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Howard Owens:OK.

Tracy K'Meyer:See, that's easy.

HO:Oh, you want me to answer that now?  I was born in Pambloff, Arkansas.  

TK:And when?


TK:How did you get to Louisville?

HO:My daddy was a preacher and he went where his bishop told him to go.

TK:What's your father's name?

HO:Reverend W.F. Owen.

TK:What church was he with?

HO:With the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. Mostly you would be familiar with it was the AMZ.

TK:How old were you when he got positioned here in Louisville?

HO:Five years old.

TK:Where in Louisville did you grow up?

HO:I grew up on 12th and Oak, and then 24th and Broadway, 24th and Maple, between Broadway and Maple, actually.  24.  And then here.


TK:In this house?

HO:Yeah, then this house.  When I came back in '71, though, like I kept, I've  had an apartment on every side of town, just about.  Off of 3rd Street and off of Brownsboro Road and off of Goldsmith Lane.  I've had different apartments.

TK:So you've moved around the city.

HO:Right.  But then I came back here between one of my jobs and then I ended up staying here.

TK:One question I always like to ask people is when you were growing up when did you first become aware of racial prejudice?

HO:When we moved from 12th and Oak and moved to our house on 24th Street, at that time most of what we know as the West End was a white area.  Where all the 2:00black people were living I don't know.  But with open housing, as Anne [Braden] and them had fought so hard for, it disappeared, like the whole West End started sprouting black.  It was a white flight, as you are probably aware of.  When we moved to our house on 24th Street, we began to receive a number of threats.  There were even pyrotechnics thrown on our porch.  Nothing evolved into any type of violent confrontations.  You know, I only experienced that  that was like the beginning of an overt, physical awareness.  Of course, at that time, 3:00as black youngsters growing up, you were always made aware of the difference.  That you do have boundaries and you can't do anything.  And those people are just that way.

TK:What did your parents teach you about to react to those kinds of boundaries or those kinds of situations?

HO:My parents were conservative Christians.  They always discouraged violence.  They really believed in the Jesus trip, so to speak.  Always encouraged compassion and to academically fight but not to become involved in any type of physical altercation.  Those were general rules in the household.


TK:Did you have a lot of brothers and sisters?

HO:I have two brothers and one sister.

TK:Are they older or younger?

HO:I have two older brothers and one younger sister.  But also, when we were coming to  when I was a youngster and we were walking from 12th Street, we had some 12th Street friends, we were youngsters, and I think my oldest brother was the only one in his teens. We're two years apart.  The group split up and my brother and them went into Shawnee Park.  They threw out all our youth, as youngsters, at 12th Street, like the big thing then was Little League baseball.  The way basketball is now, that's the way Little League baseball was 5:00then.  So you could go into Shawnee Park and play Little League baseball.  So it was a natural assumption that you could go into Shawnee Park anytime.  But my brother then, they come running back across the street and I say, "What happened?"  They said, "The police told us that I can't be in the park."  So that was another awareness.  So throughout your life, as you grew up at that time, there was always some type of, if you should ever forget that there was a difference, there was always 

TK:A little reminder.


TK:What schools did you go to?

HO:I went to Mary B. Talbot, which is at 7th and Kentucky, which is the current campus for St. Stephen's Academy.  I went to that building, which was directly 6:00adjacent to the Municipal College.  If I'm not mistaken, the Mary B. Talbot school was at one time part of the Municipal campus.  And then I went to F.T. Salisbury, which is at 22nd and Magazine.  Then there was another awareness, because I was a [unintelligible] and I got an education there.  Like, several incidents.

TK:Was that your junior high?

HO:No, that was elementary school.  I went to the, about the fourth grade I transferred to F.T. Salisbury.

TK:I hadn't heard of that one before.  Was it primarily a black school still?

HO:It was one of the first.  It was a initial integration school.  So it was a 7:00big blast.  With some difficulties.  A lot of it centered around racism.  It was difficult for a number of the white teachers to adjust.  One thing about integration is that the teachers never received a debriefing on integration.  Teachers never receive a debriefing on anything.  Like, here it is, you do what you're told, blah, blah, blah.  So they still have these traditions that they have been indoctrinated, standards that they have had for years.  And then everybody expects them all of a sudden 


HO:It doesn't happen.

TK:So you went through most of your school, then, after school integration, right?

HO:No, there appeared to be a problem with myself and white teachers.  I was 8:00compelled to have to go to like a junior high school.  Then Central High.  Of course, Central High was my choice because my brothers were there.  It was great.  So I went to Russell Junior High School and had it not been for the problems I had, I would have attended Parkland.  But I was identified already that I was having ethnic problems.  I didn't even know what ethnic even meant then.  But I was not accepted in the place that was given me and I rebelled against that.

TK:Now you were obviously very young when a lot of the civil rights, the early stuff was going on.  Do you have memories of either yourself or your brothers 9:00or your parents or anything?

HO:Oh yeah.  See, my dad was a civil rights activist in town.

TK:Can you tell me about that some?

HO:He was more or less dealing with the community from a community activist specialist.  He worked a lot in the California community.  They got the California Community Center built.  They got a lot of the overpass there and Virginia Avenue, right adjacent to the Virginia Avenue School, the walkway.  They got that, they were more or less working with the  not a physical confrontationist, but a community activist for civil rights.

TK:So rather than doing demonstrations and that sort of thing, they were in the community building 

HO:Right.  Working to see that facilities get assisted and you know.  So then, 10:00my dad and my brother went to the march on Washington.

TK:Oh really, what was your brother's name?

HO:William Franklin Owens.  He's upstairs now.

TK:So they went to the march on Washington?  Did they go in an organized group or did they want to go on their own?

HO:It was quite a few people here from Louisville.  There were tons of people from Louisville.

TK:Did people go up on buses or something?

HO:Like train, at that time you had trains still running between here and  the train station, what was it at?  Must be between 10th and 11th on Broadway where the bus station headquarters is now.  There was a train station.  We also had another train station down off at about 7th and Main.  There was a train 11:00station there also. It's funny, because I forgot all about that train.  The only reason that I remember that train station there was when I was a youngster and I was going  where was I going?  Anyway, one the conductors had me to  I was very young then  one of the conductors asked me to read a sign on the thing.  He was totally amazed and he gave me quite a bit of compliments behind that.

TK:I actually never heard that.  I knew there was a train station where the bus station is now.  So do you remember anything from the early years?  You graduated from high school in '66, is that what you told me on the phone?

HO:Yeah, right.

TK:As far as the civil rights end, one significant thing that I remember, we 12:00came here in '53 and I was five years old.  I graduated from high school in '66.  And right about that time, I was graduating to a more serious political awareness.  My state of mind was beginning to lean toward the concept of ethnic polarization.  But one thing that, one memory that helped to make me short of the extreme end was when we moved from North Carolina to here, there was this white guy.  He put his family on a pickup truck.  One of the old pickup trucks 13:00and put our furniture on the back of that truck.  He moved us up here for nothing.  Yeah.  Furniture blowing all over the highway and stuff.  The only thing that I can remember about him is that he had red hair.  I always meant to ask my momma what was that guy's name.  I said if I should ever get any [unintelligible] I was going to try to look him up.  Because the area where we were, from Smithsville, was small now  although it is not as small now  at that time it was small that if you even think about blinking your eye, you passed it.

TK:This was someone that your dad knew?

HO:Yeah, because my dad was a minister and there was quite a bit of mixing in that particular community, in Smithsville, North Carolina.

TK:I've actually heard of Smithsville.

HO:You've got to be kidding.

TK:I don't know why.  I lived in North Carolina for seven years.

HO:OK now, there's two Smithsvilles, there's a big one.  Now this one is near a place called Kanelias.  Near Davidson, you've heard of Davidson?  Well, 14:00outside of Davidson there's a little place called Kanelias.  Then the small Smithsville is near Kanelias.  

TK:The one I know is in the eastern part of the state.  When you said that you were starting to have this political awareness, where did that come from, do you think?

HO:There's a theory in anthropology that when groups of people are intimidated they have a tendency  it's like a monkey running back to its mother.  In every group of society there's what you call a pole in the center, a totem pole, or some kind of pole or some symbolic pole.  And when the group is threatened, 15:00they run back quick to collect near that particular pole, because it's symbolic of security.  Or the most security you're going to get out of the situation.  If not physically, then emotionally they would gather near that pole.  So, with the civil rights movement  of course, there became a physical repression, and with that physical repression, well then, number of people start running back together.  They begin to pursue a more heightened awareness of ethnic identity.  Of course, you're going to have your extremes in their pursuit.  You're going to get an extreme nationalist fringe.  And I gravitated towards that fringe.

TK:Was there much of a nationalist fringe in Louisville?

HO:Of course.


TK:In any particular group or just individuals.

HO:There were several groups.  Of course, you had your separatists, then you had those who believed confrontation was the only answer.  Then you had those who were protectionists.  Were not necessarily separatists, but protectionist then.  You had to protect your community by any means.  Then you had your culturalists that felt you had to preserve your culture.  That was the solution was not in any of these others, but that the culture had to be preserved.  Then you had your artists, who felt if we express ourselves through art, then 17:00everything would change.  Like that's the solution.

TK:And all of these different points of view were represented here in town?


TK:And which of those were you particularly attracted to?

HO:Some of all but not all of any.  But I declined the martial part, because it wasn't in the street.  I didn't have the heart to be. Because on the martial end, the concepts were very intense.  I mean, it had to be a situation where, if you were not willing to eradicate someone who was close to you, then you were not qualified to be a martial confrontationist.  And examining myself, no, I 18:00was not willing to do that.  So I can not participate.  So these guys were different from the protectionists who were saying only if we come under attack.

TK:Sort of like a selfdefense kind of thing.


TK:Just for the record, you said you were gone for a while.  Where did you go?

HO:I went to Wilberforce, Ohio, and I also was working in Boston and I was also working in Washington, D.C.  Yeah, those two come to mind.  That's where I was gone for those years.  As a matter of fact, at the Kent State killings, I was 19:00at Wilberforce, Ohio, and a number of us were going to that particular demonstration.  But the black student union at Kent State sent word not to demonstrate solidarity with the Kent State protesters because they had not shown reciprocal or solidarity with some of the killings of blacks that had taken place with the [unintelligible] intelligence program.  They sent word for all the black student unions not to come and participate.

TK:So you were involved in the black student union at Wilberforce?


TK:That's interesting, I've never heard that before.

HO:I met one of the guys who was in the student union at Kent State at the time  it's funny how you can just be talking and that person can be right next to you inadvertently.  


TK:What brought you back to Louisville?

HO:Came back to work.  What a lot of people don't know is what happened at Kent State was happening all over.

TK:Like at Jackson State.

HO:Right, there you go.

TK:That's the most obvious comparison just because of the time.

HO:The federal government was not taking this situation laying down, although they didn't know what to do, they put forth their best effort to suppress what they felt, in their mind, all civil disturbance by blacks is Communist-inspired.  So we got to stop these.  So therefore, they felt to stop these Communists at any cost.  Which meant it was OK to sacrifice morality.  It ceased to be Communist-inspired.  After all, they're all Communist 21:00something.  So whatever they did was OK.

TK:What kind of activism were you involved in at Wilberforce?

HO:It was just small protests.  There wasn't anything major.  To get qualified for facilities  to get small stuff like to get screen  like the girls' dormitory was centered on the front side area where the waste was put out.  We wanted them to have screens to keep the flies from coming in.  If the business manager was getting a new house built by the school, we felt like a small amount on that could be spent on 

TK:So it was campus issues?

HO:Yeah, campus issues.  Like at Wilberforce, there wasn't too much organization.  Food and clothing was going everywhere.  Particularly down in 22:00Delta, Mississippi, because of a major tornado.

TK:I think I remember hearing about that.  Did you become a minister then or were you later?

HO:I'm not a minister.

TK:How come  OK, because Nancy called you Reverend Howard Owens.  So I guess she was just using that title.  I didn't know.

HO:You will get no claims of being anywhere near what one call religiously reverted person here.

TK:When she first gave me your name, that's what she called you.

HO:That's fascinating that she 

TK:She said you were a philosopher.  Maybe that's why.

HO:Maybe so.

TK:So scratch the question.  So you come back in 1971 

HO:I was thinking you got that off the caller ID, which is in my dad's. .go ahead.

TK:No.  So you came back in 1971, you told me.  You came back to work, you said?


TK:What were you doing?


HO:I was working, I was teaching.  I taught.  My theory was then we go from the education  I thought I could change things through education.  My theory was that if you could make the children aware of  [unintelligible].   The thought had never occurred to me that the problem was not as much the children but the administrative level.  So I got an education for myself.  Upon finding that out, that the administrators were not prepared  the guy that was principal at the school where I went, he went from football coach to principal.  I mean, 24:00within the same year.  So I dealt with the most difficult learning disabilities at the school at the time.  He expected me to run my class  of course, in my class you had dyslexia, you had visual acuity problems, you had emotional disturbance, you had a whole myriad of learning disabilities.  As a matter of fact, it appeared to me at that time that hardly anybody on the administrative level knew anything about learning disability and learning disorders.  Because they sent a supervisor from the board down and she took me  because my class 25:00was a little bit more rowdy.  I did rule by physical dominance.  Of course, I had to confront guns and knives and sometimes I would tell a guy it would be nice to put that rifle down.

TK:Yikes, what school was this?  And how old were the kids?

HO:It was at Manley Junior High School, which was on Oak, either Brook and Oak. So they were at various ages.  Some of them were really high school age.  They were the kids that nobody wanted.  At that time, they didn't have Ritalin or that stuff.  They were the kids who nobody wanted.  At that time, the special education class was always stuck in the basement.  It was a far out 26:00phenomenon.  Whatever school you went to in the whole country, the special education was either in a portable, away from the rest of the school, or in a basement.  So I got the basement phenomenon.  Like I said, some of the kids had behavior problems, but apparently their behavior problems had been associated with their academia, which wasn't necessarily the case.  A number of kids I apparently taught to read within three months. From zero reading ability to being able to read almost as well as I could.  When we were walking down the street, phonetically they can break up a word a lot quicker than I would.  But I would never tell them that.  But it was very unlikely that I was actually able to teach a kid that well.  The greater probability is that this kid 27:00already had an anxiety to learn this and just needed an opportunity.  But because of that child's behavior, which was acting out, probably due to a learning disability.  Whereas his behavior didn't bother me because I can meet him on his or her physical grounds and maybe be a little more tolerant of some of that  I [unintelligible] to instruct him.  I didn't abdicate my responsibility from instruction because this child was deviant in his behavior.  

But they sent a supervisor down from the board.  She takes me to a class and says "Well, Howard, you should have your class going like this class."   I 28:00said, "Do you know that this is the gifted class?"  She said, "But you should have your class --"  What I'm saying then, and probably even now, quite a few of the educators either didn't have a background in learning disorders and behavior.  The average layman would assume that that's the case.  But at that time, and probably even now, that's probably not the case.  Quite a few of your educators do not understand 

TK:Special needs for those types of kids.  So you took that job when you got here and you were teaching as you were settling into the community.  I'm going to go ahead and turn this over as I'm asking this question 



TK:What was going on in terms of the movement?


HO:When I got back here in '71, things had not gotten really hot yet.  I began to become active only a very subliminal role.  Like, first of all, following the African cultural route.  Participating in the African culture.  Then watching some of the political groups.  You had your Black Workers Coalition which was really active in gathering rights and works for black workers.  You had your Black Protective Parents which emerged, particularly during the busing.  Really, things were a little bit slower up until about '75 or '76, it 30:00seems.  We had Angela Davis here in '76.  We gathered a lot of people.  And there was a lot of resistance to her coming here.  Quite a bit of resistance.  Like the places had to be changed around.  There were bomb threats.  Finally, Reverend Schroerlucke agreed that the United Methodist  there were bomb threats to the United Methodist Church and other churches.  And a number of places.  There was a number of volunteer security persons that set up for Angela Davis coming, too.  That was the most fascinating thing you ever want to see.  31:00Several people were stopped and disarmed. One was a black female, whose name I will not mention, because she was a great street educator here.  Committed suicide, eventually, but she was a great street educator.  I don't know what was on her mind but she was going for this Communist thing.  Yeah, I'm going to kill that damn Communist, et ceteras, et ceteras.  She was disarmed.  Like the guys knew her.  And that year she was given a key to the city and the key to the city was taken away. Yeah, the Board of Aldermen gave it to her and then some others got to talking and they took it back away from her.  That's in the newspaper articles because I think I've seen that in flashbacks that they've been having.

TK:Anne Braden mentioned it but we haven't actually done an interview yet.


HO:And also about that time the busing thing starts.  This is a fascinating phenomena.  Actually, what hasn't been said is that when the busing  and [unintelligible] within the black community, the busing issue came as a surprise also.  I think it started as a thing of financial parity or something.  You know, the integration.  It was a difficult time for a number of schools in the city.  Teachers were purchasing supplies out of their pockets.  Like drawing paper, pencils.  Teachers in the city system were lending great sacrifice.  At that time, teaching was more or less a profession rather than a job.  I mean, 33:00this is something that you love to do so you do it.  Even if you don't get paid nothing.  Because teaching was a position of prestige, particularly within the black community.  A teacher was up there with lawyers and doctors.  Because without mobility into other jobs  like if you really wanted to get some proper credentials within your community, then you become a teacher.  You were automatically a person of upstanding.  So they took their jobs somewhat seriously.  Oftentimes the teacher was a person within the community.  So they were lending sacrifice toward maintenance.  However, at the same time there was not a parity  not just, because [unintelligible] people in the city lend money to support the county schools at that time.  Through the tax base and et 34:00ceteras.  But also the city board was majorly  I mean, quite a few people in the city board were from the county.

TK:The city Board of Education?

HO:Right.  So monies was going from the city's schools to   all right, this is going to be "Oh no, that didn't happen."  But I talked with teachers.  It was happening.  Monies was going from the city's schools to support schools being built in the county.  During this same time.  So they had a case.  So they came up with the parity formula and the busing.  At that time, you could have easily  this is what is not  at that particular time, you could have easily gotten as more support from the black community as the white community to try to 35:00block busing.  However, in this city, and I imagine across the country, what happened during the initial stages of busing, the violent resistance by whites forced the black community to go and gather around the common pole for security and protection.  Because they were doing like they were shooting into the buses.  The children were being attacked physically as they came to the schools.  The teachers were attacking the  now this is the part that you didn't read in the newspaper.  Teachers were attacking the children.  Teachers 36:00were hiring other students to attack the children.


HO:Physically.  Principals were participating in the emotional demeaning of the children.  Now, this part came about like how you were just doing.  I began to work for the Board of Education as a human relations person to settle the disputes in busing.  In the schools, they had what you call  what do you call them?  Dang, I forgot.  What did they call them?  CD workers or something.  These people, they brought their reports about these activities to the Board of Education at the time.  I stand guilty because I was there.  Those reports 37:00were tossed in the trash can.  What they did was, after tossing the reports in the trash can, they came up with a survey for those parents who felt that they had been victimized.  So we're talking serious damage control here.  But they were not to be interviewed immediately after the problem.  They were to be interviewed several  you know, a duration of time afterwards.  So the survey was carefully worded.  I forgot what the wording was.  And not to mention any particulars, names and et ceteras, but even though that part, the internal part, 38:00what happened in the schools was not put in the newspapers.  The people in the community knew that.  So therefore, that's why you got a lot of blacks who were either neutral on the point of busing or say that I stood in favor of busing more or less as a reaction also to the violence that the whites had put during the busing the thing.  Serious violence, like they tore up downtown, they were breaking out windows.  The put a policeman's eye out.  It was so ironic.  Shortly after they had put a policeman's eye out with a sling shot, to see a picture of one of the antibusing leaders, and the policemen were kissing her.  There's a picture in the Courier-Journal of a policeman kissing her after these 39:00protesters had put out a policeman's eye with a slingshot.  Seriously wounded his eye.  I don't if he became actually blind in that eye.  Afterwards, after the whites saw that their violent protests was not going to lend them what they wanted then they take to the political ends.  Standard mode of operation, when you see that your street protests and stuff, then you go to the political arena.  

TK:What did Black Protective Parents do?

HO:Black Protective Parents, they began to react to the violence and the difficulties that was placed on the youth during the integration process.  If a 40:00child had been attacked, academically or et ceteras  it was a number of problems on entry to the school.  In Jefferson County, the principal (interruption)  So it was oftentimes difficult to gain entry into the school because it appeared, although it may not have been true, that whatever the instructor or the counselor did that was detrimental to the youth, the principal would stand by them.  It appeared that.  Not oftentimes a racial thing, I'm sure sometimes it was a territorial thing.  When I was working with Human 41:00Relations and I went out to one of the schools way south on Bardstown Road, I went there with another worker.  We introduced ourselves and we explained that our job was to try to soothe the course of busing.  In this particular area it was very difficult emotionally.  We went there and we were greeted by the principal and others.  Seemed to be very congenial.  We explained to him that we would probably be coming out there identifying key people and trying to organize within the community.  So when I got back to my office, the next day I was in my office and my supervisor came to me and she said, "Howard, now I'm 42:00going to tell you, the principal of this school doesn't want you to come back out there.  He says he's going to kill you if you come back out there."  So, this doesn't sound very real to me.  I can't imagine that she would approach me with a statement, I mean, using the term not suggesting kill but literally use the term kill me.  This particular guy had a reputation for being assertive.  However, when I met with him, he was very gentle.  So I wasn't quite sure if she had  I can't imagine her motive for not telling me the truth.  That was my only problem with that.  So I did go back out there to see what was up.  And 43:00again, he was all congenial and stuff.  So I never figured that out.  

But I developed a theory earlier, that you don't try to figure everything out.  You try to do the right thing and keep on about your business.  Otherwise you will be decoyed.  But there was a lot of that going on.  So the Black Protective Parents would assist parents in gaining entry into the school.  Because oftentimes the parents had a great deal of difficulty.  One problem was many of the black parents did not follow their children out to the schools.  So it became a less difficult to block entry to a parent with a problem, because they weren't coming en masse.  Many of the parents didn't have the slightest idea as to what was going on.  They placed their whole faith in the school 44:00system.  That they were doing the right thing.  Which was good in a sense, but in another sense it was not good because by virtue of placing that blind faith, they saw no need to go to the PTA meetings or some of the other parent activities.  So the Board of Education even attempted to send buses out to pick up the parents but not getting as big a response because of that blind faith.  But that Black Protective Parents, when it was difficult for a parent to gain entry into the school  I can not speak for them  but as I recall, they would somehow not be able to get the door open and set up meetings to meet with the principal and provide clout and backup for that parent.  Oftentimes, the parent 45:00left alone with the principal, the principal would just dictate anything.  And as far as he or she was concerned that was the end of it.

TK:Now when you had this Human Relations job, were you still a teacher at the time?

HO:No.  I've had a whole bunch of jobs.  That was just one of my itinerary.

TK:Just curious, you probably don't remember, but those reports that got thrown away, do you remember what they said?  Did you actually see them?

HO:It's OK to say it. . .like I said, I was working for the board at the time.  I didn't see them literally thrown into the garbage can, but I did see some of the reports brought up by the workers and there was no answer or creditability 46:00given to those reports.   Then immediately, after the reports were not responded to, the survey comes up.

TK:I bet they have that survey in the records still, I would think.

HO:Oh yeah.  It would be fascinating to check out the  well, they probably don't have it in the records.  At the time that was the city Board of Education.

TK:Then it got merged into the 

HO:The county and the city.

TK:I know that they have records, the Board of Education, but I don't know how they  in other words, if they kept both sets or not?

HO:There's a possibility that that theory is  who knows, we might be able to run into some people who were working in the school and were workers at that 47:00time.  And the Black Protective Parents may have some information.

TK:Actually, I have one person I'm supposed to interview who was associated with the Black Protective Parents.  Of course, I can't remember the name right now.  But someone gave me a woman's name, said she was involved in the Black Protective Parents.

HO:One thing about going back to that space, a number of people don't want to go back to that space for various reasons.  All activists are not like  the peculiarity about activism it is oftentimes, not without financial award, it can take an emotional toll on one.  And a number of activists get completely destroyed.  So some people don't want to go back to that space because it was overbearing for them emotionally.


TK:Oh yeah, I've definitely run into that in interviews.  You had mentioned there were some other political groups active at that time and one you mentioned was the Black Workers Coalition.  Were you involved in that at all?

HO:No, I was just an observer.  I was not a Black Worker Coalition, but attending their functions and lending support.  I was not a member of the Black Workers Coalition.  I had other jobs.  But I was not a member of them.  Although I did lend support.  You almost have to get a rundown of a member of the Black Workers Coalition.

TK:There's one member on my list, I just haven't gotten to his  he's an R, and I'm only up to the O's.  Do you remember what other groups were still active at that time?

HO:Let's see, there was the Black Workers Coalition, and Black Protective Parents, and you had a number of groups that sprouted out in some of the 49:00subcommunities.  Like in Jeffersontown, you had the Jtown Challengers.  

TK:I've never heard of them.  What were they?

HO:They were a civil group active in the Jeffersontown area.  They would be in the ethnic newspaper.  So a lot of these things, you get a glimpse of that never reached the Courier-Journal.

TK:But if I read the whole Defender all the way up through the seventies, do you think I'd 

HO:It's possible if they have the record.

TK:We do have the Defender from 1951 to present at the library.

HO:You've got to be kidding me.

TK:I've only read to 1954, but we do have it.

HO:I'm sure you would find something in there about the Jtown Challengers.  In 50:00the Newburg area you had the Blacks United to Motivate Progress.  BUMP.  

TK:People like the acronyms, huh?

HO:Like the acronym was just a coincident that there was a dance out shortly before called the bump.  And practically every area where there were ethnic groupings, at that time, you had some kind of civil group that had a place themselves to protect or preserve the community from attack.  It was a time of national fervor.  Especially during the busing.  We went to a [Ku Klux] Klan 51:00rally out at McNeely Lake.  I swear to you, it looked like it was a couple of hundred of people in hoods and another three or four hundred out of hoods who were attending the Klan rally there.  But you will not get that type of turnout today for a Klan rally.  As a matter of fact, the last Klan rally here, I think it was about thirty-five or sixty or something.

TK:That was my first spring here.  I remember going to the antiKlan rally and it was raining.

HO:We went to one out in Sun Valley when David Duke was there by chance.  But there was only about thirty of them.  At that time, it began to show its 52:00difference, it was about thirty of the Klansmen and fifty or sixty protesters.  Which showed a greater contrast between  where at the height of busing you had the hundreds that were turning out.  So people began to somewhat depolarize.

TK:So this rally you went at McNeely Lake, where is that?

HO:That's in an area out in Preston.  If you were to go way out Preston, before you get to the Gene Snyder Freeway and go up [unintelligible] Chapel Road and go back in there.

TK:So you went with a group to this Klan rally?  Could you tell me about it?  What was it like or why did you go?

HO:What had happened was it appeared that a guy's black family, that their house 53:00had been dynamited.  Someone had put dynamite in their driveway.  This is what we understood to have happened.  So some of the people went out there and stood vigil as they did in a situation like that.  Some even spend the night.  As we were leaving there was word that there was a Klan rally at McNeely Lake Park.  So we did not go out there intentionally to go to the Klan rally.  We weren't' looking for trouble.  It was just coincidentally that, as we were leaving, it would have been in our path anyway.  So we went there to the McNeely Lake Park and like I said, there were uniformed Klansmen.  Many, at least a hundred.  54:00Very well armed.  We went by them once and they were facing the speaker and we came back the second time and they were facing us.  That's when you saw the arms.  There was a jeep with an M16 machine gun mounted on.  Although this wouldn't happen today because they wouldn't be allowed to have a meeting like that.  But at that time, they were allowed to bring their arms into the park 55:00and have their rally there, openly flaunting their arms.  Well, you might [unintelligible] a thirty-eight tucked under somebody's sheet.  But someone riding down the street with an M16 mounted on the jeep.  Hard to miss by the police, who were, no doubt, carefully monitoring the situation.  And they probably played a more major role in keeping  police and FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation] probably played a major role in keeping peace at that particular time than we will ever know.  Like I said, the second time they were highly armed and we just went past them.  There wasn't any stopping and there wasn't any confrontation.  But they were upset that their rally was being that closely 56:00observed by  many of them leftist liberals, niggers and Communists.

TK:Your accent was very good there.  You sounded just like one of them.  So that was during the busing?

HO:That was during the busing.  The busing was physically intense.  They always speak about how intense the busing was, but they don't get to the point where it was physically intense.  Demonstrations out on Preston Highway, that was their favorite foyer.  Yeah, large demonstrations.

TK:Weren't there some buses attacked?  Turned over, burned, something like that?

HO:I'm sure  I can't recall in particular about a bus being turned over and burned.  I do recall in particular about buses being shot into.  Because a 57:00number of brothers were following buses to use their vehicles as ramming mechanisms in case buses were attacked by shooters.  

TK:Actually, someone did interviews just on school busing and I'm hoping to get them because evidently she's got both sides.

HO:It weren't the same for the tax on the kids and these days 



HO: these days there probably would have been an effort to set up a political alliance. But in those days, [unintelligible] for the violent attacks on the youths, though whites who opposed busing could have gotten quite a bit of assistance in the community who opposed busing also.

TK:This seems to be quite a major event in the community.  What were the next 58:00issues after the busing kind of quiets down, what are the next issues or events that are important?

HO:There was issues of police brutality within the law.  There were issues of police brutality.  Equity in hiring of minorities on various jobs.  And that went back and forth for a length of time.  The black police officers, which went on for about thirteen years, that was a major focus.  Because each judge would agree with the previous judge that if you've been cheating and lying and rearranging tests, then it stands to reason that these people should get their 59:00promotions.  But the city kept appealing it because each administration did not want to be the one to pay out the necessary funds of the judgment.  So they passed on the legacy.  I think it ended up being, I forgot how many men, but the department would have been one quarter of that had they had the initial mayor just went on and resolved the issue.

TK:How did the Alliance get started?

HO:The Alliance Against Racism and Political Oppression  when Angela Davis, in California, was involved in a situation she had a bodyguard and that bodyguard went to a courtroom to free his brother who was on trial.  He placed a number 60:00of hostages in a van.  And rather than risk this guy getting away, the police just shot up the van.  Of course killing everyone, hostages and all.  Not everyone [unintelligible].  By way of this, in California it appear that you have a law that if you own a gun and somebody stole your gun, you were held liable for the deed.  Although you didn't the deed, it was your weapon.  So by virtue of that, Angela Davis was charged with murder.  So she chose to flee.  61:00I think eventually she was caught somewhere.  So she received support from across the country.  It was a lot of serious organization going on.  And somehow or another, I think out of that organizational effort grew the Alliance Against Racism and Political Oppression.  Mostly coming from existing organizations who allied themselves   you say the Alliance against Racist.  But not just racism though, keep in mind that Angela Davis is now pretty much what you call a political prisoner.  So we say alliance against racism AND political oppression.  So that covered the political prisoners also, or the 62:00people that were being oppressed politically.  So a number of the organizations here locally  what's it called, SOC?  I forget what those acronyms stand for.  There was SCEF [Southern Conference Educational Fund].  So they were participates in support of that.  And an Alliance chapter was started here.  I saw them as being the most active.  As far as getting the job done.  I mean, there were groups that were more vocal, but they may not have been getting as much as a constructive change.  At that time, from my perspective, the Alliance 63:00represented for positive change and approaching the problem.  Not just running around the problem.

TK:So you got involved with it 

HO:As a volunteer.

TK:What kinds of things did you do for it?

HO:Maintenance of the building, majorly.  But if there was a demonstration, we'd go on demonstrations in support of the groups.  We had a few major cases, the Tchewla Seven.  There was a place called Tchewla.  It begins with a T.

TK:So you supported cases in other places, too?

HO:Yeah, that's why its called the National Alliance Against Racism and Political Repression.  Although, here in Louisville we had several cases that 64:00received support from the national groups.   We have the Fred Harris case.  Fred Harris was a young man and he was being eyed by the police anyway.  He wasn't what you'd call a good boy, so to speak.   So he returned home one night and the police said  that he had broken into this vehicle and stole some parts, off a vehicle that had been sitting there for more than three years and had been marked abandoned for more than a year by the city.  They said that he had stole some parts off of that vehicle.  So a number of police came to arrest him.  65:00There was plenty of backup.  And they came and I don't know who began the initial confrontation, but the end result was that Fred Harris' eye was knocked out of the socket.  And he was left laying in the police car for a considerable amount of time with everyone knowing that his eye was out of his socket.  He was left laying there in the back of the police car and eventually taken to the hospital.  At which time one of the officers made a statement  when the doctor requires as to what happened, he makes a statement, not an exact quote but something similar to that damn nigger stopped my flashlight.  So something 66:00similar to that.  Not exactly that, I'm sure.  But that became a case, and that case was fought by the Alliance and won.  Then later, much later, you have the Lindsay Scott case.  Which is not to say that  I mean, the case was not centered around the credentials of Fred Harris.  It was centered around, was this much brutality necessary to  It was found out that he hadn't taken any parts off the vehicle and the whole nine yards.

TK:This may have been before your time but Anne mentioned a case called the Louisville Seven case?

HO:The Louisville Seven?

TK:It might have been right before you got here, maybe?


HO:The Louisville Seven  like that was some Louisville leadership.  They had apparently planned, according to statements made by the person that the police had sent to get the information.  You really need to talk to someone  it would be easy to find someone who was involved with the Louisville Seven. But generally, what was said was that they had planned to  this was said by the apparent prosecution's perspective, that they had planned to do sabotage.  By way of sabotage, that's what their intent.  That's what the informant said.  I think it may have been even some recorded.  But there was also another case 68:00during the rioting 

TK:Yeah, that's the Black Six.  Which I have.  Ruth Bryant, she was one of the Black Six and I interviewed her.

HO:You also have the case of the Panthers were alleged to have robbed, during Derby, on 15th Street.  Between Oak and Garland  anyway, there's a tourist home there.  About three or four blocks south of Oak Street on the west side of the street.  There was a big function there.  Some of the tourists were robbed 69:00during the Derby.  Well, the police, the prosecutors said that this robbery was commandeered by the local Black Panther Party.  So they arrested some of the Panthers for that.  So that became a case.

TK:I think that's the one that Anne might have mentioned.  She said something about the Black Panthers being arrested.

HO:So that became a case, because some of the Panthers, one of the Panthers  they had already mentioned that the FBI had came to them and informed them that if a case of this nature was to go down they would be. . . So I don't know who did the robbery or et ceteras, but legend goes that it was some out of town guys 70:00who did do the robbery.  Allegedly.  

TK:What's interesting to me is like in the Black Six case, not only what just happened but what all these different people think happened.

HO:Right.  There are so many perspectives.  And it's also like some of them  not just a different perspective but their intent to yield a half-truth, their intentional attempt to yield a half-truth.  Not for the purpose of intentionally deceiving, but for protecting someone or and image or as not to yield incrimination towards themselves.

TK:And a lot of times people just don't know the whole story.  They just know what they heard from six other people.  That's most of my specific questions.  But my general questions is just are there any other incidents or stories that 71:00you can think of, things that you were involved with that you think are important to talk about?

HO:In the civil rights movement?  Well, there was always  during the sixties, when I was in high school I used to attend meetings.  There was a conscious effort in this town for subliminal  I used to attend meetings sponsored by religious groups.  That was high school.  To integrate groups of people.  We would have meetings in the West End and different places.  The whites would come to the West End and we would go to the East End.  My only memory was of the West End encounters, but like, not the houses.  We were on Virginia Avenue 72:00at one house, I remember.  I just thought it was really interesting.  I don't know if anything came  but there was (interruption)

TK:The meetings when you were in high school.

HO:Yeah, because when things were going down in Mississippi, I'm sure around the country, there were small efforts by groups and organizations to be preemptive of what was to eventually come.  Apparently, some saw the potential for what was coming.  I imagine that's why a lot of the repression took place, like the agencies.  See, you have to appreciate, at the time of the civil rights  of course, civil rights have always been fought in this country.  But during the mid and late sixties, if you look at your groups that were considered to be 73:00subversive.  Like the NAACP was considered to be a subversive group.  Practically everything associated with civil rights and labor was considered part of a Communist conspiracy at large.  Like [Pablo] Picasso was listed as a subversive.  Walt Disney was considered to be a subversive after he had not given quality testimony against his fellow actors and stuff, they began to investigate him.  That gives you a slight glimpse of the mind set.

TK:And of course, here locally, Anne Braden was considered a Communist from way back.

HO:Well, she was a Communist.  But for whatever it meant, you will not find in this whole world, other than Mother Teresa, anyone more Christian like in their 74:00behavior than Anne Braden.

TK:How did you meet her?

HO:Anne Braden?  Well, my parents were always  my mother, a teacher, taught the youngest girl, the one that died.  They were always supportive of Anne Braden.  When Anne Braden got in trouble, my father was one of the ministers  when the trial of Anne and Carl Braden began, the black ministers in this town rallied behind Carl and Anne Braden.  Because knowing that they were not the big monsters with machine guns and bombs and planes and all the et ceteras, that the opposition had made them out to be.  Quite the contrary.  With civic citizens, did everything they can to promote democracy within the community.


TK:Did you know Carl or did he pass away before?

HO:I did not know Carl.  I don't know if I even ever met Carl in my life.  I got back here in '71.  What year did he pass?

TK:He passed away in like, '72.

HO:So I did not know Carl.  And I knew Anne through the Alliance Against Racism and Political Oppression.  Although I'd heard of her before then.  

TK:Because of your parents.

HO:Right.  And they always insisted that I support her.  On a number of issues, because some times my mom would tell me not to participate in a demonstration or anyway.  And I would go anyway.  But in some cases I'm sure she would have been inclined to suggest that I not participate.  But if Anne's name was mentioned 

TK:It would be OK.

HO:It's not only OK, but you're going to help her out in whatever she's doing.


TK:When you were attending these meetings in high school, that was quite a bit after the sitins downtown and stuff.  Because that would have been when you were very young.

HO:Right.  I was very young but it was a [unintelligible] number of people that just left school and went downtown.  Those are more open, overt issues.  If you went into a store, you couldn't try on a hat.  You might not be able to try on clothes that you had purchased.  Openly racist attitudes.  So that was downtown.  Like you couldn't go into any place and eat or drink.  So a number 77:00of students, they did not seek parental permission.  Like Nancy Pullock was heavily involved 

TK:Yeah, she told me.  I interviewed her before she [unintelligible].  We were going to do two interviews.  We interviewed her about kind of the early sixties.  But we did not get to talk to her about her Black Panther. She mentioned it, but it was sort of in just a general way and we were both tired.

HO:I don't think she wanted to go to that space anyway.

TK:She was trying to convince some of her people that she knew in town who were Black Panthers to talk to me.  But one had said yes, but we played phone tag for three months.

HO:They're not going there.  I don't know any of the guys 

TK:The one who said yes, what was his name?  

HO:You don't have to mention.


TK:He said yes, I had his phone number, I called him, he said yes, set up such and such a schedule.  We played phone tag for three months so he might have changed his mind.

HO:Maybe so.  Quite a few of them don't want to go to that space.  Although, it was not as difficult here as it was in Chicago.  The oppression wasn't.  But they were engaged in a number of activities.  One reason that the police and the FBI were seeking to come down on them, not just because they were Black Panthers, but also they were engaged in a number of  they were attacking pushers and destroying their dope.  As you know, the pushers also have a right to be protected by the police.  They put up the wanted posters in the community.  They had an intense program of attacking the drug dealers and 79:00destroying their dope.  Sometimes they would take them to the Ohio bridge, they would even kidnap dope dealers.  Now we're getting into federal.  Part of the intimidation they would kidnap them and 

TK:Try to convince them not to do it.

HO:Like under physical threat and intimidation.  Although they were mostly doing positive things in the community.  They had a real good breakfast program here and stuff.  They were feeding children.  They had books and almost anything they could get their hands on free that they could pass on to the community.


TK:Have you heard of these two organizations? They are sometimes mentioned with the  one is called the African Liberation Committee and the other is JOMA?


TK:JOMO?  So what was JOMO?

HO:I don't know that much about JOMO.

TK:Was it cultural stuff?

HO:I don't  

TK:Do you not know enough to say?

HO:I don't know that.  It's going to be very difficult with anyone affiliated with JOMO.

TK:Why is that?

HO:Because that may be part of a history which certainly none of the people involved would want to go back to that space.  JOMO, you might say that JOMO 81:00may have been on the extreme end of community protection, so to speak.  

TK:The only thing I know about it is that I saw a flyer.

HO:You saw a what?

TK:There's a collection in the Anne Braden papers, she just has a box, she donated a bunch of her records to Wisconsin Historical Society.  And there's a box and it's just like flyers she pulled off of bulletin boards and sign posts.

HO:And there's one with JOMO on there?

TK:One of them mentioned JOMO.  That's it.  That's all I know about them.

HO:It would be very difficult to get any information.  Those people that were involved in that time, they're not going to go back to that space.  It's very unlikely that any of them would tell you anything.  Although it is a part of 82:00history that do need to be examined.  No one's going to go there, for those that were involved in that.  Of course, an observer may be able to give you more information.  But you might say that JOMO was a group to the extreme left.  They might have catered to the philosophy of by any means necessary.  You might find someone to interpret that stand for you.  But it's JOMO.

TK:Like I said, I saw it on the flyer.  I might have written it down wrong.

HO:JOMO is an acronym, but usually it's based on a word, as for Jomo Kenyatta, 83:00who liberated Kenya.  The Mau Mau.  This group might have assumed to pursue an identical tradition of liberation.

TK:Well, it does fit with the picture that was on the flyer, which was of a person in a dashiki shirt with a bandoleer.  So how I got it was a cultural group, I don't know.  But like I said, that's all  it's just this poster.

HO:They were also one of the few crossovers into African culture.  They were one of the few crossovers.  But mostly it's like the artists, your 84:00culturalists, everybody is not  quite a few of these are compartmentalized.  When you see people demonstrating on the front line and stuff.  It's probably not going to be artists and it's probably not going to be culturalists there.  Most of the people stay within their compartment.  A few cross over.

TK:So you see yourself, I asked you before which compartment you're in.

HO:I'm one of the few that cross over.  But not only do I cross over to the next compartment, I cross over to mostly  because I don't recognize boundaries.  Part of my reason for activism is to eliminate boundaries.  So I don't recognize the boundaries.  I go with the artists, and I go with the culturalists, and I go with the religious liberationists.  I don't see why I 85:00have to be confined to any of those.

TK:Or one approach, I guess you could say.  Well, this time period in Louisville, 1970 to 1980 is interesting.  It's harder to find information on this.

HO:Like I said, people are still paranoid.  Like the county intelligence program, I mean, even without the county intelligence program  because most people are not aware of the county intelligence program.  They see stuff as just happening.  Like they see kid's [unintelligible] as a separate incident.  They don't see it as part of an extension.

TK:Of a larger program.

HO:Of a larger program to suppress civil strength.  But just out of tradition, people are still part of that syndrome of being afraid of losing their job or 86:00being afraid of separating and being oppressed.  They know that physical oppression can take place.  Especially in [unintelligible] because there's always an incident with the local police that reminds you.  You can be literally physically destroyed and nobody's going to do or say anything about it.  That's their premise. Of course, that's all been what we have fought against.  So sometimes, it's difficult to get people to speak freely because a lot of people do not, particularly in the West End, yet have full faith in the ability of democracy to flow freely.  [unintelligible] the black soldiers in the world wars that the whites were fighting for democracy but the blacks were fighting to get democracy.  So quite a lot of people do not have total faith in 87:00the system.  If they do speak out and they do feel free to say what's on their mind in this society, that they will be suppressed or oppressed.

TK:Even to the point of speaking about it historically.

HO:They don't know speaking about it historically.  The clinical, historical, and the significance, they don't know that.  Like the theory of history.  We're taught about history in school but we don't ever get into the theory of history.  We're talking about  what's the brother who did the potatoes  George Washington Carver 




HO:He was subpoenaed to go to Washington to make suggestions on how to save the Southern economy.  He came up with different ways to use the potatoes, different ways to use the peanut.  But we don't ever speak of his political role in saving the economy of the South.

TK:He's just kind of this nice famous [unintelligible] guy.

HO:We speak of the black inventors but we don't speak of the implications of their inventions or the significance.

TK:Or the political, that's very interesting because that's very true.

HO:We always speak of St. Augustine of Nubian descent and his role as a Catholic bishop, as a religious person.  But we never speak of the role he played in laying the foundation of  as an economist.  And into today's economy, even, his theories.  . .So they don't know about what you call the historical perspective.  Quite a few people do not.  They only know about this and that happened then.  But the significance of the historical perspective, they are not. . .I thought it was very interesting that when they were interviewing the mothers of one of the girls who had gotten killed in the Birmingham bombing, she kept a piece a concrete that had pierced the little girl's head.  Somebody was aware of the significance of that piece of concrete for the future.  Emmett Till  I don't know if you're familiar?  That's right, you're an historian.  Emmett Till, his mother did not want them to dress up his body.  She was aware of the historical implications.  The bigger picture.

TK:I'm actually done with the questions so I'm going to turn this off.