Nicole Cissell: Today is Wednesday, February 20, this is Nicole Cissell and I'minterviewing Manfred Reid who is the Chairman of the Board of the Louisville Metro Housing Authority. We are meeting in the offices LMHA. Mr. Reid thank you again for your time today.
Manfred Reid: You're Welcome
NC: And for the recoding can you acknowledge that you signed and understood theconsent form that we just went over?
NC: For the record, can you say and spell your name?
MR: Manfred Reid. M-A-N-F-R-E-D Middle initial G. R-E-I-D Senior.
NC: Okay, when and where were you born?
MR: I was born in Hazard, Kentucky. Sept. 3, 1936. I was really born in Lothair which was annexed by Hazard, Kentucky.1:00
NC: How did you end up in Louisville?
MR: My parents relocated here in 1944 in anticipation of their death. I've livedhere since that time.
NC: Ok, so 1944, that wasn't long after you were born then?
MR: I was 8.
NC: Can you talk a little bit about your experience growing up in Louisville?Where did you guys live?
MR: We were orphaned in '45 and '47 and we were taking in by an aunt and unclewho raised us and sent us on after we got grown. I was there for about 10 years. During my years I was a working kid and pretty much self-supporting as it 2:00relates to things I needed as a child, to include clothing. To be able to move about in the community you know. And I attended Central High School, played football. I went to Kentucky State University and Bellermine College later on in life.
NC: Okay. And what type of jobs did you do as a teenager?
MR: To begin with, around the age of 8, I sold newspapers. Ended up selling - wehad 7 newspapers that were African American newspapers, The Louisville Leader, which was a local newspaper, The Louisville Defender, and the Chicago Defender 3:00and the Pittsburgh Courier and the Bedford-Stuyvesant News. I sold those papers throughout the neighborhood. I say between the ages of 8-10, maybe 11. Then I became a grocery boy, I delivered groceries. Around 16, I started working at a place called Holiday Shoe Store down on 4th street and I worked there until1954 when, the day that Brown vs. Board of Education was published. It was all across the newspapers at that time, there was a special edition of the Louisville Times that was put out about four o'clock in the afternoon. The decision of the court and I went and showed it to my boss and he fired me [laughs]. 4:00
NC: Because you showed it to him or because of the decision?
MR: He was probably anti-Brown vs. Board of Education. It was probablyprovocative, at that time I was 16, 17 and I had no idea it would provoke him, because I was overjoyed by it.
NC: And he wasn't so happy [laughs]. You were a real estate agent for a while,how did you get involved in that?
MR: I started real estate studying real estate under Lincoln (?) Cosby. In 1963,I passed the test as a salesman for the state. And I think '63 maybe '66, I 5:00became a broker and started my own company.
NC: After you became a broker you started it? Can you talk a little bit aboutthe local norms and practices in real estate during this time in Louisville?
MR: As a matter of fact, the West End was mostly I say, 97 percent white and wehad to go in the neighborhoods and ask people if they wanted to sell the house and we'd call them on the telephone. There was a trend toward blacks moving into the West End, you had signs popping up, for sale signs popping up all over the place. As a result of our activity we were called block busters. Our sales were 6:00high there was a housing boom at that time. You had the development of suburban Louisville and you had people using the equity in their home to go out and buy a home in the outskirts of town. So there was an open market, it was an excellent market. At that particular time the housing in the West End was about the highest quality of housing that was available so therefore at a good price, at an affordable price and for the first time we had open, FMHA insured loans. When I say open I mean blacks had an opportunity to get those loans. So for about 7-8 7:00years it was an excellent market, very, very good market. In spite of the fact we had the problem with deed restrictions, some areas, subdivision developments that were in the West End of Louisville, in earlier years it placed the deed restrictions, that the owner it could not sell the property to anybody a person of white descendant, so we had those problems and we had to go through the courts about it.
NC: You went through the courts about it in the '60s?
MR: As a matter of fact we had a local attorney, William Freelander. Brought itbefore the Jefferson County Circuit Court which ruled the deed restrictions were unconstitutional.
NC: There are some deeds that still have them on there aren't there?
MR: Well they come up through conveyances and sale of real estate. But they8:00automatically removed them.
NC: Did you experience or can you discuss a little bit about red-lining that washappening in Louisville during this time.
MR: [pause] Let me get your perception of red-lining.
NC: My perception is the maps that the mortgage companies had where theybasically drew a red line around neighborhoods where they said they weren't going to sell houses to African Americans in those neighborhoods. There is some debate on if the maps existed for Louisville. Some people say they did, some people say they didn't. It's the Home Owners Loan Corporation that originally created them in the '30s. 9:00
MR: [pause] In the sale and promotion of real estate in the West End in the1960s there was no red-lining as such. The transition took place because of, the residents in the West End wanted to move to the suburbs, so the marketability of their home was made possible and driven by that economic factor. And so in as much as you had resistance with people who maybe they couldn't leave, didn't want to leave. The overwhelming majority of home owners had their property for sale. So you didn't have any restriction of activities as it relates to 10:00restrictions by banks. You had more or less the promotion of these sales as a result of VA and FHA insured loans at 4 percent. It was more or less a thriving market, more than a market restricted by anything other than deed restrictions and attitudes in the neighborhoods.
NC: What was your first experience with public housing in Louisville?
MR: My first experience with public housing? I used to be a contractor, after Ileft real estate. I had small contracts with Housing Authority, less than $1000. That's my first contact with the Housing Authority in terms of a business 11:00relationship. After that I moved into public housing in 1988 and I became active with the resident council and worked with them, I guess for four or five years. We ran the Kentucky Harvest Food Distribution program and the Dare to Care. And I became president of resident council and [pause] I guess it sprang from there. 12:00I am aware of the fact that the participants of the resident council and other residents recommended me. I probably don't know the romantic history as it relates to that, they were involved in my appointment.
NC: Can you talk just a little bit about what the residential council isresponsible for? You said you ran the Dare to Care food banks, did they run any other activities?
MR: They are responsible for outreach at the Housing Authorities. Outreach toresidents to give them the opportunity for full participation with the Housing Authority in terms of the housing authority in terms of resident services and customer satisfaction. There was a great need at that time, as their still is, 13:00for residents to fully participate. We generated quite a bit of activity. We usually had an annual dinner. Usually every time we met once a month we would have dinner. So it was quite an exciting time with residents at that time. There were experiments towards neighborhood resident management programs. Which they had one activated in Clarksdale at that time. There was consideration by our council to begin to apply. HUD ended the program so therefore we didn't get a chance to participate in resident management.
NC: Has there been an opportunity to bring it up again?
MR: The program is not available anymore. The one thing that we had to realize,14:00we need participation by residents that can understand the rules and regulations which govern the Housing Authority. The Authority has its policies and HUD has their regulations. HUDs regulations supersede whatever policies we want to have. [Pause] The educational - the need for education of our residents is essential. The implementing a program like that would be very costly. So there had to be a decision as to the difference between the expenditure of resources for the 15:00education of all of our residents and what that ended up being was a program where the residents can participate in self-sufficiency programs. And we provide training in terms of their personal development. Also, if they saved $1 we gave them a $1. It ended up with us being able to provide over $1,053,000 in funds for people being able to go to college and buy homes. So that was a better decision I feel like that is a better program of participation. Because we enhanced the quality of life.
NC: And that program is still going on?16:00
MR: Yes. Our special programs director, Mrs. Foster and her assistant DanFerrell, they do a fantastic jobs in terms. Our executive secretary Janice Burns, they run that program for the Housing Authority. They volunteer to do that, they don't get any compensation for that. It's been a success, a huge success that recognized by Washington D.C.
NC: That's great, congratulations. So you went from the president of theresidential council and you are not the Chairman of the Board? How did that transition happen, just getting recommended?
NC: How long have you been chairman of the board?
MR: Since January 2000.
NC: What are your duties as the chairman?17:00
MR: To attend all meetings. To chair all meetings according to our bylaws. Tosign all documents as it relates to activity. To participate and represent the Housing Authority at public events. My personal policy, along with the help of the executive director, to cooperate to participate with the staff in determining how to go about these policies and resolutions.
NC: In a previous interview you did a couple of years ago for the Southern Oral18:00History Project. You talked about bringing diversity into lower income areas; specifically you talked about Beecher Terrace at that point. Has there been any success in bringing diversity into Louisville's Public Housing?
MR: Yes. Our Scattered Site Program disperses our residents into housingopportunities into the whole county and we find that to be very successful. Also, we have had the placement of diverse groups in terms of we have a certain number of Somalians. We have people of Anglo Saxon descent began to move into 19:00our public housing throughout that whole area. All of those diversity programs have worked very well.
NC: Louisville is now constructing its third HOPE VI development, SheppardSquare, I know when they built Liberty Green, they took lessons learned from Park DuValle and applied it to Liberty Green. Are there any lessons learned from Liberty green that are now are being applied to Sheppard Square?
MR: Basically they were fighting existing programs that were in Park DuValle.More open dialogue with the residents, more or less the encouragement [inaudible] of their participation. That resulted in a relatively strong 20:00neighborhood service program that is being conducted by the Ms. Oska [?] which is one of our staff members. It includes good strong leadership coming out of that neighborhood Bates Memorial Church, Presbyterian Community Center, Byck Elementary School. It's beginning to take on strong leadership I was talking about. That's beginning to develop in that area. That's what we need.
We need to start looking in the future toward the development of self-governancedown to the neighborhood level. Equivalent to the status of the city, the third 21:00or fourth class. And our neighborhoods need to have their own council for which they govern themselves in cooperation with the city. There was a movement in earlier years, well a few years ago, for the West End to have its own status and charter as a city. But the city itself can establish self-governance among neighborhoods. Model after existing small cities we have, with the city basically being a funding source. Those cities are subject in terms of regulations to the city. This is what we would like to do in terms of preparing residents participation, in terms of being able to move into positions where they could actually begin to help establish neighborhood councils. 22:00
Now, these are expensive, but we need to do it. The government needs to make upits mind. Do we want to make these investments? The president talks about it all the time. Provide the training as to the ability to administer civil affairs. And carry them out you know according to the letter of the law. You know and so as we develop the next generation, they'll have a place in the whole concept of freedom, full participation and, equality of American life that would be manifested. I could go on [inaudible].
NC: [laughs] You are fine. Do you think that would need to be initiated by HUDfor the funding or do you see Louisville investing the funding to start those councils?
MR: It has to come from the residents. And they need to be, I'm not saying there23:00ought to be a movement, but there needs to be a coalition of leaders to come together and establish a basic format that which government can take a look at and begin to develop the same principle of educational standards as the 55,000. You know. We've got over 10,000 people; we've got over 15,000 people on the waiting list.
NC: For housing?
MR: Right. Public housing in itself is an economic market and needs to bedeveloped. This can be done, this long term investment. The government would have to make in urban areas, but it's very much needed and it's time for use to move down from centralized and city control. City, local government control to 24:00where the neighborhoods have actual funded based for which they can collect their own solid waste, take care of the streets. Participate in the administration of all level of services that the city brings to the residents. I think it would save money. I think it would actually increase the interests of all of our residents to higher education.
NC: That's an interesting model, I like that. What do you think about, or how doyou think the evolution of public housing, it started in Louisville it was seen as a positive step. Public housing was a good thing and somehow it turned into a negative thing. There was crime in public housing; it wasn't good if you lived 25:00in public housing. Do you think that mentality is changing back to public housing being a positive?
MR: It's two-fold. When you look into development of urban America, it came outof our history of violence. And that manifests itself into the cities and it's pretty much been there. We always claimed that it's worse, but during the 1920s I don't think you could get much worse than Al Capone in Chicago. [Laughs].
NC: No you couldn't. [Laughs]
MR: Over the years it's pretty much gone along with all cities grappling withthe problem of what to do about the violence and guns. We are still there. That's one side of the coin. The other side of the coin is the transition issue 26:00of people within urban communities, it's continuous and ongoing. The influx of new people coming into a community which is ongoing, it's a continuing movement of people. Look at the character of Louisville and the dynamic over the last [phone rings. Mr. Reid answers the phone.] Sorry about that, where was I?
NC: We were talking about crime in public housing.27:00
MR: Oh yeah, [pause] that's deep. The depth of it goes back to [pause] thesocial choice issue in America in the 1960s. [Pause] Pride at that time there was discipline. With the equal opportunity and the whole issue of rights being in the court, there's been a lax of discipline in the home. You know. Due to a lot of influences, you know. And I think government, I think the Housing Authority have done well to be able to keep things in check. We haven't had 28:00absolute chaos here, you know. We've been pretty -- it's chaos in Chicago. Now, in some parts of New York, in LA but in your small cities, Louisville's number three among the largest cities you know in that group --
NC: Number three in public housing?
MR: Well, ranked, national ranking. We've had pretty much to keep things undercontrol, cities with less than 500,000 people you can control. And we're always 29:00amazed at the strengths. I argue with my debaters, I have meetings at my house and we all discuss this. That it's worse and they get statics and prove me it's really not as bad statistically, as it was years ago. And there's some evidence that I have in personal experience to support that. We don't have, people still walk the street here. They do it every day and every night. It's really not as bad as we think it is. The stigma of violence in public housing has been created public rumor and the media. And there has been a very, very strong effort 30:00[pause] to keep that label there, let me put it that way. Public housing is really no more violent than any other part of the city.
I strongly believe that our approach to providing housing services to familieswould diminish whatever problem there is as it relates to violence. I don't necessarily hold to the principle that high population density creates violence, or New York City wouldn't be there. You know what I mean? I think population density is good in terms of economic growth. Being able to create an opportunity for employment of people, because you've got the need for services. No, I don't believe that violence has had that much of an impact in the lives of the people 31:00that live in public housing. They are part of an urban environment; they are part of a high density population. They have the common ordinary friction from people living close together you know. Until we use education as a tool for which we can eliminate that perception that you are threatened all the time. Then we'll still have that. But it goes back to the idea of establishing neighborhoods self-governance and giving the neighborhood people the right to take care of their civic responsibilities in terms of safety, sanitary, and security of their neighborhood.
NC: I would like to go back a little bit, I had read somewhere that you at one32:00point in the '60s were on the advisory council for the Cotter Homes residence, is that correct?
NC: Can you talk a little bit about that experience?
MR: At that particular time we had some of the strongest neighborhood leadership- emergency medical service that we see every day was one of the demands of the women in Park DuValle and Cotter Homes. They took into their hands a fight against drugs. And in the interim they got closed down park DuValle in terms of the entry into the neighborhood. And check everybody that comes in there.
NC: Was there a problem with drugs in the neighborhood?33:00
MR: Yes. At that particular time it was cocaine. And then heroine came alonglater and crack came after that. At that time it was really out of control. Now the emphasis was based on people who lived in public housing. It was usually our congregation of people out on the street. But it was city wide. One of the problems we always had about this drug problem is that we don't manufacture drugs. And we don't import them. And we hold government responsible as regards to, the production and importing of drugs into our neighborhoods without any 34:00type of explanation as to what their investigative procedures are. The actual statistical proof as to what they know so we can deal with it. We can only deal with crimes from the criminal perspective if we get locked up. Other than that we have no way to deal with that program. Unless we put our lives at risk and that's not very smart. And at that particular time, Ms. Cook, Margaret Harris, Georgia Eugene, and a host of other women that were part of the basic front. So many people getting killed or shot down there, they couldn't get an ambulance 35:00down there and the police refused to take them in their cars. People had to run people to the hospitals in their own personal cars. That was the beginning of the emergency medical services in the United States. The rebuilding of Park DuValle was demanded by them. I was a part of that movement at that time. Ann Bryson, Henry Owens, Sterling [inaudible]. There's a bunch of us.
NC: What action did you take to help rebuild Park DuValle? You said they wouldclosed off the streets --
MR: Open dialogue, there were a lot of issues at that time. Our biggest problem36:00was police brutality. Most of my notoriety comes from that.
NC: Okay, if you don't mind can we talk a little bit about police brutality andyour arrest in May 1968, with Mr. Thomas? Can you talk about what let up to that?
MR: [pause] There were three of us who were pretty much in the real estatebusiness together. Which was Walter Cosby, myself, and Luther Wilson. Luther 37:00Wilson is now deceased. We were going on Broadway as we saw Rev. Todd, which is Charles Thomas, being questioned by the police. So we stopped and said, 'Hey, what's up." So we stood there for a few minutes waiting to get a response and Officer Mike Clifford all of a sudden just went out of it. He said get out of the street. So we said cool, and we back up. He took one of these rubber black jacks and he came after me. And it developed into a confrontation. We got arrested. They said there was a bank robbery, which there wasn't. At 28th & 38:00Broadway which is now Chase, it was Liberty National Bank at that time. And Charles Thomas was supposed to have robbed this bank. That's why they questioned him. After the confrontation with us we got arrested and we went about our business. We eventually went to court for a misdemeanor charge. Between that and the next thirty days. Now this followed the death of Martin Luther King. There was a fervor of [pause] resentment and civil disobedience in the air. The 39:00activities of the various groups we weren't' a part of that. But that incident with the police fed it.
NC: Fed the activities that were going on?
MR: Yeah. Somehow this led up to a rally on 28th & Greenwood. Which became aproblem I guess you could say it that way. That was the riot. It was four blocks. Following that on October 17, we were indicted; six of us were indicted, 40:00for conspiracy to destroy public property. [Pause] James Cortez, Manfred Reid, Walter Cosby, Samuel Hawkins, Kuya Simms, and Ruth Bryant. It's interesting in a sense that we didn't know one another there was no --
NC: You guys didn't hang out?
MR: None of that. [Pause] The propagation of the conflict by the media and fedby rumor was probably more damaging to this community than anything to include [inaudible] you know. There was no conspiracy. There was no -- it was a lot of 41:00talk. You know. How it erupted [inaudible] I don't know. It happened and my stance was that I couldn't back down or turn my back on those that supported us as result of this police brutality. And I use the work persecution. It led to a lot of my problems, you know. We were exonerated in 1970. January 1970 we were exonerated. They did ask for a change of venue and they took the proceedings to 42:00Mumfordsville, Kentucky. But a judge sent it back. A couple of months dismissed it because there wasn't nothing there. After that as the [pause] downfall. I lost my license, real estate license and that brought a bad time to the family and that led to -- and going all the way down to the bottom. And then trying to rebuild you reputation coming out of that. That was tough for twenty years. It took twenty years to do that. 43:00
Luther is dead. Ruth Bryant's is in a nursing home. Cortez I heard is in thiscity. I haven't' seen him. He won't come to me because he's angry at me for some reason. In the civil rights movement you had that, they carry those grudges. Cosby is a minister. I think Kuya Simms is in Israel or Africa, one of the two. Whenever he comes back to the United States he goes to Atlanta. He makes that his home. Sam Walker is still here, but you never see him. There never was comradeship between us at all.
NC: Not even during the two year period?
MR: We never had a meeting together never. Unless we were going through the44:00court proceedings, we all had to be in court. But other than that, there was never a meeting between the whole six of us. Never happened. You can't have a conspiracy without a meeting.
MR: No you can't. [Laughs] You mentioned you lost your real estate license, wasit because of the indictment they just revoked it from you or was there a separate incident?
[Tim Barry, Executive Director of Louisville Metro Housing Authority enters roomat 44:34, tape stopped at 44:44]
NC: Was there a separate incident from the indictment that led you to losingyour real estate license?
MR: The way I look at it, what happens is that, when there is mayhem the federal45:00government has a responsibility to make sure that this is not something that impacts the safety and security of a neighborhood or a city. And to give evidence to support that and you do that through what I learned through studying this is information. And can last a long time. You know. And they do things to you under that court order which is used by US District judge, Judge Gardner and you lose. You lose you know, whatever privileges you have in life, they are 46:00gone. It impacts your family and life and you go down. I went all the way down to the very bottom - pauper. Starvation, what you have to do is have personal discipline. And make sure that you are always exposed to the police. That's the only security you've got. And I conducted myself that way.
There were certain things that I did every day. Just to make it, in other wordsI would get up every morning and go to the post office. Used the same route and 47:00go to the post office. I lost all of my transportation so I was walking. There are certain things that you can do that you can put yourself in the position so that you are not a threat or considered a threat. The information that is required to make certain reports to whomever. I think that is the curing factor, it just takes an awfully long time. It's the consequences we paid for standing up. I don't regret one minute of it. Not one second you know, we had to do that. There's no need for unarmed citizens to be shot down in the street or to be beat up by the police. Police are not here for that purpose. They are here to serve 48:00the safety and security of this community and beating up folks is not it.
I think there has been a continuous effort to try to tackle the issue and Ithink one of the most positive things that I see toward some form of social reform is 2X. You know, he's out here with the sanction of the government and police to be a mediator source. And that's one of the positive factors I've seen over the years, we never had that before. And there are probably other programs that we've never had. The appointment of Chief White was important asset to this city and I think it's carried over to the Conrad administration. The whole level of violence in America has escalated so much more than it was in the 1960s. That you really can't look at in the same way. We've got to do something about these 49:00guns. You know. And [pause], the participation of residents in this should be the top policy of government, you know. To get people involved in it and to you know, it starts at home. Whatever you do with this now. The conduct and behavior of our children starts at home. Some of these kids today are forty-five, fifty years old. They've never had no training. We have to go back to some form of social discipline with the consent of the government. All the people got to agree with this. When it comes to the development of children, there needs to be 50:00some form of discipline with the consent of the people we can change the attitudes that we have today.
NC: Do you think, or can you explain at all how your mindset changed as a resultof the repression from Black Six? Did you go from being moderate to more radical or did you stay the same at all?
MR: I'm just as aggressive as I ever was. [Pause] I never was bitter as such,I'm hurt. But I wasn't bitter as such. A good strong understanding as to how you 51:00got there. Why you got there. You know. And one thing we were alive, we were healthy. You know. So we could bend ourselves toward developing the consensus, cooperating, and trying to change things as they were. You know. Having some educational training in economics and business admiration in college, my perception of trade of change was based on economic initiatives. I've always tried to develop that. This takes you away from being bitter. You become more engrossed in activities on how to do things, how to carry out the initiative. I 52:00spent a great deal of my time, most of my career of my time. But of course when they break you down, you're living off crumbs literally. So you have to spend some time staying alive. That's your studio. Five years of that phase, within the information. That you really can't do anything but back.
And, as far as being bitter or what I call pyscho-social deterioration. I didn'tgo through that, you know. It was pretty much common place a great deal of my followers were the dead. And in the insane asylums and in prison. A great deal 53:00of my motivation for being out here is in appreciation to them. You know, they might not even understood why they were in the street in 1968, but they were out based on their own personal commitment. We can't give enough thanks and appreciation to them for sacrificing [inaudible] all of them wasn't guilty of nothing, we know that. So this is why I chose to have an opportunity because you start rebuilding, you've got to rebuild your life and you've got to reestablish bonds with your family you know. It's just - people actually fear you. My family was afraid of me. My wife's family was afraid of me. You know. This procedure is 54:00they turn your family against you and other people. You just have to exist until you change the situation and make it better you know. It takes a lot of time. Takes a lot of your time and effort. And over the years as people mature and one generation leads to the next, people change. You know. But, to the indictee that's a long time. Day in and day out type of thing. 55:00
NC: Did -- after the charges were dismissed in 1970, you were still underinvestigation throughout the '70s. Was that just a result of the indictment or just because?
MR: Yeah. That was a result of that.
NC: When did the investigation end? Do you know?
MR: I [pause] had an accident one night. It wasn't an accident. So I went andwrote a brief and filed a motion with the US District Court pro se and asked for 56:00a meeting with the district judge. And the judge Allen Simpson agreed to hear me. I submitted my evidence to him. He told me I had a case that I needed a lawyer and some money. So, he said he would see what he could do. After that I used to go jail so much. It never stopped
NC: In the '70s you were getting arrested a lot?57:00
MR: And the 80's.
NC: And the 80s?
MR: This went on until 1988. [Pause] In 1988 where I was holding up, they torethe building down. That's how I moved into public housing. And from there it was pretty much going up.
NC: Why did they tear the building down? Was it a house or an apartment building?
MR: It was a four-plex apartment building. I was going to rehab the building andin other words, let me put this here. You've got to be active and work or you will go crazy. So although I didn't have enough money, I'm going to do this anyway. So I stripped the house and got it ready for the chance that I could borrow some money and put it back together. And the house was dangerous to live 58:00in and so there were efforts by the city to get me. But that was my house, I bought that house. I wasn't going to move. Finally they took action, eminent domain, and told me I had to go or go to jail. So somebody called me and told me to go to an office on 7th and York. And I went there and I went to a room and 59:00somebody called and told me to go to the Housing Authority that I would get an apartment. And that was when I began to immediately change. I don't believe that would have happened had I not filed that brief. You know what I mean? Recovery is slow, but its sound if you [inaudible] It'll work, it takes time.
NC: Where there is a will, there is a way. Correct me if I'm wrong, at one pointyou had joined the West End Community Council and the Southern Conference Education Fund.
MR: That is correct.
NC: When did you join those two? Were they at the same time?
MR: No. After June 8, or was it May 8, I think it was May 8 --60:00
NC: Is this of '68?
MR: We needed supporters. I heard about the Southern Conference Education Fund.I lived on 32nd street, a block down the street. So one day I said, let me go to see if they'll help us. So I did. And I went into Carl. At that time if there ever was a person who needed a friend, I needed one. And he welcomed me with open arms. And he invited me to serve on their board and I agreed. Due to their 61:00reputation it scared everybody to death in my circles. I didn't have any problem with it what so ever based on my own knowledge of them. And the fact that I was an aggressive liberal myself. You know. I was not passive. It wasn't my character. So I began to attend the meetings and the growth that I had by associated with Carl and Ann and my having a better understanding on what the entire movement was all about.
Carl was from Cincinnati. Medger Evers and his wife and a host of people I had achance to see, I never would have met, you know. And so I became more and more 62:00involved in terms of developing a commitment to stay informed their principles. Me and Carl used to talk all the time, I never gave it any thought to what a Communist was, you know. Once I began to understand, that was the McCarthy era, and I really considered it one of the most productive and inspiring moments of my life in terms of growth. And that's how that started. I was the vice-chairman of the West End Community Council. We supported the West Side Players. Have you 63:00heard about them?
NC: No, I haven't.
MR: Started by Carl Shrimp. Carl Shrimp is now a real estate broker withNeighborhood Development Corporation. And I'm chairman of his board. So, I've traveled with them throughout the United States and attended their forums and clinics and the experience was overwhelming. You have to have a reason to commit yourself to this cause. They made my reason more rational. Rather than emotional. 64:00
NC: What type of forums and clinics did they do?
MR: This place called [inaudible] I used to go all the time. And in the coursethere's always something going at the Braden Center. I'm not a civil rights marcher, so I've never been in a march. I fight, but I won't march. It was very educational, very inspiring over the years.
NC: And how long did you work with both of those organizations?
MR: A long time. I don't remember how many years?
NC: So did you join them before your first arrest?
MR: No, this was all after.
NC: All after the arrest okay. You said you traveled with them around thecountry? How often did you travel with them? Several times a year? 65:00
MR: Two or three times.
NC: Did you go to other southern cities or both northern and southern cities?
MR: You know the truth about that, I don't remember. I remember going to a city[pause] I don't remember where I was, but I had my son with me. And we stopped, due to the nature of the meeting; they suggested I leave my son at this house. So I said okay, so I took him to this house and so forth. Then I went off to the meeting in town. And when I got to the meeting [pause], I had to leave. Some 66:00people came in the meeting that weren't invited to the meeting and I didn't know what the temperament would lead to and I knew I had my son strung out there. So I couldn't stay there and risk and leave him strung out. So I just left. And went and got my son and came back. But I don't remember the city, I don't remember -- I tried hard to remember where I was.
NC: Do you know if anything happened at the meeting after you left?
MR: No, I don't. I don't know. It was a Black Panther Party that came. But Idon't know what happened. It might have been Tennessee, somewhere in Tennessee. 67:00I don't know where though. We went to a place called Russ College in Mississippi someplace, I forgot where it was. During that time, I did a lot of traveling. A lot of the places I've been too, I don't remember. I'm seventy-seven you see.
NC: It's a lot to remember. This was during the indictment you were traveling as well?
MR: mmmhmmm. I've heard most of the civil rights leaders at that time. RatBrown, Bobby Stills, Southern Christian Leadership Conference. [inaudible] 68:00Former mayor of Atlanta. Collingsworth from Cincinnati. Rev. Lowery. Rev. Abernathy. There is so many of them you know. They were so inspiring at that time. I will say this, they would always say we need to go back to our neighborhoods and pull things together. That was one of the things they impressed on us every day. They even prophesized If they don't it would lead too, and this is where we are at. Because we didn't bring discipline back to the home, you know. It deteriorated in the schools, because it didn't start at the 69:00home. But a lot of our self [inaudible] we made those demands in the neighborhoods too.
NC: Did you remain close to the Braden's after WECC ended?
MR: Pretty much. Pretty much. It's kind of hard when you are so low. Ten years.I reconnected with them in the last ten years. But in my first year, my first twenty years, it was difficult, I didn't have any money. And you can't go into a meeting and get respect when you are raggedy, so I had to say no. [Pause] Plus you have this attitude; you have an awful poor attitude of yourself when you are in that condition. And you really don't want to face anybody. 70:00
NC: Yeah, that is understandable. Do you have any other experiences that mightbe relevant to the history of struggle for housing in Louisville that you'd like to mention?
MR: Yeah, the city is moving in that direction, it's taking a long time.Development of the Housing Trust Fund. That is a good move. We have an investment here in Youth Build. Which is taking kids and giving them adequate skills so that they can hold a wage, a living wage job. At the same time be 71:00encouraged to finish their education. Adopting a [inaudible] program in terms of taking delinquent taxes and convert them into financial assets that the city can convert into cash for the purpose of housing.
The University of Louisville said they want 55,000 students by 2020, a part oftheir program in terms of scholarships. With 15,000 of those coming from the black community. We need to promote the development of engineers within the 72:0015,000. Alright. And then we need to develop initiatives = part of that trust fund should include economic initiatives for business entrepreneurship on a long term basis. The development of successful businesses are commitments that you give to that entity. And you bring that discipline and that opportunity for it to grow based on your commitment to it. That comes from education. I don't believe you can give a person a right. I don't believe you can legislate a right 73:00and I think freedom is taken; you can't set no body free. You have to free yourself.
Most of our commercial establishments now are owned by foreigners. We need totake it back. It takes education, it takes political organizing, it takes outreach, and a whole lot of money. [Laughs]. But that's the journey of 1,000 miles and if it's a forty year journey we need to get busy. But that's what we need to do, we need to - all neighborhoods should be economically 74:00self-sufficient. The West End prior to the blacks moving into the West End. What you had was Fontaine Ferry Park which was privately owned and they hired the disabled. They hire the retired and low income people, and children. Those were entities that were owned by residents that lived here. Falls City Brewery. The Louisville Railway Company was privately owned by residents throughout all of Louisville that owned stock in the Railway Company. Those individuals grew up in this community. They had no more help or assistance than anybody else there than 75:00afraid the neighbor is going to buy some of the stock that they wanted. Other than that, it's self-initiative. That's learned behavior. Theodore Aarons (?) is from Louisville, he owned American Standard. Which is now one of the largest plumber supply companies in the world. They were bought by a German company and they moved out of the United States. It started here. Henry Vogt's the same way. He wasn't a trained engineer; that developed as he went along with his career. And so we need to make sure that we raise up these individuals with this ability 76:00based on the education that we give them, that's a long journey. A lot of money to be invested. A lot of people to make a full commitment to these kids. But until we do that -you see a lot of black people think they are free. Economically we are just as much slaves as were were 184 years ago. And until we get down to the business of building community, from kindergarten up, we are going to lose. So the biggest target we need to have is a goal toward strong economic initiative supported by Congress. Over the long term. It's not going to change. It takes twenty years to raise a child and educate it. 77:00
NC: Sometimes longer.
MR: Yes. And for him to be able to be productive to reach a goal where he can bemeasured it about twenty years. And that's just for the next two generations.
NC: I think there is a slow movement in Louisville to support local businesses,it's growing, but it's still small.
MR: It's growing. Well we really don't know how to build that. Most of America'sgrowth has been based on classes and it hasn't been able to be universal in terms of equity and opportunity for people. You have to learn how to do it over time. You know. We are hampered by our history and the patterns of behavior of 78:00business and industry is based on the Wild Wild West. Culturally how long does it take folks to change? Look at Mitch McConnell. [Laughs]. It takes time for them to change, but we are coming along, I think. When you look at black participation although it subversive, it's subjective I meant to say, we are moving into areas where we are move visible.
The psychology of the white child is tampered with its' experience with blackpeople. Whereas the children of the 1940s and '50s didn't have that experience. 79:00Whatever racism he's taught at home is balanced out by the principles of equal opportunity at school. It creates a schizophrenic situation for the child. But they usually grow and balance a life out of that. Once they don't, they are overwhelmed by that. And that's what we've got in Congress today, small kids. With no real responsibility of leadership other than being coddled by their parents and nursing their racism. And so those are what we have to deal with as we move along.
NC: That's a conversation that could take a month. [Laughs] I think that is allthe questions I had, is there anything else you would like to add we haven't talked about.
MR: No, I'm okay. I'm relatively withdrawn when it comes to a great deal of that80:00conversation. I am learning how to say it or how to relate to it without being emotional.
NC: It's understandable.
MR: It takes times to get over that. Twenty years is a long time. It's likebeing in the penitentiary. You are in the community, in the penitentiary you are protected by the fact that you are extracted from society and put away. When you live in the street you have to deal with all that in front of the public. It will either make your healthier or it will destroy you. I was lucky in that sense, I was made healthier.
NC: I really do appreciate you taking the time to talk to me.
MR: You are more than welcome.81:00
NC: Do I have permission to call you back if I need clarifying as I go throughthe transcript?
MR: You sure can. Will you make a disc of that?
NC: I will.
MR: Can I have a copy of that?
NC: You sure can. Thank you so much.
MR: You are more than welcome.
NC: Enjoy the rest of your day.
End of recording. 1:21:17