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Tracy K'Meyer:This is an interview conducted with Anne Braden by Tracy K'Meyer on Thursday, March 22, 2001 at the Kentucky Alliance office. What I thought I'd do is basically try to take you back to the earlier years, the time you arrived here through the mid-fifties first. Start with some of the early stuff. Anne Braden:Which is what I'm going to be vague on. I think I've got a good memory, but I realized when I was doing the thing for the Encyclopedia of Louisville, which I'm sure you've read. I agreed to do that thing and I can -- I do it out of my head. I said I'd remember that stuff when John Kleber asked me to do it. And I realized I couldn't. What year was that? Who was that who did that? I found out I really didn't know. TK:I'm not a real stickler about dates because I can look them up. So don't worry about those. And even specific names of things, 1:00I can help you fill in because I have them in my notes. What I'm trying to do is fill in some of the atmosphere, some of the behind-the-scenes kind of stuff. One thing -- just to warm you up -- do you remember when you moved here, what was the first thing you got involved with in terms of race relations? AB:You know, I try to remember what that was. Sometimes people ask it in another context. I definitely had race relations on my mind. You've probably heard me say it. I'm not sure I make it clear in my book, but I left Birmingham running away, basically. But I didn't admit it to myself then. I rationalized it was good for my career because I wanted to be a great newspaperwoman. That was my ambition. I 2:00wanted to be a famous newspaperwoman. And that was -- this is a digression, like I do -- but I was part of that generation of women who benefited by the war. Because all the men were at war. I got to have a lot of newspaper experience that I never would have gotten as a woman. Like when I worked on that paper at home in my hometown of Anniston there wasn't anybody but me and one woman and this one guy. I did everything. I wrote, covered things in the community, and I covered the editorials. I didn't know enough to be writing an editorial about nothing. I even wrote sports. I didn't write them, I got them off of the wire. But I wrote the headlines. I never knew much about sports. I had had a good bit of experience. But women -- there weren't a lot of leading newspaperwomen. I remember -- I realized later she was terribly reactionary -- Dorothy Thompson. She was famous. She had an exciting life. She was everywhere things were happening in Europe. That's the way I wanted to live. I figured that I could come here and work for a couple of years, because the papers had a good reputation. I finally got a job. They offered me a job at the [Louisville] Times. I had been up here and interviewed with Mark Ethridge when I was looking around for other jobs. Talked to him about it. They offered me a job in the 3:00women's department at the Courier-Journal. The women's department was for the birds. I knew I didn't want to do that. So I turned that down. Then the Times opened up. But I figured if I worked here a couple of years, I could move and get a job in New York or Chicago and be away from the South. I thought the problem was in the South. Everybody did that was thinking in those days, black or white. My first year in Louisville was maybe the most important internal time of my life. I turned myself inside out because I covered people who were doing things -- and I changed my whole value system. I said I don't want to be a great newspaperwoman. I just wanted to be a part of this movement that was going to 4:00change things. The first thing I noticed -- and I may say that in the book, I don't know -- the first place I lived was out on Cherokee Road. An apartment. A lot of young people lived there that worked around somewhere. I guess my father or somebody knew about it. And I went there. I didn't stay there too long. Then I moved to an apartment on 4th Street for a while. Then I moved -- I've lived in the West End since '50, I guess. No, '49, '48 or '49. First on Main Street. Then Ormsby, then Virginia Avenue. But when I came out I got on the bus the first morning it was just kind of startling because blacks were sitting in the front of the bus. That just didn't happen in Birmingham because they had to do like they did in Montgomery. You pay at the front and go to the back. That was about the only difference I saw, really. Everything was segregated. But that was different. And the fact that blacks could vote made a big difference. Of course, 5:00they couldn't in Birmingham for the most part. So I was aware of that. I was a general assignment reporter at the Times. That was April '47. I remember it was April 1, actually, that was my first day. I got here a week early. I finished working Saturday night in Birmingham and flew up here because I thought I was due here Monday. People didn't fly much then, but I flew. They actually hadn't expected me until the next week. I could have taken a week off. I remember that. I stayed there until November '48, at the Times. Carl and I left the Times at the same time. So what's that? About a year and half. I was sort of a general assignment reporter. I can't remember when it started but they gave me the education beat. So I was covering the Board of Education. Grady Clay was doing that for the Courier-Journal. You probably know Grady. But anyway, he was good. 6:00I hear from him every once in a while. He contributes to the Alliance when we ask him. He's a nice guy. You know, he left the paper and went in to edit some sort of -- his big thing is cities and parks. He represented some sort of national magazine. He was really good because he knew a lot more people that I did, until I got to know people. The Times and Courier really did compete in those days. The reporters did, even though it was all about the Binghams. Being ambitious, I wanted to do better than he did. I did all right, but he was really more familiar. So I would be covering the schools, whatever was happening in the schools was my main thing. I don't believe anybody ever suggested that I cover anything in the black community. I think I went looking for that myself. I'm 7:00trying to think how I even found it, to tell you the truth, and I really don't remember. I remember that I began to convince them to put some things in the paper. See, that was the time -- let's see, '47 -- when Jim Crumlin -- did you try to interview him? TK:I did interview him. AB:Yeah, he's quite old. I just went to a big thing honoring him. The Broadway Church called me and asked me to come say a few words. Well, the AME Zion Church was having it. It was an interesting occasion. They were mainly talking about his church connections. Nobody was talking about all he did for the freedom movement. I don't think they planned on us speaking. Neville Tucker came from California for that thing. I talked to him afterwards. He's apparently doing pretty well. I said you ought to come back and stay. They ran him out of town. He said he wasn't going to do 8:00that. But I think he's doing pretty well. He says he comes back every once and a while. I don't have his address and stuff, but I know there are people who do. Maybe Aubrey does. I sat right by Aubrey. Aubrey came thinking he was going to say something. Eventually we all got to say something. I think Aubrey just walked up -- Aubrey walked up to somebody and said you can't have Neville coming all the way from California and not speak. So they asked him to speak and he made some good comments. Somebody, I guess Jim, had told them to call me so I got to talk. But the AME [African Methodist Episcopal] Zion [Church] was just talking about his religious work. He wasn't even a minister when I first met him. He was a lawyer. So some way I must have heard about him because he was the main lawyer for the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People]. I don't know if he was president then. At different times he was president of the branch and all that kind of thing. He had that office on what was then Walnut, between 6th and 7th, I guess, right west of 6th Street. It's all been torn down now. There was kind of a center of activity of legal action. 9:00Now, Alfred Carroll, you've heard of him. Of course, he's been long dead. He was in there. I always thought of Alfred Carroll and Jim together. They were law partners. I had forgotten, really, until he had mentioned it recently that Ben Shobe was in that office. I don't remember him at all, to tell you the truth. TK:He was a little younger. He came in a couple years later. AB:Oh, did he? OK, well, maybe I wasn't around as much by then. But J.C. Olden, who everybody has forgotten [unintelligible] hung out there all the time. I met him two or three years later. But that's where he sort of operated from there, the Militant Church Movement that he had. So it was kind of a center of activity. It wasn't like this building, but sort of. Some way, I don't know how I heard about it, but I think that I just went looking for stories. I hadn't been able to write about them in Birmingham even if I heard about them. People lined up to vote -- I think I put that in the book -- people just told me to ignore it. I found out later that was a very organized thing. Organized by the Southern Negro Youth Congress is what it was. But I didn't know they were lined up to the courthouse. Nobody got to vote and I wanted to write a story about it. There must have been three hundred people there one day. TK:In Birmingham. AB:Birmingham, yeah. I 10:00told the city editor about it -- "oh no, don't say anything like that." But they weren't like that here. They just didn't know what was going on. So I began to go up. I got to know Jim. We got to be real good friends. He told me about the news. I remember one night he wanted to take me to the movie. There was the Lyric Theater there, and Walnut Street was a lively place. That was a crazy notion. You didn't know, really, because it was just as illegal for me to go there as it was for him to go to Loew's or something up on 4th Street. But that was his way of breaking segregation. I didn't care. I was young and reckless. He said "Come on, we'll just go to the theater." He walked up and of course, they wouldn't let us in. Some black person at the box office and everything. He said "No, we're going to change this thing and we're going to start right here on Walnut Street." Well, we didn't get in. So we kind of got to be good friends. 11:00And Alfred Carroll, too. Looking back on it, I always thought that they were sort of a pair, which they were, in the law office. But I remember -- I talked to Jim not too long ago, back last year, whenever I finally finished that thing with John Kleber. I knew I was going to have everybody -- if they read it -- half of Louisville mad at me because I'd leave out names, which you're going to have that problem, too. So I was trying to think, now who have I left out? Who have I left out? I didn't have any names in the beginning. I told John "Well, we've got to put some names in." So I called Jim and I said "Jim, are there other lawyers I should mention, you know, doing this kind of history." He said it was mainly him. Maybe he mentioned Ben Shobe. And who else was in that? Harry McAlpin was later. TK:It was Harry McAlpin. Again, he's just a little bit later with Ben Shobe -- AB:He was my lawyer in the sedition case. Oh, Lunderman, Charles Lunderman. Yeah, it was Carroll, Crumlin and Lunderman. Lunderman was a 12:00good guy. So I think I remembered Lunderman. So I said "Alfred Carroll." He said "Well, I guess so" or something like that. I said "What was wrong with Carroll?" He said "He wasn't doing much lawyering," he said. "He was more on the radical. He was out picketing the Armory and doing stuff like that." Which I guess was true. He was more of an activist and he was active in the Progressive Party, Alfred Carroll was. That's another connection I made, but I'll get to that in a minute. When I came here in '47, see, Henry Wallace hadn't even announced he was running for president then. Although a lot of people were pushing him to do it. So I think I just went out looking -- some way heard that this was the NAACP headquarters, and began to get some stories. I can't remember which ones got in the paper. The one I'm proud of is the Lyman Johnson one. I've got to look that up some time because my memory may be wrong. My recollection is that I persuaded 13:00them to put it on the front page. Now, that may be wishful thinking. TK:Was that him getting into U of K [University of Kentucky]? The U of K story? AB:Uh huh. Maybe it wasn't front page. They weren't going to notice it at all. I don't remember what other stories I convinced them to use. But I did some, I know. I was a good reporter and I got to have a good reputation around the city room. The city editor liked me after I learned how to write short stories. They had very strict word limitations in Birmingham. Birmingham knew you just went on and on, nobody ever had a [unintelligible]. And I didn't know anything about writing word length. I think the first week I was there -- Jasper Hodson was his name, he died prematurely later -- gave me something and said write two hundred words. 14:00Nobody ever told me to write two hundred words. I just [unintelligible] he said "That's way more than two hundred words." I said "Well, maybe it is." And I learned to write. If he told you two hundred words, he did not mean one hundred and ninety-nine or two hundred and one. He meant two hundred words. I learned to do that. I don't when I'm just writing my first draft. My first drafts are always twice as long. I'm a real self-editor. If I'm just writing a letter or writing, I write like I talk, and ramble. But you tell me to write something a certain length, I do it. I learned it there and I made good use of it since. I've always been grateful to the Times for that. But anyway, I became pretty skilled at that, too. So I had a little influence. So I'd get stories in the paper. I remember it was Lyman, and I don't know where I heard about it, but see, I heard that he was getting ready to -- probably from Jim Crumlin. So I called him up. I had never met him. He was teaching at Central High School, 15:00which was on a different location. 8th and Chestnut, I believe. Old building. So I said I wanted to come down and see him. I'm trying to think if we took a picture of him. I may have taken a photographer along. I just don't remember about that. But I went in to talk to him. He was very spry. He was slender. He jumped up on the desk. I bet he was a real good teacher. Everybody said that he was. I talked to him about why he was doing this. I got an interview with him. So I went back to the paper and I said "He's getting ready to file a suit to challenge the Day Law in graduate education at the University of Kentucky." I don't know if it was Jasper or somebody else on the city said "Well, that's not going to go anywhere." I said, "It might." He said "Write a couple of paragraphs." I said "Look, this is an important story. It's a real major attack and it's got to be a story." So he gave me more length. I think they put it on the front page, but that may be my memory. Anyway, we did have a story. I was 16:00doing a lot of that. So I think I just went out on my own and just found it. I think in the African American community then -- and I'm sure there's things I've forgotten -- that a lot of activism did center in the NAACP. It was quite active. Of course, a lot of it was court action. But it wasn't just court action. I mean, people were supporting it. They threatened to file suits whether they had to file them or not. It's traditionally presented that Louisville just saw the light and began to integrate. Of course, that just wasn't true. Even the library -- now the libraries were opened up, I think, that first year I was here. The library board voted to do that. But they were getting ready to file suit about that. Certainly with the University of Louisville, they were getting 17:00ready to file suit when they integrated. And the parks. Well, that was a suit. They had to do that. Jim, of course, was working all over the state, too, on cases. Became more so right after the school decision, he was doing even more of that. So I guess I began to meet some of the people in the black community. I can't remember that I actually joined the NAACP then. I may have, because then the Times weren't as persnickety about saying the reporters had to be political eunuchs and not belong to anything. Well, they belonged to the Chamber of Commerce but they can't vote in anything else. That kind of thing. They make noises about being objective and of course, they're not. Nobody is objective unless you're just dead from the neck up. There's no such thing as objectivity. College professors need to know that. I tell them that when I talk to them. I've had to talk to a bunch of college faculty up at Northern Kentucky University. 18:00They're having a series of workshops with faculty. They asked me to do one. I said, "They've got all these academic degrees and I don't." But they wanted to hear from someone with a different viewpoint. I told them, "If you all think you're objective, you're not. You're just doing the status quo and you think that's the way things are." I said "I learned that as a newspaper reporter -- which I did -- that newspaper reporters like to think they're objective." But it doesn't work that way, Tracy. And I'm sure it doesn't for you or anybody else. I think a newspaper reporter can be fair. And we have some even now that are trying to be fair. In other words, tell both sides of the story. But every time we sit down at the typewriter -- now you sit down at a computer -- you make unconscious decisions about how you juxtapose your facts. What you put first and everything, which is your opinion, that's all. Anyway, I think I began to meet some people through those connections. I don't know whether I joined the NAACP but I'm sure I went to some of the meetings. Then I did begin to meet people through the Progressive Party. That was almost about the same time. I'm trying 19:00to think -- oh, I don't know when Wallace announced for president. I had been a Wallace fan. See, I had been political to that extent. I think the first time I ever felt anything emotional about politics was during the 1944 Democratic convention. I followed that real close because my friends or people I admired when I was in college were ardent Roosevelt Democrats. You know, the struggle after [President Franklin D.] Roosevelt was killed and all that. I mean, died. People saw that nomination for vice-president that year as a struggle for the soul of the Democratic Party. Which we lost. Then I think there was talk about Henry Wallace running as a third party candidate. In the beginning he had a real 20:00mass following. Of course, it was decimated during the campaign by the Red issue, basically. So I can remember being at somebody's house who invited me to dinner or something when he was making a speech where he was going to announce whether he was going to run, which he did. I don't remember when that was, but almost immediately people began organizing a Progressive Party here. I got somewhat peripherally involved while I was still at the paper. Of course, the election was in '48. That's when Carl left the paper and I resigned, too. It was kind of silly. In November of '48. But we wanted to leave anyway. But that's not a really significant story. It was just kind of a quirk in our lives. But I'm glad it happened, actually. They began having meetings. I knew, as a reporter, I 21:00couldn't be a part of a political party. You really couldn't do that. I'm trying to think. Someway I met this young woman. Her name was Barbara -- it was a made up name. She had been something else. She was from New York. Beautiful blonde woman. Kind of looked like a dumb blonde but was really as smart as could be. She was from New York and her husband was a doctor or in some medical field, in an institution in Lexington. I can't remember whether it was a prison then or a hospital. One of those places that became both. She had come down here with him. She was connected with people who were in the Wallace orbit in New York. 22:00Apparently, someone corralled her into coordinating the Progressive Party here in Kentucky. She came to some meetings. I remember when she came over and introduced herself to me. I went to a meeting one night and I can't remember where it was. It was kind of a rough kind of hall. I don't know where they were meeting. I t was a building where a lot of things happened at the Brock Building. We had a lot of meetings there. They had been there. I don't know whether it was in the black community or not. But they had a core of people that were organizing. She came over and talked to me. She knew I worked for the Times and I guess she felt that would be good to have somebody with influence. It turned out she needed a place to live. At that time I had moved to a 4th Street 23:00apartment -- 1411 South Fourth. Right next to where Harvey Sloane later built that big house. But this had been one of those old houses broken up into apartments. I was living by myself. It was sort of an efficiency but I had an extra daybed or something. So I told her she could live with me. So she moved in there. That was something, too. I told a friend I should have never moved there in the first place. I should have know this was going to happen. Because she was Jewish, and they didn't want Jews there. The landlady got really angry about it. Actually, invoked something that I wasn't supposed to have somebody else living there. Which may have been true. See, we were still under rent control. Some of them were and that apartment was. It was cheap, even. I think I paid thirty-two dollars a month. But it was still under rent control. Somebody, a friend of mine, told me "You should have had enough sense not to move there in the first place." Because she had asked me, when I applied to move in, what my church was. 24:00I told her Episcopal, which I wasn't active then, but you know, it was, and it showed her that I wasn't Jewish. She could look and see I wasn't black, so it was OK. I remember that I had some African Americans there one time and she about had apoplexy over that. I don't know whether Jim Crumlin ever came there. I remember Fletcher Martin, who was editor of the [Louisville] Defender, he was a smart guy. He was there once. Some other people I had met. I don't really know that Jim was because I remember Jim saying "I heard you had some company. You never ask me to come to your apartment" or something like that. But anyway, she moved in with me. Although I couldn't be really active, I kept up with what was going on. But I did begin to go to some things. I remember being at mailing parties where you stuff envelopes. I began to get a political education there, which is why today I tell people let's get people to a mailing party to mail the 25:00newsletter. That's a political thing. People sit around and talk. People who hadn't been that active. Because that's what got me started in the movement, really. And I've seen it happen with other people. I remember it was down at what we now call the Armory, now the Gardens [of Louisville]. They must have had some office down there or something. It seems to me -- I don't know why it would have been there, but I think it was. Maybe I have it mixed up. It was some big place and we were stuffing the mailing. I would go do things like that. I was able to get some things in the paper for them. I remember Barbara told me, "You just stay in the background if you can get things in the paper for us." Because it was as hard then as it is now. I remember I got a good story in the paper about this young African American man -- I don't remember his name -- who got arrested for playing on the tennis court out near University of Louisville. I don't remember what his name was, and I wrote the story. I knew it was happening through somebody I knew in the Progressive Party. He presented it like he suddenly just wanted to play tennis one day. But he didn't really. It was planned to challenge the parks. And he was arrested. There was kind of a 26:00protest, as I recall, at his trial. A lot of things like that happened. I think the paper played that up pretty good. So Barbara said "You just stay away if you can get the stories in the newspaper." So they were doing that. See, a lot of people joined the Progressive Party, the African Americans. And the white community. It was definitely in both communities, but it had a real base in the black community. Andrew Wade was in it. I don't remember Andrew a lot at the meetings but then I wasn't at a lot of the meetings. He was more active than I was in it. And Carl -- of course I had met Carl and that was all going on simultaneous with this. Because he was at the paper and I was meeting labor people through him. I think Andrew was involved in this abortive plan, they were 27:00going to have an integrated picnic at Shawnee Park. Has anybody told you about that? TK:I've seen it in written -- AB:It didn't happen. But they were planning it. It scared everybody to death. It scared a lot of people. The power structure -- it's going to be a race riot in Shawnee Park because the Progressive Party is going to have an integrated picnic down there. I'll tell you, the other crowd I had met was young reporters who were sort of far out. Thought they were radical. Liked to sit around and talk. Solve the problems of the world. And somewhat activist. There was a guy named Red Vance. He later married Banks Ladd, who was the daughter of Bill Ladd, who wrote a column for the Courier-Journal. Actually, Banks -- I believe I met her at the first meeting of the Progressive Party I went to. She was quite active in it. Bill, her father, wasn't. He wrote that 28:00column. But he was sympathetic. There were a lot of people who were sympathetic but who were not necessarily involved. Then this Red Vance worked for one of the radio stations as a young reporter. There was this guy named Steve Morris, I believe. He lived over in Indiana, in Jeffersonville, I guess. I believe he worked for the Courier in some capacity. There were a few others like that. We'd get together and just talk. I remember Steve would have us over for breakfast on Sunday mornings. We'd sit there all afternoon talking and stuff like that. But the other place we gathered was the Old House, which was a fancy restaurant on 5th Street. It was probably still here by the time you were here. I don't know. But it was fancy. It was even fancy then. Down in the basement was sort of a bar. You could go in there and just get drinks. We all drank. I drank, you know. Not to the extent that I couldn't work. But after work, I drank, like everybody in those days. In those days, I could sit up and drink all night and feel good 29:00the next day. Then I got past that stage and I quit drinking late at night. Eventually, if I had a drink it would be before dinner. Then I found I got sleepy and I couldn't work at night, so I quit that. So I just quit drinking except for a party. But we'd just go down there and talk in the afternoons after work. So Red Vance -- I think that was his name. I hope I have it right. I know it was Vance. There was another Red in another town. Anyway, he married Banks. And they were very active. He was one of the main people planning this picnic in the park. I'm pretty sure Andrew Wade was. It was a group of young militants, black and white. The Progressive Party was their vehicle. Wallace was just their excuse to challenge those things. I just happen to remember those. But it wasn't 30:00just two or three people. It wasn't a mass movement either. But it was definitely a significant number of young people. Some of them were students and U of L. And there were some professors. Birdwhistell, did somebody mention him? He was sort of a mentor. He was one of those professors -- AB:He was one of those professors that a lot of young people sit at their feet -- I think he left here. I know he left here. I think he maybe died. But he was active. He was getting students involved. They all thought they were revolutionaries. We all thought we were going to have a revolution. That was part of it, too. We didn't know quite when or how it was going to come about but we were pretty sure it was going to happen. Of course, the repression was already starting, you see. The Truman Loyalty Oath and the House Un-American Committee was already beginning to run around. But this was just going on. And it got more obvious later. But even that year, I think '47, all that was going on. The Cold War was setting in. I 31:00think the attraction of Wallace was that he was for peace in the world. He was against the -- it was a different approach to the world problems, really. But also he was adamantly against segregation. He refused to speak to a segregated audience in the South. I remember the Nation magazine writing it up at the time. It was true. It really had an impact. He had this big tour through the South. He came through here on it. But in the deep South, too. Nobody thought it could be done but he did, and the sky didn't fall in. He had integrated meetings. He wouldn't speak to one that wasn't. So it was having an impact. But it was here, too, even though it wasn't what you call a mass movement, among young people. They were going to do this thing in park. Then they called it off at the last minute. I remember--it was kind of cruel, I don't know why I did it, but the editor told me to write a story on this thing being called off. It had been all in the paper. So I remember I called Red and I said "Is it true what I hear? That they're calling the Progressive Party yellow instead of red now?" Oh, he 32:00was so mad at me. He said "Now, where on earth did you get that?" I can't remember what persuaded him because I wasn't in on in the internal meetings and I wasn't any leader at all. I wasn't in a lot of that inside stuff. So I don't know, I can't remember why they decided to call it off. Somebody convinced him that maybe it wouldn't be a good idea, so they didn't do it. Not then. But it was an action group. That's why I say the Progressive Party at that stage was more of a people's movement than an election campaign. It was both. They were getting the petition signed to get on the ballot, which they did, and so forth and so on. There was a lot of -- Barbara was doing a lot of that organizing to get those signatures and all that kind of stuff. But that's where I began to meet a lot of people. Of course, I was meeting these young reporters. Then I was meeting the labor people through Carl. Carl was there the first morning I went to the Times. I didn't really talk to him then, but he got interested in me. It was totally platonic. At least I thought it was, from my point of view, for 33:00months. He was married. I thought he was happily married and all that. He was older than I was. But he took an interest in me. I was a bright, young woman that he could influence. I didn't know a thing about the labor movement. I had never heard of Eugene Debs. Literally, I'd been through college and I had never heard of Eugene Debs. Well, a lot of people haven't today. I mention him sometimes when I talk to people about different history and about Carl's history, because his father was a -- he can remember going to hear Debs, his father taking him as a child. People just look blank. They don't know who he is. He's not talked about in the history books in most places. But anyway, I didn't know anything about that. He had given me a book to read on Debs and he began to give me some Marxist stuff and stuff on labor. He was the labor reporter, you see. By that time he had been back from Cincinnati where he worked for ten years on the Cincinnati Enquirer. I think he came back in '45. He came back to 34:00Louisville because he really was, he got tired of being the boss. He was Kentucky editor of the Enquirer. That's all he did. Well, he'd write other things, too. So he had formed a lot of relationships with organized labor in town. Carl was a good reporter. He was a better reporter than I was, and a better writer for a newspaper. He thought I was terribly wordy. Until the day he died, he thought that. I thought sometimes that he was too abrupt. But he always said -- and it's not bad to think about -- he said that you use short paragraphs, short sentences, short words, and if it's not that damned important, don't write it at all. He would also say that a good reporter can describe the 35:00end of the world in five hundred words. He was so pro-labor. That was his passion. But, until he left in November of '48, there wasn't a company that ever accused him of slanting a story. His philosophy was that labor was always right. He just put in both sides, there's is right. But what usually happened to organized labor was they didn't get their side in at all. There was a lot going on in the labor movement. There was the huge strike before I came of the bus drivers. He was very much involved in that in terms of he knew all those people. Of course, he was a reporter. He had to be objective. But I got a picture -- I don't know what's become of it -- he looks kind of wild. He looks younger then, 36:00riding in the car with some of the leaders of the union. It was a Transport Workers' Union. It was part of the left wing of the CIO [Congress of Industrial Organizations union]. It was becoming the left wing. It was beginning to split. He was covering it for the paper. He said later that they said that the reason they won -- they had some unsuccessful strikes -- one reason was because they couldn't mess up their public relations. They were able to get their story in. Whatever they called it then -- it's now TARC [Transit Authority of River City] -- but I don't know what they called it. I can't remember. The company never accused Carl of writing a slanted story. But he told the workers' story and they got public sentiment on their side and they won. Won the right to organize. See, they didn't have a union before that. So they won the right to represent the bus workers. That was a big strike in town. TK:Transportation Workers, are they one of the unions that eventually gets involved in civil rights? AB:What happened 37:00was there were four unions that always made up the left wing of the CIO in Louisville. One of them was, I think, TWU. That was the name of it, I think. It was part of a national union. A guy named Mike Quill in New York was head of it. He was militant and he was a left winger of sorts. I don't know where he went. I don't know what became of him later. People shifted back and forth. That was the second biggest. The biggest was the Harvester Local. That was FE that went into UE. That was big then. They had three thousand workers, I think, at Harvester. Transport workers were probably a little over a thousand. Then there was a very small local of the Furniture Workers' Union, what was then United Furniture Workers. It stayed that until some years ago it combined with IUE. Relatively recent years. Now they've combined with something else, I think. Then there was a local of the United Public Workers, that was organized in the Garbage Tippers. 38:00They were all unorganized. There was at some point, they struck, too, and didn't pick up the garbage. I forget exactly all the circumstances of that. But see, the Harvester Local had been organized right after the war. Well, you probably know all the dates on that better than I do and how it happened. They had a big strike after I was in Louisville. I remember Carl covering that. They were always having wildcat strikes. That's what they did. That's why they got such a reputation. People said they were just wild and all that but actually, they had 39:00to. I mean, Harvester was so bad. They worked on piecework and they were always cutting the prices. So they would walk out and that kind of thing. But you've gotten some of that, I think. You interviewed Jim Wright, is that right? TK:No, but I did interview Cris Gaslinger. And I've read a dissertation about the FE -- AB:The author we haven't found. She's the one that nobody knows where. We don't know where she is. But I can't imagine she's not findable somewhere. I think she interviewed Sterling Neal. TK:She did interview Sterling Neal. AB:I could just kill myself for not insisting that Sterling sit down with a tape recorder with me because I really think if I had really worked at it -- because he didn't want to do it with anybody, but he did it with her. I think I could have persuaded him. His son is really up -- we just should have done that. TK:I've interviewed Sterling, Jr., and Mildred. So I got bits and pieces. AB:But Sterling's the one who really knew his own story. Why he didn't want to tell it, but that's another whole thing you couldn't discuss. And Gerry, I don't know. Of course, Gerry was 40:00little. He wasn't hardly born then. Gerry was six when I first knew him. So he wasn't even born maybe during that strike. Anyway, they had a big strike. They had a no strike pledge. They called it -- they didn't call it a strike, the company called it a strike. I remember that Carl put that in his story. They had a sick-in. They all called in sick or something. I don't know. But it was a big strike, which they won. They always won in those days. But Chuck Gibson, who was the president, now I think he had died before I came here. It was a huge funeral for him. People revered him. A lot of people always thought there was some foul play connected with his death. I don't know how real the basis was for that. But that was there. So there was the four of them that at some point came together and got that hall on 7th Street. We always called them the 7th Street Unions. 41:00The building is no longer there. They've torn all that stuff down. It was between Main and Market on 7th, on the west side of the street. Just a building there and there wasn't anything downstairs. I don't know -- there was a restaurant nearby. You just went upstairs and the offices were upstairs. They had a big meeting hall, and offices. That's where we set up an information center later, when they asked us to. They actually had that hall before they got kicked out of the CIO. They had already sort of come together. Although, I think the CIO itself wasn't that bad really, then. In a way, you wonder why these splits happen. You wonder, looking back. I mean, that was the Red issue, ostensibly, but it was other things, too. Well, nationally, it was other things. Then in the South it was other things. There's no doubt that the Communists -- 42:00anybody that knows labor history knows that they organized the CIO, really. Certainly they did in the South. Everybody knew that they didn't control it. But they had more influence in some of the unions than others. And John L. Lewis, who was very anti-Communist, he deliberately hired Communists to organize the South because they were the only ones willing to get their heads beat in, which was happening not so much here but in the deep South. It really was. You know about that history. They were killing labor organizers, literally. But there were unions that the Communists had more influence in, for good or bad. I think maybe there was some bad, too. But as far as the South was concerned, the ones that were pushing the fight against segregation were the Communists. They wouldn't set up segregated locals. They insisted on that. Part of the issue, 43:00aside from the Red issue, that was dividing them in the South was that the other more conservative leadership in the CIO -- it wasn't that they would have said they were for segregation. But you just can't take this on. This is just too much. We have to accommodate -- I don't know if they used that word -- to the mores or customs of the people. The Communist viewpoint -- I'm sure I never heard this said, I mean I wasn't really around that circle, but that was going on right after the war, I guess -- that that was the only way they were going to organize the South. Which turned out to be true. You'll remember that the CIO announced "Operation Dixie." They were going to organize the South. They never organized one worker. Really, "Operation Dixie" broke down on the shoals of that issue of black and white, and red, in terms of the attack on it. It was really an argument over whether they were going to go with the segregated South or if 44:00they were going to go with a different South. TK:So all four of those unions were integrated unions? AB:Yes. Now, I think that's an interesting question because I'm not sure how many black bus drivers there were. The people I knew in that were white. There may have been some, but I think that was a whole battle that came later in terms of job rights. Now, certainly the furniture workers were. Furniture plants were small and still are. They had plans to organize other plants. I forget the name of the company but that's findable. They just had one company. I'm sure it was both black and white. The garbage workers were mostly black. Maybe all black. Harvester, of course, had a lot of black workers. You've heard me talk about that or maybe I wrote about that in the book. They definitely had an aggressive attitude about -- people didn't use the term racism then much. We talked about segregation. We thought that was the problem. We 45:00meant racism. But I don't remember people even using the term racism that much. Maybe people did, but I don't know. I just don't remember that. We talked about we were going to kill off segregation, but we meant the same thing. It took a long time to realize well, we've killed segregation, or legally we have and we still had this thing. It must be something that was racism. Now I call it white supremacy, which is more descriptive. Then you don't have to get into these endless arguments about whether blacks can be racist. You name it what it is. They had this line, the FE did, and actually all the left wing unions had it, and it was a Communist line basically, that black and white workers had to unite because that's the only way they could win. This was in the interest of white workers just like it was to the black workers. They preached it all the time. They really did. The organizers that would come in, you know, the national staff that would come in. Same thing when after they went into UE. Because UE was one of those unions, too, that was of that bent. So they created a different 46:00atmosphere in that union hall. It always struck me at the time -- they never had a black president. I think that Sterling should have been president. He was vice-president. By the time that we were down there, which was in '49, I guess, we set up [the 7th street union hall]. We were there about a year, I guess, and they began to have a lot of problems. They couldn't keep the thing going financially or something. I can't even remember all that. We were working for the four of them. We worked for all of them. That was some months after Carl and I left the paper. We wanted to do something else. We did some other things before we went there. We were there when the UAW was raiding by that time. By 47:00that time they had been thrown out of the CIO. That really hadn't happened when I first met them. I think I'm right about that, Tracy. I think that they got that hall together before they were actually expelled from the CIO nationally, and it impacted here. I can't remember what precipitated it here, but I remember it because that's when Carl and I -- well, when I realized I was in love with him. He said he'd been in love with me. But to me it was platonic. He was my mentor. I was learning all this stuff. But there was some brouhaha. I can't remember what it was all about. I was over at Frankfort. They had sent me over. The legislature was in session. I think it was the last week of the legislature. It was in March. I wasn't covering the legislature. But whoever was editor then, 48:00I think Jasper had left, or gotten sick and later died and a guy named Ted something, he was nice, too, he was the editor. Anyway, he sent me over there to do sort of a feature story on the legislature. And I did. I wrote a really good story. I remember that was on the front page. I had a lot of things on the front page. It was just kind of a spoof in the legislature that they were a bunch of clowns. Like they are now. Well, in a way, not quite so bad as they are now on issues. But something happened and I think it was a Thursday. I remember that it was the 7th. When I was in Frankfort, there was some big blow-up at a meeting of the local CIO council. It was a big story. Whether it was the repercussions from the national split -- because there had been a national convention when these 49:00eleven unions had been thrown out of the CIO because they were supposed to be Communist-dominated. Whether it was the repercussions of that or whether it was some local issue at the same time, I don't remember. But either they threw them out or they walked out. I know Carl got kind of notorious in the midst of that because he walked out with them or something. I think he was there covering it and he wasn't being exactly subjective or something. A I was following all these things. I was learning all about it. Carl was telling me about the labor movement and all that. Before that, see, he didn't work on Saturday. Carl just refused to work on Saturday. Most people worked on Saturdays in those days. When I went into newspaper work -- I keep digressing -- but when I went into newspaper work, I didn't grow up rich, but I never wanted for anything. I always had what I needed. So I didn't know how it was to scrape for money, even though I didn't have a lot. So I remember when I got fifteen dollars the first year I worked at the Star in Anniston for the week for being a proofreader. That's what 50:00I did. It kind of amazed me that someone was giving me money for doing something I liked to do. So I just figured you worked for the love of it. So like in Birmingham, I worked for both papers, the morning and afternoon covering the courthouse. So I stayed at the courthouse most of the time and had a pressroom there. I would get up early at five or six o'clock in the morning and start calling the rounds, see what had happened in the night. Go up there and then I'd stay all day and then I'd go back and call in stories for the afternoon paper. Then I'd go back to the office and write stories for the morning paper. I probably didn't leave until ten or eleven o'clock. I didn't think anything of it. I had some personal -- I was having sort of an affair with a guy there. He worked on the paper, too, and we'd meet late and night and stuff like that. Eat after that. So I figured that's the way it was. Then Carl introduced me to the idea that workers have rights and you do, too. He wouldn't work overtime unless they paid him. I know they sent me out to cover something on a weekend, on a 51:00Sunday. Maybe that was after Carl and I were married or living together or something. I know, it was some non-controversial story about St. Meinrad's Monastery or something. It was on a Sunday. They were having something. So Carl said "It's Sunday. Put in for double time." I said "Double time?" He said "Yeah, you get paid double time for Sunday and time and a half for Saturday." So I did. I had stars in my eyes. Whatever Carl said was right, I thought it probably was. They paid me, but they never gave me Sunday assignments any more. But Carl was just adamant about it and I began to see what he was talking about. So he didn't work on Saturdays, although most people did. I did. So there would be labor meetings coming up on Saturdays and he would always ask me to go cover them. I 52:00remember there was a lot of militancy at the telephone company. I think there was a strike with telephone operators. There were a lot of strikes, as you know, in the wake of World War II. But there was a lot of stuff there. I remember covering those meetings. I would go on Saturdays. There was a strike going on. So I would write the stories and I began to get to know some of the labor people that way. I'd go to things with Carl. We'd go to social things that people were having. He was very close to the Teamsters. Pat Ansbury -- TK:I was going to ask you about Teamsters. Is that 89 -- AB:Local 89, yeah. Pat Ansbury, he's long dead, I guess. He was a remarkable character. When Carl and I got married, he gave us this great big silver service set, which we didn't -- we gave away all our wedding presents. He knew Pat Ansbury real well. They liked each other. He was Irish and so was Carl. He was a very militant guy. See, there were Teamster 53:00strikes going on. Carl always said Pat Ansbury closed up Main Street on weekends because Main Street was nothing but warehouses and trucks. Just busy on weekdays. Other times they closed it down. He believed in a five-day week, too. Local 89 became very powerful. It's still around. I can't remember when he died, but we kind of lost touch with those people after we got so involved in other things later. But he was around for a long time after that. So I got to know them. They were pretty good on race, I think. They had both black and white, they really did. They didn't make as much a to-do about it as I think FE did. But then, they were never part of that four union syndrome on the left wing. I don't think they had any Communist leadership nationally. I don't think they were as dominated by racketeers, or accused of being later. It was a tough 54:00organizing job with the trucker drivers, but they did it. I think some things were coming out in terms of segregation out of the CIO council. Bill Taylor, I'm sure you've heard of him, was sort of the staff person, executive or whatever you call it, of the local CIO council. There was a little item in the Patriot on him in the late forties. There was a strong quote from Bill Taylor about the CIO 55:00in Louisville is totally opposed to segregation in every form and we'll continue to fight it, or something. I know it was in the Patriot. It was just a little thing. Somewhere, and I'm trying to think where I quoted it recently in something I wrote. So they were taking a pretty good position, too. He and Carl were kind of good friends. Carl had a way of being able to get along with people that he disagreed with politically and they disagreed with him. Carl was very much of a Socialist and pretty open about it, and very much against all the Cold War stuff. He and Bill were good friends. They kind of kept in touch because Carl -- and I don't know what's become of it -- he gave him a copy one time of a 56:00book. We had it around there a long time. It may still be there somewhere. Ten Days that Shook the World. He wrote an inscription in it: "For Carl Braden, whose ashes like the author of this book should lay in the Kremlin" or something. I think probably the prosecutor loved that during the sedition trial. TK:I was going to say, [unintelligible] get you in trouble later. AB:We got those books back. So, my point getting into this was that it wasn't just the so-called left wing unions. There was some other activity. I may remember some other things later. They were, at least the Teamsters were certainly black and white. But FE was different. What struck me looking back on it, I probably didn't analyze it quite like this then, but I'm convinced it's right. I don't know whether I've talked to you about it or Cate Fosl interviewed Cris Gaslinger, too. TK:I think we both did. AB:I haven't seen him in years. He's 57:00just one of those people through the years I lost touch with. He kind of disappeared. He was laying low when we got charged with sedition. A lot of people were. We didn't look them up. We were too busy anyway. I just lost touch and then got busy. I guess he's still around. I hope he's still alive. His wife, I think, died. She was a good friend of mine because she was in that auxiliary organized. They had two little children and then they had more. I don't know how I got off on him. Oh, I think maybe it was not you but Cate I was talking to about how I told her my theory about the impact that something like the FE had on people. She said Cris agreed with that. See, what they did was, they created an atmosphere in that building where if you were white and you came in there, 58:00you were accepted if you weren't biased. That was the atmosphere. That was what you were supposed to do. Whereas out in the street, out in the world, out in the white world, you were accepted if you were anti-black. It makes all the difference in the world in the way people behave. It really does. You know what Highlander Center is and Folk School was. Somebody told me about Highlander in the early days. By the time I was going to Highlander the people who came there were already against segregation and for civil rights. Because it was a civil rights [unintelligible] place. I went there the first time at its twenty-first anniversary in 1957. But it had been in existence for twenty-five years. That's where I met Martin Luther King and all. I had just got on board with SCEF [Southern Conference Educational Fund] and I went down there to meet people. A friend of mine, who was quite active in the South in the thirties--you may have heard of her, she moved to California, like a lot of people got run out of the 59:00South -- Marge France. She was from Alabama and became very active. In fact, she's still there. She remained an ardent supporter of Highlander. She told me one time that Highlander was the one place that she had ever seen right before her eyes white people change their racial views. It was the same sort of syndrome. Because it was where you were and what was accepted. When she was so active in Highlander, it was the labor organizing center. It wasn't pro-civil rights, people weren't using that term, but it was labor. They had a lot of training workshops and that kind of stuff for labor people. The unions would have them. They had this alliance with what was then the beginning of the CIO. Maybe even before the CIO, I guess. She said that she would be there and she'd 60:00see these people -- and the whites who came had what's considered traditional Southern views. Highlander was very isolated then. It was up on that mountain at Monteagle before they burnt it down. It was very hard to get there. There was a bus every once in a while but you couldn't -- and the roads weren't that good, either. So you got up there on that mountain, it was a little hard to get off. She said that the people would come and see that they were expected to eat with blacks. They said "We can't do this. You don't do this." And they said "Well, that's what you do here if you want to eat." And there wasn't any way to get home, right? So they stayed for a week. And their attitudes totally changed in that week. I mean, maybe it did, maybe it didn't. But something changed and you could see it. She said she never saw that happen before her eyes before. I always thought of that in connection with this. There was something about the atmosphere you set determines -- in that day and time, anyway, and maybe still, 61:00on a different level -- what people think is expected. That kind of thing. You may have heard me say this before, too. I don't know whether I wrote about this or not in a book or somewhere. What the FE organizers preached constantly was the self interest of the white workers. And they used that term. That we had to have black/white unity. They always bragged about it. Said that the International Harvester plant had the highest wages in the South. I guess it was true. Nobody ever challenged them on that statement. They said the reason they had it was we wouldn't let them divide us by race. That's what has kept us down and all that. So it was in the self-interest of the white workers. We would have one -- and there were different ones -- I remember some of them after I was there, Neal Eastmen. Ed Stone -- no, not Ed Stone -- AB:-- did you interview him 62:00by the way? TK:Uh uh. AB:Oh, you should have. He was -- I must have told you about him. Maybe I didn't. Well, he died. He -- TK:He was here with the public workers? AB:He came here. I think he may have come with the public workers. He was one of the people that was sort of young generation in that day that was going out and organizing the working class. Succeeding generations have decided to do that, from middle-class, college backgrounds. Some of them have succeeded, some haven't. But he was pretty good. I think that's why he came here. And Cedell, I think she's still alive. But I think she'd be hard to talk to. I don't know whether she would really open up and talk. That was his wife. She was very active, too. She was active in the Progressive Party. She's one of the people I met -- I believe I met her at that first mailing party. See, because that's where those lines crossed. Labor, as Cris told you about, was in the Progressive Party. Cris was a big thing about it. The union itself never endorsed it, I 63:00think. There were some splits about it. Not splits, but arguments. Cris was young and fiery and militant and all that. I don't know where he got his ideas, really. Did he tell you? TK:He just talked about reading stuff when he was growing up. Little bit of influence from his father. It's interesting because he said he identified himself at that age as a Socialist. Although he changed his mind later. But he identified himself -- AB:Oh, he did? He changed his mind later? TK:He said as he got older he got more -- what did he say? He didn't describe himself as getting conservative so much as complacent later in life. You know, have kids, got other things to worry about. AB:That's true. I guess he did have other things to worry about. TK:But he did describe himself as a Socialist in that period that you're talking about. AB:Oh absolutely. Not only that but a revolutionary. I don't know whether he exactly used that word, but that's the way he approached things. He was one of many. That was sort of the syndrome, like I said, of black and white. Some of them were in the union. I'm trying to think of some of the other people. He was maybe more outspoken. He was a good friend of Sterling. Sterling was a little more -- well, he was that way, 64:00too. But Sterling was an organizer. He was much quieter than -- he was a fiery speaker on the platform, but he was much quieter than Cris. I can remember, I think Sterling -- the Neals lived in the housing project in Beecher Terrace. I can remember being there one day maybe during the Progressive Party. They were out getting signatures for the Progressive Party. That's what it was. I don't know whether Sterling was doing it, but Cris-- they were kind of operating out of his house. I remember Cris being there. There was a whole bunch of them around. Some of them were active in the FE local and some maybe weren't. So there was that. There was labor participation. That may be what the local CIO split over. It was one of the things they split over nationally. And the Marshall Plan. But it may have been that you see -- Bill Taylor and those people didn't go into the Progressive Party. They stayed with the Democratic Party and just kept trying to get people elected. So that may have been part of it. I just 65:00don't remember what precipitated the local split. Which would have happened anyway, if the national did. But that brouhaha -- and the reason I remember it so vividly was when I got back from Frankfort that day, after it happened, and I'm sure it was in the paper. I don't know whether Carl wrote the story. If he had been there, I don't know. But his wife got very upset about it. They hadn't been living together very much anyway. I didn't know that because I thought they were happily married. She was just really worried that the Binghams wouldn't put up with that and he'd lose his job. He couldn't put up with that any longer, and that's when he and I sort of got together. I remember the date. It was March 19. We always considered that our anniversary. We didn't get married till June. We weren't really going to get married. It just seemed more convenient to go on and get married. We didn't plan to have children. That changed about that, too, later. I'm trying to think what else, in terms of the organizers who came in. I 66:00think that Ed Stone came here to work with the public workers and colonize. Not colonize so much as actually be a visible organizer. I think. It may have been something else that brought him here. Although, I remember interviewing him. Carl and I began to edit their paper, Labor's Voice. The 7th Street unions combined to put out this paper called Labor's Voice. Carl was working on it and he kind of taught me to do it. Well, I knew a lot of it. I'd been putting together publications ever since my high school paper. I love doing it. We would go down to (Green?) Printing Company on 12th Street. I began to meet people that way. I think I might have been at the Labor's Voice. I was interviewing different people, and I remember talking to Ed Stone. Now I liked Ed. But through the years we drifted apart. He got very active in the Unitarian Church and that sort of thing. Other things than what I was doing. But he was good on 67:00civil rights all through. Because you were, if you had been through something like that. I think he was sort of estranged to me at that time. I was so ardent. I was a revolutionary by then. There were different aspects. He wanted to try different things. He was going to be labor. Then he was going to do something else and be on the business side. It was like he was experimenting with different things. It struck me as kind of strange at that time. But he became a lawyer. Maybe he was a lawyer when he came here. He did practice law for a while. Then there was a guy named Bud James who came in. I got to be real good friends with his wife, Rita. All of them, Millie Neal and different ones. Jane Mahoney. The Mahoneys left and went to California. But she and Millie got to be 68:00good friends. But Bud James was a fiery sort of young guy who had really come out of college in the thirties or forties. Was going to organize the working class. Actually, he was a good organizer. But they would get up and make speeches. I never got up and made a speech at a meeting. I would just sit in on the meetings. We weren't in any position -- Carl wasn't either. We were just sort of the information people. We had a mimeograph machine going on all the time back there. But now leaflets -- they had to have a leaflet every time they went on strike, which was almost every day. Some department was there. Department 42, I remember I met this guy, Charles Troutman and his wife were in it. Viola Troutman. I don't know what ever became of them. He was a white guy. I remember thinking at the time that the white workers of Harvester plant came from the same farms. They'd all come to work at this place that was going to pay as good wages as the workers at the Ford plant or other places. Yet their attitudes on race were totally different. Because there was an influence there. They would get up and at every meeting somebody would -- especially the professional organizer, the staff people from out of town. It was a big enough 69:00local that they would assign somebody and the unions had the money then. They would talk about the self-interest of the white workers. I thought about it later -- I think I put this in my book. Maybe I didn't. I've written about it at other places, though. I don't think I ever heard a white worker out of the shop get up and talk about the self-interest of the white workers. But they'd get up and talk. It was very interesting. I remember vividly one night -- and there would be other instances like this -- some black worker had been fired for no good reason. So they were going to walk out the next day for that department to support him. I remember this white guy got up and said "This just isn't fair. We're not going to put up with it." He didn't talk about this isn't in my self-interest. It's not fair. Which has led me to believe -- I think it is in the self-interest of white workers -- but I don't think it's the only appeal. I think there's a sense of fairness in people if you can appeal to it. I thought 70:00that during some of our early battles much later, about Affirmative Action. When the first attacks on Affirmative Action along in the seventies and eighties. I was in close touch with a guy who was traveling around with some labor group then trying to build support in locals for Affirmative Action. That's the way he presented it. He said that everywhere he went in the South he got a good response. This is just fairness. He said organized labor knows inherently that if you're going to be strong, you got to be fair. That you're not going to have a strong union if there's favoritism for this person or favoritism for that. That destroys you. It's a sense of fairness but also this is a way we can fight. They know that. I can appeal to that. That's what he said. And he got a good response. Not enough of that work was done, but it was there. So it's always been interesting to me. It's not that the self-interest argument isn't ok. But it's just not enough. That's not what really motivates people. TK:I was 71:00wondering, when we're talking about the union stuff, I came across a bunch of times the name and a few little notes on the Negro Labor Council. AB:Yeah, it grew out of that. That was a little later, though. I mean, it wasn't going on, I don't believe, when Carl and I were at the union hall. By that time, after the split -- you see, the UAW [United Auto Workers] raided the Harvester plant. That was big news. The powers that be hated the Harvester union. The Courier-Journal did. Because they were militant. It wasn't so much that they were Communist, but it was partly that. Or they used that. They were troublesome. They were always trying to give the city a bad name and all that kind of stuff. They really joined the campaign against FE. I remember it being a big rally. I remember Betty Lou Amster used to work for the paper. Did you ever run into her? She had 72:00left the paper, too. We were good friends with them. I hadn't seen her in a long time because we kind of moved by then in different worlds. But she was there and she said there's no chance they could win the election. I said "Oh yeah, they're going to win it." She said "I don't see how they could." Well, they did. Against all of that. The priests were getting up in the pulpits and saying it was a sin to vote for FE. But they voted for FE and they won that election two to one. I remember Sterling called from the plant. He was a committeeman, they called it, where they get a (role) in a plant. They're not on the job. I said, "How's it going, Sterling?" He said "Oh, we got it." The thing is, I think that what they appealed to, it was partly that spirit and they knew they had a good union. Plus they knew that company was awful. Sterling said "The way we won" -- because he was a very practical tactician. He said "We just told them that the day we vote for another union, the next morning you walk into that place you don't have a contract." They knew without a contract they were lost. He said they played on 73:00that. They were very strong. Now, we had gone by the time, later, when the UAW raided and won. But that was after they lost a strike, which a lot of people thought -- but I wasn't around and I don't know the inside story that Jimmy Wright may have told you. Or you said you didn't interview him. But Harvester precipitated some of those strikes. So they lost then. But this time they won. I said a minute ago that Sterling was never president, which he should have been. But he was who they looked to for leadership. I can remember being back there. He'd come back and talk. The information center was at the back of the upstairs hall. Here was this guy coming in. He didn't want to talk to anybody but 74:00Sterling. I mean, something had happened in the plant. This was a white guy. Because he knew that Sterling was going to fight for him. He was the real leader of the union. And there were others. There was Bob Mimms. He got fired. He was black. Fred Merrero, he was black. He got fired. A lot of them got fired. Sterling got fired, too. Some of them they fought about it and got the jobs back. Harvester was trying to pick off -- and I'm sure you know that they actually colonized that plant. The first six people they hired were FE people. And Sterling may have almost been one of them. I don't know -- and that's one of the things I never found out. When you just see people all the time -- and when Sterling got inactive in things, I'd see him once in a while. He'd come by and socialize because he lived right close to us. You don't think to ask people the things you might want to know later. I can't remember -- I mean I don't know if he ever told me -- how he was in touch with FE in the first place. But he was 75:00one of the earliest people hired. He had worked at Jeffboat. And so was Chuck Gibson, who became president. He was definitely an FE colonizer. So they began organizing when the plant opened. Of course, FE already had other Harvester plants. So they had that to build on. I can't remember who the other president was. There was a guy named Allen Coombs. He was a good guy. He became active in a number of things, including the inter-racial hospitals. Very active in that, and other things. Then he married this woman from England. She had come over here as a British war bride. When we first met her, she was married to this guy who met her in England during the war. I don't know what ever became of him. She got active in the Progressive Party. Maybe he did, too. Somewhere along the line 76:00they separated. Then she an Allen got together, and lived together here for some years and then moved to England. It was funny because -- I remember, people just don't understand the atmosphere. I've jumped over the early fifties, after we weren't with the union anymore. It was before the sedition case. But the Cold War had descended in a big way. Things were going on. We were organizing against the Korean War and all that kind of stuff. You really felt like a police state was descending. I never thought that we were really going to have a police state. I just felt like this is too big a country and when the chips were down, people in this country weren't going to put up with a police state. Which I think is true. The only thing that will make you put up with a police state is if you are terribly afraid and you want to be secure. And people were terribly 77:00afraid. They had really been led to believe that the Russian bombs might start dropping at any minute. So if there were these Communists around, you had to get them out because they'd be sabotaging the country and all that. So that was something to be afraid of. But even with that, Russia was on the other side of the world. So it was a little distant. The thing that I thought about and I still think about it a lot in recent years is that what whites are scared of now are blacks. And crime, which they associate with blacks. They've been sold that bill of goods. You can get so -- your desire for security can make you give up your freedom if necessary. And you do it in pieces. Why do people put up with some of the things police do right now? But anyway, I knew it wasn't going to happen. But you still felt like it was enemy territory. I remember Allen and Winnie, her name was, Winnie Young came to see us. We were sitting in the yard where I lived down on 4403 Virginia. Told us they were moving to England. I 78:00remember I felt betrayed. I felt like they were leaving us behind enemy lines. That's how I felt. But we kept in touch. She would write. Then when Carl and I went over there in the early seventies to see our son, Jim, when he was at Oxford, we looked them up. Allen had the most, deepest British accent you've ever heard. I don't think he deliberately acquired it. I guess you just get it living there. But they never came back. I don't know if they've ever even been back to visit. I think they would call if they did. But he was all right as president, but he wasn't -- TK:He was president of FE? AB:Of FE. For several years. They had some others. But I remember him because I remember Sterling saying one time, I can't remember what was going on but there was some crisis at Harvester. There always was. Sterling was back there in the information center. He says "Oh, I hope" -- and Allen had just been there. He says "I hope brother 79:00Coombs doesn't come back. I love brother Coombs but he makes my courage squeeze right out of my toes." They had their right wingers. I remember there was this guy named Leo Wright. He and Carl were good friends. Carl got along with everybody. But he was worried there might be Communists around. Then we began editing, after the Labor's Voice kind of faded out. We were doing that before we went down there. Those files are somewhere. I don't know what's all in them. But we put that out. it seems to me a couple years -- we were still working at the paper, the Times, when we were working on the Labor's Voice. Then we worked on the FE Cub. Carl trained Jimmy Wright to edit it. He became very good at it. It was really -- but Carl did it. I didn't. Jimmy was really smart on a lot of things but he hadn't had what I call paper experience. But Carl trained him to 80:00do it and he became the very active editor of it. We were doing it for a while. I think Leo would get upset sometimes at things we put in the Cub. I think it was the Cub. What else would it have been? When Paul Robeson was attacked in Peekskill. Do you remember that? TK:Yeah, I've actually read a lot -- there's actually a novel based on it. AB:Yeah, it was a big deal. They tried to lynch Paul Robeson. That's kind of a big thing to do. So we put in some kind of protest about that. Well, Leo was upset about that because he's a Communist and all that. He was a big Catholic and it was his religion. I can remember Carl talking to him on the phone. He began to come around, not on Communism, but on that you could not let something like this happen. So there was that kind of thing going on. But not enough to really divide people, I think. TK:What kinds of stuff did these different labor groups, especially FE, how did they effect 81:00the community? You said Allen Coombs was in the inter-racial hospital movement. That is one of my favorite stories, the inter-racial hospital movement. I use it as an example all the time. Because it's so early and I think it's interesting. But all I know of it is what was in the newspaper. So can I ask a few questions about it? How did you get involved in that? AB:Oh, that's another, I haven't even -- Mary Agnes Burnett. Do you know her? TK:It's a name I've heard come up. You mentioned her in your book. AB:She's black, yeah. Her husband was Walter Burnett, they're both dead now. She died before he did. I lost touch with him and that's terrible. They became active. I don't know how or where they came from. They grew up here. They lived up in the Smoketown area, on Jackson Street. They became active in the Progressive Party. I think after the '48 campaign. See, the Progressive Party in 1948 was pretty big. It reached into various 82:00sections of the population. Of course, it began to fall apart here like it did everywhere after the election. After the election itself was such a debacle. But some people kept it going. The people who kept it going were more consciously left people and more isolated in terms of the rest of the community. Carl and I weren't that active in it when we were in FE. See, FE had been active, or the 7th Street unions, and mostly FE had been active in that '48 campaign. But they didn't stay with the Progressive Party. They didn't repudiate it, but they didn't try to continue it. I don't know that people like Cris did. He may have come around some meetings. But some people carried it on. Carl and I weren't involved in it in '49 because we were really busy with the union stuff. I think after we left the union we wanted to do something more direct, right now. You do things that maybe aren't the most effective. Young people always do that, I 83:00think, because it takes too long to convince enough people to build a movement. So we moved far left. Not in our thinking -- we had always been left. But in terms of our activity. We got active in the Progressive Party, which was more of, you'd honestly have to say it was fringe group then. It didn't have that much influence, but it did support the national candidates maybe in '52 when Vince (Hallerman?) ran. We went out and got petitions signed for him and all that. I think we got him on the ballot in Kentucky, actually. It's not hard to get on the ballot in Kentucky compared to most states. Still isn't. You only have to get five thousand signatures. But that's because there's never been a serious third party threat in the state. In the states where there was a serious third party threat, they upped the ante. You have to get these huge numbers in all the counties and all that. You still don't have to here. So we worked in that. Even after that a lot of national people -- there was some national 84:00network -- continued. As a matter of fact, after our sedition case happened, it may not have been very long but I remember when Carl was still in prison, we began to get support from Progressive Party people in different places. I think Walter and Mary Agnes may have been the group after the '48 election. Got very active. Walter became chair of the Progressive Party, I think, at one point. They were a real couple. Their daughter is still around. I can't think of her married name. But she called me after her father died. Because I hadn't seen him and I said "Gee, I wish I had known he was in the hospital." Well, her name might be somewhere. I don't know how much she'd remember. I said "I wish I'd gone to see him. I just really cared about him." She said, "He knew that" and stuff. I had lost touch with them. But he was still alive when Carl died. He spoke at Carl's memorial. But she had died before that. But anyway, that's where 85:00we knew them. She came to see me one day about this thing that happened in Hardin County. I don't remember -- you'd know from clippings, whether that had been reported in the Courier-Journal or not. TK:I think I saw it in a clipping. It might have been the Defender clipping -- AB:I don't think she unearthed it or whether someone had told her about it. I think it had been printed somewhere. It may have been the Defender. I don't know. It's not typical that the Courier-Journal would have noticed at that point. So it's worth looking into if you maybe want to look into that. Anyway, I remember sitting down there and she said "This is one Negro" -- because that's what everybody said, "that isn't going to put up with this any longer. We've got to do something about it." I said I agreed with her. She wanted me to help. So we set out to do something about it. I can't remember what all steps we went through. Maybe it was sort of based in the beginning in what was then the remnants of the Progressive Party. 86:00But we knew, we had enough sense to know, we had to reach out beyond that. So we began to try to get other people involved. At some point we got up a petition. We were great on circulating petitions, which I still think is a great organizing tool. We were circulating petitions and I can't even remember -- they must be somewhere on file -- what the petition said or who it was to. We eventually got Thelma Stovall to introduce an amendment to a bill in the legislature dealing with it. But we weren't to that stage at all then. But we had a petition maybe to the governor or somebody to do something about hospitals. So we got this petition up and we were taking it around to different 87:00places. This would have been, I've forgotten the exact dates. [Winter 1950-51] But anyway, we got up this petition. We were taking it to different places. I went to -- somewhere I had met these people on other things. I wasn't a total stranger -- to the Baptist ministers and deacons meeting, which met every Monday. TK:And that's an African American group. AB:Yeah, ministers and deacons. 88:00It still meets over at West Chestnut Baptist Church. Where C. Mackey Daniels is now. They've expanded and built that big building. But G.K. Moffett -- not Moffett, Offett, was there a long time. I don't know if he was there then. I think it was a little later. But he was there during our sedition case. This was '51. That's where they met. Maybe I had been there before. I wasn't totally new. But I was assigned to go there, and they gave me time. That was in those days when you'd give a white person time. That wouldn't necessarily happen anymore, thank God. I talked about it and told them what we were trying to do. We began to go to the white churches, too. That was before Bill Paterson wrote me and told me I didn't need to be going to the black churches because I didn't have to tell black people they were oppressed. I would talk to the white churches. That 89:00was the same year after the Willie McGee trip. It changed my life. That's why I could never understand why the SNCC [Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee] people were so startled when that's what they told them fifteen years later. But I hadn't heard that then. So we did go. That's where I met this white minister, Albert Dalton, and we joined his church and he got active. So we were going to both. So I went there and I spoke. We had the petitions and we passed them out and they took them, a lot of them, for their churches. This one elderly man came up to me and said he'd like five of them. I didn't have enough. I had given them out. So I said "Give me your address. I'll bring them to you." So it turns out he was J.C. Olden. I had never met them. He wasn't famous in town. I don't know if his name was ever in the paper -- TK:He was old already by then? AB:He seemed old to me. I was pretty young then still. Yeah, because he died not too many years after this. But he lived over on Walnut or Chestnut, in the twenty hundred 90:00block or something. That's when it was all white west of 28th. But he gave me his address. See, we didn't have a car then. We didn't get a car until after Jimmy was born, after we had a baby. Carl and I both rode bicycles. That's what we did. We'd ride down to the union hall on our bikes. That's how I got around was on a bicycle. Until we couldn't take Jim on a bicycle. Then we bought an old used car. So I went out one night -- it was night -- to deliver my petitions. So I stopped by to leave him his five petitions. He talked about this for years after -- Carl said we ought to make a statue of that bicycle. I brought out his petitions. He looked out and said "How are you getting home?" I said "Right here. I've got my bicycle." He was so surprised that I was out riding a bicycle in a black neighborhood that it just apparently was appalling to him. Not 91:00appalling, he just couldn't believe it. I didn't think anything about it. I was delivering petitions. I'm not sure I'd do it now. But streets weren't that dangerous then, really. This thing about everybody being on drugs and maybe -- and there are people that will hurt you. There really are. Drugs will make people do anything. But we didn't have drugs then. The drugs were brought in the late sixties. So we used to go to sleep at night -- well, of course, black or white, when we first moved to our block, it was all white. The next street was black and we thought it would be integrated for our kids. Later it changed to black. But for years and years, we never locked our doors at night. The kids left their bicycles out. The drugs have really made such a difference. But I didn't think anything about it. I was out at all hours of night everywhere. Before we left the paper, before we were working for FE -- or was it after we were working there? I worked for a while at a big bakery on the night shift. You 92:00know, a big bakery line. It was part to make a living and also to learn more about how life looked from the working class point of view. I wasn't trying to organize anybody at that point. I'd ride home at two o'clock in the morning on my bike. I didn't think anything about it. So it kind of surprised me. He called me up the next day. Would I come down and talk with him. That's why I said that I hadn't even -- he may have been there when I first came to Louisville and was working on the Times. But I don't remember him at all. He hung out around Crumlin's office. So I went down there. He just wanted to talk. He was interested because here were some white people -- he hadn't really met Carl then -- who were doing something. He was worried about us because he remembered white people before who had tried to be friends to blacks or Negroes, as he put it. Something happened and they got destroyed. He didn't want us to be destroyed. Also, I think the feeling was that blacks might reject you someday and I don't 93:00want you to have to go through that. He just really cared. He was a nice guy. None of it fazed me, particularly. But he got very interested in the inter-racial hospital movement, and he took over the leadership of it. He had a lot of influence with these ministers. He really did. With grassroot ministers. You see, Baptist ministers and deacons -- AB: -- I think it meets every Monday. It's not the elite of the black ministers. They were more the storefront churches. Not storefront entirely, but more grassroots churches. I think Olden had great influence with them. I think they really respected the man, because he had this organization he called the Militant Church Movement. I'm not quite sure what it had done through the years. But he had a group of ministers around him. 94:00One of them was Reverend M.M. Perdue, who we got to know real well. He worked with us until he died. He died right at the time of the big march on Washington in '63. He stuck by us all through the sedition case. He was quiet but courageous as hell. Daniel Hughlett, who was -- well, they named it Hughlett Temple later. I wonder what it was then? Or maybe it was called Hughlett Temple then. TK:I think it was called Hughlett Temple then. AB:Well, he'd been there a long time. I think Reverend Elmore, who got terribly scared of us during the sedition case. Now every time I get down to the 28th Street post office I just hope he's not there getting his mail, because he buttonholes me and wants to talk to me twenty minutes about how wrong he was in the fifties. He feels so bad about the way he didn't do right by us. I told him don't worry about it. It was quite a long time ago. I've got to go! Here's what happened, how it developed later. There were others in that Militant Church Movement. I'm not quite sure what they did but I think they did public things, like delegations here and 95:00there. I really don't know. I don't know whether it's written anywhere, unless the Defender wrote it up. Now, Olden had good relationships with the Defender. He had a huge influence. I don't think there was any organization to be elected head of at that time, but he became the de facto leader of it. Mary Agnes stayed right in there, too. They worked together. I remember we organized a meeting. It was hard to find a place to meet in those days, too. In the first place, to meet integrated. In the second place, to meet with something was sort of far out, maybe Red. But we met at the Brock Building a lot. That was a meeting center. 96:00What was the woman's name who ran that? She was very well known in the community and she ran it. She would always take you in for a meeting. Or dances. I think when the FE auxiliary had its dance, that's where we had it. I believe we had it at the union hall. But anyway, we had dances there and stuff. Inter-racial things. The Y would let us meet there. And the YWCA was on 2nd and Broadway. Not the YM that's there. But at 2nd. I guess that building's gone. Right across from where McDonald's is now. I used to go down there and swim. I like to swim. They had a pool and everything. But they would let us meet there. I don't guess they had the branch in the West End. Or maybe they did. They called it the Phillis Wheatley branch. But I'm not sure whether it was down there where it is later at 43rd and Broadway or not. TK:It was at 10th and Chestnut back then. AB:The YWCA? TK:Oh no, I'm thinking YM. AB:Yeah, the YW had a Phillis Wheatley branch. I'm trying to think where it was. I think we met there. It may have been at the 97:00Brock Building, I don't know. But I remember that Olden sort of took the lead on a meeting. I can't remember who got the Y but we had it at the Y. One night I remember he presided. I remember we had maybe twenty or thirty people out, white and black. I can't remember who all they were. Some of them were Progressive Party people. I remember him making this militant speech. He was kind of quiet the way he talked, but he said "We're going to do something about this. We're going to stop people from dying because they can't get into hospitals. And we're going to do something about this. We're not going to be scared of nobody. Nobody is going to stop us. Not even the FBI." That was interesting because people didn't say bad things about the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation] then. I mean, now it's pretty routine. But that was amazing to some of us. So he continued to be the leader of it, and organizer. He and I were riding around together one Saturday afternoon, just looking for churches to lead these petitions. One of the places we stopped was St. Stephen's Episcopal, where Albert Dalton welcomed us in. This was great. He became a leader of it. It 98:00became highly organized. We did have committees. Then we discovered, which the black people knew but us whites didn't, that there wasn't a hospital in Louisville that would let a black in. Except General Hospital, and they put them in the basement. So it became a whole thing. And Thelma got elected, by the way, the first time--Thelma Stovall, you know who she was--with the support of labor. Well, she was labor herself. But FE -- I remember speaking down there at the FE union hall. I forget which year she was first elected. That's easy to find out. But then she came down to get their support. She supported good things. She had a lot of courage. Then she got really wrapped up in politics. But she was a good person. Anyway, it developed into much more of an organization. We can talk about that next time. END OF INTERVIEW