Chuck Staiger: Okay today is April the 27, 1977 and my name is Chuck Staiger andI'm talking today with Mr. Woodford Porter. Who is director of Porter's Funeral Home here in Louisville, as a past member of The Board of Education for the City of Louisville, and is currently on the Board of Trustees, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, I believe, for the University of Louisville. This interview is one of a series concerning black history in Louisville. And if we could begin, perhaps we could get a little biographical information from you, where you were born and raised and about your education.
Woodford Porter: Well, I was born in Louisville [Laughter], December 28, 1918,1:00right after the end of WWI. I received my education in the public schools in Louisville. I started off in the little, well actually, the main school building had two rooms in it and then there were two portables, called 29th Street School. It's located on 29th Street between Walnut and Cedar, believe it or not, next to the city dump. [Laughter] The principal at that school is known by the name of Rabeena Rogers. She taught the fourth grade and was principal of the school. She had three other teachers, and Mrs. Aweeda Wilhieght was my first grade teacher. Mrs. Johnson was my second grade teacher. And a Mrs. Meier was my 2:00third grade teacher. And of those four people, two are still living.
After I left 29th Street School, I went to what was then Western School. It waslater renamed Perry, William H. Perry Sr. Elementary School. From there I went to what was then Madison Junior High School, which was later renamed Russell Junior High School, and from there, to Central High School, where I graduated in 1935. Well really it was January 36, we had mid-year graduating classes in those 3:00days. From there to Indiana University. And from Indiana University to Kentucky College of Mortuary Science, and went into business. Now that's really running through what I've done.
CS: Right. What prompted you to go to the mortuary school? Was that KentuckyMortuary School?
WP: Well yeah it was back in those days called The Melton School of Embalming. Ithink a year or two after I graduated it became the Kentucky School. Well, I was prompted to go more out of economic necessity more than anything else. My dad had operated a Funeral Business. And his health failed. I had other sisters and 4:00a brother who wanted to go to school and none of them were old enough to take over the business. So, I gave up some of my aspirations and went on to the embalming school to go to business. And that's how I got involved in that.
CS: Was the Day Law in effect then? Or um -- What I'm trying to say is --
WP: Yes that Day Law was very much in effect then.
CS: With the mortuary school is it separate for blacks and white or is it --
WP: Well, yes we were in the same building but we weren't in the same room.Blacks were taught on the second floor and whites were taught on the first floor in the building. The school was on 21st and Broadway at that particular time. That's how they circumvented the Day Law. 5:00
CS: Just separate floors?
WP: Separate Floors. We had the same instructors and everything on separate floors.
WP: Yeah, it was. That was an interesting situation in itself. Cause it providedme some experiences that came pretty useful later on in life. But --
Female Voice: I know what you had for dinner.
WP: Can you smell it?
Female Voice: You can eat it.
CS: That's all right.
WP: You don't have to eat it. [Laughter] I said to you earlier that in allprobability, my being in the funeral business is, well, more or less predicated on things that happened much earlier in the history of Louisville. My dad was born in Bowling Green Kentucky, and had parents who had been slaves. Both of 6:00them had been slaves. My grandfather had gotten his freedom and fought on the Union side in the Civil War. After that he came back and met my grandmother that he hadn't known. After the Emancipation Proclamation they moved into a log cabin in Bowling Green Kentucky and proceeded to raise a family. That's where my dad was born.
They moved to Louisville around the turn of the century and my dad went andstarted in school. I think he got to the eighth grade and the situation got so bad economically in the house that he had to go to work. He went out to work and 7:00he worked in what they called in those days well a cabby, a handsome driver or whatever you want to call it. They met a couple of white morticians who noticed him and had him come and try what they called (hacks). These were horse drawn vehicles on funeral ( ). He started working around funeral homes and learned how to embalm, working for these white funeral directors. And one of them, the Rattermans, encouraged him to become a mortician. Which he decided to do, and he, some way or another, scraped up enough money to rent a storefront. He says 8:00he kept two chairs and some sort of telephone, whatever phone there might have been at the turn of the century, around 1908 or 1909. [Laughter]
He started this business and he often used to tell me about his first funeralarrangement while he sat in the windowsill. And the family he was waiting on occupied the two chairs that he owned. [Laughter] He was a fairly successful man in this business and the white funeral directors, one loaned him the money or rather, took him to Cincinnati and bought a hearse for him and let him pay him the money back. So that he would have a hearse. He was able to get carriages and what not by renting from taxi companies and that sort of thing. That's the way 9:00he got started.
CS: Was there a separation of whites and black funeral homes?
WP: Yes, at that particular time there was. There was, to my knowledge, threeother black funeral directors in the city of Louisville. One of them was a company named Taylor, which my dad said ended very badly because the Taylor who had started it was a very successful man but his two boys tried to succeed him at his death and didn't do a very good job. They had family problems and the business disintegrated. Then there was another firm named Watson that was a very successful firm. And after Mr. Watson died, his widow married a fellow named Cooper who took that place over and continued it and kept it a very successful 10:00firm until the early 40s. Well, he died in the late 30s, and in the early 40s, it sort of fell apart. The other firm that I can remember my dad talking about was a man by the name of Hathaway who--and some of his relatives are still in the funeral business here and that from today is known as Hathaway and Clerk. But it was just Mr. Hathaway, an older man by himself. These firms were in existence when my dad went into business.
He did very well, my dad did--became very successful, branched out and one timehe operated along with the funeral home, he had a barber shop. He owned, well they said parfait parlor in those days in was really and ice cream parlor. It sold soft drinks and sodas and that sort of thing and a theater. But really he 11:00was quite an entrepreneur, you know, for that particular time, with the limited education he had. I thought he did quite well. Did very well until he got involved in politics around 1919/1920.
He got involved in this political movement. 1921 he ran for mayor of the city onan all black ticket of candidates, called the Lincoln Independent party. Well the real reason for their doing this was that the Republican party at that particular time had a strangle hold on the black vote in the city of Louisville. Based on the belief that all blacks owed their votes to the Republican party because Abraham Lincoln was a Republican and he freed the slaves. This was the 12:00thing, and they hadn't gotten sophisticated enough to say as people say now, I don't care what you did for me yesterday, what are you doing today. So they delivered these votes in a block to the Republicans on every election, no matter if it was local, state, or federal. The Republicans felt that this was their just due, their right. Consequently, they gave nothing for it. They never promised anything for it. There weren't any black policemen. There were no black firemen. No blacks in government at all. The only people who were involved in government were the janitors. The janitors were in city hall or the courthouse or something like this. But we didn't have any people in any type of official capacity.
My dad joined with some other people. A fellow named Will Warley who ran a13:00newspaper called the Louisville News, which was a weekly. There was a fellow named Billy Wilson, a Doctor Blackburn, who was a physician, a Doctor (Catalan), who was also a physician. These were the people who really spearheaded the movement. It's a pity that more is not known about Will Warley. Something wasn't really recorded about him because, as I remember, reading his paper, he was a very beautiful person as far as being able to express himself. Today he would probably be a great editorial writer or publisher or something like this. But these people formed this movement and they called their party the Lincoln Independent Party. 14:00
They didn't have any hopes at winning any election. This was not the objective.The objective was to deny the vote to the Republicans and force them to offer something in the way of opportunities for blacks in return for getting the vote, or failing there, to at least give the Democrats to be it for the vote. They had never had the black vote. Like in most of the South the Democrat party was almost anti-black. They didn't want any blacks to begin with. They permitted the Republicans just to have them and they used other means to try to win elections. So, they did fairly well in that election. I don't know how many votes they got, but it was enough to bring about some changes. It was in the mid twenties that 15:00we began to get black policemen, black firemen, other people in government working some jobs in city government and county government.
CS: How did this fit in with the segregation laws that were being passed?
WP: Well, the only real segregation law was the Day Law at that particular time.And of course the rest of these things were more or less localized things, like housing, was handled by restrictive covenants. If a white owned a piece of property and it was in a neighborhood classified as "all white" he would just put in a deed when he sold that property that it would never be sold or conveyed to a person other than a caucasian. Or never be conveyed to a non-white or some sort of clause like this. Of course, these restrictive covenants were later 16:00struck down by the Supreme Court. But this was much later and the other segregation laws were those that were more or less ordinances, local ordinances like forcing blacks to ride on the back of the street car or buses or trolleys.
Our parks, parks weren't really separated then. Now the parks separation cameabout mainly because blacks demanded it. This is a funny story that really hasn't been told a whole lot because I don't think that blacks are too proud of telling it, but it is the truth. There was an altercation in a park I believe it was Cherokee Park, and some 17:00black school teachers and their friends, these were adults that were at a picnic and for some odd reason, white police proceeded to interfere with the way they're outing and became quite abusive. That's when the human cry came up from the black leadership, which at that time, the preachers--the people in the pulpits. They were the leaders in the community. Human cries from then for some sort of redress. This was the night before the coming and then, they demanded that the blacks have their own parks so that they would not have to be bothered by the white policemen, white people and that sort of thing. That is when Chickasaw Park was established and given to blacks. 18:00
Blacks would go and use Chickasaw Park exclusively. This is the only park youmay go to, to the exclusion of all the other parks. I think probably the thing that was hardest for me to ever do in my life was try to explain to my oldest daughter why I could not stop with her in Shawnee Park and let her swing on the swing when we lived in the west end and so you can see that it hasn't been too very, very long that actually the parks were totally segregated. I think Sharon is today thirty years old and she must have been a girl of three or four when this took place. So, you can see that maybe this was twenty-five or twenty-six years ago that we had totally segregated parks in the city of Louisville.
CS: That's amazing.19:00
WP: A lot of things are when you reflect on it. Look back and wonder how in theworld did this exist, but it happened. It existed. After my dad got--this particular election of twenty-one was over, most of the people were in the Lincoln Independent party became Democrats. That is when my dad began to suffer his reverses in business, because the Republican politicians felt he should be taught a lesson, put in his place. They proceeded then to go into the black community through local ministers, these were the leaders, and passed out their thirty pieces of silver, and they had to. These people would get up into their pulpits on Sunday and say don't patronize AD Porter's Parfait Parlor, don't 20:00patronize AD Porter's Funeral Home, he is trying to put us all back into slavery, he supported the democrats and the democrats are against black folks and then this business started.
CS: And then?
WP: He lost the parfait parlor. He lost the theater. He lost the barbershop. Hisfuneral business went to pot. He almost lost that. We had some pretty hard times, some pretty dire straights. The time came for me to go to college and if I hadn't of found a couple of jobs I never would have made it. We just didn't have any money. The sad part about it was that my dad was a very progressive, well meaning man. He only intended really good for his people. But this is throughout history you find this. I used to say all the time that he was born about twenty, twenty-five years too soon. The people weren't ready for him and 21:00his. The group that he was with were just too soon.
CS: That was a bold venture. I guess in 19--.
WP: Oh, it was. Yeah it was. Well, he suffered then I suffered and the wholefamily and ( ) ( )'s family and everybody else involved in this suffered indignities that almost you just can't hardly imagine. Little kids would meet me coming out of the (red) Twenty-ninth Street School that I was telling you about and spit on me, push me down in the cinders. There wasn't any sidewalks down there and the streets were a cinder path. That's what we would walk through. They'd call me "dirty nigger democrat," and kick me and beat me up. On election night, election eve, groups of hoodlums would go through the streets and throw bricks at my daddy's plate glass windows, and shoot up the place. This happened 22:00every election.
WP: No, these were blacks who just took the money from the whites to do it. Butthe Republican party did this. The leadership of the Republican party did this.
CS: That's and interesting story. I don't think too many people know about that really.
WP: Not too many remember a lot and nearly everybody was heading in. Some ofthem would choose not to remember. I can't forget. I don't have any bitterness about it because really I'm rather proud that I had parents like I had. My mother ran side by side with my dad in politics. She had her problems too.
CS: Did time finally heal this?
WP: The event of the depression, the crash, the depression, and the New Deal,and then all blacks became democrats. [Laughter] It's almost as bad the other 23:00way now as it was. It's the complete flip side of the record, you know. I guess, what eighty, eighty-five percent of the blacks in Louisville are registered city and county Democrats. The aim for the Republicans--. The only thing is that we don't crucify the Republicans, you know.
CS: I talked with a, kind of backing up a little bit, a little with Dr. Parrishon another tape in this series about--there had been, a not a conflict, but a disagreement between Dubois and Washington verses whether blacks should go into the formal education or into a trade union. Did you have any of those kinds of pressures?
WP: No, um --
CS: One or the other?
WP: No, no. That type of pressure we were never, I was never subjected to, my24:00dad and mother were solely interested in really becoming totally involved in America and the United States. They had high standards of achievement for me educationally, morally. They believed that the political process was the way to achieve this along with training. I never had any pressures because most of the pressures exerted from me came from inside my home. The home is a very strong factor. The development of black youth, at that particular time, it might have been handling matriarchal society. I'm not so sure that it was because all of my associates had mother and father in the home. The mother didn't work. The dad worked, no matter what he did. He might have been a doctor or a dentist or a 25:00funeral director, a bricklayer, or a ditch digger or a janitor or a baker or whatever. The man worked and he ran the house. The women took care of, well she provided the things that children needed and her husband needed after her husband brought home the meat. Now this was the type of society that I was brought up in. That has established my values and things for me.
But I had no pressure the Dubois/Washington conflict never entered my own lifeor influenced me. Now it might have influenced me indirectly in that maybe some of my teachers had stands, I had to wait. I was proudly subjected in this 26:00particular way to it but they were not, let me say, overt Dubois supporters or overt Washington supporters. I don't think most of them were really deeply committed to either side, in that particular argument. At least if they were, I was never subjected to what their bias or views were.
At home we were taught that there was nothing wrong hard work, physical labor.You didn't have to be ashamed because you got your hands dirty in performing a task. By the same token, we aspired to do the things that were considered better paying and the professionals were the better-paid people. We figured by building economically along with the political base we would have some kind of upward mobility in American society. It was a matter of thinking, to a large degree, of 27:00being influenced by my parent's background. There again, this goes back to what they came out of and the condition of servitude that even their fore parents had been in because there was a pecking order even in slavery.
CS: I didn't know that.
WP: Oh, there was. There was a big difference in the status between the blackswho worked in the house and the blacks who worked in the field. And the black that was the foreman, like straw boss, in slavery and the black who was just another hand. All of these things made the pecking order. The highest people on 28:00the pecking order were those who were in the house and closest to the master or the mistress. Generally these people were the people that the master liked particularly for some trait he saw that he wanted ( ) or they were his offspring of slaves that he brought into his house. This established sort of a pecking order. And some of these people in the house got all the advantages of even education. Some of them were educated, the advantages of a more formalized church or religion. We even had some Episcopalians, you know. [Laughter] This is a really weird thing when you stop to think about it. There, these traits and things that were held high by even the slave owner, this was transferred to the slave. And with freedom, these same things held. You were clean; you believed in 29:00working, you believed in doing very well in everything you did. You wanted to learn. You aspired to really have status, to have somebody really think well of you. All of these things evolved out of this slave society too now. They kept without stratification.
CS: I can see that. Um, Doctor Bell, along these same lines, I mentioned I wastrying to find out how he got into medicine. And he indicated that there were only several fields open when he was growing up. 30:00
CS: That you could reach a high goal and medicine was one of them, and teaching.
WP: Fields generally that were open to blacks until very recently were medicine,law, the ministry, teaching, there were a few pharmacists around. There's been a massive black brain drain in the United States Post Office. Blacks with very, very great minds took jobs in the post office because there just wasn't any place else to go. And they probably had the ability to have been anything they wanted to be. They had the minds to do this and a lot of them the training. But they were wasted, these minds were wasted throwing mail sacks or casing mail, carrying mail, you know. But you have to live. You got to have the were-in to 31:00buy your next meal. I guess, through it all, when you look adversity does some things to people too. It gives you sort of toughness [Interuptuion].
WP: I'd like to go back and talk about some of--you know those first four womenthat I mentioned to you in that school down there where really interesting, to 32:00me, very great people. They weren't college graduates, any of them. They didn't have a teacher training school ( ) like Western or Eastern. Most of them had gone to high school. Then they had what they call a normal school that they went to for two years and became teachers. But these were very, very dedicated women. They had high expectations of their students and themselves. And their demands were pretty severe on you. I will be eternally grateful to each one of those women. We suffered corporal punishment in those days. Mrs. Rabeena Rogers, the school principal inflicted the corporal punishment and her method was to have you get a cross a straight chair and grab the bottom of the legs with your tiny 33:00little fist and she proceed to put a good leather strap on your bottom as it was turned up. I thank her for each time she left. [Laughter]
I had other good teachers, other dedicated teachers. When I got in junior highschool I ran into certainly better trained people. Oddly enough, some of the fallacies of, about black education were really exposed right after the decision of fifty-four, the Supreme Court decision. And then when we moved into the area of desegregating faculties and studies were made and the black educator who was so thoroughly discredited turned out to be the father superior trained person. 34:00We had more people with Masters and thirty hours past Masters and everything else teaching in public schools here in Louisville, percentage wise, far more than whites had. Mr. Carmichael, who was Superintendent of the schools, had to retract some statements that made in a national publication because he found out, after really studies had been made, that he was in error, that his best-trained people were black.
Black youngsters, back in my time, got a good education. I don't know, when Iwent to Indiana University some people said, "your going to have a horrible time with them because you're going to be deficient." I wasn't deficient in anything. I did not have a hard time. And I made a good grade average. And I had to keep hitting the book hard. 35:00
CS: Did the influence of these teachers prompt you to run for the school board then?
WP: No, I tell you.
CS: How did that work?
WP: I had gotten married and I think all of our children were born. My wife hada teaching certificate and had graduated and went to apply for a job. She was told by whoever the Assistant Superintendent was in charge of personnel that they weren't hiring anyone "niggra."
CS: What year was this?
WP: It must have been fifty-six. Yeah it was around fifty-six.
CS: After the decision, I guess?
WP: Yeah, but they weren't hiring anyone "niggra", teachers. And she came homeand told me, listen I just got infuriated. I said well, you know, how do you change this unless you have somebody that's above these people, there you know. 36:00We had had a lot of blacks try to get elected to the board, but had been unsuccessful. So, the next school board election was fifty-eight. I said, well I'm going to run for the board. This is what prompted me to get into it.
I won the election simply because I think that I had grassroots support thatnone of the other candidates ever had, my background and my activities in the community. I just knew more people and more people knew me, more people had confidence in me. My campaign was a very joyful thing, in a way, because I didn't have the money to really finance a campaign. I had to go to the black community. I certainly wouldn't have expected any from the white community, to get the money, and I got it. When my campaign was over, we didn't owe a penny to 37:00anybody. As a matter of fact, we had a little surplus for the next campaign. Blacks put up all the money and it wasn't put up in large amounts. It was a dollar here, two dollars there. I shall never forget, I got a little note from a lady, she lived down in (Reed) Alley, and it had a little dirty dollar in it. She said, "Son this is all I have, I hope you win. God bless you, I love you." And she had a little dollar in there. But this is where it came from.
CS: How were the districts formed, when you ran? Was it large?
CS: That large?
WP: It wasn't um--well there were three seats open.
CS: Was it like the Alderman situation where it was that large but you had tolive in your ward?
WP: No, it was strictly ( ). All you had to do was live inside the confines ofLouisville independent school district. You were voted on from throughout the 38:00district. There were three openings at that particular time. I think there were six or seven candidates. The three highest got the, those were the people that filled the vacancies.
I ran third, I wasn't in the first two but--. And all my votes on the firstelection were black, practically one hundred percent. I got a few white votes, very few. I think the white candidates sort of ignored me. They didn't think I had a chance. Everybody else had tried it and nobody had done it. But I pulled a little wrinkle that they hadn't thought about. I just had my supporters get out in the black community and say, " now look it's on that ballot vote for three but don't do it. Just vote for one, vote for Woodford Porter". Well, there wasn't any point in giving me one vote and then taken two votes away from me. 39:00
CS: Yeah, that's very true.
WP: That's how I won that election. It was an amazing phenomenon if you go backand look at some of the precinct results of that election year. You'll find in some of the precincts in the black, black wards I would have votes like 320, maybe one vote for some other opponent, 200 and something to ten. This is where I piled up all of my votes, the black community. The east end black community, that is the area around Shepard's Square and up in there where we called Smoke Town delivered a good vote for me. Then the west end delivered a terrific vote for me. I got a few white votes but they were few and far between.
CS: How long did you remain on the board?
WP: Eight years.
CS: Eight years, did--were you able to bring about some of the, some changes?40:00
WP: Yeah, well I pushed for the integration of faculties because the SupremeCourt had already decreed the student integration. That had moved along with no movement towards integration of faculty. Here again, I ran into an obstacle that I didn't realize I'd run into. I finally convinced the Superintendent and the other board members that this was the thing to do because of some problems that were arising. The board voted to do it but they opted to do it at a very cautious and timid manner. It was the only way I could get it done, so I had to accept that.
So, the first integration of teachers was confined to ten spots. There were onlyten black teachers into formally all white situations. Here again, you become a very minority, minority, you know [Laughter]. So, it was difficult, the whole finding black teachers who wanted to accept the role. We finally found them but it took a lot of talking, a lot of arm-twisting and everything else [Laughter]. But it's understandable, I don't think that they would be selfish or anything like this but it's rather frightening to think that you're going to be cased someplace where number one, you're not wanted, and you're going to be in such a total minority. You're just going to be that one person there amongst all these others who are against you.
Fortunately the people that we got were, I guess by the grace of God, the rightpeople. Because all of them went out into the best of my knowledge they all did very good jobs, became accepted immediately almost with their faculties and changed a lot of people's thinking. Of course the people were all, as I said earlier, a whole lot better trained than people thought, than white people 41:00thought. They just didn't realize the abilities that these people had. And they came from an older school too of thought about education. That it must be very good, that it must thorough and along with it, you teach something other than what's in the book, you know. You teach a way of life along with it. This is the old educators way of seeing things. You just didn't teach your George Washington crosses the Delaware at such and such date in such and such a year.
CS: Right, I understand.
WP: You taught the moral implications of crossing the Delaware. That went alongwith it. You had to know that just as much as the other. These people were good. Then out of that, we were able to proceed each year with more and more teachers.
CS: The pupils are still segregated, I gather.
WP: No. They were integrated. But the re-segregation in Louisville came about42:00because, at first they were thoroughly integrated and then the white flight took place.
CS: In the sixties?
CS: To the county school systems, right?
WP: Right. And the county school system was a puny little system when I firstgot on. Well, compared to our system. It was a puny little system. And we used to laugh all the time about the kind of (Dick Vanhoose) and his operation of the county school board. Then we said we were going to hack the system so they can't do anything and they won't know whether it's right or wrong, you know. [Laughter] And this was ( ) fact, you know. They could engage in any type of educational experiment and anything they wanted to do out there, because it was just ban new. The people themselves didn't know and the, this was a new bunch and they just tried a little of everything out in the county. Our system was a stable old established system, with the stability at the top, classroom and 43:00every place else. It wasn't long, however, when the white flight, and we started back into re-segregation as they called it. The money pinch-hit us because of --
CS: Tax pace.
WP: Tax pace. Actually the quality of what we were doing began to declinebecause as our older teachers, with the experience and the dedication to do a job died or retired, we were not even able to attract top-flight blacks into our system, because we couldn't offer the salaries. I don't care what you say, if you don't have good personnel you're not going to have good education, that's all there is to it. We got people, they had AB or BS or something behind them. 44:00They weren't the top-flight people that Louisville used to really command. So, we saw the system do that.
CS: To had a declining tax pace and unable to recruit teachers and the qualityof education really went down?
WP: Went down.
CS: And slowly, because it was re-segregating all black?
WP: Right. Of course the system never really became totally all black but it gotto be handled at predominately black. Then of course, the merger, our only answer, and it was just a question of how the merger was going to be effective. We started talking with the county board about merger in the late fifties even. I spent a lot of time and a lot of hours in meetings with the county board trying to affect some kind of merger agreement with them. They were definitely opposed to a merger with the Louisville system because they knew they had the growing tax space and we had the dwindling tax space. They had the white students and we had the black and they just didn't want any part of it. 45:00Everything we always worked out with them always broke down at the last moment, something came up, and for some reason or another it never went through. Here again, I think they were short sighted. A lot of the problems they handled now would have been way behind them had they gone on and ripped out a very peaceful, sensible merger agreement early, in the early sixties. This would have been all behind them. They never would have been in federal court even.
CS: What was the transition between the, your school board and getting involvedin the University of Louisville and the Board of Trustees?
WP: Oh, well, I just made up my mind after two terms on the school board thatthat was long enough, that I didn't want to get married to that job, that there were other people in town capable of holding my position. Other blacks that were 46:00capable of taking that job on. And I just announced it; I was not going to seek re-election. And I think I did the wise thing because I find people get into positions and they think that they have the fountain of all knowledge and I just never wanted to get like that. But it's easy to do once you get to a place you see so and you really know so much that you think, you know, well I know it all. I just didn't want to develop into that type of person so I said I'm through. Right afterwards I took an appointment to the Advisory Board of the community college, which wasn't even started yet.
CS: Was that JCC?
CS: Jefferson Community College.
WP: Right, right. I worked with that a couple of years.47:00
CS: What year was that?
WP: Sixty-six. The college hadn't even opened its doors. I worked with GeorgeDudley, Young Bingham, on that board, and enjoyed it thoroughly. Then they asked me in sixty-eight if I would accept a nomination to the Trustee Board of the University. Of course the city fathers heavy for the University in sixty-eight. It was just beginning to have its problems if I would have known [Laughter] I'm not so sure I would have said yes. That had been an interesting thing to be a part of.
They asked me, I think it was Hudson Milner, who was President of the LouisvilleGas and Electric Company, and I was nominated by me and Mayor Schmied, he had the Democratic Board of Alderman. Oddly enough, the Board of Alderman approved 48:00my nomination but rejected Hudson Milner's. [Laughter] Then the Board of Alderman turned around on their own and named Eli Brown. Eli and I were on the board together, they wouldn't accept Hudson Milner at all, nor would they accept 49:00anybody else that Kenny Smee made. Then, of course, wasn't long before the University got so financially strapped that we just had to move to save the school, and try to get into the state system.
CS: This was when President Strickler was there?
WP: Right. President Strickler was there.
CS: Did this come from an impetus from the Board of Trustees or the Booard ofTrustees and the administration?
WP: Well actually it came from primarily from the Board of Trustees, and the50:00prime movers in that particular project were Archibald Cockrin, Ed Middleton, Eli Brown. Now there were some Trustees who did not approve of this move. But when they were asked for alternatives, they had to admit they didn't have any. There wasn't any other way to save the University. The cost of keeping the place afloat was just beyond us. So after we worked out this deal whereby that the endowment fund for the University or what not could be saved that they would not be turned over to the state. Which was done by a very simple mechanism, just establish the foundation and moved all of the funds into it, that's where they 51:00aught to do, well preserved, in tact. Doing a good job, I think, for the University.
The terms of going into the state system, in my opinion, were favorable to theUniversity. We knew, when we went in, the members of the board knew when they went in that we could not be funded like every other school in the state. Number one, the funds weren't there. Number two, we knew we were going to have to fight everybody else to get to the table to eat even, you know, to get a piece of the pie. This is what is still going on. All of the last week's hula blue, the week before that is just a part of this, the same old battle the battle just never has been broken. Talking about winning the war, we're still fighting the first battle. [Laughter] There ain't a war at all.
CS: I wonder would it be proper for you to maybe tell us a little bit that wenton with your meeting last Wednesday and the recent past. 52:00
WP: Well there were so many things going on with the counsel. I did not sit inany of those inside meetings. I only receive reports for what was going on, and then it was my job to make a decision on which way to move next after I received those reports. The only thing that I can say is right now is that every level of government was involved, every level. As Chamber of the Board, I received the reports and I had to determine by contacting my board members and more or less doing a poll in exercising judgment as to what our next move would be.
That is one of the reasons why we had to have the meeting last Sunday, becausewhen I went to the counsel meeting on Wednesday morning the compromise had been effective. It was the best the University was going to get out of it, and I knew it and I accepted it. And some of the board members couldn't understand why I 53:00accepted it truthfully or why Jim Miller was supposed to be accepting it. But when you get the best you can get out of something and nobody else has any other way to get something else then I just believe in taking that. Now if we would have not accepted it, we might have come up with a way worse state with that first statement that they came up with at the University of Louisville. It was terrible.
CS: What did it say?
WP: We wouldn't have been any better than Eastern or Western. [Laughter] That'swhat that said. It was just hard and face locking it in, the argument from some people, not from some people, now it is that we are locked in but that's not true. The language of the statement that was adopted for the University of Louisville is so ( ) by choice. I can almost take any program that I wanted to and attach real significance to it and justify the counsel saying you may have it. You see, they say metropolitan area and urban affairs, but I can justify any 54:00program in any University in the world almost right in the sideline.
CS: That's what I thought when I read it. [Laughter]
WP: This is what some people are overlooking, you know, and I'm very happymyself. ( ) documentary, and most the other people, and most of the people in the community were really U of L backers are happy now. We got a couple trustees who are; well they are just anti-administration to the part of being paranoid about it. It's working to the disadvantage of the University, I have to say that. I think, for the moment, we have those people fairly well neutralized and isolated. We are in pretty good shape. 55:00
I have got a solid board now, you know. I would not fear any type of vote now. Iknow it would be pro-University it would also be pro-administration at this particular point in time. You know, a lot of people just don't understand, I like Jim Milner as a person, I like a lot of people down at the University, but this has nothing to do with my measuring the type of job they're doing, evaluating them. Jim Milner, I think would be the first one to tell you all if Woody Porter felt that I was doing a lousy job he would ask for my resignation and I would. He knows this. [Laughter]
CS: It's the way you have to operate?
WP: Well this is the only way, you know.
CS: Right. I think you used the phrase last week as we were talking that, "wehave our foot in the door now anyway with state funding."
WP: We are going to be all right. I got some good commitments from the rightsources so the next couple of years we'll be in pretty good shape. When the new 56:00governor comes, who knows. He might be a guy who is interested in promoting mental health. He might take all of the dollars and put them into mental health, I don't know. Carol has been generous as far as how education is concerned, but he certainly wasn't as generous as Wendall Ford. Carol made a pact with public schools teachers and he had to keep it. That was it. And most of the money went to them and maybe it was their turn. Higher education has been siphoning off dollars for a long time. And maybe it should have been going in some other shoe than going into public schools.
You know, things swing in politics. You get one guy going to one side then theother one will come back here and you get other guy that will sit dead center and next thing ( ) will go back this way. That's just the way things go and there's not much you can do about that because, before a guy gets into office you can't say what he's really going to do. He might really intend to do 57:00wonderful things for you and then he gets in there and finds out that he can't do all of these wonderful things he said, well, we'll do such and such things and that is the best that we can do.
CS: I got a kind of a question along these lines and I don't know if it's fair.I have to see how you react to it. I think Kentucky State was the black school in Kentucky, and I see in the paper now that they are going to change the emphasis more towards serving the people, government workers, state government workers in Frankfort. U of L is a large urban population I think we're about twenty-four percent black population. Do you see a shifting for the role of the University to serve more in the black community, perhaps taking away some --
WP: It's all ready done. It's all ready done as far as Kentucky State58:00enrollment, in state enrollment has been steadily decreasing as Eastern, Western, Morehead, Murray, U of L, and the University of Kentucky siphoned off the black students. Consequently, Kentucky State had to go out of state to recruit blacks to come in and the legislatures left us ten percent ( ). So, when they did that, that just fell slow death to Kentucky State, as it existed. Now it will continue to function and maybe this is a good role, I can't see a lot of new buildings and what not on the campus if this is the role that it's going to have because they have got adequate structures and everything else to take care of the state government employees and to do their job. And it's going to become primarily a night college.
CS: Definitely, do you see this perhaps maybe actually aiding the University ofLouisville and it's future for getting funding now that it's-- 59:00
WP: Well, it's --
CS: Now that it is serving the black community?
WP: It will yes. Funding from a lot of sources. Yes it will. And I hate tothink, by George, that this is going to come about at the expense of a sister institution but it's just the way the ball bounces and there's not much you can do about it. Kids aren't going to go to Kentucky State from Louisville when they can stay here for half the money, stay here and pay the same tuition, get a better-structured education. They're just not going to do it. And if they want to leave town, they're going to go to the other place that they have been going like UK, Eastern, Western, Murray.
When my kids got ready to go to school, nobody ever thought of going to KentuckyState, I mean that was just one of the schools that was never mentioned in my house. I would have been happy if somebody would have wanted to go on down there. But nobody wanted to go, the two oldest girls went to U of K, and I had a 60:00son that went to Howard, and the other girl went to Murray, and then I had a girl graduate and she went all the way to Hampton to school, she didn't want to stay in state. But nobody ever mentioned Kentucky State.
And it was not; see if it were a black private school it would have had a betterchance for continuing in existence than being a black state school in the state of Kentucky. I don't know people talk about black pride and this sort of thing. I can understand how they feel about this but by the same token, there are only so many dollars available for higher education and I think students aught to be able to go where they can get the best quality of education that is serviced for their buck. I think that this will do more to elevate blacks in the mainstream 61:00America than having an all black institution for the sake of having an all black institution. Not that the all black institutions can't be very good and Kentucky State has been a very good school. It has a very illustrious history. Not in the more recent past but the distant past it did a terrific job. I ran into graduate students in Indiana from Kentucky State and they did very, very well. They were never embarrassed or ashamed. But, here again, Kentucky State got financially strapped and the quality of people that it could draw in sort of deteriorated too.
CS: That hurts everybody.62:00
WP: That hurts everyone. You know, I hope nobody at Kentucky State, that isteaching at Kentucky State, takes this as an offense because I don't mean it as such but--and they got some good people up there now, but the damage is done, the horse is out of the barn and this is all there is to it. I worry a little about Eastern, Western because they got some Barbara Tories that they haven't been able to fill up, you know. And Murray's in such straights that they have made it a special thing for them that they can go into the surrounding areas, Illinois and some of the other states that border Tennessee on up. And let those people come over there for state tuition in order to get them into the school.
CS: I have several more questions that --
CS: I want to finish up but I don't want this tape to run out so I just wantedeverybody to know that I'm going to another tape here. 63:00
CS: Okay, this is side three, on the tape with Mr. Porter and we had beentalking about black institutions and I maybe putting you on the spot here but and if you're not familiar with this you can stop me. This isn't pertaining to Kentucky per say but I believe there is a conflict between the NAACP and the NAACP Defense Fund. There's a Tennessee court battle, and the defense fund seems to be trying to break up all black colleges, saying that they are segregated, all black. The NAACP maintains that these colleges are actually open to anyone who wants to enroll. I was wondering if you were familiar with this controversy and if it had maybe entered into the Kentucky?
WP: No I don't think it entered into the Kentucky State thing at all. I thinkthese decisions were made about Kentucky State by powers far removed from the NAACP and the NAACP Defense Fund truthfully. And truthfully I am not familiar 64:00enough with the working of the NAACP although I am a life member, at the decision making level to really comment intelligently about it.
CS: Okay. This isn't a local issue, so it's not an unfair question, but --
WP: No, no. It is not. That's right. Well, truthfully, we have a local man who'svery much involved in what's goes on. He's on the board, and that is Dr. (Red). But I haven't talked with my ( ) about the NAACP affairs for maybe four or five years. So, I just don't really know enough to comment on it truthfully, and I've been so busy with U of L I just haven't had time to think of much else [Laughter] if you want to know the truth.
CS: What do you see in the future out at U of L, in relation with the blackcommunity here? 65:00
WP: Oh, there's an opportunity for U of L to become a very, very fine school, inmy opinion, serving everybody. And I do mean everybody. All ready there's some small programs ongoing over in University College under Wendell Raven that point to me in the right direction. Possibly we are able to expand the School of Education so that we can actually supply the Louisville and Jefferson County area with the personnel that it needs. We will be able to give a little better direction and the pupil, the black, the inner city, the urban pupil who comes to the University of Louisville will have a little different status as a result of this even, because we will able to teach the people who are going to teach the people. This will, I think, change the whole system of education in the metropolitan area. I'm not talking about next year now, two years, but maybe 66:00four, six, eight, you know start seeing this thing come about. It can only be good for the whole city and I would rather think in terms of the entire community because, I don't care whether you like it or not, we are interdependent, black, white, Jewish, Gentile, Catholic, everybody, I mean. You can make any minority that you want, but we still are all interdependent. If the black community is in poor shape the whole community is in poor shape because, you know, people don't just sit up and start peacefully.
WP: You know. Catholics wouldn't let you isolate them peacefully. So, the wholecommunity has got to function together. What's good for one part of the 67:00community will make another part of the community good. The University of Louisville is the type of institution that it aught to be and can become. It can only accrue to the benefit of everyone, everyone. I can see the industrial capacity of this area growing terrific, you know. I can see city government beginning to function really like a metropolitan city government aught to function as the result of the University of Louisville and what it's going to be able to put into the community.
Our big fight is going to be getting the dollars. And, here again, for the firsttime since I've been on the board, there are members of the legislature who are actually interested now in seeing that the people of Louisville and Jefferson County get some sort of decent return on the tax book they send down to Frankfort. You know it has taken a lot of things to make people change their 68:00attitudes and what not about a lot of things in this community. And I don't care if the guy in who wants to go down and fight for that book at the University of Louisville might be a ( ) segregationist, I can care less. My concern now is to get him to get the blood out of it.
CS: I came from out of state originally, I'm from Delaware, my folks live inDelaware but I did come to U of L in 1968 as a freshman, and I heard from the people here that it was normally Louisville and Jefferson County verses the rest of the state. Is that um --
WP: Well, in essence this is what is true; it's something that goes that way.But Louisville and Jefferson County law makers have gotten a little more sophisticated they know how to trade horses a little better down in the halls in Frankfort. Politicians who run for statewide office have a little more respect for Louisville and Jefferson County now. They know too, by George, where their bread is buttered, you know, where they really get it from. It's quite obvious and Wendell Ford poured millions back into the community, build the Health 69:00Sciences Center and what not. It was recognition of this. Julian Caroll's done a good job. I mean I don't agree with the government and I never agree with any government on everything. And they know this, I mean, I disagree without being disagreeable, I try to be this way, you know.
These more recent men starting with Louis ( ) have just become more and moreaware of necessity of keeping this strong. This is the goose, if the goose dies than you don't get any eggs. So, I just see her keeping the dough rolling down here, by George, you got to keep it healthy. And this move with the University 70:00is just one way of keeping this a good community, a healthy community. Even a real shortsighted politician would do this, a real selfish one.
CS: Talking about politicians, I don't know if you'd want to comment on this.Judge Hollenback just out of the blue, I guess, made a statement that the University's top structure should have, I guess a president who in charge of the academic affairs and a politician as either the chancellor or the other way around, I can't remember which to deal with, the Frankfort politicians, to get the money. Has there been any thought about this or is it too quick to really --
WP: Well frankly I haven't had the time to sit down and think whether nor notthe idea has any merit. Right off the top of my head I want imagine that they would have to have some enabling legislation in order to move into this and if the University of Louisville did it then every other school would have to do it. And, here again, you create another layer of bureaucracy or something that you got to deal with and pay for. So, I don't know, maybe it lacks merit because of 71:00the cost factor and then again I don't worry too much about what politicians say when they're running for office.
CS: And he is running for office now?
WP: He is running so. And, you know U of L is a hot subject and this a is anopportunity to get radio and the television and the press to get you a quote. And any politician knows that when you get your name in anything it's good for you. I'm not critical of Judge Hollenback because he's been very supportive of the University and I don't think, and he more or less, just said something to be saying something. I don't think he was trying to be malicious or trying to hurt Jim Milner or discredit the administration. It would take a lot of study to convince me that this was a good way to go.
CS: Okay, I wonder if I could shift gears unless you have some other --
WP: Go on. Any direction you were going.72:00
CS: I was wondering if you had noticed any differences in Louisville for blackswhen you were growing up and today. And how it's changed?
WP: There have been some differences and then in some years they aren't reallyany different. I think the opportunity to get an education, to live in a good neighborhood, to enjoy some of the better things of life culturally and every other way are certainly greater for a black to have an opportunity. The opportunity is there. It still requires hard work for a black just like it does for anybody else to achieve these things. By the same token, I feel that basically Louisville's just as divided racially as it was when I was a boy. And 73:00I think people are living with the force of law and we haven't had the force of law long enough for it to become a more or way of life or anything like this. And I don't think this happens in a generation. See my grandchildren and ask them when they are my age.
CS: What happens? Kind of following up on that, I was reading a book that wasentitled From Slavery to Freedom and let me just read this to you. It says, "During the years of the negro revolution," it was referring to the civil rights movement in the sixties the 1960s, "it was widely assumed that vigorous thrush for equality had begun to close the economic gap between negroes and whites. The assumption was entirely erroneous caused in part by the opening of a few widely publicized opportunities that can best be described as massive tokenism. 74:00Economic differences failed to increase and in 1963 the unemployment rate for negroes was 114 percent higher than whites." Do you see this in the sixties or the seventies in Louisville have you seen any progress in closing this economic gap or do you agree with this quote or --
WP: Well I wouldn't agree a hundred percent with that particular quote. Numberone, I can't really disagree with it because I don't have enough statistical information, by George, if I wish to make a really make a judgment. I guess maybe I've been a little too involved in doing other things to really think about it. I guess I got wrapped up in education and the rest of the show and that's the reason I don't profess to be leading anything in Louisville. I'll be 75:00real honest because I got locked into one area, by choice and because I enjoy it this and I think I make a good contribution.
I would like to really know, factually, the number of blacks, a percentage ofblacks who were employed at certain levels at a given time. I'd like to know what that percentage is today. I would also like to know exactly what the percentage of blacks to the total population is today. I'd like to know about really the number of blacks percentage wise who are certain educational levels today as compared with fifteen years ago, ten years ago, what not. All of these things I'd would want to look at before I would say now well we've made some progress or we haven't.
I do know this that the number of blacks in the upward mobility has certainlygrown. Now I don't know whether the percentage of blacks has grown. And maybe, 76:00maybe what has happened to the black community in Louisville is the same thing that I observed about some other southern cities and that was that there got to be a pretty good size of fluent black community, a huge poor black community, but no middleclass. The middleclass always disappeared. And here again, this is a term I use, sort of loosely, I don't mean middleclass as we normally think but I' talking about a black middleclass as a ( ). Prior to all of this there was a large black middleclass, the people who were in the middle in Louisville, a 77:00smaller area of the base of poor people, and small, smaller area of fluent blacks. Now I think more of these people in the middle have moved up into this, this has shrunk and some of these people in this have dropped down to this. I think this is much, much larger. That's what I think.
CS: I understand.
WP: I don't have the statistics to back this up. But this is what I believe has happened.
CS: Middleclass would be shrinking some going up --
WP: And some going down.
CS: Some going down but the people in the lower structurally unemployed --
WP: I don't think many have moved from the lower have moved up to the --
CS: Middle. Just even the middle.
WP: I really don't. Now here again I don't, I can't really say that --
WP: Yeah. And I could really point my finger, so I guess if I had the factsunless I had something else to go along with it to say the reason that these people in the lower level have not moved up into the middle is because of race 78:00or racism, here again. There are so many things that enter into the picture, you know, and that's the reason I am a little leery sometimes with --
CS: Making definitive.
WP: And then when I hear guys holler, the reason this didn't happen was becausehe was black or she was black or the reason it did happen was because he or she was black. But I don't buy this just bingo right now. Sometimes on investigating, I'll find out, yeah this is the reason. It's true; you know that this is it.
I had problems out at the University all the time, people coming in. "I didn't,I wasn't permitted to do this because I was black." I had a kid call me today, young man, call me today. He was turned down for law school. I said, "Did you talk to the dean." Yeah. I said, "Why, did he say why you were rejected." Said, "well my LSAT wasn't good enough." I said well look now, I can't change your 79:00test score. And I can argue with the dean if there are fifty places and they've assigned forty-nine and you amongst three people with the same test scores and what not and it looked like he might have arbitrarily just shunned you aside because you were black and picked somebody else. I said, "but now if you made such a low test score, by George, that you didn't even get to the place where you were really seriously being considered what do you expect me to tell the dean? How can I argue with the dean?" I said, "now you go study and you know what the LSAT is now, you prepare yourself and come back again." Now I know he's not happy but really, how can I defend the guy? Said, "well the test is not fair to blacks." I said, "now wait a minute." I said, "now at that particular level I won't buy that either. You have a Master's Degree from the University of Louisville." [Laughter] Now this is an argument, this is an argument I can't buy. Now I know he had. 80:00
We get ripped off the high school graduate wanting to get into college orsomething like this, sure. I know that the test aren't fair because the kids culture's are entirely different from one another. This is were I say the big battle aught to begin right now, pre-high school education. And here again, the University can play a role in this. We aren't teaching those youngsters but we're going to provide the people that do teach them.
CS: Right. That's one way to fight it. Should get back to something else wetalked about a little bit earlier, you indicated that the Louisville community was divided racially. How serious do you believe this, the white backlash problem in Louisville with regards to education in public schools such as busing and the opportunities for blacks. 81:00
WP: Well, right now I really think it's very bad and to be real honest with youI'm not so sure that if I was a parent of a public school aged child today that I would not make the sacrifice to get that child out of the public schools of Louisville, Jefferson County. I don't think the atmosphere is conducive to a black child learning. I don't think that the atmosphere and the philosophy of the people that run the school system are such that they are going to try to make it conducive to a black child. I don't think that they even have the intension of making teachers sensitive to the needs of black youngsters, who are in a minority everyplace they go now.
Numerically, there, they are a minority group. Now I'm not out here preaching82:00you're in a minority you go in and just expect to be kicked around and dogged around. I'm not going to preach this type of thing because that doesn't have to happen in every instance and you know it and I know it. But I think it's happening in the vast majority of the instances. Kids in the classroom are being either totally ignored or drummed out.
Now this comes from the insensitivity of that white person in the classroom. Andthis, in turn comes, by George, from the insensitivity of the people who run the system. And I firmly believe this exists and I think I have good reason to because I do have enough contacts with people inside the system who know what is going on and they just don't have any reason to lie to me at all and one of them is my daughter. She just doesn't have a reason to lie about that and she 83:00wouldn't. And she doesn't work for Jefferson County but she's inside the system doing a job at this particular time working on her Doctorate. So --
CS: Sounds like a serious problem.
WP: It is. It's a very serious problem.
CS: Do you see anyway to develop a strategy to change that? You mentioned numberone, providing a good place at U of L for teachers to learn.
WP: Well if we could, teachers that know and are aware and sensitive to needs,this would change. However, there's going to have to be some political change too. Whatever's at the top will go down through the system. The superintendent himself has got to have a, some sort of rebirth or something and I don't think this man is capable of it. Number one, I'll just be honest with you, it's just my personal opinion, I don't think he's capable of being superintendent. I don't 84:00think he's even capable of what they say he was capable of, and that's being a good financial manager. This is the way he was sold to this board. I don't think he's capable of being that to be real honest with you. I don't think that they have a very, very strong board. The quality of the membership of the board, I think, would rate pretty low stacked up against most school boards throughout the United States.
CS: Plus there's a double problem against with Louisville verses County?
WP: County, yeah. That's happening inside the upper ( ) of administration. Thecounty inherited some very smart people from Louisville. They got them cutting out paper dolls. Here again, a waste of brainpower. 85:00
CS: So, Like to have a change in some board members, huh? School board membersand the administration?
WP: School members, the administration, then they'll change teachers attitudesand everything else. Most people perform according to what's demanded of them.
CS: I found that to be true. [Laughter] I don't have any other real specificquestions. I would like to turn some time over to you if you had any general comments you'd like to make about black history in Louisville. Perhaps something that I missed in our interview, please feel free.
WP: Well, of course, there's so much actually. If I were a historian I justdon't, you would probably have several volumes if you wanted to write black history in Louisville. Then maybe some of the things I consider important 86:00wouldn't really be very important to a historian. But, means, ends, means, cause, effect, to me, are just as important as the event. I suppose there would be dull, ( ) and things that I could real sit and just talk for hours about and talk about black history, you know. But just effort, you know, I think you could write a, quite a few chapters on just efforts of blacks to get somebody on the school board in the city of Louisville, just that alone, with different campaigns, and how they were waged and the reasons for their successes or failures.
CS: Prior to your being on the board?
WP: Yeah, you know, just these things. I think a terrific number of chapterscould be written on the evolution of leadership, question mark. And, of course, 87:00there's no need to expect one black leader in the city of Louisville and expect one white leader. There's no one white man that can speak for the white community.
WP: And there's no one black man that can speak for the black community.
CS: It's so often that that's what people look for.
WP: They do, they really do, reporters and everybody. They come around, "who isthe leader?" I don't know. [Laughter] What area are you talking about? Who's the leader? But I think, you know, Louisville's an interesting town. It's by far, it's a long ways from being the worst town in the United States as far as black/white relationships are concerned. But I don't think these relationships have improved in the more recent years. And I don't think busing has helped 88:00improve the relationships at all because I think we did not get the leadership in the community for busing. I don't think the judge's decision for the implementation was wise. I think he should have relied more time for preparation and he probably thinks so now in hindsight. I haven't heard him say this but I'm pretty sure he does.
We got no leadership at all from the county judge and just a puny littlesomething from the mayor if you could call it that. I think I would be more critical; well I don't know which of them I would be more critical of. I was pretty infuriated with the mayor and his Director of Safety and his Chief of Police when I saw motorcycle policemen leading a busing demonstration with anti-busing signs on their motorcycles. I mean this says to me that the seat of government is opposed to carrying out the law, you know, the mandate of the law. 89:00I don't see how he can, in good conscience really ever explain this, not to me they couldn't, you know.
By the same token, I got pretty peed with Governor Carol when he made a specialtrip to talk to Sue Conners. Who was Sue Conners that she deserved a trip to her house? Especially when I had difficulty talking to him about some U of L problems. [Laughter]
CS: That does put a --
WP: Funny perspective, yeah. Todd's wasting a lot of money, you know, trying tomake those folks out on the south end think that he's going to get this thing ( ). There's not a darn thing the county judge can do about it. There's not darn thing the mayor can do about it. And why weren't both of them honest enough to say so and say now we're going to have law and order in this town and you people are not going to block up the highways and burn up people's property and throw rocks at our policemen, [laughing] you can go home and act like you've got some sense. Nobody ever gots to say this. 90:00
CS: And that did happen.
WP: Then I think back in sixty-one you know when we had the demonstrationsdowntown. I don't know of a thing that was broken, not one thing. There was never a store window smashed.
CS: The civil rights demonstrations in --
WP: Yeah, there was never a store window smashed, there was never a fire set,there was never a brick thrown at a policeman. And I think we were provoked more than those people out there because I stood across the street from the Blue Boar and saw a policeman take a Billy club and just jab into my daughter's tummy until she doubled over. You know, but we knew that you don't win the battle this way, you know, it's just not the way. We weren't dallying for this. When they 91:00arrested us we knew we were subject to arrest, and we were willing to pay the price whatever it was, that this was it. We knew when to settle too. You know, you don't get all you want all the time, make compromises, take a little now, a little later. When you reflect, I guess you can say well Louisville is not as bad off as, what's the name of the town in South Africa--
WP: Johannesburg, the township where, the all black townships ( ).
WP: So it just depends how you look at it. But we're certainly not as well offas Deaton.
WP: We're better off than that town but not as well off as Deaton. Deaton is92:00still fighting busing ( ) but they've had no problems. Nobody's throwing rocks at buses and burning them up or ( ) down the highways blocking the ( ) they said okay we'll do all we can legally. I think that everybody aught to have a right to do this black, white, Indian, anybody, you know. This is the place to do it. You go to court and you settle it there. I'm a firm believer of this. If you want to go to the streets to demonstrate, you go and demonstrate, but you be willing to pay the price for this now. If you're not willing to pay the price then don't do it, don't come bellyaching to me. Those key people that kept their kids out of school, they should have been willing to go to jail. Had I ever made that decision, I wouldn't even call a lawyer, I'd have just gone down and said okay ( ) I did it what's my sentence. No problem. 93:00
CS: That's interesting. Dr. ( ) who teaches political science out at theUniversity of Louisville taught that, Political Philosophy course and that was one of the things that he lectured. Certain of the early movements, I can't remember who he was exactly referring to, you know. No one was above the law but if you did break it then you pay the price.
WP: Well I think possibly, you know I was a great admirer of Ghandi and I stillfeel like that. I don't like the law number one, I'll fight it in the courts and failing there I'll go to the people. If the only way I can get the people to listen to me is by breaking that law and suffering the penalty for breaking it I'll do this. But I not for destroying anybody else in the process, I just don't 94:00believe you should do this. Here again, I guess we're getting back to what I think --
WP: And here again, things started to get out of hand because people weren'treally reasonable and just absolutely refused to act logically. 95:00
CS: Since sixty-nine, around sixty-nine, 1969?
WP: Yes, this happened on both sides black students and white administrators.And I shall never forget poor Bill Huffman standing out there and for one time in my life, I was just sort of ashamed to say that I was associated with poor Bill that lost his cool, you know. He left these for broken into a shouting swinging his honor waving at, because he was on television doing this. By the same toll, the kids weren't right about a lot of things. They were demanding some things that the University simply couldn't meet.
More black faculty, like the demand we get right now, you know. Well what theheck we can't even track the people till we get the money because the blacks you want, by George, can write their own ticket. Shit you can't get, these young black PhDs, their not going to come work for no eighteen nineteen thousand dollars a year. Why when they can go someplace else that's [Laughter] a better 96:00situation with twice the money, you know, they're just not going to do it.
The University of Louisville's fortunate, I guess, to have to people we got andretaining. The quality of people got great when it was strictly top drawer ( ). We got a young fellow out there that I think one of these days is going to be very famous, that's Jim Haze. Write me on that. Dr. Macmillan that they finally got over there in Dillan's offices is a bright young man. We were fortunate to get these people. We only got Macmillan back here because his mother lives here and he wanted to come to see, be near his mother to look after her in her old age. Other than that, we would have never gotten him. He made some sacrifices to come to U of L, financially. 97:00
Rayburn is in a good situation. His coming to U of L as dean of the UniversityCollege was a little move up the latter. And he's making a little more money but he's got an opportunity to do something that he wants to do, that's lee to be weighed in attracting him into that job. But it's not easy to go out here and recruit strong black people to come into the University of Louisville. The University of Kentucky has the same problem. And we think they are paid fabulous salaries down there but they can't compete in the black market either. They get people in, they stay a year and their gone.
CS: They're gone.
WP: There were two women down at U of K in education that I talked to and triedto interest them into coming to play. 98:00
CS: No dice?
WP: No dice. They went, one of them went to Texas and the other went to Michigan.
CS: You think we're going to have to raise salaries out at U of L?
WP: Oh no we won't have to do that. As a matter of fact, salaries throughout thestate are going to have to be raised for us to continue to get the competent people, to be competitive. Now I'm not saying that money will absolutely buy the top man all the time, you know better than that because a lot of things attract people more than money. I know a fellow in med school right now, by George that was offered $30,000 more than we are paying but he decided to stay here. Because he is doing something here that he wants to do. Now in another three or five years this will be finished. I don't know whether we can retain him or not. 99:00
CS: So, along those lines, if you cut some of the Doctoral programs that wouldbe a death blow --
WP: To us, we just might as well close down the University if some of theDoctoral programs go. But we got a few out there but they were so poor.
CS: That they're probably --
WP: We'd be better off without them truthfully.
CS: You hate to say that about --
WP: I do, but I'm honest. You know, I just have to look at it like it is that'sall. Of course, most of us know the ones that are--. These people who are involved are going to holler like stuffed pigs. But you'd do to if your ox was ( ), you know you'd holler. Whether it's a good ox or not it's your ox and it's out there and you want somebody to come help you pull it out. We got a couple of ( ) programs that when, the faster they go, the better I'm going to like it, truthfully. Cause I'd like to see the resources going to something else, truthfully. 100:00
CS: Some tough decisions will have to be made in the future.
WP: Yeah, and we're going to have to have some decisions made by some people atsome administrative levels too. They are going to have to pull themselves together and decide to play a little team ball for a change instead of being pre-Madonnas out there on their own. And I know deans and what not that are notorious for this all over the world. But we just can't afford that type pf thing right now. And those that can't do it, I just wish they'd pack their bags and be gone. We can move some people up from inside the institution that are willing to do it or go out find some people that are willing to do it. But right now we need unity. We need people who are willing to work hard to produce programs that we can go to the counsel and defend. We don't need anybody sniping at the president or the vice president or anybody else right now. If they're not 101:00willing to go to work, I wish they'd go somewhere else.
CS: Yeah I can definitely understand that. You know I'd like to listen to youforever but know you got to go to bed and get up and work tomorrow. Unless you have any other comments --
WP: No, it's been an interesting interview.
CS: And if, you know, I would like to leave an open invitation if somethingwould ever come up in the future, over the next year that you think might be interesting to keep --
WP: I don't know, do you have a woman by the name of Abbey Jackson, Abbey Clair Jackson.
CS: Yeah, I have her on our list. Yeah I do.
WP: I would suggest you talk with her. She can give you some interesting thingsabout the history of Louisville and particularly as it relates to the black church, everything except the Baptist Church. She's pretty active in the 102:00Methodist circles and would be able to help you, give you a lot of information.
WP: Her family was quite an outstanding family. She had a brother that was thePresident of Atlanta University, a dad that was a bishop of the ( ) church, her mother was the first black woman to be elected Mother of the Year for the United States.
CS: I saw that clipping the sketches file down at the library.
WP: Quite a family, college professors and ministers, insurance company executives.
CS: Do you know where she's living now, is she?
WP: 2301 West Chestnut.
CS: 2301 West Chestnut.
WP: Abbey travels about a lot. If you call and don't catch her, just call backagain because she's in New York, Chicago --
WP: She's quite an active woman. She's not a young woman either, but she stillgets about. I'm trying to think of who else you might really like to talk to. 103:00
CS: Well let me just leave an open invitation for you at any other time that youmight think of, and please call us any time that something pops into your mind. You can get a hold of Dr. ( ) office and --
WP: You talked to Lineman you said didn't you?
CS: Regina Monsuers talked with him. It was really an extensive interview.
WP: Lineman's had a very interesting life, a very brave man.
CS: It sounds like he is really.
WP: I remember walking a picket line with Lineman out in front of MemorialAuditorium over there one night. They had to play Carman Jones. This was back in the late forties, which was an all black show and they segregated the seating in 104:00the place. [Laughter] A little bitty corner in the back was reserved for black folks. The rest of the place was all white. We picketed the place, in protest. It didn't do us any good. We just got wet, that's all I can remember, that we accomplished. But I sure walked a picket line with that guy.
CS: I'm kind of looking forward to hearing that interview. Well, let me let yougo to bed, retire and I want to thank you and that concludes our --
WP: I'll get a pen and sign your --