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Michael Jones: All right. This is Michael Jones with the Unfair Housing Oral History Project for the Metropolitan Housing Coalition and the University of Louisville Oral History Center. It is October 5th at 12:30, and I'm talking to Neal Robertson of the West Louisville Urban Coalition.

Neal Robertson: Today is October the 6th.

MJ: Oh okay. (laughs)

NR: So no problem though, I don't want to go back to yesterday. I just buried one of my cousins yesterday. So I don't want to go back to that. Yeah. Let's move forward.

MJ: All right.

NR: Like you said, my name is Neal Robertson. I'm trying to sum up what I do and 1:00who I am. And basically when everybody asks me what I do, I ask them what do they need. Because I'm flexible enough to work in a lot of different arenas with different people. I'll take one incident. I ran the mayor's campaign in West Louisville when he first started. His first campaign, we were on 24th and Broadway. So I managed that office for him.

MJ: So that's Mayor Greg Fischer?

NR: That's Mayor Greg Fischer. Even summarizing that, he went on to be the mayor of mayors, right? You can give me some of the credit if you want, and you can give him some of the credit for being who he is. Then now fast forward and he's kind of like the worst of the worst mayors in a lot of people's eyesight. His 2:00favorable ratings are very, very low at this point.

And you can give me some of that credit and give him some of that credit. Because I walked him around the African American neighborhoods. I didn't do the church thing with him, other people did that. But I'm saying that to try to get you to understand why. I went on a--we done the graveyard? Greenwood Cemetery.

It was in a horrific condition. So the West Louisville Urban Coalition, we went down there and brought in the community. And we revitalized (inaudible 0:02:41.9) and got it up and going, where people could go see their loved ones. I've done numerous community conversations in regards to whatever was going on in the community. I brought back the Dirt Bowl, which was shut down from the 3:00crime and the violence in the community.

They couldn't have it because it was too much fighting and going on there, and so I brought that back. I did that for like six years. Helped to reinstall the Juice Bowl, which is another black function, you know, for the common black person's--something to do for Thanksgiving. I put on something called a Cease Fire Event.

We've done the All Hands on Deck Event where we invited all the police officers and the council and the community leaders to talk about how we could combat the crime and violence in the community. I mean, I could go on and on with a lot of things that I've done, and just on my way here, my brother said, "You need to write all that stuff down." Because I go to do it, and it's not anything other than me doing it, trying to help the people.


MJ: So how old are you?

NR: Oh, I'm 58. I'm 58.

MJ: And are you originally from Louisville?

NR: Yes, I'm originally from Louisville, Kentucky.

MJ: Where did you grow up?

NR: Down in West Louisville.

MJ: Which part and which neighborhood?

NR: 36th and Broadway. Also lived on 37th and Market when my mom was living. She died when I was like 10, so we still owned the house, but I had to move in with my grandmother on 36th Street. And that's basically where I went and went to school. (Inaudible 0:04:30.2) high school, played basketball, as you know. You know, basketball, rap, or die and stuff. Yeah, so I played basketball.

MJ: Who'd you play for?

NR: Central at first, Central High School. Then I went to Butler High School, where I'm still on the wall. My name is still on the wall. I've never been back in there, though, but I got some of the pictures, my name's on the wall for basketball.

MJ: Did you play college ball?

NR: Yes, I played college. I went to three colleges. I ended up in Washington, 5:00D.C., a school called University of District of Columbia, where we won a national championship, Division II. And we was runner up the next year.

MJ: So what was the West End like when you were growing up?

NR: Well that was like 40 years ago. Wow, I'm getting young. But anyway, it was a bakery on the corner at 36th and Broadway. So what would be considered a gang now, a large group of us at night, we would always sit on the bakery steps on Broadway. But it was safe then. Nobody had to worry about nobody riding through and doing a drive-by. Then the (inaudible 0:05:53.9) were at the streets up there.

I used to every day--I used to jog to the park. See I'm health and fitness. I've 6:00been into that a long--and I just stopped like okay, I'm eating, drinking, and being merry now. But it was like night and day now. They're not going to even consider to a lot of factors. We knew the police in the community. People wasn't coming in trying to buy the property at that point. People that didn't look like me coming in trying to take over the neighborhood.

They weren't calling my grandmother saying, "Hey, do you want to sell your property," like they do today. It was just like I said, and people would say, "We knew the community. And the community knew who we were." And I can't say that that's happening today, although I don't live there.

I gambled (inaudible 0:06:47.9) insanity because it's almost like somebody get killed from that neighborhood, the whole community gathered around and support the family and come down, the neighbors. They don't do that now. So it was more 7:00community based then.

MJ: When do you think it started to change?

NR: Okay, busing started in '77, (inaudible 0:07:12.7) '78, right? No, it had to be '77, because I went to (inaudible 0:07:21), yeah. The progression of it basically started then. We were going out to--there are schools in South (inaudible 0:07:30.8) beautiful neighborhoods, and the way they were living, when they came down here and saw how we were living and how profitable it was. Because see when they were coming to bring their kids in, you can best believe a lot of them wasn't on the bus.

They were driving their kid to come up with them to get (inaudible 0:07:52.2). So I'll say '77, and I know you probably say, "Oh well, '77." That was when the (inaudible 0:07:58.2) started, the division started, like, "Oh, wow. We can come back here and do this progressions of time." Progression of time.


Because I know a guy whose father owned--was a relative of a developer back then, and me and him talked and he always told me that his father, I mean he just told me this. His father--he owned a lot properties, residential properties. And what they do is come down here and buy (inaudible 0:08:31.0) property. And that didn't start in '77.

I say during the crack epidemic that came, that kicked around. And people start selling their homes at that point for cheaper prices than you could get it for on the market. Because they were on drugs (inaudible 0:08:55). And then drones starts to come in brought that (inaudible 0:08:57.9).


MJ: So you're saying with busing there wasn't a kind of community that it was before where kids went to the home school and --

NR: No, the people that came here (inaudible 0:09:23.0) was coming in our community. They were seeing how--and maybe I'm wrong, because I'm saying '77. They didn't want us to come after to integrate with their kids (inaudible 0:09:36.1). And I wished I never did too, to be honest with you. But I'm just talking about from a (inaudible 0:09:46.3).

Maybe I'll start understanding things because I was like literally back and go to high school to I was 7th grade, 8th grade, yeah. And I thought I understand a little bit more things than I ever understood.

MJ: Is that when you started realizing that Louisville like was segregated as 10:00for--as far as housing?

NR: Well, yeah. Because I'm looking at the fact that look at the hell they're living? We're on the bus. Me, I'm a talker. I don't talk. I'm looking out the window looking at the houses, the green grass, things that we didn't have. I was like, "Wow, how they living like that?" Then we going back on the bus, I'm still looking out the window.

But I'm going back to my home, and I'm like, what the--the way we live. No grass, dirt, everything. Whatever you--five days during the week, I could see how they live. At least the houses. Yeah, that started during busing for me, because I'm able to really visualize instead of looking in a magazine or anything of that nature. I'm seeing these homes.


MJ: So you said your parents owned their home and so did your grandmother?

NR: Yeah, my grandmother owned her home, as well as my mother owned her home. My mother worked at Brown & Williams as a single mother with five kids. Yeah, and guess what? My dad owned his--he owned property, 28th and Dumenils, going around, you get the Dumenils (inaudible 0:11:26.4) across the street. He owned from that took it to the middle. He built a big home. It was torn down since I came back home. He built a home. My dad was a wrecker. He used to tear houses down. He had contracts--

MJ: What was his name?

NR: Charles Dude Windburn. So he had property, like I said, I was--he had property from--I wish I had the pictures to show you his pictures, because the house was amazing. There was none built like it in this city. He had the 12:00stairs--the spiral steps going up. It set back, he had a whole--the whole parking lot. Was that because he used have gatherings and stuff, but anyway, but yeah, they owned their home. Matter of fact, my grandmother owned two homes--713 South 36th and 714 South 36th.

MJ: And so was your grandmother originally from Louisville?

NR: Uh-hm. Uh-hm.

MJ: And what was her name?

NR: Mary Catherine Breckenridge. They called her Macey. Macey is what they called her. She worked for the city. Then the lady who owned the bakery, my grandmother's working with her, then she became half owner of that.

MJ: Oh, okay.

NR: So my grandmother used to do a lot of political events. I mean, political things, that's why I'm so involved politically. And so people (inaudible 0:12:53.6) because of her. And people--it's amazing. Like I don't know I'm going 13:00off script, but how people that raise you, you basically become some part of them.

Because I used to--my grandmother every morning, she'd be humming the same thing. "Thank you Lord," something she used to say. And I'd be doing it sometimes and my wife say, "Why are you saying that?" You know, that same phrase she say I say it, and it'll kick in to me. I'll be somewhere and I just say it--catch myself from playing around with it. But she was a phenomenal human being.

And I hope everybody feel like that about their grandmother. But I'm telling you, I'm sitting there thinking about that. She owned those two houses back, this was the '70s or in the '80s. They sold both of them back then. She worked for the city--always involved in what was going on in the community. Yeah, and she did okay with me.


MJ: So she pretty much raised you after your mom died?

NR: Absolutely.

MJ: Do you go like having that--living in that situation where you owned your home as opposed to renting gave you a different kind of mentality--

NR: Well, it made me feel like I was a part of the community. Because we were homeowners. But a lot of people on my block owned their homes. Yeah, a lot--I can't think of one person that were renting on that side of it.

MJ: And this is 36th Street?

NR: 36th Street, 36th and Broadway.

MJ: And so what school were you bused to?

NR: Williams Middle School. Now I said I went to Central, I could catch the bus, then I got kicked out so they bused me to Butler High School.


MJ: Okay. (laughs)

NR: And Shively back then and Williams Middle seemed so (inaudible 0:15:07.4) from 37th and Broadway (inaudible 0:15:10.6). But now I know to get on this way right through the alley you'd get off at (inaudible 0:15:17.1). But it just seemed so far up there. When we was coming there, going up the right way back where all those houses are. It was quite a site, for me, our house wasn't, we owned them, but they were all right.

MJ: And so were a lot of people from your neighborhood bused with you? And what was the feeling at the schools where you went? The reception, was there still some tension about busing?

NR: Well, my first experience at Williams Middle School when I saw all these white, angry parents saying, "Get out of her nigger," I didn't really remember 16:00it. I'll never forget it, because I'm like, "What?" These were parents. We don't want you here. I didn't understand what they mean. I don't know. I'm in the 7th grade. They clearly didn't want me to be around their kids. And nothing else other than the fact that I was African American.

Well, no, when I was black then. So they clearly didn't want me around their kids. And guess what? Fast forward to now. They clearly still don't want me around their kids. Okay? No. Is that all? No. But you're such a love and joy (inaudible 0:16:47.9). I was just going on. And we've been seeing that on the news. Our television is just (inaudible 0:16:58.1). That's our biggest vision of 17:00what America looks like.

MJ: So after you graduated from Central, you left Louisville for school.

NR: Nuh-uh. Graduated from Butler.

MJ: Oh graduated from Butler. So you got kicked out of Central. (laughs)

NR: Yeah, thanks for reminding me, but go ahead. (laughs)

MJ: Well yeah. (laughs)

NR: Yes I did. We'd gone out to Arkansas University. My grades weren't good, so I had to come and go that summer so I could be eligible to play. I got into a little ruckus and got kicked out. I went to Texas-El Paso. This is during the summer of my freshman year. Now before all this, I got kicked out of two schools--colleges--universities.

MJ: And what were you doing to get in so much trouble? (laughs)


NR: Being a good guy, now. You know, they said that, "Good guys finish last, right?" I was being a good guy. Well one thing, when you look at the fact like I told you, my grandmother raised me. But really she wasn't able to really raise me, if that make sense to you. Because she was older, so I basically raised myself.

And then, even fighting against grown-ups who was trying to mistreat me and not--and I know you probably said, "No." I'm like, "No, clearly." Well you know because nobody liked my games, nobody's coming to my games. I didn't have my father coming to the games. My grandmother couldn't come. That's my (inaudible 0:18:54.1).

And I'm telling you, I'm on the people's wall. So and they didn't even invite me 19:00there, so I didn't talk to them. I was really like, "I don't care." I don't care about coming back to (inaudible 0:19:06.4) until now. So it was some things I feel is not right, I'm going to speak up about it.

I might not wait to have the, "Oh well, let me give him another chance to do it." Nuh-uh. That's black, white, Puerto Rican, Italian, anybody. And if I lived there, you can't do what I seen you do, because I know what's going on in the neighborhood. You're not coming in it like me, and where I live at? You can't come (inaudible 0:19:33.5).

MJ: So when you were away at these different schools, did you notice a difference between the housing situation there and segregation than Louisville?

NR: Well when I got to D.C., it was a crack epidemic. I was meeting people whose 20:00parents had died, they went to the (inaudible 0:20:04.4), go to the big parties at their house, because they became homeowners during college because their parents died. I'm literally looking at this guy, $90,000 home, this is like in D.C.--this is like '84. I mean, the crack epidemic, he end up selling it for actually nothing.

I was a second year of college, but it was all black in D.C. where I lived at. I didn't live on campus. I lived at (inaudible 0:20:43.0) on campus. But I lived in a neighborhood (inaudible 0:20:47.2), "What's going on here in (inaudible 0:20:48.5)? It went on there back then. So I wasn't able to really see it and see like the black store owners, the black laundromat owners, which I knew them.


So I became even in that community some like--because a lot of people who own homes, they had, what they call, they had these like the rooming houses now they have here, they had them back then. And instead of me going on campus, I lived in one of our rooming houses that was Butler University, which was right in the hood in Northwest D.C.

But I enjoyed it because I met the people in the community, I met the families, they were inviting me to their Thanksgiving dinners and stuff like that, because I wasn't from there so (inaudible 0:21:36.5) I'm a university guy, I'm a neighborhood guy, because I (inaudible 0:21:40.7) in the neighborhood. Country, because you know, say, "Good morning." You know they don't do that. I'm like, but I'm running around doing it.

And even to today and actually that helped me--that helped me in the community, with the older parents and they would like, trust me, "Hey, you come over to my 22:00house." "Yes, ma'am." You know. I didn't know them, I'm from Kentucky, you know. "Good morning, people." So the same fight, all around the world. Because I was going to Baltimore, Philly, New York. It's going same game--the black community everywhere I was going, was basically the same.

MJ: So when did you come back to Louisville?

ROBERTSON:December 1999. Which was--the next week was January 1, 2000. Came back, bought a house on 34th and Kentucky. I didn't know, (inaudible 0:22:51.0) the second house on the corner. Right across the street from a church. (inaudible 0:22:57.9).

MJ: Do you still own that house?


NR: No, no, no. No I don't. No I don't.

MJ: And so what were you doing when you got back?

NR: Really going around getting re-instituted back in the city. A lot of people already knew who I was because I played basketball. I knew a lot of the guys, big name guys who played ball in the city, started come checking over. And they start coming back being some of our leaders in the community.

You know, or the leaders call on them and I was going around, I got back here, I'm down playing basketball in the park and I'm asking the guys, "Hey, where's the mayor's office? Anybody know where the mayor's office is?" Because I worked with Marion Barry in Washington, D.C. I used to work for Marion Barry. He taught me tons and tons of things, but they didn't know.

Because it was just like nothing was going on. Like nobody was doing it. Yeah we 24:00would play ball on Sunday. But I didn't see nobody doing a fountain, missing me with the big car, gold chains, drugs, miss me with him. I don't care nothing about that. Okay, that doesn't flatter me. You know, I'm not, "Oh," I'm like, "We have to do something (inaudible 0:24:25). He's doing something that is--that's like, "Yeah, that's black."

Because if you look at the other ethnic groups, men are doing things in their community. A part of me said that's just what's embedded in me from my grandmother, like I told you, I'm always like, "Okay, what's up. What's up? What's up? Who's who? And guess what, you can't fool me." You know all that (inaudible 0:24:51.0), I'm like, "Okay. No, that's not the way it's going to go with me."


Says she won't--since the others won't listen, so I'll stop it for me. You can't do me. Yeah, the first try is going to say, "Everybody, stop everybody, right." When everybody's like, "Well hold up? I have (inaudible 0:25:10.0). You good, you good? You know, you doing it for me. I don't care, your name on my (inaudible 0:25:16.3). I've been around, I talk to him. And black, white, I deal with Asians, the whole way in the community I deal with. The Hispanics, the Cubans, which is all the same, I know them, I deal with you.

MJ: So when did you start this West End/Urban Connection?

NR: Yeah, the West Louisville Urban Coalition, it started probably like in 2010 during the campaign, when I was doing the campaign with the mayor. I wanted to make sure that I had all the information that I was (inaudible 0:25:52.1) that I had it too. Because I was going around setting up these meetings and meeting these people.


I knew all of them, but I didn't know them like I knew them after the meeting. As far as the (inaudible 0:26:03.4) denomination, whatever that's called, and just a lot of different large organizations, that's black organizations basically.

MJ: So why did you feel like we needed another organization?

NR: Well because, like I told you, from what I do, nobody was doing it. I'm investing myself into that business to create not only the awareness and education, but opportunities for people that look like (inaudible 0:26:36.0). Because we're last in everything, I checked the jails, the numbers on the jails, 63% black, we make up 24.5%. Okay, so you really do the math. It's almost like 63% white people, they must not breaking laws.

They're not stealing. They're not out here using meth. They're not out here 27:00doing anything other than being law-abiding citizens. From what that tells me, 63% of a 24% population? From a 24% population, so when you had (inaudible 0:27:18) the people. Now you're taking all these men in jail, all these men on parole and probation, basically using them as chattel slavery as far as I'm concerned.

Because you can't make money in prison. And if you're telling me, you calling home telling me you're working there, you're working at 3 cent a day? Yes. So I'm invested in everything. You're wrong, I'm going to try to make you right, and I'm going to come to you and let you know that you're wrong, Pastor Whomever or Reverend Whomever, Bishop Whomever.

We're coming for you, because I mean I'm not saying like I'm the brightest bulb 28:00in the city, but I tell you what, maybe my voice will help change the conditions of the way you live and your family lives, and safety.

MJ: Well, you moved back in 2010?


MJ: Oh, in 2000.

NR: Yes.

MJ: So right before merger?

NR: Yeah, right before merger, yeah. They were talking about that, and I was like, "What's this going on?" Then I (inaudible 0:28:21.5) into that to know what that was all about (inaudible 0:28:25.3), you know.

MJ: So were you involved in it one way or there other?

ROBERTSON:No I wasn't at that point, nuh-uh.

MJ: Do you feel it's been a positive for the community?

NR: Very negative for the community, for the black community. In terms of the way they redistricted, right? So now voting is going to be different. So that means that people that they need in, it's a possibility, 70 percent likely to get in. And I'll take 70 percent any time. So that's what that did. And it's 29:00destroyed the black community in Louisville, Kentucky. It was like a paradigm shift for real.

That change was so sudden, when you looked up and you saw what they'd done to the community, look at what's going on now, 156 murders, right. But the victims all look like you and I.

MJ: So do you attribute that to the dissolution of the black (inaudible 0:29:38.0)?

NR: No, I contribute that to everything that they've done in order to make sure that gentrification come down this way based on the high crime, the high homicides, burglaries up. You moving down there? Your insurance goes up. The 30:00possibility of me living longer is not for me to live down here as a black man.

And I don't care who you are, remember that guy, Reverend Cosby? Remember they poured him over back here? They don't care nothing about you. Praise the Lord, though. You know. And I ain't mad at him, but that was just a sight to let him know, nigger me, nigger you. Yeah, and it's sad, and then they talk about change, but like I said, I've been here since 2000, for real.

So that's 21 years. I wake up quick to a lot of things going on in the community. The way you have ravaged this community is based on everything that they've done, like you're talking about. The merger. Why is West Louisville not a city of its own? Like Auburndale, yeah Auburndale, it's a city of its own. 31:00J-Town, Shively, little old Shively.

But they're telling me over 66,000 residents down there, and they can't get together to have a city council, have a mayor, have a police chief down there. And you know what, let it reflect your community. So make it a black mayor, a black police chief, a black city council. And then people say, "Oh, you don't need color in," but it's everywhere else.

It's everywhere else, and you check who's on the boards and who's on these things and these places. Who's making the decisions for you, me, and my kids? No, you're not doing the HOAs and all that. No, no, no, man, now you created this shit--the HOA. But they don't have it in West Louisville. They don't have that plus a whole other issue right there.


MJ: Well what's your feeling about the revitalization? You mentioned gentrification. Like now a lot of money is being put in, especially Russell Neighborhood. You know they're redoing, they're getting rid of all the housing projects.

NR: They already got rid of them.

MJ: Except for Park Hill.

ROBERTSON:Park Hill--they ain't going to do that for a while.

MJ: Yeah, I think they're just going to level that.

NR: Nuh-uh, you know they can sell that. They see where they live. But I was laughing because they're talking about all this money. 18th and Broadway, I moved back here in, like I said, December '99, the week after Christmas, 21 years I've been here. That sore sight on 18th and Broadway? They've never done anything--the old Philip Morris Building, right?


Right past that and you'll see what the community is being revitalized to--built into. Nothing. They're talking. Okay, they put that over there from--that's not for black people anymore, they're not going to move all those people back up in there. You can't smoke there, right? Come on listen to everything. You can't have a man in your home if he shouldn't be there, all this stuff, you know.

They're not building back for you or I. They're building that to make Louisville look better when those tourists come off that expressway, and they accidentally make a right. They don't see like, "Oh my God, I'm lost." So, you know, yeah, because you know they go deeper west, they're going to be like, "Oh my God. This place is a mess." And it reflects the leadership down there.

Yes, I don't care if it's your uncle, cousin, whoever's out there and the 34:00leaders--you know their names. So reflect them to your community. Because I've been here 21 years and it's been a wreck for 21 years. But you'll praise one of the black leaders there? I'm not praising any of them. You know what, I'll praise them when the community is cleaned up.

When something's going on (inaudible 0:34:19.6), they're standing up together to fight for what's needed, because the Walmart is a political thing. Which would have helped whom? West Louisville. It would have been a boon for them. Especially in that community. No longer do we have to go out to King Run and Outer Loop and across the bridge to do business. We can go right up to Walmart, but that was stopped.

Every time something's going on, like I said, nobody's speaking out because they're afraid that they'll lose your friendship. I don't want to be friends with none of them, and if it happens, it happens. I want God to say, "Neal, good 35:00job." I don't go to their churches. I'm outside their church doing everything that I was taught to do now that you can understand that I was learning that I was learning it.

When my grandmother was having me out there with her, passing out half pint bottles to people to vote for so and so. They were literally doing that. I was young, I was right there, handing them out to them too. You go in there and vote for the such and such, you get the bottle. So of all the games that's been playing and everything they've done, it's a reflection of West Louisville.

Now it's a reflection of the whole city of Louisville because it's spreading. No longer is just every murders in West Louisville. They're out in names that I didn't even know had a street. So now that everybody's antennas up, but yet the same games are being played. Because the money that's being allocated down there 36:00to do the work, is not hitting black Louisville. It's hitting every place else for them to build.

If you ride right here, you'll see them building. I've rode down and they're building--moving, everything, construction work. Down here, they're not building. We can ride over there, not building. Right now I guarantee they're not building. Something's not going up.

Even in all the money they gave Russell to do the Russell, did you think they--okay, Russell, Metro Louisville. So all (inaudible 0:36:38.4) Metro Louisville is over in that because (laughs) if they don't come and make that their own place of business like the city of West Louisville, Lord--

MJ: (Inaudible 0:36:56.5) talk about incorporating West Louisville at one time.

NR: Okay, they were talking about building that thing at Philip Morris for 21 37:00years. They still haven't did that. So when you tell me that that they're talking about it, I'm sitting here like, "Okay, they're always talking about it." And guess what? Go out to East Louisville. They're not talking about nothing. Guess what they're doing? Freaking building, they're building. But guess what? We'll have a conversation. Everybody come out and grandstand. (Inaudible 0:37:30.1) Go past that. If I'm like--

MJ: But one of the problems with the Walmart was local active--it was black activists.

NR: That were paid, yeah, I know about the whole thing. (Inaudible 0:37:42.2) the whole thing. So yes, yes, they're always going to send you to attack you. They're going to send you to attack you. They can't come do it. They don't have to. They're too smart. That's why, here's how smart they are, here take this 38:00gun. Why are you giving me this gun, but thanks. Now with that one gun, you go murder 10 people. Just like me, but you're doing my work for me.

So the same here with all that going out, telling people that you don't want them to--oh--go down here and make sure we build a racetrack in your community. Yeah, a racetrack, right? In a place where they say we'll buy like how many thousands of homes away from, you know, being like adequate for people here to live?

JONES:Like 2,000 homes.

ROBERTSON:Yeah, come on man. When we build a track, and the people sat there to talk about it. And Neal said, like "No, we don't need a track. We need something different." So the track's out. Ah, the activities (inaudible 0:38:51.3) guess why? Because of Covid. You believe that? Guess what, Neal doesn't. If it weren't 39:00Covid, it wouldn't be active like it's like now. Because if you looked that up, they've done it in Arkansas. They had one in the (inaudible 0:39:08.9). It lasted four years.

So now, that's going to look like that in seven years. Remember Neal told you when you were coming, he said, "Man I talked to this guy. He was a genius. He told me this was going to be ravaged." And they don't know what to do with it. Weeds growing up out. So like you said, so where are those enemies even--they've got people flat out riding around trying to buy your house from you. But not for them. So somebody that don't even look like them. That don't even have their best interest at heart.

MJ: So you said that your grandmother was getting calls about buying her (inaudible 0:39:49)?

NR: Yeah, up until her death. Up until her death.

MJ: And where do you live now?

NR: I live out at PRP.


MJ: Okay.

NR: I live out at PRP.

MJ: And so why'd you leave West Louisville to go to PRP?

NR: Well, it didn't have anything to do with the crime and violence. It had something to do with my wife. See I met her when I moved back there, in probably like three months after I moved here. We started dating and everything and you know I was living West End. You know, I think I told you. And she'd come from New Albany, so. I don't want to tap into that, but she's from New Albany, okay.

She don't like where I'm talking to you like me and her, because she don't see--I see red, she see green. Meaning like, "Well, black people just," you know, I'm like, "No, no." There's things in like this fool (inaudible 0:40:44.3) I ate it. So but I didn't prepare it. They're preparing our food for us. Guess what, I don't care what university you go to. (Inaudible 0:40:57.8) all black.

So? How does that translate back out in the community, back out in the world? 41:00What are you doing for somebody else? How are you fighting for your people?

MJ: So how do you find PRP different than where you were before on 35th Street?

NR: Ah man, wow. Guess what? My community is--nothing's going on. We had the HOA and they watched up and, you know, when I forget to lock my garage and I'm out of town, they're calling, "Hey we're going over. We went inside and checked everything," I'm like, "Oh snap. Yeah, yeah." They're not stealing my stuff, they locked my stuff up twice. "Hey look man, I left my front door open, man. I'm in Vegas."

Okay, so how does that translate? Just what I'm telling you. We're more of a community. We know each other. Down here now the neighbors don't even know each 42:00other in the neighborhood--in the neighborhood. Don't get me wrong, if we had anybody get murdered, yeah, yeah, a couple murders at PRP, two or three. But it was your guys coming in. Our neighborhood's-- I'll just decide it's just a better place, my wife loves it.

We had a home. We sold that home out PRP and we moved into a condo because it's just me and my wife. Now we're about to go buy another home. But it won't be West because my wife only sees the news. She don't ride down there. She's not, you know, don't these people like I do. And she hears somebody got killed not knowing that, you know, nobody's killed shooting at me.

You know why? Because I don't do anything wrong in that regards. I ain't trying to take nothing from you. Don't give me nothing to sell for you. I won't accept it, okay. So because I might blow it. And then when I do that, guess what? You 43:00come looking for me because you need your money.

MJ: Yeah, Shively is very interesting, because it's becoming more of an African American community. A lot of homeowners moving in now.

NR: Yeah, and my aunt, she owned her home in Shively. She's (inaudible 0:43:24.0). When I went to Butler, she was--no, it was my last year she was got the house. Yeah, so she owned her home in Shively. We go there and sit on the porch and, man.

MJ: Do you go to Franco's?

NR: Yeah, we go to Franco's. I go to Franco's.

MJ: I live on New Cut, so.

NR: Oh you do, you live on New Cut? Okay. Yeah.

MJ: I'm in Kenwood Hills, so.

NR: Okay, (inaudible 0:43:48.7) a lot of Asians out that way. My Asian friends live out that way off of New Cut. Different community.


MJ: I've noticed that a lot of like, you know, when you had Jay's Cafeteria and a lot of them like, you know, the other Jay's (inaudible 0:44:07.1) and it's all kind of moving south.

NR: So yes, we go to Franco's. My wife, she likes going to Franco's. But it's almost like that black type of businesses, you know, they've done a report about this black businesses. I didn't know this, it blew my mind. That's how I knew--I've always used to save 30%, (inaudible 0:44:35.6) that's how I learned about it. It's only been 24%.

That's why I learned about only 2.5% of business owners are black. I'm like, "No, my homey owns a business on"-- I'm thinking like my buddy that owned this, you know, he owned a couple of businesses. I don't know how they did that. But 45:00they had that (inaudible 0:45:00.9), it blowed me away. 2.--smooth talkers that we are, well you know, hey, it's community, get out here and, you know, sell something that's sellable.

That won't take you and send you to jail. See that's why I can come talk much shit as I want. Guess why? I'm not breaking the law. You pull me over and you can't smell marijuana in my car. You know, you won't find no gun on me that's not legal. So I'm going to fight for my community. Is it helping (inaudible 0:45:37.4)? Probably not. Am I putting a dent in it? No, not at all. Because the same people that I'm preaching to are helping the people who want our property and our land (inaudible 0:45:50.6).

MJ: So you said that you had helped Mayor Fischer get elected. Are you going to 46:00be working with anyone in this current election?

NR: Well I have two clients for something different other than the mayor. Right now, I'm not--you know why? Because I'm sitting there looking like, okay. Hm, hm. Nobody that I'm looking at, even the frontrunner, who do you all think the frontrunner is? It's nobody that's going to help black people.

And see when Fischer was there, we discussed that, we talked about that, and the first I'll say seven years, he was riding with me, West End, coming down here to meet these people, meet this organization doing it the black thing. Go down there and see if you see him now.

MJ: Do you think that the Breonna Taylor events following that, you know, the shooting and then the--

NR: The riots.

MJ: --protests had something to do with that?

NR: Well that and he had to go to the mirror too and see like, "Oh my God. I lead the people into a burning building." Yeah, he sees his mirror every day. He 47:00has to look in the mirror. So he knows he did the people an injustice from the Breonna. He's part of the Breonna Taylor thing. I protested out there with them young people. I'm like, "No, I ain't going to be on no bullhorns with you, but I'm going to support you."

So yeah, I supported that movement. I went to jail. They locked me up. I'm still fighting a case for obstructing a highway, when the guy clearly didn't arrest me until I was on the sidewalk, which they know now. They're trying to get me to plead--"Okay, we'll let you plead innocent, but you got to say that we had the right to arrest you." I said, "No, because you didn't have the right."

If I'm wrong, I'm wrong. If you're wrong, we're not compromising because you're wrong. You're wrong, and you want me to still say no? So I'm fighting that. And 48:00no, before that, he wasn't coming down there. Because I was no longer around him. I don't know how many white people you know, but the majority of them are going to be very uncomfortable going down west to seeing the people that I see.

That's why I'm so relevant, because where you know the top floor, I know the bottom floor. And the bottom floor holds up the what? The top floor. But people don't want to go down there because they think it's a cespool of waste when all the inventors and the artists, they're from West, they're West. So no, the Breonna Taylor didn't have anything to do with it.

Although it enhanced it, seeing him not going down there. And no, I'm not working with none of them because I might put my clown show in there. I mean, I'm an independent. I understand Republicans ain't going to do shit for the 49:00black man. The Democrats, not going to do shit for the black man. What they say, the right wing and the left wing is from what? The same bird, right?

So nobody's going to do anything. No, it's not even--man, Mitch McConnell. They ain't even acting like they're going to do something for you. Right, you've been here? I mean let's be real. Let's be real. And because I don't have time, like I said, I'm 58. Well, I never had time to compromise with something that's right. "Well it's wrong, but we can"--no, no, wrong is wrong and right is right, right?

My granddaughter gets in trouble at school about that, "No, that's not right," and she does that. No, that's not right. Oh no, that's not fair. Yes, you're 50:00going to get scrutinized and your own people are going to turn against you. But so what? You've got to keep fighting for what you believe in. If you believe in your people, then fight for your people.

If you don't, then go on your way and use your education and do whatever you do. And go live high on the hog while we suffer. Here we suffer. You've got 20 rooms in your house, but there's a thousand people out here living homeless. The homeless--they're not invisible. And that's a population of people that not saying they deserve something for being homeless, but they deserve something for being a human being.

Because anything, I don't know, like I've met some of the people, and some of the things that--you've met them because you've been there. Everybody says stories now, "(Inaudible 0:50:48.8) I'm on drugs and I ain't coming back." "Man my wife died. My kids burned up in the building. I have no desire to live 51:00anymore." You know, these are different stories. But what we have to do as--yeah, Mark telling you what you have to do.

I'm not telling you what you have to do. But I'm just suggesting what we have to do is basically start loving one another again. As corny as that sounds. "But who want to love another black man, right. They crazy, them niggers crazy." You don't want to love--no, no, they're human. I've been to--I just was at a white guy's house fundraising. I'm like, I said, "Why are you inviting me out here to see this? Then I know I'm poor." You know what I mean?

He said, "(Inaudible 0:51:35.4), what do you mean? What's mine is yours, all that stuff." I said, "Yes, sign it over to me. Sign it over to me right here, you and your wife. Don't play with me like that." I mean, this house. Oh God, I'm poor, man. And we've got three bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms. Two car garage, it's just me and my wife. We have my granddaughter now. She's coming to stay, but I seem poor, man.


Where do you get all this money from? How are you that much more powerful than me? But they said the wealth gap is 30 times. They're beating us by 30 or more, on the wealth gap. And then brother, like I was telling you about the gold chain (inaudible 0:52:20.5), I ain't, don't get me wrong, I ain't madder because I've got a chain, but it's like, "You're not rich because you have that."

You got a pocket full of that. You're not rich. Now everybody on me on the ball. Not me, but maybe the (inaudible 0:52:36.0), really? That money is not the money that I just saw. We have to start doing better for each other, because one thing about it, the gentrification--it's already, it's too late. It's too late. Like I said, they got that track there. They're about to build a hotel next door to it.


They're about to get the people out across the street from there who live in that apartment complex, right, all of them gone. All of them gone. They knew it, guess what they've got on now? Month to month Section 8 leased over there. Yeah. That people over there, so I can't go through there to get the information, because I know what's going to happen. That little warehouse is going--she's going to sell. Her husband died. Yeah, oh yeah, it's over. It's over.

MJ: Well don't you think having like economic development in that area is overall going to help the community?

NR: Yeah, it's going to help their community.

MJ: But that was an Urban League project.

NR: Okay, so guess who's--so let me point this, let me point this--a fault in our community. The who? The Urban League. Remember when they came out, they said, "Hey, bring us your ideals for what you think we should put over in this community." Six people submitted where they was like, "Okay, these are great." 54:00Then we look up and she has the ideal for the track which came from the six people who put in their proposal. Come on, follow me man?

So now keep in mind, white people don't give money like that unless they're invested in the destruction of something that they want. So now she goes and becomes this great fundraiser, right? But let me take you back when she ran for judge and lost. Couldn't raise a quarter. How do I know? Because I was doing Fischer's campaign at that point, and I was bringing in all the black judges to make sure that Fischer got in too.

So that was my strategy. "Hey, come see all the black judges, (inaudible 55:000:54:56.4), right? And (inaudible 0:54:59.1), and your next mayor, Greg Fischer." (laughs) But anyway, like they do to you when they selling you something. You don't read everything. Black people just read what they tell--"Oh man, the black judges are going to be here."

Yeah, I've done two events with them, all the black judges who was running again. Even some that was coming that was in the (inaudible 0:55:22.7), and it was just packed, packed. (phone rings - I got to call you back. I got to go.) John Cole, that's John Cole. So he's about to sell that.

MJ: Oh really?

ROBERTSON:Yeah, and he--he better.

MJ: Yeah.

NR: He has to.

MJ: Tell (inaudible 0:55:42.5) to give me a call, because I'll write about it.

NR: Okay, you guess what? Done deal. Man--

MJ: I mean, I've been writing about (inaudible 0:55:51.7).

NR: Bonnie, okay, Bonnie, okay, so when I got a game, she was trying to tell me 56:00like, "Well Neal, you need to do, because, man, he'll be tight," look, I was bringing them to his club. All those things that's going on in his club, that was me bringing him that. All the community conversations, all the Martin Luther King Day, all that, that was me--the West Louisville Coalition. So but guess what, like I said, man we can talk about anything you want to talk about.

But I ain't sugarcoating nothing. All those people that you like, guess what, I don't like them because they're taking advantage of the situation. They're trying to make sure that their families are okay. All the black people who you think are leaders, they're not. Because it was--I'll prove it. Ride down that community. I don't care who's coming aboard, who's new. I don't care who that is. Booker and all that--I don't care.

Matter of fact, we need to start finding some gangstas black and put them in office to fight for our--on our behalf. Because we've been sending in people to 57:00do man's work, not saying that they're not a man. Gangsta man. Them white people, they're gangstas. You seen that? Come on man, you see how they act. My name is Neal Rob--you're not saying nothing, I'm saying it. I know what it is.

I've worked in Washington, D.C. I saw it hands on. I worked with Marion Barry. I was a peon, but guess what, I'm sitting there. The spook that said (inaudible 0:57:26.1). No, let me rephrase that, I was the spook who drove the car. Listen, there's things that was going on. How he maneuver, how he handle people, how he love people. And that's where I got my love for him.

That's why I'll go to our community, heartbeat, what's going on? Let's fix it. "Oh, man, Reverend Johnson said that we should wait a few days." What are we waiting on? They're still waiting for them to build on 18th and Broadway. Let me know when that happens. Write about that. Well, we just finally broke ground in 58:002094. Maybe your grandkids will be able to write about it. Because it ain't going to happen in our lifetime.

MJ: That's all the questions I had. Is there something that I didn't ask you about that you want to--

NR: All day, all night, I can kick whatever you want. I'm a rapper that never rapped. But I'm kicking the truth. The truth is the light. You know that. So you don't have to agree with me, you don't have to like me, but guess what? Don't you click that off, I'm still talking. I got a--no, I'm just playing, man. Hey, thank you, man. I appreciate you, man. But I just, I'm passionate--that's passion though.

[End of interview][0:58:37.7]