MRS. J. H. (MURRAY) WALLS: . . . .and then he stayed on even to the very end, Ithink, or until he became so sick he couldn't stay, of course.
DWAYNE COX: Yeah.
DR. J. H. WALLS: Now what are you doing today?
DC:Well, again, just for the record, this is another oral history interview withDr. and Mrs. J. H. Walls. Today is the 27th of July, 1977. My name is Dwayne Cox from the University of Louisville Archives. I think it was on the 18th of last week that I came and we talked about, for the most part, Dr. Walls' recollections of his medical practice in Louisville from the late nineteen -- teens, his association with various medical organizations and public health 1:00endeavors, the well-baby clinic and at the same time and on the same day, we discovered that Mrs. Walls was involved in the integration of the Louisville free public library, which is right across the street from us. We're at 800 South Fourth Street. Mrs. Walls was involved in the integration of the public library and also in the integration of the local Girl Scout organizations.
Today we came especially to talk to Dr. and Mrs. Walls about the integration ofthe public library and the Girl Scouts. I read over the correspondence that you loaned to me about the integration of the library, you know, your first letter to Dr. Rauch, Rabbi Rauch about that, and maybe we could start out by you 2:00telling us just a slight background about yourself. Where you came from, where you went to school. Then, about the library facilities that were available to blacks in Louisville at the time you began this effort to integrate the main library.
MW:Yeah. I handed you, there, a statement that was made by Dr. Davidson. Lookthere on the very first sheet. I was given an award by the Council of Jewish Women and the YWCA. They gave an award to five women in the community who had made a contribution in one way or another. I think it was the Girl Scout organization that I got my biggest acclaim from, but Dr. Davidson presented the 3:00award to me, as did other prominent people to the other women. Now, there is a statement there, which he makes, that I think would tell you a little bit -- it's a statement right in through here. Read in through here. . . .
DC:Okay. And this was from Dr. Davidson on October 11, 1962?
MW:Yes. This is the speech that he made to me, and he made a statement about thelibrary facility. You can read that. It's right in here, and you can read that sentence.
DC:"Consequence, you were the initiating force and, perhaps, the person mostresponsible for the full integration in 1941 of the library facilities in the city of Louisville."
MW:Well, that gives you just a little background _______ at that time.4:00
JW:They probably didn't make mention the fact that this publication came out thenext morning after you wrote this letter to Rabbi Rauch, and on the front page was headlined that it aroused the community to the extent that a citizens committee was formed.
MW:Yes, that's true.
JW:Which was headed at the time by W. P. Alford, and this was a very largecommittee, which included you and also myself. This committee stayed together and worked until the libraries were open. Now, you can tell some of the 5:00activities this committee went through during the time.
MW:Where did you want to begin? Do you begin with a story or begin with my background?
DC:Maybe you could just say a little bit about where you were born and when youcame to Louisville.
MW:I was born in Indiana, a little town called Anderson, Indiana. My father wasa physician there, and when the gas plant employed closed there that employed most of the Negroes who lived in Anderson, it meant then that Negroes were leaving Anderson, going where they could find work. So my father moved when I was quite young to Indianapolis, Indiana. He did his practice there and I was educated in Indianapolis, Indiana. I went to Short Ridge High School there because Short Ridge was the school where, if you expected to go to college, you 6:00just went to Short Ridge to school. Because it was kind of a college preparatory school. I grew up knowing I was going to go to school. I was going to go to college, and that I would come out and probably be a schoolteacher. Then I went to Butler University there in Indianapolis for my BA degree. The graduate work that I did, I did at Columbia University. I don't know whether that's enough or not. Oh, after I graduated from Butler, I didn't go into the normal schools. As 7:00I said, I went on to college. Then when I finished college, I began teaching in Indianapolis, and I taught for a good number of years there in Indianapolis. Then during the summer months, I went to Columbia to school to work towards another degree.
DC:And you came to Louisville when?
MW:Well, I came to Louisville in. . . . I married in 1935. I came to Louisvilleand took two years leave of absence, and remained here for the first two years. Then I went back to Indianapolis to teach. In 1940 I resigned and came on to Louisville for good. During that interim period when I was in Indianapolis, I commuted every weekend [laughs] from Indianapolis to Louisville.
DC:It might be interesting to compare the two. What were your first impressionsof Louisville as opposed to Indianapolis? 8:00
MW:Well, there were things about Louisville that I did not like, things that Idid like about Louisville. I didn't like the prejudices that I had to face when I came into Louisville. I could not use the main lobby of the Union Station in Louisville, because I'd traveled on the train. There was a colored section, and it took me a little while before I knew that that colored section was there. It was off behind the main part of the station and, finally, one day I came on into 9:00the main station and was told by somebody in authority that I was to use the colored section. I hunted up the colored section, reluctantly, and had to use it.
I could not try on any of the clothes in any of the stores. I remembered,however, before I knew that, of going to Stewart's for a pair of house slippers. They sold me the house slippers and then I came back. Just in talking with my friends about it, they were surprised that they'd waited on me. Then I went back again and was denied, and I mentioned the fact that I had been trying on these slippers. One of the clerks said this to me, she said, "Well, when somebody 10:00comes into the store that they feel comes from away, they will probably wait on them and let them try on things because they all", according to her, they just didn't want other places to know what their policy was. But, their policy was not to try on things on Negroes, and that applied to practically every store of any consequence on Fourth Street. The better stores, I'd say, on Fourth Street, except Byck's. Now Byck's was the one good store where we could go and try on clothes. Well now, there were things like that.
Of course, we couldn't go into any of the restaurants. After I was made a memberof the board of the Girl Scout council, occasionally, we'd want to meet at 11:00lunch. I remember going to the coffee shop of the Seelbach Hotel with a group of women, I being the only black person in the group, and we were told we couldn't eat there because of me. Well, of course, all the group left. It was things like that that were very very disturbing to me, but it was the statement that the girl made to me that made me feel that there were a lot of people -- I'd been made a member of the board, my husband had been on various boards -- and all of them seemed to have the desire to make Louisville a better city for all of its 12:00citizens, and I liked that. Now in Indianapolis, things didn't or there was nothing there to make me feel like Indianapolis wanted to push ahead in its program of doing away with discrimination.
I had the feeling that there were a lot of wealthy farmers around Indianapolisthat were only interested in just making their own little money, and not too interested in people. I had the feeling that here in Louisville that they wanted to do something about the situation, and later on they did. Now that's my reaction so far as the two cities are concerned. Can you think of anything else, Johnny, that I might add? [Mrs. Walls is talking to her husband.] 13:00
JW:Well, other than that you said the people. Of course there were many whitepeople who seemingly wanted to do what we considered the "right thing," but there was a much more active group among blacks here --
MW:Yes, they were much more aggressive than people in Indianapolis.
JW:And that was one of the main things, I think, that interested you, was thepush among the blacks in the city to go forward.
MW:It could be that Negroes didn't suffer quite as much in Indianapolis as wesuffered here. That may have had something to do with it. I don't know. Well, I'd rather think, perhaps, that that was it. I think there was some white people, too, influential white people -- 14:00
JW:There were many of them.
MW:-- Mr. Byck. There was a Mr. Harry Schacter here also. The old-timers wouldremember Mr. Schacter, and there were others who had some input, with the fathers of the city of Louisville, I think. Take the Binghams and the Courier-Journal. Now I hear people express their displeasure at the Courier-Journal, but I could never do that because the Courier-Journal from way, way back, even before I got here, wouldn't you say, John --
MW:-- has always been out there and the fairest, I think, in their editorialpolicies as any paper that I could mention, and we read an awful lot. Those were 15:00the type of people that I felt, someday, would make a change in Louisville for black people, and Filipinos or Orientals coming into the community. We didn't have that in Indianapolis. There were none of the papers in Indianapolis and even to this day, I don't feel that the papers in Indianapolis in any way, compare with the papers in the Courier-Journal and Times in Louisville in its stand for right. Johnny, do you have anything to add to that?
JW:Well, relative to the Courier-Journal, I could say this. In my work aroundcommittees, where I would run into many of the leading white people in the city, the Courier-Journal would take stands that would be criticized very severely by 16:00these white people. Some of the leading white people. Yet it did not slow -- it did not stop the Courier-Journal from being as liberal as it was. Now, of course, it wasn't as far out as we wanted it to be, but it was so much better than other periodicals over the country, especially throughout the South and throughout the North, too, for that matter.
MW:Then there's another incident I'd like to tell you about. Of course,Stewart's has been considered the leading department store in this city of Louisville, I guess for years. Kaufman-Strauss was another leading store, and 17:00later on Mr. Schacter made a statement to me that Kaufman's was the second -- he always thought of it as the second largest store in the city -- largest store in the city, and it was. Well, during the war, Mr. Schacter called me into his office and asked me if I would join his personnel department. Well now, that was just almost an unheard of thing, here and even many other places, because after I started my work the Urban League, the National Urban League, sent someone down here just to see what was doing, because they had what was called an employment opportunity group. They had heard about what happened here in Louisville and they were trying to push it in other places. I remember Hartford, Connecticut, was another one who sent a young black woman to Louisville to see what was 18:00happening. But back to Mr. Schacter. It was during the time when -- it was during the war -- it was difficult to get desirable help, and he asked me if I would come in and employ the Negro women for the store.
I was actually a part of the personnel department. I had an office of my own,and together with Mr. Schacter, we made -- worked out such a program that I could offer the Negro girls that I did employ, some opportunity for promotions. At that time, Negro girls were elevator girls, maids and that was about all. We 19:00had the feeling that people had to be motivated to give their very best performance. I mean, you'd have to know that, "Well, if I do a good job here, there'll be another good job just ahead." Mr. Schacter worked with me on programs such as that to the point, really, he said to me one day that he felt that the work that was being done there in Kaufman's was influencing all the other stores in the city. He had found that it had really helped them get better help. Those are some of the things I'll tell you about. Well -- 20:00
JW:One point that you made with him that I thought was very good, that there wasa woman, they called her Ms. Lillian, who had worked there. They had a 35-year party for her when she was retiring.
MW:She had worked in the store for thirty-five years. [Laughs]
JW:This was a party they had in the basement, wasn't it? Mary made the pointthat in her thirty-five years, she was very well liked. They worked regularly and everybody in the store liked her. She was a very fine person.
MW:Very fine person.
JW:But in thirty-five years, her promotion was that she was allowed to clean upthe president's office. Mary compared that with the white girls in there. A white girl comes in here and work thirty-five years, she would have had a top position by this time. But now these black girls see that and there's no inspiration for them. You work thirty-five years and be allowed to clean up the 21:00president's office. That's not much to work for.
MW:And that really was something, because she didn't have too much to have todo. She'd grown old by this time. Not old enough to put her out of the store to relieve her of her job, but that was just a big step for her. Those were the sort of things that were happening, but on the other hand, he did give me an opportunity to upgrade some of the girls. I --
JW:Occasionally, I would be there. I would pass by there for something, and oneday I was there and one of the managers was telling me a story. I think he thought that this would raise my admiration for the management there. He was telling me that there was a black man who had been working there for a long time 22:00and said, "He's a very fine fella. He knows all about the carpeting here."
MW:Yes, he worked in the carpeting department.
JW:People would come in and ask for him and he'd go over there and wait on them,but still I'd say, "Were you paying him a salesman price?" He was still a porter. They never did promote him as a salesman. Yet he was liked very well to the point where people would come in and ask for him, but he was still a porter.
DC:He was doing the work as a salesman for a porter's fee.
JW:Yes. That's right.
MW:But now, Mr. Schacter worked on the assumption that, at that time, I thinkthe Negro population was about 14 percent of the city's population. He made it very clear that he wanted at least 14 percent of his employees to be black.
JW:That was another point there that I needed to tell you about. We were proudof the 14 percent of the workforce, but the thing that we needed was 14 percent 23:00of the payroll! [Laughs]
MW:I was very fortunate in having a husband that would listen to me when I'dcome home with all of my -- even in every organization I've been in -- I've always come back to get his suggestions, his ideas, and his help because he had worked in most of these organizations and because of that, then, he had a lot of experience and I valued his experience. Now, before I leave Kaufman's, I'd like to say this, that they have a little _________ section in the paper -- maybe you don't pay any attention to it -- but they'll put the picture of somebody who has done something in the store there that's worthy . . . and a little while back, 24:00there was a picture of a girl that I had employed in Kaufman's. Now this was back in the '40s, and today she's listed -- and if I had known we were gonna talk about Kaufman's, I would have liked to have shown you that picture because I have it -- or her picture was there because she had been made manager of the men's department up here, I think it was at their store on Dixie Highway, which shows you what can happen.
DC:So your labors bore fruit?
MW:That's right. Now this is the '70s and she's still with the store. Anotherincident I might tell you about, too, is in the Girl Scouts program. We started as -- and I don't want to divert our attention to the Girl Scouts -- but quickly 25:00I can say that the Negro Girl Scouts when I first came to Louisville, worked right along side the white Scouts. They had their own cookie money. We had our own cookie money. They had our own camp. We had our own camp. But after the very first camp that I worked with, and I think that was the very first camp for Negro girls and we had it at Camp Danburen, they felt like there ought to be an interracial committee that would work towards improving the Negro Girl Scout camp program. It wasn't too long after that, after they decided to have the interracial committee, that they elected a black person to chair that committee. The first one was a white woman, and they elected me chairman. Then, it wasn't 26:00too long after that before they saw my activities there and made me a member of the board of the Girl Scout organization. That was a little unusual because I sat down then with women who felt as I did, that the black girls program ought to be a part of the total Girl Scout program.
MW:Then, back in my committee, we decided that we'd work toward the dissolutionof the black committee, and we did. That committee was finally dissolved and I 27:00took my rightful place on the board, not as chairman of the committee for Negro Girl Scouting, but as a board member of the Scouting, and I became vice president of the Girl Scouts. Then I became a member of the regional committee of the Girl Scouts. I became secretary of the regional committee that embraced Kentucky, West Virginia, and Ohio. Then when school integration started in Louisville -- that was about 1957, I think it was -- they didn't open schools right after the decision, but our board decided that we ought to integrate our 28:00camp, and it's a long story coming up to the camp because we had had a separate camp and they had a separate camp at _______________. But they decided then that this would be the time for us to integrate our camp, so that our youngsters who would begin school in September, black and white, would know each other. So those were the kinds of situations which made me feel that Louisville wanted to do something about making Louisville a place for all of its citizens.
DC:So in 1940, you came to Louisville to live and you were distressed, in someways you were distressed, comparing it with race relations in Indianapolis -- 29:00
DC:-- where you had grown up, where you had gone to college, where you hadtaught school. Yet at the same time, you saw that there were some people who believed that things could be improved.
MW:Uh-huh. You could work with those people towards improvement.
DC:Now in 1941, let me sort of set the scene for the library here. Correct me ifI'm wrong about these things, but the schools weren't integrated, the city schools weren't integrated. The university wasn't integrated. You couldn't try on a pair of shoes from Stewart's, unless you were from Indianapolis.
DC:But yet you decided that it was time to integrate the public library. Can youtalk some about the situation that you encountered in the branch library and 30:00that sort of thing?
MW:All right. I was working in public housing at this time, and I've always hadan interest in it, an interest in housing, too. I had to make a talk out at our Louisville Municipal College. Now that's the college --
MW: -- The very first meeting we had with the board, the entire committee metwith the board, and Rabbi Rauch, who was chairman of the committee and all of 31:00the board members sitting around him, and they placed us around in front of them. We went in feeling that there would be some discussion between the two. . . .
MW:. . . .but Rabbi Rauch looked at us and told us that the board would be gladto hear us, and "You may say whatever you wish to say." He called on the first person seated there to say what he wanted to say. Then he went to the next one and said, "Will you say what you want to say." He went all the way down our committee membership asking us each to make a statement, and when we finished, he dismissed us. There was no discussion, whatsoever, between the board and the 32:00committee as to what their intentions were. They heard what we felt and the reasons why we felt we needed access to the library and that ended it. Well, that was the most embarrassing meeting I think I've ever been in. We left without any kind of a statement from them, wouldn't you say, Johnny?
JW:Nobody said not one word.
MW:He was the only one that said anything, and he was the one that just calledon us to speak.
DC:Uh-huh. So you felt like or that you wanted some dialogue, I guess, more thanjust coming in like you were testifying before a Congressional committee?
MW:That's right. Well, when we went away, though, we went away and amongourselves, "Well now, we felt like the board was really hostile towards us." 33:00Then we just had to work out some kind of plan where we'd just have to work on our own, and do whatever we could to form some strategy for working with the board.
DC:Did you feel like that Rabbi Rauch had been on your side in this and hadhandled the meeting in the way he did because it was the wishes of the board, or he had just brought it before the board because he maybe felt like he was obliged to bring such a complaint before the board?
MW:I can't answer that question yes or no, because I did not know Rabbi Rauch.My very first conversation with Rabbi Rauch was coming out of this meeting, and 34:00he didn't commit himself at that meeting. He did tell me to write the letter, and at that point, I had the feeling that maybe he will do something about it. But, from the way that meeting went, I came away really hurt and I didn't have a good feeling down in my heart for the way in which it was handled.
MW:I always had the feeling and I still have the feeling that a person who headsup an organization can pretty much use some good judgment in handling the things that come before the board. Now that isn't always the case, so I couldn't say yes or no. I know I didn't come away with the feeling that he was anxious to see the thing happen, because April 7th is when I wrote the letter and there was a 35:00Mr. Brigham, who was the head of the library at that time. Mr. Brigham wrote me a letter on April 28th. Now this is the head of the library.
MW:And one paragraph says here, "Let me add that the public library has longrecognized the fact that large and increasing numbers of colored citizens, particularly those with educational attainments such as yours, have need of access to more library materials than can be had in our colored department libraries and have a legitimate claim on the total resources of the library system." Now I'm quoting from a letter that Mr. Brigham wrote to me. So the 36:00board was aware of the fact, because I'm pretty sure he must have passed this letter on to the board -- at least I imagine he did and I felt like the board probably knew his feelings. So we continued to meet. We'd write letters. We'd write letters to the "Point Of View" column of the Courier-Journal. We wrote to other organizations that had to do with this. Here's a little book here, but, oh, this came out very late. There came a time, too, when -- and let me see the 37:00date on this. Some of these dates escape me -- but I remember President Roosevelt was going to read the Bill of Rights to the nation. Here, I have the article that makes that statement, and we decided that this might be a good time to show them that we really are still working on the thing and still want to do something about it. This was in December of 1941 that the entire committee visited the downtown main library to listen to President Roosevelt read the Bill of Rights. It was the Bill of Rights celebration that day, and all the libraries 38:00in the city were open to have people come in to hear it because they had a good audiovisual department by this time.
MW:And in December 1941, this little article comes out. It says, "The Bill ofRights celebration finds Negroes seeking rights." You see that's in the headline. Now that came out of the Courier-Journal, so I have often said that we really did the very first sitdown in this town. You remember the demonstrators, often the youngsters have a feeling that we did something very different that brought about the public accommodations ordinance. But we went as a group to the main library and, of course Mr. Brigham wasn't there, but there was a librarian in charge, a woman whom I do respect very much. I like her and when we see each 39:00other now, we're very happy to see each other, but she didn't know what to do with us.
I mean, here we are, a group of Negroes coming into the library. She made thesuggestion that we could hear it at Western Branch library, and at this time, I was kind of the spokesman for the group. I told her, "Well, we had decided we'd prefer hearing it here in the main library." Well, she left us and later on in years, she told me she went to the phone and called Mr. Brigham and said, "Mr. Brigham, they're here and what must I do?" and he said, "Let them stay there and hear it." They didn't offer us seats, but we went on in and sat down in the room 40:00and we did listen to that end. So, we kind of feel like -- at least I feel like -- we did one of the first sitdowns in the community and that was in December 1941.
DC:Was the library actually integrated after that?
MW:Well, no! The library didn't become integrated until the '50s, but at anyrate, we began talking to the city about it, to the administration. Now Mayor Wyatt, Wilson Wyatt, was the mayor at the time. Johnny, you tell that story because you were the one that called Mayor Wyatt and talked to him.
JW:Well, we had gotten an appointment for this committee to meet with him and we41:00went there, at our time, and talked with him and told him our story. He said to us, "Well, I can't tell the board what to do. It's an autonomous board," he said, "but I do have the power of appointment to the board, and there's a vacancy coming up on the board very soon. If they don't open the library, when this vacancy occurs, I'm gonna appoint a Negro to the board."
JW:Sure enough, in a very short while, there was a vacancy and he did follow upwith what he said and appointed a Negro as a member of the board, the library board.
DC:Who did he appoint?
JW:Edward Wilson, who at that time, was principal of Central High School.42:00
DC:So they still hadn't integrated?
JW:They still hadn't opened up and he served on the board there for quite awhile, even then, before they opened up.
JW:Now we had the feeling that they should have consulted us for someone toappoint on the board. That we would have appointed someone we knew would have been in there fighting for integration, but when we knew anything, the man was already named. It was a man that we knew and he was a fine person, but he didn't have the fight in him that we had. Now, just how much he did within the board to bring about integration, we can't say, because we never heard of anything he did or did not do. But it was a considerable time after he was appointed, though, before the board opened.
DC:Was he still on the board when they opened up?
JW:Yes, he was still on the board and when the resolution came to open up thelibrary, they allowed him or at least he read the resolution to the board.
MW:Now that was in the main library. Now, all during this time, there were43:00various groups that were discussing it. I have all the little letters that went to the "Point-of-View" column, stating that they felt Negroes should have access. I have another little letter in here that says, "Let us in Louisville keep our perspective." Talking about -- there were pro and con, some letters but mostly letters that were anxious to see us come in. There was a little section called "Around the Town" and in 1942, [reads] "The library service for Negroes 44:00will be discussed at a special meeting at the library board at 4:30 p.m. in the local free public library. The meeting is being held at the request of several Negro groups in the community, who wish to discuss, frankly and constructively, the library situation as it applies to Negro citizens here." So, you see, people were beginning now to talk about the library, all around. Now, finally, the main library was opened, and here's an editorial that the Courier-Journal wrote that said, "A mature community is bespoken here." Which shows you -- I'm pointing out 45:00these things, showing that the Courier-Journal helped an awful lot. DC:Yes. Yes.
MW:Then it wasn't until 1951 when the branches opened. At that time, here isanother big statement from the Courier-Journal saying, [reads] "All public libraries here are opened to Negroes."
DC:Wilson Wyatt did some other things that were unusual as far as race relationswent when he was mayor. I know I heard him say, once, that during his administration as mayor of Louisville, there were a lot of federal positions that had to do with the war-time effort and. . . . 46:00
MW:Yes, he was in during that time.
DC:. . . .that it was the mayor's duty to appoint and that in one case, maybe itwas the rationing board, I want to say the rationing board, that he appointed blacks to the rationing board when some of the mayors in the Northern cities hadn't had the courage to do that. He was actually looked at as a model.
MW:That's very true. I would say that, wouldn't you Johnny?
JW:Yes, I think that was one of the points that you were trying to bring up, inyour original statement, that encouraged you to work here in the city. One thing was that you liked Louisville above Indianapolis because there were people here, likewise, top people and there were quite a few of them, who were willing and 47:00wanted things to get better. There were things that the Courier-Journal did and what you see that Wyatt did and many others, shows that there were quite a few white people who saw that that was wrong and wanted to correct it. That is one of the things that encouraged us to work a little harder, because we could see the possibility of achieving something.
DC:Was that the first encouragement that you had?
MW:What? You mean with the library situation?
DC:The library. Was that the first --
JW:No, I can't say that was the first.
MW:There were some other things. The NAACP was working and my husband had beenconnected with the NAACP since he first came to Louisville, and a lot of things happened even then, didn't they, Johnny?
MW:Before we leave the library story, however, this -- you've been interested in48:00the Leader. Here's an article that I took from the Leader.
DC:I remember when we picked up the papers for Mrs. Cole, that some of them wereon this pink. . . .
MW:On the pink paper. Well, do you have anything that -- that particular issue?
DC:Well, now I know that. . . . I'll make a note of this because I know that thewoman who's working on that told me that one of the biggest gaps in the run of the Leader that we have is in World War II and I noticed this one's January 3, 1942, so I'll note that and check it with her.
MW:All right. Then she could have it.
DC:We're still looking for back issues in order to fill in some of the gaps thatwe have.
MW:Are you? Well, she can have this because I clipped this. Now this has anotherbig . . . this "I Wish You All A Happy New Year," that's a heading, but I kept 49:00this for this particular thing here, because it had to do with this sitdown that we did in the main library. Now during the '60s, the youngsters sang "We Shall Overcome" through the streets, but at the end of our meeting, we sang -- all of us -- the national anthem. I say these things because I think, sometimes, some of these younger people who come into the community and who don't have the background, have the feeling that they're the ones that opened up the city of Louisville, but there have always been people since we've been here, since my 50:00husband's been here, and he's been here since 1917, who've been very active in opening avenues for Negroes. I think of Mr. Worley, for instance.
JW:I certainly wish there was some way you could get over to Worley's paper.
MW:Yes. We spoke about Mr. Worley to you before, who had a paper just as Mr.Cole had this paper.
DC:I know that there's a fellow who works at the Times, who's been trying forabout two years to run down Wade Worley's daughter, who lives in California in order to see if she has any copies of his paper, but his name is Bob Gabriel, the fellow who works at the Times. But he's not been successful.
MW:Well, ask him to speak to Mr. Bill Woolsey. Now Mr. Woolsey has done quite a51:00bit of writing and research on the early Negro, and somebody at sometime, has made contact with her. Now I'm not sure whether it was Bill Woolsey or someone else, but if it wasn't Bill Woolsey, he probably would know, because somebody has made contact with her, I know. I didn't ever know her. Mr. Worley died fairly soon after I got into Louisville. Johnny, do you remember that?
MW:But it was Mr. Worley who goes back to 19--, what was the year?
JW:1914. He was one that entered the suit toward the integration of housing in 1914.
MW:And that was the very first case that had gone before the Supreme Court.52:00
JW:Yes, in the nation.
MW:So, you see, the leaders of Louisville have been working over a long periodof time, and then I know all the story of the equalization of teacher's salaries, and the entrance to the schools. There was an old Day Law here that said the Negroes could not sit in the same classroom with. . . .
JW:That Day Law was really something. You could get hold to that, I'm sure.
JW:It was very strong.
MW:It seems to me it was one of these Alfords, Johnny, that been out here toBaptist Seminary and he couldn't sit in with the class. He sat in the hallway. Now that actually happened. That happened after I got here. He stayed separate and apart from the class, because the Day Law said that you couldn't sit in the class.
DC:Well, while you're on it and while you're sort of talking about it, maybe wecould just hit on sort of a little bit, the philosophical thing that you 53:00mentioned a while ago. That is the difference between the civil rights movement that you two grew up with, and you in the '20s, '30s, '40s, and the '50s.
MW:And the '60s.
DC:And the '60s, the difference between the earlier civil rights movement thatyou all got started in and then the later developments. I guess what I'm asking is for you to expand on what you said that some of the younger people come along and think that they're the ones who opened all the doors, and they failed to give credit to the pioneers, I guess you'd say.
JW:Well, this Day Law -- you probably know about that -- that was in 1914.54:00That's as far back as I can go. At that time, Negroes couldn't live on the same street and in the same block that any white people lived on. If there were any white people on that street, Negroes couldn't live on that street.
JW:They could live back in the alley, but not on the street. So much so, thatwhen Central High School used to be there at Ninth and Chestnut and when they built Central High School, instead of the opening being on Chestnut Street, which was an important street, they had to make the entrance around on Ninth Street.
MW:Now this is the old Central High School.
JW:Yes, this is the old Central High School.
JW:They had the entrance on Ninth Street, which is right at the corner but55:00instead of making it out here on a prominent street, and Chestnut Street was very prominent at that time, and Ninth Street was where the thugs and all were, so they had to put it right around the corner on Ninth Street.
JW:Of course, Worley won the suit, I think he got a judgment in 1917. But . . .
MW:I'd like to point out here, too, how prejudices like that hang on for solong. You take the library situation. It took about eleven years to bring it to fruition. When they built the new Central High School, which is comparatively new, I'd say. I've forgotten the year when the new, present Central High School was built, they bought the land up to the alley rather than buying the land all the way to Broadway, simply because they didn't want the Negro face to be there 56:00on Broadway.
MW:Now, that's. . . .
JW:As you can see, Central High School now just runs back to that alley. Itdoesn't run back to Broadway.
DC:Yeah. That's right. That's right.
JW:Back to that alley, just north of Broadway.
DC:Right. I hadn't thought of that.
JW:That is the reason one man, some black man, I don't remember now who it was,they really needed more land and really wanted more land because they wanted an athletic field, and the only way they could have had it was if they could have gone all the way back to Broadway. There was some black man working with him at the time in some menial way, I guess, mentioned the fact that, "Why not buy the land on out to Broadway so they'd have room enough for an athletic field?" and 57:00someone made some statement to him, "Well, you better hush up now. You might not get anything, if you go to pulling for going back to Broadway."
JW:So he just hushed his mouth up. He hushed up right away.
MW:Now, out of all those, we feel like there were some accomplishments made, butit was not easy, and there used to be a statement on the part, and if I'm wrong, Johnny, say so, but there used to be the feeling that there was a group of very powerful, what they call "fathers" of the city. Those fathers when they spoke, things happened or didn't happen.
JW:That's true, and I think, to some extent, it's true now.
MW:Now, I could name some of these "fathers," but since it's changed, I wouldn'twant to call too many names because I have the feeling that, maybe now, a lot of 58:00people have seen that because Negroes have been integrated into situations, it hasn't disrupted the city too much. I really feel that in all our public accommodations, we go into the restaurants now and people seem happy and glad to -- that the barriers have fallen, so that we can be neighborly with each other. We went into Stewart's just this week to eat, and there was -- young woman there that we have been eating with at the Colonnade. Every Monday night, we go to the Colonnade to eat, and she sits at the table next to us. Well, when she saw us in 59:00Stewart's, she came and sat down with us. It wouldn't have been easy for her to have done that, say, fifteen to twenty years ago. While she was sitting there with us, about two tables away -- I'm just telling all these personal incidents -- there was a woman who kept looking at us and kept smiling at us, so much so, that I said to my husband, "Well, I wonder if she's someone that I know and I should speak to her," but I didn't. She was two tables away from us, but every time I looked up, she would look at me and would smile.
MW:Then, when we got ready to go, someone else had sat down at the table besideher, and that person spoke as we went through, but I couldn't recall any 60:00pictures that would make me know whom she was. Right after the public accommodations law went into effect and Negroes began going into the restaurants and the stores as any other individual would do, many, many people would smile or speak to us, and I always had the feeling that the general public, for the most part, was very happy to see the whole wall of discrimination come tumbling down. That was their way of saying to us that, "I'm your friend." Now that's how I viewed that.
JW:Many of them just came out and said that they were so proud that the wholething was over, they didn't know what to do. They said the other was actually 61:00embarrassing to them. Many of them said that. I don't know whether I mentioned to you about the opposition --
MW:-- called me and said, "Mrs. Walls, I would just love to take you to lunch.Having worked with you and having known what you did in the store when you were employing Negroes, I'd like for you to be the very first Negro to eat in our lunchroom," because at that time, when I was there, of course, Negroes couldn't eat in the lunchroom at Kaufman's. We couldn't try on dresses at Kaufman's either, because Mr. Schacter had explained the whole thing to me by saying this, that Stewart's was the leading department store and it set the pattern for all the other big stores in the community. Well, Stewart's didn't try on clothes on 62:00Negro women or men either, for that matter, or Stewart's didn't do this for Negroes and so Kaufman's had to, some extent, conform to Stewart's. Now Mr. Byck never did, but I always felt that Mr. Byck owned his store.
MW:Now Mr. Byck was a man with some courage. The other big stores were owned bythese big companies out of New York. Mr. Schacter also told me this, once, that when directors came down to them, they were told, "Don't try to go in and try to correct the mores of the community. You go in as the president of the store, but 63:00stay away from any activity that has to do with the mores of that community." Now Mr. Schacter happened to be a man that didn't do that. Anybody that could read back to Mr. Schacter's history knows that Mr. Schacter was very much involved, and at the time that I knew Mr. Shackter, he was the president of the Municipal Housing Commission.
DC:What was his first name?
MW:Harry. Harry W. Schacter. Now, Mr. Schacter finally left Louisville and wentto Indianapolis and became president of a big furniture store in Indianapolis. Now, why Mr. Shackter left, I don't know. It could be that Mr. Schacter showed too much interest in the life of the community that sent him away. I don't know because by this time, I had severed my relationship with Mr. Schacter. Again, I 64:00might point out, I think perhaps one of the reasons why we're here in and where we're situated now is that this building was put up with FHA money.
MW:And, it was known that any property being erected on FHA money should not besegregated, but the 800 was a very prestigious apartment house that went up, and we, the commission, was asked to let them, perhaps, get it 80 percent filled before they opened to Negroes. When they. . . . 65:00
JW:Murray was on the commission and she agreed to that. [Laughs]
MW:Oh, let me tell that!
JW:I was saying that to show that we never had any business then or even nowbecause we could see why these things were, see.
MW:Yes. Now maybe those are the things that young people don't like now, too.We'll get back to that. Please bring me back to that. But we had the feeling, at least I had the feeling, that had the 800 opened its doors to both blacks and whites in the very beginning, many, many whites would have been reluctant to come into this building. It could have been a financial loss for him.
JW:There weren't enough Negroes able to pay that could come in and the whiteswould not have come. 66:00
MW:That's right. So for that reason, I was one who was quite willing to let himhave it 80 percent filled with white before opening it to us. There weren't too many of us who would even make application. Now there were some of us, including me, who had the feeling that I ought to have the right to come in and see what kind of a building it is and whether it's something I could afford, and I did. Now there is a Mr. Morton Walker, who lives in the building now who taught at the University of Louisville and who's on the Human Relations Commission with me. He invited me once to -- we were going to a meeting and he didn't have a car, and the meeting was going to be out on Brownsboro Road. I had to come from the West End and I told him I would pick him up. Well, I got here a little bit 67:00early. I really was an hour ahead of time, and I had asked him to meet me at the door. He wasn't there and I asked the doorman to please call him. When he came, he said to me, "Murray, aren't you an hour early?" and I said, "Well, yes, I am." It was to be a dinner meeting at someone's home and I said, "Well, we can't go on out there now. What shall we do? Do you want to go back to my house or maybe have something. Doctor will be there."
He said to me, "Have you ever been into the 800?" and at that time I hadn't. Isaid, "No, I haven't." He said, "Wouldn't you like to see it?" and I said, "Yes, I would," so he brought me in and I went to his apartment and saw his apartment. 68:00We went out onto the terrace and he had binoculars, and I could look all over the city of Louisville and it was -- I could see a very lovely, lovely apartment. But when he brought me in, he showed me what they called the "clubhouse" where the dining room is and took me back and showed me the grocery. He showed me the garage. Then we went and got on the elevator to go to his apartment and on the elevator was Mr. Dryborough, the son. Not the older Mr. Dryborough, but the son. Mr. Walker said to him, "I'm showing Mrs. Walls the 800" and he said, "Well, that's fine." Then he said, "Be sure to take her to the --" what they call the "solarium", I guess that's what they -- incidentally, 69:00I've been living here now for four or five years and I've never been up there, but it is a roof garden. He said, "Be sure to show her the roof garden of the solarium." When I saw it then and when we came back down, Mr. Walker said to me, "Murray, you see there. I bet you they would rent you an apartment here." I said, "Well, I just know I couldn't afford to live in the 800, and I know we wouldn't be interested in living in the 800." We have a very comfortable home of our own, unless there came a time when we would sell our apartment or we wanted to retire.
But, even so, the owner of the apartment had to be sued to make him open thedoor to an African. Now I don't want to stop there, either. He was sued and he 70:00was fined for not giving her access to an apartment. Now he has -- I'm sure, didn't realize at the time that the woman who asked for the apartment was well able to pay the rent, and you know a lot of white people feel that Negroes all want is a car, they haven't saved their money or what have you, but she was well able to have lived here.
MW:Because later on, he found out after the suit, he found out who she was andshe's a very prominent woman in our community, and she could well afford, as I 71:00said, to live here. He offered her an apartment, but she didn't take it. She went on over to the Mayflower, to an apartment in the Mayflower.
DC:Who was this? Just out of curiosity, who was it?
MW:Mrs. Hilda Butler, who at that time, was president of --
JW:She was the head of the Mammoth Insurance Company.
MW:-- the Mammoth Insurance Company.
JW:He, himself, wasn't the one that refused her, I don't think.
MW:It was his rental agent.
JW:And what I think happened is that Mrs. Butler is a woman --
MW:Is _________________. Mr. Dryborough did it, because I don't think he did do it.
DC:Okay. Well --
JW:I think it was the rental agent, but she's a woman that if you'd look at her,you'd think she didn't have a nickel. I think that the way she looked and they just turned her down without making any investigation. I think that's what happened because Mr. Dryborough made the statement afterwards, "I don't see why in the world they didn't rent her the place and he didn't let her have it." 72:00
MW:He made that statement ___________.
JW:Yeah, Mr. Dryborough made that statement later. But it was the fact that theydidn't make any investigation, and just looking at her, she looked like she didn't have a nickel. Well, she does look like that. She just doesn't dress flighty and frisky like you do. [Laughs]
MW:Well, she's a fine person, but I have the feeling that they just didn't knowthat she was a woman that had any money.
JW:Well, that's the very thing I'm saying.
MW:Well, I thought so, and they usually just felt that way about most Negroes.
JW:You take Mr. Bingham. You've seen him up there on Fourth Street looking likea tramp a lot of the time, almost.
MW:And I think he did it purposely. I think Mr. Bingham did, because I have come73:00to know the Binghams. Mrs. Bingham and I have been on committees together and Mr. Bingham and Doctor got to be friends, but you'd meet Mr. Bingham on the street and he'd have on shoes that looked like they might have had holes in them, and I think he did it purposely because he didn't want people to feel like he was way over everybody else. Mrs. Bingham and I sat on a committee together for a year and Mrs. Bingham dressed modestly, like all the rest of us. One day she was going to a luncheon, and she had her beautiful furs on and she looked just lovely, but I think that was true with people who have --
DC:So you're talking about Barry Bingham, Sr.?
MW:Senior, yes. Now we couldn't have had any better reception, anywhere, than74:00we've had in this building, wouldn't you say, Johnny?
MW:And I think all the others who have come in like Dr. Bell, who's came in, Dr.and Mrs. Young came in, and there's another couple upstairs. I think everybody in this building respects all the Negroes who are here. They have discovered that Negroes make good tenants. They pay their rent, and they keep their apartments clean. They've broken down some of the myths about Negroes.
DC:Is that Dr. C. Milton Young?
MW:Senior. They were here just temporarily. They had bought a condominium. Theylived right here on Sixth Street and they bought a condominium out on Zorn Avenue. They rented their building on Sixth Street, their home, to an agency. 75:00They moved into the 800 temporarily until the Casa Grande was --
DC:So they don't live here any more?
MW:No. They don't live here any more.
DC:Dr. Young, I was just thinking about other people to interview. He's beenaround Louisville for a good while, hasn't he?
MW: Yes. Yes, he has.
DC:What? He's in his seventies, right?
JW:Yes, I know he's in his seventies.
MW:He lost his wife not too long ago. Now his wife was very active in things. Igave her name to you right off, the other day. Was it you who asked me about that? Because she was very, very active in many . . . Just today, an announcement was made that a woman whom I know, was made a member of the TARC 76:00board to take the place of Mrs. Hortense Young.
MW:We shall miss her because she worked --
JW:She was on the board, on the list of the Continental National Bank that just opened.
MW:Yes, the Negro bank that just opened. I think she was the very first personto run for the school board, too.
JW:She was. The first one that ran for the school board.
MW:She didn't win, but she ran and ran a good race, too. But now, back to theseyoung people. My work with the Girl Scouting and the opening of the libraries, I was a mature person. I had grown up in a climate where, well, when I was young, 77:00the younger people in the organizations that I belong to, we spent our efforts towards trying to get the Congress to pass an anti-lynching bill.
MW:Because Negroes were being lynched in the South. I was, in my heart, just as,well, if you want to call it rebelistic, you could call it that. Because I was reared -- my father was very active civically, but I knew that there were great big obstacles standing in our way, and that I was no Joshua that could bring the walls of Jericho down. So, and Johnny, you help me here if I'm saying what you 78:00feel, too, because I think you came through the same period that I did, that you just had to do things step by step.
JW:Yeah, that's right. I realize that.
MW:Now, we'd come home after an NAACP meeting and Johnny was one who had thefeeling of "Why do we have to do this thing step by step always?" You take all the discussion about all public buildings should be opened to all people. But they weren't, but we had to fight each one of them separately. We didn't like it because we'd talk about it and Johnny was one who would always say, "Well, if 79:00something is open to the public, why would we even feel we had to make any effort to get access to it. We're part of the public." Now those are the kinds of things that we discussed, but still when you go to do it, it would be very difficult to do. To wait eleven years now, when I read that letter to you from Mr. Brigham when he said in the very beginning, "that an increasing number of Negroes needed access to the library." It took eleven years to open all the libraries. Now that's the way we had to work! Now here comes some youngsters, and it was the young people who started the big thrust for equal rights after Martin Luther King. Young people aren't as . . . well, they want it now! 80:00
JW:Well, the thing about it was, it was the work that the older people had doneyears before that helped them to do what they did.
MW:That's right. To be able to do what they did.
JW:If they had, for instance, in the '60s, if they had started back in the early'20s to do that same thing, they would have taken every one of them and put them up in jail and treated them rather roughly or probably shot and killed a few of them, and nothing would have been done about it.
JW:See, you had to come up to those things, step by step.
MW:By way of example to show you that that might have happened, Doctor and Iused to go in the country to hunt. For ten or fifteen years, we went back to his home to hunt, and he had a brother-in-law with whom he had grown up with, long 81:00before we married, who liked to hunt. Gus was one of the best hunters in that whole section, and, Johnny, all through his youth, was a hunter with Gus and the other brother-in-law and neighbors of his in the country. Now Gus lived in Tunica, Mississippi, which wasn't too far from his home in Memphis (?). I remember the very first trip I made with Johnny to Kentucky to hunt. We drove to Tunica to see his sister, Gus, and his family.
MW:We had written to him, telling him and he knew we were coming to hunt, but we82:00hadn't said anything to him about coming on back to hunt with us. So this particular Sunday, we went down to see them. Johnny said, "Gus, come on and go home." He wasn't doing too much then. They'd picked cotton half the day, so they were sorta ________ and "Come on back to hunt." Gus said, "Well, I'd like to, but I can't go." Then I got into the picture and I said, "Well, come on. You aren't doing anything. Come on and be sure to go. Come on." I kept trying to beg him to go, to the point where Johnny took me off and said, "Murray, stop pulling at Gus because Gus can't leave." I said, "Can't leave?" Well, that was kinda foreign to me, but we left that trip and came on back, but Gus had said to us, 83:00"I'll try to come tomorrow." Sure enough, Gus came the next day, but I later learned that Gus couldn't leave until he got permission to leave. Now that sounds like it couldn't possibly be true, but that was the truth.
JW:And that was in the '30s.
MW:That was when he was in Mississippi.
JW:That was the late '30s and early '40s. It was that late down in Mississippi.A man would get down there on their farm and he couldn't leave, the head of the house. Now the wife could leave, all right, but the head of the house couldn't leave there, unless the man's farm he's on would give him permission to leave. 84:00
MW:I later learned, and I remember we'd sit, when we'd come back from hunting,we'd sit around a little pot-bellied stove and we'd talk, and I said to him, "Gus, I just can't see how you could live in a situation like that." I said, "Now I'm a woman and I'm not a mean woman, but I think, Gus, if something like that happened to me," and he had told me one or two other stories that I could pass on to you, "I just think I'd almost feel like getting a gun and going out and shooting somebody!" [Laughs] Gus said, "Well, Murray, you couldn't do it that way, either because were we to do it, they'd call the whole militia out and not only kill the person who was guilty, but kill many who were not guilty." 85:00
JW:Said, they'd kill up all my family and then a lot of my friends.
MW:Yes. So we couldn't do it, and he had told us the story of the man, do youremember the Negro down there who had had an altercation with another Negro and the white man had given him almost permission to go and do whatever he wanted to do to the Negro, and nothing would have happened had he gone to him and killed him over whatever their altercation was.
JW:That was the worst in the country down there in Mississippi, and in thatDelta section of Mississippi.
MW:Yes. Now that didn't happen in. . . .
JW:Now it wasn't quite that bad in other places in the South.
MW:-- in Tennessee, I don't think.
DC:So what you're saying is that it did take a lot more courage and patience andintestinal fortitude for someone like Gus to live one day in his life, than it 86:00took for a black college student in the 1960s to sit in at a lunch counter?
MW:Or to get arrested and be put in a patrol and taken away, because theyarrested those kids, just one after another and they didn't mind it, see. Because I remember when I joined the group, the mayor of the city then had made the statement -- and this is in the '60s now -- that it looked as if the adults were pushing the children to the streets, and they weren't willing to go because not too many adults participated. I said to my friend, Geneva Bell, I said, 87:00"Geneva, we've got to get in this thing and march with these kids to some extent, because the mayor has said we're hiding behind the skirts of the youngsters." So Geneva and I went to one of their meetings. They'd meet at Central High School to organize and then go to the streets. Young Frank Stanley, who was the chairman, who was leading the group, came to the two of us and said that he knew us personally and we knew his parents, and he's say, "Mrs. Walls, Ms. Bell, do you all think you can take this thing? We don't want to get you all out there and then have something happen to you. Are you sure you can take this?" [Interruption - The telephone rings. Tape shuts off, then is resumed]
MW:Let's see. Where'd I leave off.
DC:You were talking about Frank Stanley and. . . .
MW:Oh, yes, Frank Stanley. We said, "Yes, Frank, we promise you that we'll not88:00get into any violence at all and whatever happens to us, we can take it," so they gave us picket signs. I had never done that sort of thing before. I grew up where . . . they were singing in the streets, they were singing "We Shall Overcome" and I had really, at that time, never carried a picket sign. We were assigned -- Ms. Bell and I were assigned to go to the Blue Boar, and I remember saying to Geneva, "Well, Geneva, we will be the ones that will have to march with these kids right down in the very heart of town, where all of our friends will see us and we'll have to march by Mr. Byck's store." We respected Mr. Byck, because Mr. Byck had been the type of individual that he was, and I said, "I 89:00hate to do this sort of thing, but we've got to do it," so we did. Now we didn't do the singing.
We let them do the singing and making the noise in the streets, but we marchedwith them, and if I'd known I was going to do this, I'd show you a picture of the two of us as we marched with them. And I carried my picket sign and a very distinguished looking white woman, I'll never forget it, came over to us and commended the two of us for marching with the children. She said, "I wish it were so I could march with you", but there again, it was an individual just passing on the street, who was a white person who was glad to have us, but the young people weren't willing to wait. I think youth is like that, and it's gonna become increasingly so. Now I hear a lot of times, you say that things are gonna 90:00be set back by some of the things you hear that happen in the streets, but I don't think young Negroes are gonna let things be set back. It's unfortunate when a situation comes, like in Detroit when people burn and even when they loot, it's very unfortunate, situations like that.
But as long as you find a group of people that are deprived, that need, theydon't have the opportunity for education, they don't have an opportunity for a job, they don't have the chance to move up into a job, where he can get into some of the money that will let him have some of the things that he sees. The 91:00more prosperous people around him have, as long as you have a situation like that, you're gonna have the people who will destroy, the people who will loot, and the people who say to themselves, "well, I'm gonna have some of the world's goods."
JW:Yeah. You going to have robbers. You take all the robbers and looters --
MW:That's the attitude of young people today. So when I hear somebody say thatour cause is going to be hurt, it may be hurt for a little while but it isn't going to stay hurt because the young people just are not going to be pushed.
MW:-- too much with him, because, really, he was usually right, I think. Iremember when I was working at Kaufman's, my office was on the sixth floor, and 92:00I overlooked Fourth Street. He knew that our girls, the girls that I was employing, I was trying to employ girls that came out of good families, and had good backgrounds, and girls who didn't finish school, but who wanted a good job that they could hold on to, like this girl I told you who has held on all these years and finally became manager. He realized that those girls could not eat in even the ten-cent store across the street from us -- Woolworth's and Kresge's.
He was on the NAACP and was head of the committee that had to do something withlabor and industry. They decided they were gonna picket and let people on Fourth Street know that Negroes couldn't eat in the ten-cent stores, and my girls, he picked it up there from the girls that I was employing there at Kaufman's. I 93:00remember I said, "Johnny, are you gonna picket? Here your wife is right here on Fourth Street in an office, looking right down on you." He said, "Yes, Murray, I'm gonna picket and I'm gonna look up at the sixth floor and wave my picket to you up on the sixth floor." [Laughs] Those were the kinds of things that I'd say, "Well, somehow I just hate to see you picket on Fourth Street," but we were pretty much together. In fact, I couldn't have done all that I have done in the library situation, in the Girl Scout situation or the Human Relations Commission, if it hadn't been for Johnny, and I kept for you -- what did I do 94:00with it, Johnny? That little statement that I was gonna give to Dwayne?
JW:You didn't give that to _________, did you?
MW:I gave him one, but when the NAACP gave Doctor their award, the award you seeup there on the wall, the Human Relations Commission wrote a statement or resolution and in that resolution, Dr. Perley, I thought, made a statement -- if I can find it, Dwayne, I'll send it to you -- in which he talked about how the two of us, together, made sort of a team in our struggle for -- maybe this is 95:00it. Yes, this is it -- _______________. But this statement here, the very last statement there. You can read it if you want to.
DC:So this is Martin E. Perley, executive director of the. . . .
MW:-- of the Commission at that time, and the Commission commended Johnny, butthat last statement concerns just the two of us, which shows you how we worked together.
DC:"We further resolve that the Louisville and Jefferson County Human RelationsCommission congratulate not only Dr. Walls in his achievements and noble examples, but also his wife, Mrs. Murray Walls, a fellow commissioner, for being the perfect complement to a couple who have together, dedicated and devoted their lives, talents, and activities to achieve harmony, cooperation and mutual 96:00respect between the white and black citizens of Louisville and Jefferson County."
MW:Now I point that out to show you that we were pretty much together in thethings we did and the way in which we thought it should be done.
JW:I think both of us have been very lucky in our getting together, because withall this work and with all that we've seen, and you can see from what we've done, that we realize how badly we've been treated.
JW:Still, neither one of us have had any bitterness at all.
MW:Even to this day.
JW:Even to this day, I have no bitterness. Neither one of us. For that reason,we could work and could think better, because we had no bitterness.
MW:We were very, very fond of the Dryboroughs, and Mr. Dryborough is very, veryfond of us, I think. 97:00
JW:Yeah. We're just buddies. I can't hardly get away from him. I hate to meethim on the elevator. I can't hardly get away. [Laughs] He'd catch me by the sleeve and hold me, you know, and talk.
MW:And that was true with me and the Kaufmans. When I went into Kaufman's, therewere buyers in the store who wouldn't in the beginning -- wanted nothing to do with me. Some of my very best friends have been people that I worked with. When you work with somebody and learn to know them and begin to like them, you can't help yourself. We've fallen in love with you and Mike. I mean, I don't know too much about you, but there's something that just made us like you very much, and when you get to know people, you can't help but like them. If the parents -- with all this busing now and I don't want to get into the busing situation, 98:00because I, too, would like for my youngster to be able to go to a neighborhood school, but as I said before, with a group of youngsters way down here in the West End and another group way up there in the East End, how are they ever gonna get to know each other? If the parents would let those children learn to see each other, and be with each other, and respect each other, we have a much better world.
JW:The parents are the ones causing the trouble. It's not the children. Theparents are causing the trouble.
DC:I have a friend who always says that no matter what you're trying to do, nomatter what you're trying to accomplish, no matter who you're working with, that it almost never helps to get mad.
MW:It really doesn't because as Johnny got through saying, you can't think wellwhen you're mad. He would very often say to me, when we were getting ready to integrate our Girl Scout camp, there were a couple of men on our board then, and 99:00the men were afraid to do it. They offered every -- we'd meet in each other's basements to try to decide whether we'd integrate or whether we would not, and they'd come and they'd say, "Well, if you think the community's ready for this," and they'd come up with all kinds of things. We just had the feeling that our girls needed to know each other, and if they did, it would help them in their school situation when they came together. Now this is true and this we felt was true and is still true that well, I get filled up with things at times. I just 100:00feel that you've got to learn to know each other.
JW:I've said to any number of committee meetings that I've been in -- whitefolk, and I've said to them that you have kept us -- you have spoke, the Iron Curtain and the Bamboo Curtain but there's been a -- I named it the "Cotton Curtain" because of the cotton in the South and the Negroes in the South -- you have a curtain there that's more impenetrable than the Iron Curtain. We've had the Cotton Curtain between us, which means that we got the poorest of everything, and we are way behind. You've just -- should be willing to tolerate 101:00us until we can catch up, because you're the cause of our being behind, and we are behind. But you should be willing to tolerate us and give us a chance to catch up. That's all we're asking.
MW:Yeah. That's exactly what I got a little emotional about, because I realizedthat many of our people are behind.
JW:We're crawling up, but we're still way behind.
MW:We've been behind so long, we've got to catch up. You can't catch up if youdon't have the opportunity to do it. Now all of this discussion that's coming up now, with regard to the cases coming before the Supreme Court of the young white fella who wants to go into a medical school. . . .
JW:Yeah, what's his name? It's Bakke or something like that.
DC:Is this the thing about reverse discrimination?
MW:Yes, that's right. Negroes never will be able to catch up if they don't have102:00the opportunity to get in there. I read an article maybe last week in the paper, I think, a statement in the paper that said -- it was put like this, because I had a friend that called me about it, a white friend, and we talked about it. The statement was made that white people didn't want to be inconvenienced by such an arrangement that would say a Negro could step in when a white person -- could step into that same place. When I picked up the paper and read the word, "they didn't want to be inconvenienced," I remember I came here to the door and 103:00read the statement to Johnny. I said, "they don't want to be inconvenienced," but they don't realize that we were -- I've forgotten the word I used, but what I meant to say was that you're being inconvenienced, but we were being denied all those years.
JW:For 300 years we've been down in the dumps. Not only have we not been allowedto come up, but we've even been pushed back. There'd be times they'd do everything to hold us back.
MW:Not only that, most of the time, we've had to pull ourselves by our ownbootstraps. Now we've had some good white people, and my father used to remind me of that when I was growing up, because I went from a black elementary school into a white high school. My father used to say to me, "Murray, don't ever get 104:00into any kind of an altercation, if you can help it with a white person. If you can't handle it amicably, just walk away from it and come to me and I'll come down, I'll come to the school and I'll talk it out and I'll help." Because he had the feeling, I later learned, that there were too many good white people in the world, and once he made this statement to me later on, that helped us when we couldn't have helped ourselves.
And you could rebuff one, that down deep in his heart, would like to help you,so I just screw up and walk away from white people that mistreated me, unless it 105:00was something that was very important, like taking something back to Stewart's. I would let them know by word of mouth that there's a lot of things that I'm just not gonna take from you. I just had the feeling that there were white people who were helpful to us. I think of the very last part of "Roots." I don't know whether you saw "Roots" or not. . . .
MW:. . . .but you remember the young, white fellow and his wife. He was the --what did they call them on the plantations down there? --one who looked after the. . . .
MW:The overseers. They were the ones who helped them get out and move up intoMemphis. You know, up towards the North, and there were white people like that. 106:00One of my very best friends was Mr. Dann Byck's sister, Mrs. Louise Florsheim. Mrs. Florsheim and I love each other very, very much because we worked together on the Human Relations Commission.
DC:I'll just throw in that we're doing an oral history project with the JewishCommunity Federation, and Mrs. Florsheim is one of the people who. . . .
MW:Well, she deserves it.
JW:Yes, she deserves anything you can give her.
MW:And, we're very close to the point, that this past Fourth of July, theyweren't doing anything and her husband, Bill, said "Louise, let's just have a picnic. Let's call Murray and Johnny and see if they're doing anything." She called me the morning of the Fourth and said, "Murray, what are you and Johnny doing?" and I said, "We're not doing anything, and she said, "Let's just have a picnic." She made the potato salad and I made something and we went on out to 107:00her apartment, and Johnny and I and Louise and Bill had a little picnic all of our own. And, as I said to you, you can't control that like for people if there's something that passes from one to the other, but if you aren't close enough, to let that happen, it can't pass.
DC:You said the last time when I was here before, that you had some things thatyou wanted to show to me.
MW:Well, I do, but I wonder now. I've finished the library story. When you toldme that . . . I asked you yesterday what you wanted me to tell you, and you said the library story. Now, take the Girl Scouts and things like that, I picked some articles and pictures out. I sort of put them away after I finished with Mike 108:00and I'd have to go pull all that out.
DC:No, that's all right. That's all right.
MW:Now we can get together one more time. I'd be glad to pull out some of theseother things.
DC:Okay. Well, that's all right.
MW:But, if you'd told me yesterday, I probably would have gotten up early thismorning and got them together for you. [Laughs]
DC:That's all right. I was just. . . .
MW:But I do have a wealth of things to. . . .
DC:I was just interested in. . . . Of course, I guess, I made copies of thecorrespondence part of your library file.
MW:Oh, did you?
DC:I was just thinking, for instance, I knew a lot from this about theintegration that was enhanced by what you said on the tape. Then also this tells you a lot that you wouldn't get from just the tape.
MW:Well, are you going give me a copy? Do you have a copy?
DC:Would you like a copy?109:00
MW:I certainly would.
DC:Okay. But, I was just thinking that if you have any other material like thecorrespondence that you had with Rabbi Rauch and with Mr. Brigham at the library, that sort of thing. . . .
MW:Well now, I have all of that Girl Scout business. I have just loads of thingson the Girl Scouts, but I'd have to dig it up for you.
JW:You can't under the bed in there for all of the junk she has. [Laughs]
DC:Have you saved. . . .
MW:I've saved practically everything. Now, when I moved up here, I had plenty ofroom where we lived, and Johnny had given me one or two closets and those 110:00closets were just packed with things. Well, I threw away all the old letters and personal things that I had, letters from students. I had two letters from students that may have been one of the things I wanted to see, both of whom or one of whom Mike made a statement that he was going to call him on the telephone to talk about it, but I taught a young man who was among the very first ensigns taken into the Navy, and Life magazine carried a picture of this group of ensigns that were being inducted into the Navy, and he sent me a copy of this picture and wrote me a letter at the time, talking about his background and the help that he had gotten at _______ when I was teaching there and he was in one 111:00of my English classes, and what it had meant to him. Then I have another --
JW:Murray even taught him how to comb his hair. [Laughs]
JW:And this is a high school student! [Laughs]
MW:It was from someplace where he was assigned. He was in the Navy when he wrotethis letter to me. Then another letter that I have from a young man who finally became a member of the state board of education of the state of California, and in that letter, he made the statement that he could've gone to the right or to the left, had it not been for the teachers of _________ High School that had helped to guide him along the way. He's now quite a big man in California. I 112:00went out to California one year to visit, and they were having a beautiful luncheon at one of the big hotels in San Francisco and he saw to it that I got to the luncheon, because he was on the platform with the governor of California. Not this Governor Brown, but Governor Brown's father.
DC:Yeah, the. . . .
MW:And he couldn't rest until he introduced me, after the meeting was over, tothe governor, as one of his former teachers. I was so proud of him, I didn't know what to do. Well now, this is a big ole boy. He's tall. He's taller than you, and he used to play on the football team. He came from a family that was 113:00just very, very humble. When he'd come in, he'd come in and sit down and his legs were always out, and I always stood when I taught, and I was always stumbling over his feet, but I liked him and he liked me, and he finally won a football scholarship to Indiana University. He went on up, up from that, but he could have gone in that direction just as easily as in this other direction. Now those were the kinds of letters I'd get from students, and I had to hang on to -- You can't throw things like that away! I can't throw away all that history of the library. I can't throw away history of the Girl Scout integration.
MW:Now I have no children to pass those things on.114:00
JW:It's remarkable how little things like that can influence younger people. Doyou remember my telling you the story about a group of us, we were on a committee at that time. This was some civic work. We were going to Frankfort to talk with the governor about something. There were about four or five of us in the car, and there was one young man in there and I looked at him. I knew his face, but I didn't know just who he was. I think we were on our way back and things got quiet, and he said, "You know one thing? That boy doesn't remember it, but Dr. Walls changed my life." He was a little boy selling newspapers, and he came by my office to sell the newspaper, and he said I bought a paper from him, and while I was making the change, I started a little lecture to him. He 115:00said that little lecture, that I gave him, just turned him around completely, and he made the statement that he could have gone to the right or to the left, had it not been for just that little talk that I gave him there in purchasing that newspaper.
MW:You know, I was talking to him just a couple of Sundays ago. He came to meand he said, "You have no idea, Mrs. Walls, Doctor has made a big, big imprint in my life." I showed you that little album of mine on my roots down there, didn't I?
MW:Those are the kinds of things that my grandfather, as I told you, gave to mebecause he thought I had an appreciation for things like that, so I've hung on to all the important things, and if you want the Girl Scout story sometime, . . 116:00. Now Mike said he was gonna send me an article that he wrote on the Girl Scouts, but there was nothing racial in it at all. It was just the Girl Scout program. I think you two fellas are doing a quite a nice job, I hope. I hope something comes from it.
MW:The young man that wrote the story of the history of the NAACP, I think hecame up with his book that I think deserves to be in a library. Were you able to find that microfilm on that?
DC:We have a copy of that, I think, in the U of L Library.
MW:You do have a copy of the book?
DC:There's a company in Michigan in Ann Arbor, that makes microfilm copies ofevery release, theoretically, every master's thesis and doctoral dissertation that's written in the country, and that sort of thing, you can buy it on 117:00microfilm from them.
MW:Oh, well, that's good.
DC:Then of course, there's thousands of them written every year, and there's acomputerized index to them. So for instance, if someone was interested, someone in California and were interested in the NAACP in Louisville, theoretically, they could look up that dissertation and get the film.
MW:Well, now, can you use it? You can't use it in your home, can you, like youuse a tape?
DC:Well, you could if you had a microfilm reader.
MW:I don't know too much about microfilming. It's something that runs through a --118:00
DC:Right. It looks a whole lot like a movie film.
MW:Movie film, yes.
DC:In fact, you can take movie film, if it will fit on the reel, and put it on amicrofilm reader and look at it.
DC:You can take like a 16 millimeter movie camera film and look at it on amicrofilm reader. Basically, what it is, is just mainly it reduces the size of it greatly. It increases the distribution of it. For instance, rare things can be microfilmed and more people can have access to it.
JW:How much stuff can they keep through the microfilm, so far as history anddocuments and things throughout the country? I was thinking of the stuff that goes on in Washington there. All those speeches. How in the world can they keep all that stuff?
DC:Well, the National Archives keeps a lot or all, in theory, documents worthy119:00of historical preservation. The National Archives keeps them.
JW:Well, looks like to me it would take a building somewhat like the Astrodometo hold all that information. [Laughs]
DC:Well, it is somewhat like the Astrodome. It's a big huge building and thenthey have the various annexes across the river in Virginia. I know they microfilm some things and they'll microfilm anything, if you're willing to pay them to microfilm and they'll send you a copy. For instance, all of the papers of the Freedmen's Bureau have been microfilmed, and you can get them from either the National Archives. . . .
DC:Or you can borrow them from some of the regional archives or regionalbranches of the National Archives. 120:00
MW:Well, take the Freedmen's program, where if I wanted something from it, wewere just talking about it this morning. . . .