Civil Rights Movement in Louisville
= Audio Available Online
Adlene Howard Abstain (b. 1943 in Montgomery, Alabama, d. 2015, in Louisville, Kentucky) describes her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement through voter registration efforts, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Freedom Rides, fair housing efforts, work as a pastor at The Fountain of Life Word and Worship Center, and community organization in Louisville.
Bill Allison, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, acted as an appeals attorney for one of the Black Six defendants, Ruth Bryant. The Black Six were a group of five men and one woman who were prosecuted for inciting rebellion during the Parkland Uprising of 1968. Allison also represented the Black Panthers in Louisville and in Memphis, Tennessee. In this interview, Allison speaks about cases he was involved in involving government repression and retaliation against Civil Rights activists and how he became involved in that work through the Southern Conference Educational Fund, serving as SCEF's lawyer from 1969 to 1974.
Mervin Aubespin (b. 1937 in Louisiana), a reporter for the Courier-Journal, talks about his path to the Civil Rights movement starting in Alabama and then in Louisville; Louisville during segregation; housing discrimination; and white flight. As an activist, Aubespin participated in marches, sit-ins, voter registration and organization for public accommodation, open housing, and to integrate Fontaine Ferry. Aubespin was originally hired by the Courier-Journal an artist, one of the first Black employees there. He covered the Parkland Uprising but did not get a byline or credit for his work. He then attended an intensive program at Columbia University to produce Black journalists and had a successful career as a reporter for the Courier-Journal, specializing in covering topics of interest to the Black community. Regarded as an expert on racism and the media, Aubespin is a past president of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and was given the Ida B. Wells Award for his efforts to bring minorities into the field of journalism. Aubespin was also the founder of the Louisville Association of Black Communicators.
Delores White Baker (1929-2012) speaks about her childhood in the West End in Louisville and her experiences living in New York and other southern states where she became increasingly aware of the prejudice around her. The focus of the interview is on Baker's experience of the intersection of the arts--particularly dance and theater--and race in the Louisville community. Baker was active with the West End Community Council, which focused on open housing, school integration, health and welfare, and the arts and helped shape the West End after a certain amount of white flight from that area. Baker's focus was on the arts. She started ballet and dance classes for children and organized drama and theater productions. She was director of the city-wide Arts and Talent Festival that took place annually in Chickasaw Park and highlighted local talents in the visual arts, music, dance, theater, etc. She was also involved with the Genesis Arts organization that provided classes for disadvantaged children in the community and the Pigeon Roost Theater players, a black West End based theater group focusing on poetry, music, and drama. Baker emphasizes the importance of exposing children to culture, her thoughts on the state of the Black community in Louisville, the anti-racism movement, and her relationships with local churches.
Robert Benson (b. 1942 in Lousville), Louisville lawyer and former Kentucky legislator, speaks about his experiences with the
Civil Rights Movement and some of its leaders in Louisville. Topics include how he became aware of prejudice in the community and got involved with the Open Housing movement; the demonstrations for Open Housing; his experiences representing the Hikes Point/Highlands district from 1974-1980; his friendship with ACLU lawyer Thomas Hogan, who filed the lawsuit that lead to desegregation efforts in Louisville; the passing of laws merging Jefferson County school districts; the passing of laws to desegregate the resulting combined school district; and the backlash and demonstrations against desegregation and busing.
Native Louisvillian Norbert L. Blume (1922-2011) speaks about his career in labor and Kentucky politics. Topics include: became aware of prejudice in WWII in the service; getting involved with the labor movement and became a leader of the Teamsters; his work in the Kentucky General Assembly from 1963 to 1968; running for Congress in 1964 and 1966; being Speaker of the House in the Kentucky General Assembly; introducing and passing of public accommodations legislation (the "Blume Bill") and a student-led hunger strike in its support; Democratic party involvement and campaigns; activities of the Kentucky Civil Liberties Union, of which he was a founder; work on a Kentucky Equal Rights Amendment; and his colleagues in labor and civil rights work.
Civil Rights activist and journalist Anne Braden talks about her early years as an activist in Louisville from 1947 through the early 1950s. The focus is on the intersection of the labor movement and the Civil Rights movement, including integration within labor union. Topics include Braden's career as a reporter, the Farm Equipment Workers Union, the Progressive Party, and the beginnings of the movement for integrated hospitals in Louisville.
Civil Rights activist and journalist Anne Braden talks about the Civil Rights Movement in Louisville in the 1950s and 1960s. Topics explored include eforts for school integration, the public reaction to it, her family's experiences with school integration, and redistricting of the city; the West End Community Council and its efforts to keep the West End neighborhood integrated, white flight, and the open housing movement; the activities of SCEF (Southern Conference Educational Fund); the emergence of youth movements; the beginnings of groups like CORE (Congress of Racial Equality), the Committee for Democratic Schools, and the Gandhi Corps; Black Power organizations in Louisville like JOMO (Junta of Militant Organizations) and the Black Panthers; the trial of the Black 6 and the protests surrounding it; and many individuals who were involved in the Civil Rights Movement.
Civil Rights Activist Ruth Bryant (1923-2013) speaks about her childhood and family history growing up in Detroit; her move to Louisville and observations about housing available to Black Louisvillians; how she became interested in and active in the open housing movement; her work with Committee on Community Development oversaw all federal funding that came into Louisville and how it was dispersed; and her involvement with other organizations such as the West End Community Council, Head Start, Citizens' Advisory Committee under the Urban Renewal Program, Black Unity League of Kentucky, and Women United for Social Action. She also talks about her arrest at open housing demonstrations and her memories of the 1968 Parkland Uprising. She mentions but does not speak at length about being one of the "Black Six," a group of Black Louisvillians accused of inciting rebellion during the 1968 Parkland Uprising and charged with conspiracy to destroy property and to blow up West End chemical plants.
Civil Rights movement in Louisville