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Tracy K'Meyer: Let's get started then, make sure that's going like gangbusters. You said you were born in Louisville. When were you born?

Suzy Post: '33.

TK: 1933. Can you tell, be a little bit about your family, your parents?

SP: My parents were the children of German Jews on both sides. They were both born in this country. My father was in the wholesale variety store business. My mother was a housekeeper, housewife. They were both very, very involved in Jewish communal life. From the time I was very little, I realized that what you did when grew up is you went to meetings. If you went to enough of them, my father said they'd elect you president and he was pretty close to the truth.

TK: Were they involved in civic matters having to do with race or religion relations?

SP: Not really no, not at all but that was largely because at their--in terms of their development, Judaic life was difficult and so a lot of energy was focused by that generation on improving Jewish communal life through the creation of 1:00institutions that would serve the Jewish community. It took about--they were too--they would have been had they been in another generation, had they been my generation they would have been.

TK: Were you related to Arthur Kling?

SP: Yes, I'm his niece.

TK: Niece. I wasn't sure.

SP: His younger brother Morris, was my Dad.

TK: OK. I'd seen it in a newspaper article that Morris was your fathers name so I was just was wondering, but I had read a lot about Arthur Kling.

SP: Arthur was quite impressive.

TK: Yeah, he had a lot of--in fact there's an interview with him--one of the questions I like to ask people is how and when did you first become aware that there was racial prejudice?

SP: I was, I guess I was always aware there is racial prejudice, the age at which I sort of sharpened my perspective was when I was a junior in high school, so I would have been sixteen or seventeen. I did for a problems class, we were 2:00all supposed to pick a paper on something that we wanted, something that was relevant, that we wanted to do a paper on and I picked the status of the American Negro, which is what black people were called then and that the Louisville Urban League was then located down here and I went down to use their resources and I got all the stuff. I think until I started digging in that, I hadn't been--I hadn't a very full perspective on the situation. So that was my first real intellectual awakening and then I went away for my first year of 3:00school at Indiana University and one of the first things I did was, there was a student NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] chapter and I joined that.

TK: Why did you do that?

SP: Because it just seemed that to me that the situation affecting the American Negro stunk and this was a group that was trying to do something about it. So--it wasn't because I had a special friend or any of that it was purely an intellectual, emotional whatever kind of thing and it wasn't a very active chapter, so. Then my next experience, I guess, was organized efforts to something about the racial problem in the United States, didn't happen until I came back to Louisville when I was in my--well, I was really wrapped up in McCarthyism at that point. And so I had to work my way through that and in the process of working my way through that I met Anne and Carl Braden. I didn't work closely with them but nineteen, later after working through that in the '60s when the civil rights movements started heating up here and elsewhere. I started going to every demonstration there was and taking sides.

I had a husband who was a trial lawyer who was sympathetic but not. Didn't want to get involved probably for economic reasons. So I just kept pushing and we 4:00kept schlepping--and we had five kids. I kept dragging out kids to demonstrations. Then in '69, having worked through the civil rights movement and then the peace movement and the women's movement, I mean I just went like that. It was like--I really meant what I said the other night about, the other day the civil rights movement paving the way for all of us. We really, I think we learned so much. In 1969, I became president of the ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union] here at a time when it was just a really--basically moribund organization and I lobbied sort of on a feminist peacenik platform. Race was not 5:00in 1969, there were no cutting edge racial justice issues being fought in the streets, they were over the Vietnam War and over the women's issues, so that was sort of my trajectory.

Then went to the national board of the ACLU and was a national vice-president for twelve years and on their executive committee. I went up there expressly with a feminist/minority--with a perspective, with an intention, an agenda to improve the organization for women and minorities because it was really, it was all white men, I mean all white men. So that's my life in Louisville civil rights community in a nutshell.

TK: I want to ask some sort of more in depth questions, when you said that you--what year was it when you came back?

SP: '57.

TK: '57. You said that you had known about the Anne - Carl Braden situation. How 6:00did you know about that?

SP: My father sent me newspaper clippings. My father was a progressive and he was horrified, in fact, Anne went to work in his business for a year or so when nobody else would hire her. That was probably largely Arthur's doing, so Arthur was sort of moving around the community and Dad was running the business. But Dad was pretty horrified by this whole thing and he used to send me all the newspaper clippings about the sedition, about the bombing and the sedition trial. Of course, that had been completed by the time I came back in '57.

The ACLU was founded around that case in '55, so one of the first things I did was join the ACLU. I think they had at that time 110 members. It was tiny, tiny, tiny, but, as I said, I was very concerned about McCarthyism, I was an English literature major and it pissed me off that anybody would dare to tell anybody else what to think or what to read or what. So it was just instinctively against 7:00my brain, so that's how I got involved. My father played a role. He was very; he was pretty much in tune with all those things.

TK: What was, you said that you came back, were you married by the time you came back?

SP: Yeah.

TK: Already married, did you already--

SP: We had a baby and I was pregnant, we started very young, very young.

TK: Did you work at all when you came back?

SP: No.

TK: No. What was the first civil rights demonstration or action that you took?

SP: Oh wow--God, I can't really. I'm not sure it was supporting the sit-ins at the lunch counters here, but I know I can remember being real involved in the open housing thing but I can't remember. Everything sort of was glushed up 8:00together I can't, it's funny I can't remember the very first time. I remember the very first time I walked a picket line, I mean [unintelligible] but I can't remember that.

TK: What was that like?

SP: That was really scary, I was telling somebody about that the other day. It was very scary; I was a young East End housewife mother with five children married to a trial lawyer. A successful trial lawyer, privileged, very privileged and gotten caught up in the United Farm Worker boycott. And was very, very deeply involved in that and supported it fully. And one day, the nuns decided they were going out to this Kroger [grocery] in my neighborhood and were going to picket. Throw up a picket line, so I said sure, and I think I even had my daughter with me that first time. I had never done that before in my life and I was already, I must have been thirty-five or six, but I had never done that. 9:00I'd just never done that and I had an extraordinary passionate regard for picket lines. Never crossed a picket line in my life, so that to me, was a very powerful tool.

And we go out to this Kroger and all of my East End friends used that Kroger to shop. In fact, my sister--in- law came up and I'm leafleting, she's the only one I could turn away. I didn't turn anyone else away but my sister-in-law. I think she was scared to death at seeing me there, picked up the leaflet and left. It was very scary for me, my mouth got very dry and my hands sweated and my knees shook and it was just scary. It was just something I had never done before. That was the first time. After that, it was nothing. It was really, really [unintelligible].

That's the one thing I remember doing, that and I was a Jesse Jackson delegate for the president, his Presidential campaign in 1984. Right after his 10:00[unintelligible] town comment and those two times I can remember feeling really nervous because then I had to go to the state convention--I mean there's like zillions of people I know, who knew I was a Jew and you do what you have to do, but I think that anybody who thinks that people do those things mindlessly as if they don't--they're not affected, just crazy because it's scary to step out of your role. So I don't really remember the first civil rights action that I took in a non-supportive kind of way. There was one time in '70s when I remember I went with Cheri Hamilton who was there the other day on an [unintelligible] who talked incessantly on a bus trip to Charlotte, North Carolina, to try and get the Black Six out of prison. That was Ben Chavez and--


TK: Them--Chavez [unintelligible]

SP: They called out the National Guard and I was just terrified that my husband, who was very uptight, was going to--I didn't want him to find out about it before I left because I knew if he found out about this before I left that there'd be all hell to pay and he didn't. They did call the National Guard and there were [Ku Klux] Klan, it was hilarious, in ways, it was very funny. They had like ninety-seven that day and people were dropping, there wasn't enough water provided and the Klan, probably twelve or fourteen of them in their horribly heavy robes, are lining the sidewalk and in order to make themselves look bigger, larger group than they were--we're marching and the last four or five Klansmen would peel off and rush ahead and get--so they were always refilling their--there were only twelve or thirteen of them. There were National Guardsmen on the roof with their rifles and-- The worst thing that happened that day was the heat, though, I think I dropped eight pounds.


TK: Now you said that you, that in those [unintelligible] and stuff, you did some of the open housing demonstrations, could you tell me a little of what you remember about the open housing?

SP: No, I didn't do those, I raised money, I didn't do those, my husband did that.

TK: Oh, you did the fund-raisers, that's right.

SP: He didn't do it either, actually what the ACLU did was it supplied objective observers and they had great big buttons and it said "ACLU Observer" and he was one of those. I didn't do any but raise money. At that time in '67 my youngest was two--I had them from two to ten, so there--no one even had to tell me that I didn't want to put myself at risk because who was going to take care of those kids. You weren't going--nothing was going to happen, you get a rock thrown at you or you get locked up in jail, but I couldn't even afford to do that with five little kids, so I raised the money. He was the objective observer and that was--that went on the whole time that the demonstrations were going on.


I do remember one fun time we had, in Dr. Maurice Rabb's basement one Sunday, we went--we got something like twenty-five people out jail that Sunday and we had a big party at Dr. Rabb's home down at 28th and Greenwood. It was so much fun. As in all those kinds of social justice movements or group movements or solidarity movements, there was an enormous sense of communion with people that you had never met before, it was great. Anybody that hasn't had--I feel sorry for people who haven't had that experience because it was just wonderful. You saw a lot of that the other day coming back out, you just develop bonds that are, that last forever, even if you don't see somebody for fifteen years. It's like, oh yeah, this good guy. I saw that when there was a march a couple of weeks ago to the police station, in support of the mayor, we saw some of that same kind of dynamics.


TK: Some of the same people. When you said that you did the fundraising which is under the auspices of the ACLU or--

SP: There was a group of us that got--I don't think so but I could be wrong. It was a group of us that got together that realized that we had to get these people out of jail as quickly as possible. In order to do that we had to raise bail money and I think that I probably more than--a disproportionate number of us probably came from ACLU but I thing there were NAACP people in there and LINZ people.

TK: What's LINZ?

SP: It's a black women's club, sort of sorority but sort of not. The have a house down on Broadway on the--huge house, on 40th and Broadway, 42nd and 15:00Broadway on the corner. It's a clubhouse; they didn't have that then but--

TK: How did you fund raise?

SP: We just called up people we knew and said that we needed some money and that was pretty simple. Everybody was real keyed into that thing then. We also raised money to run a full-page ad in support of strong open housing law. I remember that, that was one of those with everybody's name on it. So that was my first experience with that, we did that a lot in the anti-war movement and pro-choice movement, too, actually.

TK: What would say were the relations, was the relationship between all these different movements there in the--when you start getting into the late '60s?

SP: Well, there's no question in my mind that for white people, not so much 16:00African Americans but for white people who were involved in the black civil rights movement, that, especially for white women, it wasn't hard to make the transfer from the oppression of black people to the oppression of women and it certainly wasn't hard to make the transition from civil rights movement to the waging of an unjust war against people of non-white lineage in Southeast Asia. So I think for many of us it was a--it was really a seminal experience in building movements.

I had been very peripherally involved in a very superficial in the labor movement back earlier on but it was very superficial and I think a lot of the tactics of the labor union movement used, were used by civil rights leaders were used by anti-war leader, were used by women. I mean those tactics are just as 17:00true today as they were then, so certainly without the civil rights movement, I may have ended up as passionate a feminist as I am now although I don't know I really got my--my feminism was really spiked by a lot of young white women, young white women radicals who came here to work with some SDS [Students for a Democratic Society] kids in the 60s in the anti-war movement and I was in the--I was born in '33, so by the time '68 rolled around, I was thirty-five years old and these are twenty-three, twenty-four, twenty-five-year-old women. They were really--I feel to this day, I feel a great debt to younger women who took time to try and educate me. We used to call it sensitize but--sensitivity, but they spent a lot of time with me and I was an alien creature. I had an economically successful husband. I had lived in a nice big house, and I had five children. I 18:00mean, I'm like the farthest thing from a revolutionary that these SDS kids could--they spent a lot of time with me and they made me see a lot of things and I really owe them a lot.

Those women, many of them came out of the civil rights movement, really burnt my chauvinism. That was operative in the civil rights movement which I saw later when I was working with the farm workers among Chicano, my God, they're the most sexist group of people I've ever met [unintelligible].

So I think that all these things, all these things can be traced back to the civil rights movement or an awful lot of them can be traced back to the civil rights movement and the energy and the passion of the civil rights movement and some of the bad things like the sexism in the civil rights movement really gave birth to this sense among a lot of women. Especially white college-educated women, that this was inappropriate and there is something unfair here. I think was more true of the college-educated white women I met than working class. 19:00Working class women were always more radical, anyway, they knew who the enemy was, college-educated white women--

TK: Had to be taught.

SP: Didn't really, right, didn't really get it at the beginning.

TK: One of the questions I have, and you just reminded me of it, is what was you think was the role of whites in the movement here in Louisville?

SP: I think it was probably two-fold, I think it was the role I played which was supportive but I also think that whites served as a bridge. That the whites who were in the movement served as a bridge to communicate to the larger white population that this was--that this time had come. So there, for to demystify some of the stuff that whites were terrified about, intermarriage and I don't 20:00remember what else they were terrified of--changing the status quo. So I've always felt that some of the most damage that's done in a society is done by remaining silent and that true language just by dispelling things and speaking about things, you do demystify and make it more familiar to people and make it less odious. I think that's probably truer and more visible or palpable when you talk about what's happened to the homosexual community and until people can talk about homosexuality and talk about sexual deviance. It's just this huge, monolithic, horrifying thing but once you start talking about it you just become a little more familiar. I think that whites have always played that role in terms of civil rights movement, in terms of translating it to the rest of 21:00the--the main, the bulk of the white community. Who you may not win over but you can neutralize in terms of some of the resistance and some of the antipathy if you have people who are bridge makers, bridge builders that you can, as interpreters or translators. So I think that's what--one of the major roles of whites played.

TK: They seem to have particularly important in the open housing movement much more than open accommodations, for example, and stuff like that.

SP: Public accommodation was so much a kids thing, too, a student thing.

TK: Here especially, it was really young kids, too. What happens after the open housing marches and after the Board of Aldermen pass the--in terms of civil rights issues or race relations issues what's next?


SP: Right now?

TK: No, back then, what happened next?

SP: Well, as Georgia says, was going to the state--well, you said after the state thing.

TK: What issues or events?

SP: I think elections--voting and elections have remained an ongoing issue and you can see that in the opposition to the merger of the city and the county that there has been a slow building of black power in Louisville and Jefferson County and that's come through the ballot primarily and a lot of time and energy has focused, sometimes successfully and sometimes not on winning places in elective office. Darryl Owens' campaign has been real instructive, he's an old, old friend of mine and he and I both served on the state central committee of the Democratic Party.

TK: I just interviewed him.

SP: He was kind of a funny story...I was the organizer of the [Eugene] McCarthy [presidential] campaign here and one of the things, we beat the regular Democrats. One of the things the regular Democrats refused to negotiate with us on was the composition of the state central committee of the Democratic Party which I had never even heard of until 1968, couldn't have cared less about but 23:00it was a party of twenty-eight people, four from each Congressional district. We had seven back then and they were sort of considered to be plums with the party faithful and they were going to go up to Frankfort every three months and shape party policy. So in the McCarthy victory, my group forged a coalition with Darryl's group which was led by Norbert Blume, labor leader and senator because the regular Dem's didn't give, didn't nominate one black. This was '68, so we forged an alliance with them and we beat them. Darryl and I both ended up with seats on there. We'd drive up together and they were horrible meetings horrible, 24:00[unintelligible] stupid and after about a year and a half of doing this, I said, "Jesus, Darryl, why do we do this?" He said, "Well, I don't know about you, but I'm the only one who'd be conspicuous by my absence if I didn't go, so--" and Darryl's pretty timid now, but he was much worse back then and his getting elected to Fiscal Court was--he told you about the South End and--

TK: Yeah.

SP: It's just beautiful.

TK: That basically what we talked about was his election.

SP: Yeah, so slowly there has been--my words, senior moment, slowly been a critical mass of black elected leaders in this community which is where the energy has gone, there and economic development. I think the civil rights 25:00stuff--everyone sort of felt that after the Voting Rights Act was enacted on a federal level, then the question was really enforcement. I honestly can't tell you that I've been excited by the enforcement of civil rights law in Jefferson County. The city and state human rights commissions suck, I shouldn't have said but they are very weak, they're very weak.

TK: Always have been or--?

SP: I think so, I think earlier on there was more passion because it was new and your heard the gentlemen, you heard Liz Cole talk about Martin Perley.

TK: I interviewed him actually.

SP: He married me. When we split up after thirty-three years, I said, "Martin, do I get my money back?" and he looked at me like--

TK: What, no.

SP: He's a very nice man.

TK: Yeah, very clear memory, too.


SP: He hired me, too, actually my first full time job was over there doing women's programming at the human relations commission. From there I went to the directorship of the ACLU and then I came here, so I've had a very sort of public activist kind of life [unintelligible] terribly, but it's a heck of a lot of fun.

TK: Well, one of the issues that I wanted to make sure we got to was about busing and some of that issue. So could you tell me about how that case developed and stuff.

SP: Sure, in 1970 when I was president of the affiliate, I had really--did breathe some life and energy into that affiliate. It was dead, it was really dead and there were a bunch of young Turks who wanted to see it remade and so that's where we put our energy. One of the resources we had that nobody else in the state of Kentucky had was we had a tenured law professor from the University of Kentucky named Bob Sedler who was also--he was sort of soul mate of mine. We 27:00saw everything exactly the same way and he was very ambitious and he had a huge ego, they do do that--terrible egos. He had been representing SCEF [Southern Conference Educational Fund] in some cases up in Eastern Kentucky and he said, we really ought to do something about the schools and so we conferred and the board decided that the time was right to do something about Louisville school system. In fact, he ended up being the lawyer of record in the school desegregation suit in Jefferson County and the school desegregation suit in Hopkinsville and the school desegregation suit in Lexington, Fayette County.

So we held hearings around the community to find out what kind of school desegregation plan people thought they wanted and the black community was kind of reluctant to go for merger, in fact, very reluctant because they were, at that time there were five--am I telling you stuff that some other person?

TK: No, actually I haven't heard this from anyone, I was just thinking that.


SP: There were five school board members--there were two school systems: Louisville, Jefferson County. The Jefferson County Board of Education had five members, three of them black: Joyce Tafel, oh God--Joyce Tafel--

TK: Would either Woodford Porter or Carl Hines would have been on it?

SP: Yeah, probably both of them. Two whites: John Bell and Rabbi--ask me again in a minute--Waller, Rabbi Waller. The black community did not--was very antsy that if you filed a merger suit that they were going to lose their voices and in fact they did, so there was some reluctance.

So to make a long story short, two school desegregation lawsuits were filed. Bob Sedler filed KCLU's, it was a strict Louisville deseg suit. Galen Martin, who was head of the state commission on human rights, hated that. He wanted a merger suit so he hired a lawyer named Tom Hogan, who was a very close friend of mine to represent Lyman Johnson and John Haycroft, his name was mentioned the other 29:00day in another school desegregation suit. Later they got merged. The suits got joined, so it ended up being one lawsuit but it was very messy and very messy getting there because of all the different points of view about what should be done.

From the moment that that lawsuit was filed, that those lawsuits--the town began to organize. The anti-busing activists primarily in the South End began to mobilize support in opposition because they knew that out of this was going to come--because school busing was happening all over the country. That this was going to fait accompli and so they started having rallies and every single school, high school out in the county, you can imagine. Big rallies, too, I mean they'd draw three, four, five hundred people. Are you running out of tape?

TK: I'm about to turn it over.


SP: So the community is--so this is happening all over our communities, there's absolutely no leadership being shown anywhere, so I started working with a group of ministers and good people like Council of Jewish Women, League of Women Voters to form a coalition. Anne Braden worked with another group called Progress in Education. I under the auspicious of my KCLU [Kentucky Civil Liberties Union] presidency offices got together with Louis Coleman, who is the man who stood up at the meeting the other day.

TK: I'm going to interview him.

SP: Oh God help you, he is wonderful but he does talk. And a woman named Dot Ridings, who was the president of the League of Women Voters at the time who later became the national president of the League of Women Voters and now is running some big foundation. The three of us made an appointment to go down and talk to the Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Commerce used to be down here and so we made this appointment and we go in and talk to them--they didn't know what the hell was going on, they had no idea they were conflicting. All they read was the Wall Street Journal, they had no idea who Joyce Fond was, who was 31:00one of the anti-busing leaders was. They had no idea about Jean Rufra; they had no idea that Todd Hollenbach, county judge was sending out petitions and oppositions to busing. He was organizing anti-busing opposition, sending out petitions that Harvey Sloane, our mayor, had gone to Washington and testified in Congressional hearings in opposition to busing, this is the leadership it got. It was horrible; nobody rose to the occasion in terms of anybody in elected office, nobody in the business community. My family would--got out of the Chamber of Commerce at that time because one of the stores they owned were being constantly--the windows were constantly being broken because they wouldn't put up a --we had-- "Stop forced busing," that was the rhetoric, "stop forced busing."

So that started immediately before the suit was even implemented. The community was completely riled up; the Klan was very active. There was a guy named Bill Kellerman who came out of the labor unions who worked with this woman, Joyce 32:00Fonds, on a SOCS, Save Our Community Schools group, one of the bigger ones. Smart guy, too, I don't know what his problem was. At the same time that was going on, I was running for the General Assembly and the primary was going to be in May of 1975. The lawsuit was implemented after the judge was overturned by the Sixth Circuit [Court of Appeals], it implemented in August of 1975 when I was--I've got such wonderful memories.

When I was running, I'd go around and knock on doors and walked and walked and walked, when I ran for my district which is Mary Lou Marzian's district now. I was a named [unintelligible] of the school desegregation suit, the president of the organization at [unintelligible]. I had been an advocate for choice for years and they got me on another thing, capital punishment. I'd been very vocal in my opposition to capital punishment. So I'd go to these homes and every 33:00conversation with these people and I was all right until one of them would say, "What do you think about this busing, isn't it terrible?" and I'd say, "No, I think it's a really good opportunity for the community." Then I'd stop and look at my list to see how many voters I had just lost in the household. I actually, on the Sunday, of the for the primary, Right to Life passed out this thing of all the candidates who were running countywide and my name had an asterisk by it and you look down at the bottom and it says, favors abortion on demand. The people who were working for me said that all these old ladies came into the polling booth with this Right to Life thing rolled up.

The day--that was in May, I started my job at the Human Relations Commission, the day that school opened, the first day of busing. It's the--the Human 34:00Relations Commission used to be down here on 7th Street right across from police headquarters, police headquarters is still there. I pull up and in the parking lot of police headquarters on the opening day of school, every cop in town is out there in riot gear, it's all black, it was spooky, it looked like something out of George Orwell. Black helmets, black car, it was frightening, it was frightening, they're all out there in line. I walked into this building and the legal arts and into my office at the legal arts [unintelligible] and there are helicopters going around all over watching and the school buildings all had numbers painted on their roofs, so the helicopters could see where there was a riot and had to identify it by the number. Incredible precautions taking, it was 35:00sort of the shot that was heard around the world for about five minutes because really nothing--kids were kept out of school, some places windows were broken. As I recollect, nobody was really seriously injured. My fourth son was bused that year and there was women in the neighborhood who rode--a bunch of parents who, not a bunch, several who rode on the school buses for the first week or so.

The opposition was very vocal; the terror in the community was palpable. I mean people were terrified. I was married to a man who was kind of skittish anyway and when I was asked to lead a--to lead a program, we'd invited Pete Seeger to come and he was coming and there was going to be this big rally down at First Christian Church and they wanted me to sort of--and he said, "No, you can't do it--" he never, well, he had done but I ignored him. He said, " We can't, I can't protect you and there's five children to consider," he said, "I'll do it," which was the most radical thing that he ever did in his life and he did do it. 36:00I don't know why it was better for him to do it than for me to do it, I mean he, I made eight thousand dollars a year, he made considerably more than that.

So people really were terrified, my children lost playmates, riding groups that I was in no longer would let their children drive with me, there was a lot of ostracization, silly stuff, I'm mean it was really silly. My daughter was home last week and we were talking about it and she said, "Yeah, I lost a lot of friends, I just thought they were--" In a was in retrospect, it seems so silly and so ridiculous and you wonder what it was all about and it was just about rapid social change, too rapid in the eyes of these parents who--I don't think it was too rapid for black parents, it was much too rapid for white parents. So 37:00after that, after the initial burst of terror over the busing plan--we used to go out to every school board meeting, the school board meets on Monday or Tuesday, Monday nights, every two weeks at Van Hoose education center. And you'd go and for a while they had them around the community. It was the best thing that ever happened to the school system was the school desegregation plan because you go out to school board meeting and there'd be three or four hundred people there, everybody all of sudden really interested in the schools, you had to elbow your way in, the Klan was there, I mean-- the anti-busing people, the civil rights people, everybody was there, it was just great. It was very healthy 38:00and the school system was forced to open up its little operation, so that was really good. I would say that after a year, for certainly things had calmed down to a--so it was just like everybody sort of gotten used to--

TK: That long?

SP: Yeah, I'd say. I don't think it was in that kind of turmoil but you still had people speaking out against busing and how outrageous it was and da da. Then of course what happened was a lot of the black children became victims of that whole thing because they were being disproportionately suspended, locked out of certain programs in the school system and so all of sudden you had a group called the United Black Protective Parents.

TK: I was going to ask about them actually.

SP: And they're organizing to try and protect their kids and to--and taking a totally different position than the integrationists and the civil rights advocates had taken for very good reason. So that was a great time to be alive. I, just like everybody who was involved in it, just heartsick about what is happening now, it's just--I just think it's terrible.


TK: What do you think will happen?

SP: I think he's going to close it out, I don't think he's going to--I think he's going to declare it a unitary system. That's what they're doing everywhere, it would be--John Heyburn is a nice Republican, he's not going to.

TK: Just sort of go back to local schools kind of thing.

SP: Yeah. Neighborhood school with all black in one and it's going to be just the way it was, just the way it was.

TK: That's interesting, because I've been just sort of assuming all along it wasn't going to happen.

SP: Oh, it is. Galen and I had lunch about six weeks ago and he said, what are they thinking of, now they sound just like the white people who were opposed to school integration because he was an attorney in that case. He didn't play a very big role; he was in there for the NAACP and mostly a figurehead.

TK: Yeah, what was the, how did the -- because the only papers I've seen on this case are NAACP records so far, that's what I've gotten to.


SP: No, they didn't do anything, they couldn't, they didn't have the infrastructure because it was all about Bob Sedler. I mean it was only Bob Sedler because he was a tenured law professor so he had the freedom to do that.

TK: Did you ever get anything like threats or phone calls or anything?

SP: Oh, all the time. My kids were threatened.

TK: How old were they by this time?

SP: In--let's see, Rachel was born in '65, so in '70 she was ten.

TK: That's the youngest?

SP: Yeah.

TK: So ten and up.

SP: Ten and up and yeah, oh yeah, it was--and I remember one particularly funny experience my middle son, Ben, still lives here. I had four sons and my fifth one was a daughter and apparently middle children are different, are you a middle child? Middle children are different, so he was always, of my five children he was the only one who was sort of fearful, [unintelligible] but he was very fearful of a lot of things. He was just wired totally differently and Eddie and I were going away with my mom and dad for my father's seventieth 41:00birthday, he was taking all three of his children and their spouses on a cruise. Something I said I would never do but when somebody else was paying for it, it was OK. We were going to be gone for a week and I had written an article for the newspaper, the Courier or it was the Louisville Times, it might have the Louisville Times. The point of view of school desegregation, the point of view of a white parent, a white parent's point of view about school desegregation and the benefits that would accrue to my kids. So we're discussing this at the dinner table about this newspaper article that I'd written that they're gonna print and Ben said--and I said, "Oh, I'd call the newspaper and ask them not to do it while we were gone," and Ben say, "You're not going to use your name, are you?" I said, "Honey, there is not point in writing an article like that if you don't use your name." But that was the way it was. You thought about things that 42:00you didn't normally think about like calling the newspaper and telling them please don't run it until I'm back.

TK: So you said it took a while to sort of calm down, what would you say was your next kind of issue that you worked on?

SP: I almost immediately, I started working on, I started monitoring the school system for suspensions and the casualties, which were black, of this, almost right away and tried to get some relief through the courts. I was told by our lawyer repeatedly that this is a political action you need to do. The courts won't do anything about this, this is not a legal issue, it is a political issue. So we began to organize and try to run school board candidates, oh God, I spent so much time trying to help candidates who'd be sensitive to our cause. A 43:00bunch of us did that, then we took the candidates we had and tried to educate them. I remember one night I had some people over for dinner and the president of the school board at the time was a guy named C. B. Young and he never had anything to do with black people at all. So I had Caroline Hutto who was also on the board and C. B. Young and Ed and me and I don't think Lyman was there, I think it was an all-white group talking about the issues. He wanted to be fair--and we spent all evening talking about equity issues and race and stuff and I'd forgotten how often and how much time and energy we spent, a group of us, trying to educate the school board members and trying to get other people who are already there elected to the board of education. It was like, that took years, that went on for years. You might ask some of the people you are going to 44:00talk to if they were involved in any of that because that was very behind the scenes.

TK: Well, that is interesting, so education stays an issue. One of the themes of the book is how issues, basically when you look at the 1940s, the issues are education, housing, jobs, police brutality, so I'm basically going to have an epilogue at the end where I basically say this where these big four issues are today because they are basically the same issues that they were in the '40s. Just a couple quick questions about the KCLU, before I ask some sort of general wrap up type questions. Besides the busing stuff, what other actions did the KCLU take specifically regarding race stuff?


SP: The one that comes easiest to mind was after that, and that was Louis Coleman, have you talked to him yet?

TK: Not yet, he's on the other end, so I haven't gotten to that yet.

SP: Louis Coleman came over to me when I took the job in 1982 and Louis is such a mess. He had all these papers and he's trying to prove to me that the Kentucky High School Athletic Association is discriminating against blacks, there are no black, what do you call them? Umpires, referees, someone who calls the game.

TK: Official?

SP: No blacks, and I said, "There['s] nothing we can do about that, Louis." He, for about two years, he stayed on my case. Finally I said something to Bob Sedler, a tenured law professor and general counsel, well, we could probably do something about that, and he filed a lawsuit. He got relief from the court that said, yeah, that was discrimination and now I guess it's still there. The bylaws of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association was a very powerful group in the state of Kentucky, because it controls all the games and who's, you know--

TK: I didn't know that.

SP: Oh yeah, it a very, powerful, powerful group in high school athletics. We 46:00later had a problem with them over Title Nine. Anyway, the bylaws has this little asterisk under where it mentions who the officials are and the asterisks goes down here, one black by court order, it says at the bottom. I mean, it's unbelievable--

TK: That's interesting.

SP: You might ask Louis about the Kentucky High School Association.

TK: Do you know when he started getting involved in, was he?

SP: He was involved in it in the '70s, when I was at the Human Relations Commission. He'd come over; he was at the Urban League then. And Art Walters, the director, would fire him about every other month and Louis would come in and say, "He fired me." I said, "So what else is new and uh." Art was military and he was very proper and Louis a raggle-taggle gypsy, you know, in your face. So they had a rough, I think there is a lot respect there, but, boy, it was very difficult there for a while. He was active in the '70s, mid-'70s. He hasn't given up; he's just amazing.


TK: I was wondering if he gone any earlier that that. Do you know?

SP: My first recollection of him was he was at the Urban League and I started that job in '75. I don't remember him any earlier than that, but he night have been around.

TK: That's pretty easy to check. And just so I have it on the record. When did you leave the KCLU?

SP: I left it in 1990, and took this job. I had no job actually, I just left. I was burn out, burn out, oh, God, you never saw anybody so burnt out, I'd go home and cry three nights a week, cry myself to sleep, it's a very abusive job.

TK: Work, a lot of work.

SP: Well, it's not, it's not just, it's a lot of work, which it is and I had no staff. It's that you're the spokesperson for the whole state of Kentucky for every constitutional, nasty constitutional issue to come down the pipe: Ten Commandments, abortion, death penalty, drugs, AIDS, I mean Charles--


TK: Who replaced you?

SP: Everett Hoffman.

TK: And then he was just replaced recently.

SP: By Jeff Vessels and I will tell and I think it is true, although only a woman might understand this, that it a lot easier for a man than a woman. If a man says some of these things, it's one thing, if a woman says it, like--

TK: It's a loony thing.

SP: It's worse, it's worse, it's just not.

TK: I had a friend who used to always, "That's just softhearted liberalism."

SP: No, that's not what I mean, no, it was vindictive, it was real meanness, it wasn't that at all.

TK: It wasn't patronizing?

SP: No, it was mean, like you're a bitch, you're a Jewish anti-Christ bitch, no, 49:00it was very, very mean and they wouldn't dare do that to a man, not dare. I'm not sure, it's really interesting.

TK: So you then came onto this job and you've been here ever since.

SP: Yeah, I love it.

TK: I like to always end with a couple sort of general questions that I ask everybody and they're sort of evaluation or opinion questions, I guess you could say. If you were writing this book on the civil rights movement in Louisville, when would start it and when would you stop it?

SP: I wouldn't stop it, I mean I would acknowledge that I have to end the book but that it hasn't stopped. I don't know, because I'm shaped by what my involvement. I'm not sure of the history, if Lyman Johnson were around, he'd give you a different answer. I think that probably a lot of it did begin when he sued the University of Kentucky to get into the graduate school. I forget what--that was in the '50s.

TK: '49, actually.

SP: Oh, was it '49, so I think you could measure some of it from the time that 50:00Lyman decided to bug the system, that it may have been before that, I mean I don't know what was, I certainly was not party to it. So it certainly didn't start when I started. Then I was involved, there was already a good rich history.

TK: How would you say the movement has changed over time?

SP: I think it has become more diffused and in some respects harder because it's not--a lot of things of the earlier movement was able to focus on is absolutely essential has been achieved and achieving that hasn't really changed the infrastructure in a way that is meaningful to an awful lot of lives and so you're talking about changing an economic system that's just very inhospitable to the African American population and needs to be remedied and I'm not sure how. I used to talk reparations but you can't get a grass roots movement around reparations going, really so I think it's more defused and some of the energy is 51:00not channeled in a way to work, what seems like meaningful change in a meaningful time frame.

TK: What would you say have been the most significant or what was the most significant accomplishment or single event of the movement in Louisville?

SP: Well, I think the open housing movement really was one of the--it was African American led, it was taking on an inhospitable resistant white power structure and getting rid of it. So in the process of empowering itself around the issue of housing, it was able to exercise so political will at the ballot 52:00box and I think that was--things I think change from that movement on, expectations change among black people. Success will do that to you.

TK: Yeah.

SP: Well, we this, why can't we do that.

TK: Why don't we do the next thing, right. What do you think have been the most successful strategies or ways of approaching problems over time?

SP: I can't begin to even think of a coherent answer to give you to that question.

TK: OK, we'll skip that one then. A little bit easier questions then, who do you think have been the most important leaders over the years?

SP: Of the civil rights movement?

TK: Yeah.

SP: Whew, there have been so many. I think Mae Street Kidd was important, I think Georgia [Davis Powers] has--was important, I think Norbert Blume was important, I think Frank Stanley was important, I think probably Bishop 53:00[Eubanks] Tucker and Reverend [W.J.] Hodge and that whole [unintelligible] black church leaders were very important. There weren't really that many black lawyers back--there was--

TK: Not by that time.

SP: No.

TK: I mean earlier in the '50s there were, but before your time, so--

SP: I don't know.

TK: That's an unfortunately, Hodge and Tucker, well--which one's--Tucker's no longer--and Hodge can't be interviewed.

SP: Tucker's dead. Yeah, he's so old.

TK: So there's that whole--a lot of them I just have to go through their children, that sort of thing, which I'm going to try to do a little bit of. What 54:00would you say was the extent of the relationship between Louisville and movements in other places?

SP: I was unaware of them, I was really unaware of them. I think there was obviously the Louisville movement drew inspiration from other places but in terms of any formal relationships I am very unaware of it in so far as the NAACP and SCEF and organizations like that have little tentacles out here and there.

TK: And the last question I always ask everybody is what makes Louisville's story interesting? [unintelligible] there's a lot of civil rights movement books out there, every town has its story, what's different or interesting about the Louisville story?

SP: Well, I think one of the things about Louisville that makes it interesting and very difficult is Louisville's always been on the cuff, it never has really decided whether it's Southern, Midwestern, Northern, we sort of shift and move 55:00around and I think that that's made organizing in some of the stuff really difficult, not to mention the fact that I think that the deniability in this community is like you could scrape it off the ground, it's so--us a race problem, no. I think that's kind of--I think I don't know, never lived anywhere else but that deniability is so bizarre. I can't believe it's that palpable in other communities and to couple that with the fact that we have this ongoing constant identity crisis, [unintelligible] those country clubs are out here but look at the, what's his face, the on Muhammad Ali and they wouldn't change their 56:00letterhead for years, did you know that about the Pendennis Club.

TK: Yes, I heard that.

SP: Wouldn't change their letterhead, I mean, that's just like such an anachronism, and I mean and they are all dying.

TK: I heard that story--somebody just told me that story.

SP: About the letterhead? Damn unbelievable, I mean there is the best example I know of Louisville deniability.

TK: That is a great story.

SP: If you don't have to live here.

TK: But it's a good--capturing a point, that's a good story, I guess.

SP: So I think that's, I just think you don't--any community that denies like crazy it has a problem, has a problem because you can't resolve any conflicts that you've got until you put them out there on the table. I think that's one of the things that comes to the surface in this police chief thing. Can you imagine a police chief not knowing that this is what they are doing to the community, I mean I guess they didn't, so out of touch and living in their own little whatever, so I didn't give you a very coherent answer.

TK: No, I think that's a reason and actually, I'll go ahead and turn this off.