even though I can see it tactically the use for it, he felt King was using the symbols of America to bring change. I felt that we needed to heal ourselves from the inside because I saw sickness within us as a 49:00residual from slavery and Jim Crow and then whatever they called racial discrimination at the time I was coming along. So I, you know, again I was more or less alienated toward all this but during that time the union trustee, oh, I think he took a position with the United, no, the International Machinists Union. So he was a special representative working out of Dayton, Ohio, and then around, I don't know it could have been '52, maybe '53 or I could probably find the year, he was called before the House of Un-American Activities Committee. At that time what they did was ask the person, "Are you a Communist?" If you said yes, then they charged you with a crime under the Smith-McKerran Act, which says 50:00that an agent of a foreign power has to register with the government. And if you said no, then they would bring somebody in and just ask them a question, "Do you know that person?" "Yes." "Where do you know the person from?" "Communist cell meeting." And then you would be accused of lying to Congress. So the people that were called like that they invoked the Fifth Amendment. Well then, the union trustees across the country in various places and not just union but in industry the elite, they basically formulated rules that said that if you took the Fifth Amendment, you had to be terminated. So what happened was that he got terminated on that he took the Fifth Amendment, the union terminated him and then. . . . I think I was in, I must have been fifteen about fifteen at the time and you know, in the family we understood what it was. I didn't have any great incriminations; 51:00it sounded to me like this is what society did and what he did was essentially we bought a house in a subdivision on One Rose Way. My daughter, second daughter actually just bought it from my brother and just, you know, lived; that's all. You know I went to college, all of us went to college. My oldest sister, she didn't go to college, she became a registered nurse, and she didn't want to get the degree because she wanted to work with people and not administration.
TK: What job did your dad have after he was terminated by the union?
SN: I'm sorry?
TK: What job did your father have after he was. . . .?
SN: I think he waited tables. He sold things, as a matter of fact, he tried toteach me how to sell and wait tables on the premise that neither job would ever disappear and that if you could sell because people were buying any and 52:00everything; water, rocks, you know, you name it. He worked with Jay's, there's a Jewish guy named and I can not remember his full name, but he had a liquor store and also had a furniture store. And my father also was, you know, did remodeling and all that sort of thing. He could work with his hands and that was something that. . . . I remember I used to have to hold some of those 2x4's, but you know he worked with his hands and he looked at that as something a person should do, you know to know how to work with their hands. He was able to do all sorts of things.
Now he raised us without, after that because they blackballed him in terms ofemployment, but in our family and really in our tradition, you know, making it is just a way of doing things so it was just matter of, you know, going to work. So we really didn't suffer as far as I can understand, you know, we went on 53:00vacations, did this, did that. And he still brought home strange food like fried grasshoppers or chocolate covered ants to expose us to our, cow tongues, to expose us to a wide range of you know different kind of cultural kind of things. As a matter of fact, the same thing happened to me at a later point and I was able to draw off that experience. This had happened to him before and I remember seeing in 1950 he got fired from a job because he was trying to organize a union on his job. So he didn't really care about the job, he cared about organizing the union.
TK: Being there so he can organize, right?
SN: Right. I mean he had other experiences. He was a bodyguard for W.E.B. DuBoisat one time.
SN: Right. I've got a letter as a matter of fact, and he used to . . . see, we54:00didn't talk about these things like that because just like my grandmother didn't talk about a lot of things that could have burdened, he didn't, either, and I don't, either! But I remember he used to always tell me to read DuBois' book Africa and the World. You know, see, I knew about Paul Robeson and you know DuBois and really a lot of different people historically and I remember that in 1986, I've got a letter somewhere at home, DuBois's second. . . . My daughter, my first daughter, oldest daughter, who speaks about four languages and really taught herself about five different musical instruments, you know she had this [unintelligible] attitude where it's hard to really instruct [unintelligible]. And so she graduated from IU [Indiana University] and my father's thinking was, 55:00"Well, let's see if we can get her position at the United Nations." So he called DuBois' secretary who lived in Jamaica, New York, and Elaine was supposed to go and live with her and then she was going to get a job with the United Nations. But Elaine, she had a different kind of ideas about it so she didn't go, but I have a letter from her telling my father that she, Mario Angelo and my father were going to try to develop some kind of monument or something in Ghana for DuBois.
TK: They've got his home restored. I've been there.
TK: In Ghana, they have his home in Ghana kind of restored as a museum. I'vebeen there.
SN: Is that right?
TK: Yeah, yeah.
SN: For some reason at that time in that letter she said that the politicalcircumstances weren't good so they were going to hold off on it. So you know 56:00those sorts of things, and I just found that letter; he didn't tell me that. He just happened to mention one time when I was talking about DuBois about some particular issue that he had been his bodyguard. And even though he said that I didn't ask him all the details because my own life was full, and that was an interesting detail, and "Oh, is that right?" and I just went on with the conversation.
TK: Yeah, yeah.
SN: So I guess that structured part of his view. And there were things, you knowwhen we talked, we talked on fundamental levels not really on a gossip kind of chat level. So then eventually what he did was purchase a liquor store. He was a Catholic, but at thirteen, I had abandoned religion and became an atheist, but I 57:00had to go to church because he forced me in his house, you know, he was oppressive in that way. And it turned out that he belonged to a Catholic organization that's kind of like a lodge, the Serra Club, and they help each other in a kind of a, not a clandestine way but you never hear about them. So probably he was able to purchase his liquor store that way. And I went to work with him at that liquor store at one time because he was kind of volatile and it was on a real violent corner, which suited him, but I just wanted them to know that he had some backup. Okay, but now let me get into the flow again.
TK: Yeah, back to, okay.
SN: So after school after college . . .
TK: Can I ask a quick question about college?
TK: What did you actually study in college?58:00
SN: I had majored in sociology and history and political science and I think Ihad enough hours for a major but not some other requirements in psychology.
TK: And you said you were involved in student government and stuff. Were youinvolved in specifically civil rights related work at all when you were in college?
SN: There were some demonstrations in Frankfort in 1961, I think. Now I don'tremember participating but I have a friend who said that I was walking beside him. I really don't have a great memory. The things that I have, but so much has happened that really when people mention it then it comes back. But he says that I was in it so I'm going to believe that I was. At that time most of the work was on campus. There wasn't a lot of the activism that came just slightly later. 59:00About 1964 the free speech movement began to emerge and then you got more student activism, but the time that I started in a student context was later than when I was in college.
TK: So what did you do when you graduated?
SN: I'll tell you one night I was walking down the hallway with a bunch of guys,we went and drank a bunch of beer. The next morning I woke up, and I always wake up early, I woke up and really didn't remember much of that night and I happened to stop by the bulletin board, saw my name on the bulletin board for a job sign up interview and went to the interview. The guy told me, said, "You're late!" I told him, "That's not true. I'm here," and that's how the interview started. And after we got through he said, "You're hired." So I entered the U.S. Public Health Service and worked in Chicago as an epidemiologist. They called it a 60:00field representative, but that's what it essentially was, in venereal disease. Then they wanted to ship me to either California or New York in supervision and I didn't want to get that far away from home so I resigned, came to Louisville, became a social worker with the Department of Economic Security, what used to be called Public Assistance.
TK: Okay, I'm going to change my tape.
END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B
START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A
SN: In '65, I got married, in 1964, and in subsequent years had four children,three daughters and one son. And I thought I was going to have thirteen children but my wife evidently must have found a plug to the radio and heard something about women's liberation. [Laughter]
TK: Said no way!
SN: And realized that she didn't have to be barefoot and pregnant. During that61:00time I became more involved in the civil rights movement and I can't really tell you. . . . I can say that those open housing marches, and I think by that time I was in Kent School of Social Work, so that must have been 1966.
TK: Yeah, '66.
SN: So I was in Kent School of Social Work and around that time I remember theBlack Power movement began to develop and that was my ideology and I adopted that. But while I was at Kent School, I was involved in student activism. As a matter of fact, I went to a student meeting up at the University of Michigan and I remember I was in there with a real straight-laced kind of guy and he whispered to me, "Sterling, this is like a Communism cell meeting!" [Laughter] It was really funny to me. But I was involved in the basic student movement of that time. And I think that I was the vice-chair of Kent School Student 62:00Association. I would have to think back and ask somebody about that, but I believe that I was.
TK: What kind of issues were the student movement were you focusing on throughthe student union?
SN: Anti-war, uh . . . racial discrimination, you know, the open housing,student rights, free speech, women's rights, welfare rights, because I remember that, well, I'll go through them and you'll see.
SN: When I was at Kent we essentially, no, the year after I was at Kent, when Iwas at Kent, we started a discussion with the University of Louisville after we had done a historical analysis and concluded that whites had essentially caused blacks to lose educational opportunities. Like, for instance, we were able to 63:00determine that Simmons University, really the State University of Kentucky was started around 1873. So we noted that in 1935, somewhere around there, that either Louisville Trust or Kentucky Trust, who had the money for the university when they opened up, they declared that they had no money and as a consequence, the university, in our opinion, went under, bankrupted. Then the University of Louisville took it over as Municipal College.
Now as it turns out, I'm in a men's club called the Yearlings Club and almostall of those older guys, it started from those guys out there at Municipal College. They decided to start a club even though some of them were in fraternities at the time, and they started the Yearlings Club and even tried to build a clubhouse on River Road and then for some reason or another, I think 64:00some racial issue emerged, and they eventually purchased one at 4309 West Broadway. And my uncle graduated on my mother's side from Simmons, not Simmons but Municipal College. Well, we looked at all that and concluded that it was just another oppressive act. You know, like for instance, we looked at Logan's book The Trail of the Negro, and just looked for ourselves and saw that there was a concerted effort to destroy what we considered to be the black community. So what we decided to do, I worked with two groups. I was in an organization that nobody's heard of except those that were in it called Our Black Thing. And what we did we had a, we went to Reynolds Metals Company and told them that there was a house at the alley near Twenty-Eighth and Grand, between Grand and 65:00Hale, and we said that they owned the house and that we wanted to use it as a we called it a black house. And we told them that no wasn't an option. So they consulted with an attorney who, later my brother introduced him to me, who was their attorney and he told me all the inside stuff what they went through, but anyway they gave us the use of the house. We had enough black paint to get half of it painted and we tried the whole community level kind of things out of there. We were trying to develop a free university, just a whole bunch of stuff that we were doing in those days. You know, we were trying to stir up the awareness and the consciousness of the people about the oppression that we saw and as it turned out that that year that I graduated from Kent all this was going on during Kent. And we had a heck of point of view, like for instance, I remember one guy the year that I graduated, one guy, Frank Mayo, who used to be 66:00a realtor here, he was going on a conference, and this is the way we thought. So they gave him five hundred dollars to go on a conference. We found out that a woman had been, and her family had been burned out and we traced the woman down and we thought it was proper to give the woman the five hundred dollars, so you know we found her in some little church on Eighteenth Street. And it was kind of real funny because we were at that time armed and, you know, carried 45s and really was paranoid and would have open fire on the police if they had jumped too fast. Well, it turned out that when we walked in the church, this minister probably thought some hoodlums were coming in, so we asked for this woman by name. He said, "There she is!" And then we gave her the money. And then she said, "Well, who are you?" And we just walked on out of the church and he prayed while we were walking out. But we had a lot of disdain in those times for 67:00religion. We thought we considered to be more of Karl Marx's view the [unintelligible] of the people.
So all that went on. Then we began negotiating with the administration whenWoodrow Strickler was there, you know, to increase black enrollment, to help Black Minority Affairs program. You know, we drafted a document and we had a movement that was going on between our organization, kind of a coalition, and the Black Student Union. Now and the Black Student Union at that time, Blaine Hudson was the main writer. Blaine used to really . . . the faculty were enraged at the articles that were coming out because he met them at the level that they could truly understand what he was trying to say. So, you know, there was a lot of activism going on. So the Black Student Union decided that they were going to 68:00take the university over and they did. Some very prominent woman, as a matter of fact, turned tables over in the lunchroom. Some of the people including Blaine went into the office and had Dr. Strickler as a hostage or something. As a matter of fact I was, they said I was in there and did try to punish for that, you know, the various [unintelligible], and they've been ignored. But when it all boiled down, I was actually outside because we had really organized in a way that, if we felt that if the fraternity or football players tried to go in there and disrupt what was going on, we were prepared for warfare, to be quite frank. Actually, all over Louisville, if it turned out they didn't and we didn't execute . . . we had a whole group again, the Black United Brothers that you 69:00never heard of and Our Black Thing, we were actually fairly highly trained, but we weren't trying to destroy anything. All we were trying to do, and I believe, was to defend the community and we were ready to do it at any cost. And the police were wise, they really did not bother us very much because had they, we would have fought at that level. I was a grown man with a family, you know, and a household and a house. So we had to go through all that. Then sometime, I'm trying to think of the year, but we were going through a period of activism where we even united with the street level people. Like there was an organization called the Black Unity League.
TK: I was going to ask you about them.
SN: And eventually the chair of the organization, Walt Lee Stevenson was70:00essentially a gangster of some kind.
TK: What was his first name?
SN: Walt, we called him Walt Lee, but Walter Stevenson, who served . . . at onetime he was considered very dangerous by the police and he was a kind of a guy. . . . I met him when someone that knew me stopped me; a woman and this woman used to baby-sit me when I was a kid. And she by that time she had children of her own and I knew her on the street that I grew up on Ormsby up until I was about fifteen. But by that time she had become a prostitute and a lesbian or something, but she was still somebody that I knew so walking down the street, I saw her and she said, "Oh yeah!" And we talked and some sort of way the idea of the prince of street emerged and she told me, "There's only one prince of the street." And she called this guy's name. Well we had a program by that time that we were starting called Stop Dope Now, and what had happened was about, I think 71:00I've got this time sequence right. It may not be. No, this happened before Stop Dope Now, but so, you know, we were part of the Black Unity League.
We had our own group called Our Black Thing and essentially we tried to, wemight thirty or forty of us go down to police headquarters and demand justice because the police had brutalized somebody at the street level. And the Chief [C.J.] Hyde, who was the police chief at that time, would meet with us and try to calm us down because we were real serious and we didn't have a lot of fear in us, either. And eventually it went back and forth until at one point there was a . . . we were out on Twenty-Eighth Street and a riot started at the same time that we were trying to listen to somebody named [James] Cortez, who we wondered about because he dressed in a way we weren't used to seeing people dress with 72:00bells and jingles. I think he really had more of Spanish, a Latino flavor. And he was telling us that Stokely Carmichael was in the airplane. We were a little more sophisticated than that. As a matter of fact, it was embarrassing to me because the only time the crowd yelled was when somebody cursed, you know. And all of the sudden, some little kids were on top of a roof and they threw some light bulbs down just prankishly. And then all of the police rushed into; the police had surrounded the area and rushed in with riot helmets. I remember they rushed in this pool hall, you know, when they rushed in, somebody threw a brick. And then that broke things open. And they rushed into this pool hall and I saw them rush in and then all of the sudden they came out in single order like in a military fashion. And I'm told, this is a bunch of gangster and thugs that hung 73:00out, I'm told that when they rushed in they met about fifty or sixty armed people, you know, I mean who just regularly carried pistols, just were that way. And so they just turned about face and marched on out. So the riots went on.
I'll tell you I know when that was because I was in Kent School of Social Workand my father called me and told me that one of our neighbors who was a police detective called him and told him that there was some kind of order I could shoot on sight or something like that and that it would be better if I left town. Well, it turned out that I was going to Kent and I was doing social work intern at the narcotics hospital in Lexington. So that really didn't bother me because I felt like I could return fire, and really had on certain occasions, 74:00but I had a family and I didn't want them to get hurt, so what I did I had to go there anyway and embarrassingly I had to go and call up one of the white students and said, "Look, can come over to your house?" [Laughter] And she let me stay over there that night, because she had to intern there also. I was thinking, "Hmmm, what it takes to be a revolutionary." But I escaped that even though one of my colleagues, he was a great guy that I actually kind of mentored, he was in SNCC [Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee] down in Nashville, Dan Massey. And they had the same thing; he's up at Vencor right now.
TK: Here in Vencor, in town?
SN: Yeah, in Louisville because he got shot in the back with a riot gun and ashotgun and it paralyzed him. Well, he and my brother were real good friends in college and I was kind of more of the big brother, but my brother initiated 75:00bringing him to Louisville and at that time again, we had a kind of far reaching sort of thing. I had moved my family to a house that I purchased, this had to be 1968, and I let my brother use this other house. Well, at the time people from all over the country might come and Gerry was in school and you know like once he called and said, "Look, there's a woman here in Boston that the FBI's trying to harass" and she was part of the, her name was Velena Brewer, that she was part of when the FBI tried to kill a guy, not the FBI but the Chicago police, Prett. She was in there; as a matter of fact, you can see where the bullet went through her lip. And so they were harassing her, she didn't have a job, so you know, he called me from some conference. She came down, we got her job, got her some place. You know it was that kind of help and you had that kind of camaraderie across the country.
TK: How did you have those connections in the first place?
SN: I'm sorry?
TK: How did you make those connections in the first place? How did you get to76:00know people in all these other places?
SN: You know just traveling to other places, like when the second Black Powerconference, I think, was in Philadelphia, we went there, a group of us, two of us, three of us, and as a matter of fact, had to sleep on the sidewalk, eventually seeing that this is the city of brotherly love. So you just met people, then at one point I was in the Republic of New Africa. We had an armed force and you know there were just people who came to Louisville and when they came to Louisville, they sought us out. They came to the black house. They needed places to stay. They needed jobs. They needed emotional support, so we gave it, you know. I remember the head of the southern region of the Republic of New Africa, Virginia Collins, who was a little feisty lady, and her son first came here, two of them and one had been prison because he wouldn't go to the 77:00Vietnam War. There was an affinity for people like that and one had been to Cuba to help in the sugar harvest and she had fought in the forests of Venezuela with the guerrilla movement down there. So you know it was just that kind of thing. And then we just had a, essentially we were trying to create a news count [? new type of] society, I mean we had a real serious kind of effort to do that.
So what we did was we decided that we were going to start a, try to see if wecould get the two housing projects to develop into a commune and divorce themselves from the city of Louisville and create a healthier lifestyle, but before we did that, we had two programs, one called . . . by that time we had developed into a new form of organization called Enterprises Unlimited. So we 78:00started a program called the Stop Dope Now program because we perceived that the government, starting in 1960, had began pumping drugs into the black community as a way of smoldering the social agitation going on at that time. Because if you read in magazines like Social Force, you'll see where they were fearful of least two things, one was the rise of a black Messiah and the other was the fertility rate among blacks, you know they felt that America was going to get inundated by blacks. So they had a number of different programs like one was Planned Parenthood, as we saw it, birth control, and then the other was to poison the community in a chemical warfare effort. So I witnessed that myself, you know, bringing drugs at a real low price, two dollars, and just spreading it all around. Then you know, the susceptible individuals got addicted to it and 79:00then the police didn't mind or the FBI either. They could use these people as informants. What we did was just simply saw that as a strategy to destroy the community. So by the mid, late sixties we decided to step in and do something ourselves, so what we did was started a corporate firm. First we rejected all formal kind of things and then found out that we couldn't raise money without it. So we created an organization, got a 501C3, went to various community, so-called leaders.
TK: This is Enterprises Unlimited?
SN: Yeah. There were about seventeen of us initially, all black men, who haddecided . . . the theoretical questions arose, we concluded that the revolution had been won. I think it was Henry Ford was on top of a factory in Detroit when 80:00it was burning and said, "Oh, my God!" And then in a insurgency you have two, several goals, you're either trying to overthrow the government, we weren't trying to do that, or you're trying to install a new government, we weren't trying to do that, or you're trying to widen the participation of people into the whole living process. So we were able to identify that we were trying to widen the participation and as a consequence, we were able to see that certain, that society itself saw that it was at risk unless it opened up to participation. If you look back, you'll see that a lot of factory employment began to occur around that time. That at the level of the elite, they decided, okay . . .
TK: You mean factory employment for blacks increased around that time?
SN: Yes. I mean I would be willing to bet even though I don't know this to betrue, but as a hypothesis, I'd be willing, really a supposition, that Ford Motor 81:00Company probably changed its employment practice in terms of how you got in there by shifting to the Kentucky Employment Service rather than through foreman. Because through the foreman, they would simply bring in their relatives, whether they were pro-black or anti-black, they just hired family and friends. But watch, I bet that that's the case; a lot of stuff around '67, '68, '69. So what we did was ask the question what are we going to do after the revolution. We declared victory, so we had a strategy called institution building in the black community where we decided we were going to try to create institutions in the black community. In 1969 we started, Enterprises Unlimited started a drug abuse program that had a methadone component to it. We started a 82:00youth center called the Masters of Reality in Old Lucky Morris' pawnshop on Twenty-Eighth and Greenwood.
TK: What was the name of that?
SN: I'm sorry?
TK: The name of it again, Masses . . .?
SN: The Masters of Reality. We had a motto that came from something. I think Igot it out of a newspaper in a 1926 article that you know, you can either be a dupe of reality and sink, a slave of reality and drift down the stream, or a master of reality and chart your course. So what we did was went to, that was really interesting, too, we went to a place, I'm not going to identify it because this person's still a businessperson in Louisville. We went to this place that handled entertaining machines, walked in armed and said, "Look we want a pool table for our youth center. You people put dope in our community and we're going to eliminate it." And then the guy asked me my name, so I told him 83:00because again, I had an inclination that if anybody wanted to start something I felt qualified to meet them. So I said, "Sterling Neal, why?" He said, "Sterling Neal, is your father -- was here in the labor union?" And I said, "Yeah, why?" So he then said, "Sit down for a minute." Now I didn't know that the guy that I was talking to was part of the organized crime out of Cleveland that had the concessions. But he sat down and explained to me who the criminals were in this community, some Lebanese, some Jewish, some black, I mean it was those three ethnic groups, and pointed out where they were and told me about things and then convinced me that about who he was and then said, "Well yeah, you can have the pool table." And he gave us a very expensive pool table that we put into the 84:00Masters of Reality and, you know, it turns out that he's . . . I won't even identify what business he's in, but he knew my father from the labor union movement. I've never talked to him since; I've just seen his name on corporate kind of things. And that was probably lucky for me because what we did, other Black Nationalists had done and some of them had been crippled by organized crime, you know, baseball bats breaking all their bones. And I knew that but I always felt that I was too fast, too alert and plus I was really a trained martial artist, pretty good, you know, and the war side of the martial arts, so I wasn't thinking at all about what they could do.
Well, we used this strategy. This was our strategy that we felt, you know the85:00civil rights movement is really misnamed, we felt this was the whole part of the end strategy that we were having. So we had a factory that we were going to take people that didn't have job skills and try to get them into to have to come to work on time. And we had a bunch of sewing machines and they were making garments and all this sort of thing. So we had those two components to it. And at first we raised, I don't know probably about a hundred thousand dollars just by going from place to place. And at first we had a staff that was volunteer, then we raised that money and then we worked out a contract with River Region, what they now call Seven Counties, the successor of Seven Counties, mental health. We worked a contract where we did drug abuse sort of thing. And then it 86:00just occurred that, let me see, I'll tell you what happened. About 1970 all of this stuff actually affected me in a deep way that I didn't understand. I was hyper-alert and it was years later that I found out that I really was suffering post-traumatic stress syndrome, you know because whenever I saw a police car, I grabbed a pistol. I had a pistol that I had in the seat and I would just automatically grab it. It didn't mean anything to me, except I just grabbed it. And one day I was in a bar where we used to do a lot of political discussions and I thought I saw somebody aiming something at me out of the corner of my eye and I jumped off the bar stool, because I was always armed and I had been shot at. Really coming out of this school one time and return fire, too, you know. I used to carry a 45 and it turned out that there was some guy combing his hair, 87:00so I said to myself, "Uh-oh, I've been out here too long."
So what I did I enrolled, and my brother did, too, at the University of Michiganand starting working on a Ph.D. in social work and sociology. And that was a interesting experience, but after I got up to the pre-numb state, somebody gave me a call and told me that one-half of our board of directors had pulled a coup e'tat and hired themselves, so I came home, another guy came from Chicago and then we spent all that time, you know, regaining control of our organization. And then when I got back, you know, I took a little time off, and when I got back, I was facing these preliminary examinations and it was just really too arduous so I just quit that and became the director of Enterprises Unlimited. 88:00And then by the time the next roll away to enroll, I was teaching at Kent School in some sort of an adjunct professor, not professor but lecturer. And doing some research in Frankfort and then doing all this community level work.
Well, eventually after about a couple of years, I couldn't see finishing thatbecause it was a mental set to it all and so I went up there and just told them, "Hey, I'm gone." So I didn't go back there, but that was an interesting experience. And then time rolled on, then it turned out that most of the guys that were on that board, they were doing their careers and moving here and moving there, so I decided to go to law school. So I went to Indiana University and then got a law degree from there.
TK: Oh okay, so you did get that.89:00
SN: And worked on another, a joint degree really, but I didn't finish the secondone. I just came back to Louisville, but before I came to Louisville, I became the coordinator of the county level of the community health center there, South Central Community Mental Health Center.
TK: Bloomington, not here, okay.
SN: Right and then eventually my brother kept asking me to come back. "I thoughtyou were going to practice with me and all that sort of stuff." So I came back, left my family there and then eventually they came back and I practiced. But I've always maintained a level . . . and then [unintelligible], somebody filed a complaint and really they exaggerated in what they did, and that was actually last year.
TK: Oh okay, that's why you're not at the, because the number I had for you wasthe law office.
SN: Well, I'll tell you some strange things happened. Actually I had burnt outby that time because I was working nineteen hours a day for about five years and 90:00I mean I really wasn't getting any sleep at all. And then finally I had a real big trial that my brother and I were involved in in Bowling Green. And then I started, about three o'clock of the morning of the trial, started throwing up and having diarrhea, and they claimed I hallucinated. They said I didn't know who I was.
TK: So you just kind of . . .
SN: Yeah I mean all that pressure eventually collapsed me physically, but at thesame time all this stuff at bar came along but prior to that time . . .
END OF TAPE 2, SIDE A
START OF TAPE 2, SIDE B
TK: Half-hour on each side, so that's why.
SN: Part of the time I was trying to get back into social work because I hadessentially put all the kids had all gone through school, you know, two of them graduated from IU. One went to UK and Catherine Spalding, but she got married. And then the last one was coming up for her last year at Hampton University. So, 91:00you know, and I had accomplished just about what I really wanted to in terms of family so I was ready to return to social work and I wanted to return to administration, thinking I would have a greater impact. And then all this stuff happened with the bar, but by the time that happened I was so emotionally burnt out that even now it's kind of vulgar to think about it because I thought I was doing, you know, that I was performing at a high level and people did to, but in fact, I was actually going through almost a ritual where every day I was taking big bundles of work home and bringing them back out and not doing it. I worked for the state eight hours, seven, four and five hours; had what amounted to a full-time practice and then worked on from nine at night till one sometimes on this case. And at one time I could do that, I've always done that, but I stopped 92:00taking ginseng, that's what I really think happened to me. [Laughter] Really, I'm serious and I just didn't have the capacity to do it and I ended up in that condition.
And at that time the bar wanted to help these hearings and I was totally, youknow, even though advised, get a lawyer, don't do this yourself, all that meant nothing to me. So we ended up in a hearing with, on what really in my opinion should have been a reprimand or if they really wanted to get [unintelligible] for thirty days. And you know the first day of the hearing the guy, the factfinder said, "We're going to finish this today." I said, "I don't have my materials. It was two days!" "No." But I was so debilitated that in my mind somewhere I'm thinking, "Fool, well here, let's go on with it." You know I mean I was just operating on react and response, just instinct, and you know, so it ended up with them suspending for me for two years, but that didn't bother me 93:00because essentially as the scripture say, I had run with the footmen and the horses. So you know, I looked at it and thought, "I was trying to get out of there to do social work." So I just did nothing when really I should have filed something, you know, you didn't give me the proper this, that and the other. By the time I got emotionally able to do that and hired an attorney, it was all over. He pointed out, "Yeah, we can delay this, delay that, but in the end the process you went through is the verification that you got due process." So I said, "Oh okay, let that go."
TK: And do this instead.
SN: Right. Then I ended up where I was trying to get but not the way I wanted toget there.
SN: So I said, "Well, you know, so here I am."
TK: Is that okay?
TK: Okay, thanks. I wanted to ask the stuff that we were talking about just94:00before we got to [unintelligible], your description of Enterprises Unlimited, and you were talking about this whole sort of movement, you know, the Our Black Thing and Black United Brothers and BULK, you know that sort of movement or set of events. One of the things I wanted to ask is when you talk about people in this, like how many people were in these organizations? How big were they? And were they all male or were they male and female?
SN: Male and female.
TK: They were male and female, okay.
SN: Right. You know I can remember, I really can't give you a good answer onthat. I will say this, that probably on a regular basis there may have been about twenty some odd people. But I can remember being at a location where about forty of some of us were there all armed, because like I said we weren't going to take the soft side of it, so I would say somewhere between twenty and forty 95:00people. And I'll tell you, for instance, there was a strange mixture of individuals. Like for instance, one of the individuals I can remember, Bobby Martin, he's an emergency room, a highly turned out physician in Hawaii now. And as I began looking at the individuals, most of them probably would be part of an intelligentsia and that's how they thought of themselves too, you know that they could think, that they would act, and they were fierce in their devotion to the cause that we were. . . . Most were, we were trying to see culture as a way of promoting social transformation. You know there were a number of groups, for instance, there were Black Student Unions. We did a lot of stuff, as a matter of fact, and I would have to really talk to other people to center what we were 96:00doing. At one time we helped develop, and one of the persons that was involved in this, and I don't know whether he was there in the beginning or whether he came along later, was Bob Douglas. But we developed a black heritage fair, a five or six day sort of event on the Galleria. Eventually the city co-opted that and they then gave each ethnic group a weekend and then eventually it got phased out. But we were involved in that. At one time we were involved in cultural events down at either Shawnee Park or Chickasaw Park, you know, where we just organized resources. You know events that three or four hundred people might attend.
TK: So it had sort of a cultural angle to it, though?
SN: Yes, we were using culture as a way of transforming the society, because atone time, I remember, Henry Owens, who also served as the director of 97:00Enterprises Unlimited at one time, and was an alderman in the Tenth Ward at one point. When we drove around the community, we saw people fighting, we would stop them. At one time we had, I was part of a group called, a martial arts called . . . let me see . . . [unintelligible] association of martial artists. And we basically learned the art in the war-like form, you know, we fought on hard surfaces through people. And the person that really taught us is a minister, a preacher now in the Lutheran Church on Twenty . . . I think first or Twenty-Second and Broadway, the Church of the New Creation. They call him in the martial arts ranks master John and we called John [unintelligible] Sanders. But 98:00I remember he walked up to us when we were at the Black House and said, he had been in the Navy Seals or Green Berets or something or other, or the Airborne Rangers, something one of those kind of groups. And he walked up and said, "I want to teach you boys about violence." And almost got shot really, because we didn't know who he was or what he was trying to talk about, you know. And then down the street he opened up a kuan, a Chinese orient type of art, and we, not all of us but some of us studied with him and with other artists. But one of the goals we had was to that if we saw injustice being done to intervene on the side of the victim. So we had a kind of, and we really were a pretty good group in terms of fighting in tournaments and knowing how to really fight and how to hurt somebody, but we had a ethical sort of thing and that was that we would not 99:00tolerate oppression, you know.
TK: How long was the Black House there or in existence?
SN: The what?
TK: The Black House, the house that you set up. Do you know how long that lasted?
SN: You might want to check with Reynolds Metal Company.
SN: Because now there's a vacant lot there. It could have been two or threeyears; I don't know. Time collapses for me because most of all that is in the past and the right now is full in itself, you know. I would have to ask somebody. Somebody probably knows.
TK: Also seems like there was an awful lot going on, sort of around the sametime. I mean we're basically talking, you know, '67 to '70 or so is when it seems like most of this is happening.
SN: But I would say between 1966 and probably '73. I believe that by '73 the100:00mood of the country shifted. I think [Vice-President] Spiro Agnew basically did a real assault on the university and that had implications for the street level kind of stuff. The Black Panther Party had probably fizzled out. As a matter of fact, the Black Panther Party here, we supported them even though we thought that they were about a couple of years behind the times.
TK: Oh really! Why did you think that?
SN: Well, by that time we had moved into what we called institution building andit was kind of clear to us that what you need are resources that are constantly pressing the problem at hand or constantly building on something and the idea of the. . . . Now the Panther Party they essentially helped develop the school breakfast program. There's a lot that came out of all of that that society in general picked up, but by that time the idea of arms trouble and all that sort 101:00of thing or even arms defense became more of a vulnerability than it was an asset. When we were there, they didn't have some of the laws that they have now and the law enforcement which used to form a fascist kind of connection with paramilitary groups had shifted so that they were neutral, I mean as neutral as they had ever been. And so that a person really could, you know, seek justice with, you know, calling the police for instance. Where as before the police officer might have just been part of the Ku Klux Klan, and that's happening now, I mean look at the Louisville Police force, you know, the right wing infiltration.
TK: I didn't even know there was a Panther Party in Louisville.
SN: I'm sorry?
TK: I didn't know there was a . . .
SN: Yeah, J.T. Alexander, I'm trying to think of his name, T.J. Alexander. I betBlaine Hudson knows his name. But eventually they got caught in some sort of, I 102:00don't know, robbery or something or another.
TK: Now I have heard of robbery case, Louisville Seven case or something like that?
SN: Now the Black Seven you're talking about?
TK: No, the Black Six, that's something different.
SN: There was one case, you know, where the city tried to fabricate chargesagainst some Louisville business men, Walter Cosby, Dr. Bryant's wife.
TK: Ruth, yeah, I interviewed her.
SN: Actually what had happened they had gotten absurd, to be quite frank aboutit, the power structure. And they were just, you know, consistent with other kind of elites, you know views and method. Actually H. Rap Brown really formulated when he said, "By any means necessary," you know that's how the elite tends to function. Yeah, they looked ridiculous.
TK: Yeah, well, I've heard that case in particular seems . . . it's been written103:00a lot about it, a lot of people have written about it because it seems so extreme. So these people you're involved with, are they mostly younger than you or about the same age, and are they mostly college educated or in college at the time?
SN: They varied. Some were younger. It varied. I would say that in general theymay have been somewhat younger. I'd have to have my memory jarred about, you know, because see, there were other things were happening. We had formed a collective where we purchased food together, tried to promote health. We called our group [unintelligible], and probably the person that can. . . . We had the first Kwanzaa in Louisville in our basement actually. But Mama Yih, if you know her.
TK: I've heard of her.
SN: Gloria . . .
SN: Yeah, she was part of that group.104:00
TK: Could you say the name of that group again?
SN: [unintelligible]. I can't pronounce it either and I don't even know what itmeans! [Laughter]
TK: I'll have to call her and ask her, because I couldn't begin to spell thatone! Well, okay, I'll ask her and she's very interested in the cultural side of things, too, I think, so I might be able to get some information on that from her.
SN: And see, they probably weren't involved in Our Black Thing, if I remembercorrectly, but there were just spins to the whole, you know, to what we were doing. You know we involved ourselves at various times in politics. We had a Stop Crime Now program that we really didn't get off the ground where we were just going to go to the criminals and just tell them they couldn't promote crime and if they did, we get them arrested and make them sweep the streets and you know. And if they didn't like what we were saying, then we were going to just pistol-whip them at the time. That's how our frame of mind was in that, you know, but we didn't get that off the ground, we got too involved in the Stop 105:00Crime Now. But we were trying to clean the community, promote a healthy society, and defend the community, you know, with anything that we felt it needed to be defended against.
TK: What happened to the effort to get the two housing projects to form a commune?
SN: The what?
TK: You mentioned an effort to get the two housing projects to form a commune?
SN: Oh, we got rained out. Actually, to be quite frank, we went door to door andthe strategy was to help people to get them to clean up their basements. And then I met two guys, one of them was a, I don't know he might have been a hit man but he was really deeply involved in the criminal culture. And I started mentoring he and another guy and it just took a tremendous amount of time to turn them away from that. I mean late at night talking, getting them involved in this and it twisted all that time just curved away and then they eventually became, both of them became Muslims under the [unintelligible] Muhammad, and 106:00then I became one, too.
TK: Oh, you did?
TK: I didn't know that.
SN: And my wife, though, she was a Baptist and you know her family heritage wasfrom Alabama, so she, you know, it just was something strange to her, you know. So I just said to myself, "Well, if there's one God, why should I divide my family on the basis." So I withdrew from it and they continued on.
TK: What did your dad think of all this? Did you talk to him about any of theseactivities you were involved with?
TK: Your dad?
SN: My father?
SN: Well you know, he understood. Well, at first, he indicated that basically hewasn't going to follow me into the Black Power movement. He felt that that was a backward step and that he felt that Martin King had actually the forward step. So, you know, we disagreed and disagree on that, and you know from time to time 107:00he had . . . I remember when we started Stop Dope Now he was telling me, "Boy, the government's not going to pay you to destroy them!" And you know that was based on his experience. By that time he had a liquor store and, you know, that was his opinion but it wasn't mine, so I went on with what I did in life.
TK: And just agreed to disagree.
SN: And you know my father gave, all through my life, he gave me certain kindsof advice. I know when I was younger, I don't want to use this word hyper, but I was real impatient. I really just got over it recently. I really tried my best all my life not to be and he used to tell me, [unintelligible] and finally I figured out what he was trying to say but I was twenty by then. And you know, he gave me a lot of information and based on, I guess, his own personal experience, 108:00and then there were other things I picked up myself. I was an independent thinker and I appreciated what he had to say, but I also had my own point of view, so we talked and we collaborated. He didn't go too deep into some things because, you know, he even told me, "I'm not going to tell you about that." And I think I understand what he's saying because in other words, the [unintelligible] ourselves, you know, but I understood the general outlines of his life as they came up as subject matter.
A particular issue about education or about . . . he ran for alderman, TenthWard alderman, I think, back in the, I don't know, it had to be '43 or something like that, 1943. And there's no particular reason why he lost, he just happened 109:00to lose, but he did have some sort of aspirations like that; something that my brother took up at a later point. See, by the time my brother took that up, see, there's a lot of organizational understanding about how to reach objectives. So when he first ran, he had actually at his disposal a county level political machine and there was just a tactical error because I remember the Harvey Sloane campaign wanted him to slate with him.
TK: Your brother or your father?
SN: I'm sorry?
TK: Your brother?
SN: My brother.
TK: Your brother, okay.
SN: And in our minds it was, "Slate? Why should we rely on them?" You know itwas just a foreign idea to us, you know, that we needed anybody. And actually the slating pumped up the person they're beating, pumped up their votes and so we found out the hard way, you know, that you had to collaborate and that sort of thing.
TK: I hope to interview him eventually. He has said yes, but we haven't set a .110:00. .
SN: I'm sorry?
TK: I hope to interview your brother. We've set a date. I mean we've said yes,that he would do an interview, but we haven't set a date.
SN: Yeah, you see, he may have different kind of perceptions because, see, he .. .
TK: He's much younger, isn't he?
SN: When I was nine and engaged that labor union and my sister, see, he was justa tot. So see, it's a different, kind of a curve on it, and because my sister, for instance, Velma, my oldest sister, now she was one of the founders of the Cincinnati Black Nurses Association. You know, I mean all this stuff spreads out. And I would never think about that. I think I've got some article, you know, on her, but you know bringing that sort of thing up is something that we might do but it's nothing that we focus on. Now I have a daughter that participates now with the Kentucky Alliance.
TK: Oh really?
SN: Right and my oldest daughter now, she was on the Gay Rights' March. She111:00donates services to the Catholic Charities, you know like the Vietnamese [unintelligible], read for the blind.
TK: She's the one that speaks all the different languages?
SN: Several languages, yeah. And you know, so we do have that strong communityservice kind of thing that we recognize, and you know we feel that we don't have to smile because you smile and we don't have to follow you because you're moving in a direction, and that we can affect change if we participate in things. So I think that's been a current and that's why my father really didn't want us to write a book on him. Now Anne Braden, she knows more about him in that kind of fashion and she tried to encourage me to write a book, and I would, you know, but on a daily basis, I'm going from 7:30 until 9:00 when I go to bed.
TK: When I first started doing my research on Louisville, I was reading about112:00your father and then I read about CORE, so I came across your sister's name, and then of course, I have heard your brother's name because of, you know, political stuff, and then I saw your name. And I thought someone should write a book on this family. As soon as I get back to Louisville, I'm going to interview Sterling Neal, Sr., and I got back and saw that article that he had passed away that summer just when I was just starting to do the research.
SN: Yeah, he passed away.
TK: Just a couple of years ago that would have been.
SN: I'll tell you one thing that happened. Channel 5 in Detroit did a story onColeman Young and wanted to do it on my father, but -- and this thing, this Louisville [unintelligible] stuff they wanted to do that on my father and I haven't had the time to really go back and ask them for the tape of what they did. As a matter of fact, Coleman Young used to come in town unannounced and 113:00they would talk and this sort of thing during the Derby. And I'm going to do this and I'm going to do it mainly. At the end of the year in January, we have a family, we call it a celebration of family, community, and culture, and we've done it probably for about ten years. The date changes, but this year I hope to have a TV record of my father in 1951 when he was on some sort of news talk show. I just happened to see it in one of these documents that I had of him.
TK: A local talk show?
TK: Like a Louisville show?
SN: Yeah, WHAS. Somebody told me there's a film archives that I might be able todo it. It was 1951 or 1952 where he was explaining some position on something or another. 114:00
TK: Right. Negro Labor Council was very active in Louisville those years so hewas probably doing something.
SN: Right, yeah. And I still have Coleman Young's testimony in a record beforethe House of Un-American Activities Committee. They went all the way around the country trying to eliminate, you know, just a wave of oppression as I saw it. I just came up with different kind of views, you know. I was saying, like for instance, when my brother or my sisters we might have different perspectives, not perspectives but perceptions because I remember when Ethel and Julius Rosenberg got executed, I cried because, you know, it was infused in me that this was governmental oppression and this that and the other. That's the way I came up and I just decided when I was fifteen, fourteen when Emmett Till got killed, I made a choice, I just said, never was I going to let anybody arrest me 115:00and if I had to die, I would just simply have to be killed. I mean, I really -- that created a certain sense of rage in me that's actually still present, I just simply have it caged, you know.
TK: You did do some of this CORE stuff kind of before you went to college. Howhad you gotten involved with that? Because that sort of integration is non-violent.
SN: I have to ask my sister Beverly because I don't remember. I know that therewas a guy across the street, George Mayhan, he was involved with CORE. He's down in Paducah, a carpenter, I think, down there. There's a woman named Lynn Fuel and really, I believe if you want to find Lynn, Lynn and I used to talk. I don't even know if she remembers this. She's the only I knew that could talk about 116:00[Immanuel] Kant and some of the philosophers, but Lynn, the last time I saw her name mentioned, she was the chairman of the Louisville Lesbian [unintelligible]. I don't know the, and I haven't heard, and there's a woman named Birdie McHugh who was involved. Birdie was kind of quiet where Lynn was a little more flamboyant, but Birdie McHugh and I don't know where she is, but she was involved. There was a Unitarian minister's, either daughter or somebody . . . oh, I'll tell you, Bishop Lyons.
TK: How do you spell that?
SN: No, his sister, and I'm trying to think of her name, but she was involvedbecause she pointed out to me some stuff. I made some speech somewhere and she was in the audience. I'm trying to think of her name. She's actually a preacher of some sort. But she was involved in that also. 117:00
TK: Do you remember anything about that picketing what it was like or just canyou describe it at all?
SN: It was just a duty to be, you know, it wasn't a friendly atmosphere on thesidewalk. We were walking on the sidewalks with "Open the lunch counters," sort of thing. Sometimes people said things. I didn't have much said to me because I really wasn't the kind of person that tolerated anything like that, you know somebody speaking harshly to me or using any sort of vulgarity towards me. So, you know, I walked, but I was probably a state of hyper-alert, because I really wasn't non-violent, you know, and I didn't ascribe to it and I didn't tell anybody I would. I was just, you know, you hit me, I hit you back sort of person, but nothing happened like that. And then again, it built up the 118:00momentum. After about two years, I think we did that about two years, but my sister Beverly knows, after about two years, it built momentum and then finally a guy named Frank Stanley, Jr., got involved in it. If I remember correctly, what happened was Bishop C. Eubanks Tucker got transferred to Mississippi or somewhere and then down there they must have done something to him because then he became very conservative, but Frank Stanley, Jr., took over, I believe.
And then what happened, the real key to the thing was that the whole thing theycalled the civil rights movement wasn't really a civil rights movement, it actually was a religious movement, and children, essentially young people, who had a stake in the society changing, participated and they were tentatively led by older religious individuals. So it really wasn't a civil rights movement, to 119:00be quite frank. The strength of it came from the songs and the camaraderie and this sort of thing. At that time we were more focused on an integrated solution that what came later with the Black Power solution.
END OF TAPE 2, SIDE B
START OF TAPE 3, SIDE 1
TK: I'd like to be able to get in touch with Beverly. She's in Atlanta?
SN: No, Beverly's husband took a position at Alabama State. They're inMontgomery, Alabama, now. They just sold their house. I think their daughter, my niece, still lives in Atlanta. She actually lived in Dalton, I think it was Dalton County. It wasn't Atlanta, it was the next county over.
TK: The last couple of questions I have are just very very specific littlethings about your dad. Do you know when he was born?
SN: June 6, 1918, in Cleveland, Ohio.120:00
TK: 1918 in Cleveland. So his family had lived here but then moved to Clevelandfor a little while?
TK: Then came back obviously, because you said Cleveland before and I got confused.
SN: As a matter of fact, most of the family lives in Cleveland. Well, they'renow, I think everybody's dead that's his brothers and sisters, except we have an uncle here, Uncle [unintelligible]. He's still lives in Louisville. And the rest, I think, my Aunt Lorraine, yes, she did, she died last year but she requested no funeral. She didn't want a funeral, didn't want flowers, didn't want anything, so her son complied with her wish. Yeah, she didn't want any kind of service. It's an interesting family. I've found that really I don't know how 121:00to describe them, but I'll say this that they were serious people, that's what I could say.
TK: I don't really have any other questions right off the top of my head now,although I have a feeling I'm going to have a lot of them after I listen to this again. Do you mind if I call you just with follow-up questions?
SN: Yeah, you can do that.
TK: I'm going to go around and turn this off.
END OF INTERVIEW