African American politicians
In this interview, Mrs. Beckett discusses her life as well as her husband’s experiences as alderman in the city of Louisville in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Mrs. Beckett briefly describes her early life and education, including her graduation from Kentucky State College. Mrs. Beckett had a career in education, but also worked with her husband, and for her brother, in the undertaking business in Louisville. She speaks of the Walnut Street area before Urban Renewal. Mrs. Beckett’s husband, William Washington Beckett, was elected alderman in 1951 and served until 1961. In this time, he played a role in the integration of the fire and police departments, the parks, and public accommodations, and in developing a Human Relations Commission. Mrs. Beckett discusses her husband’s contributions and the civil rights movement in general (both in Louisville and more generally) and gives her opinion on the roles of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the African American church.
Mr. Ealy, who came to Louisville in 1918, discusses his recollections of politics, journalism and race relations in the city from 1910s to 1970s. Specifically, this interview contains information on the African American journalists I. Willis Cole (Louisville Leader), William Warley (Louisville News), and Frank Stanley, Sr. (Louisville Defender); machine politics in the city; his recollections of life in the African American community in Louisville; and his philosophy of race relations. He also describes his early life and education.
Powers discusses her education at Louisville Central High School and the Louisville Municipal College; early involvement in politics with Wilson Wyatt, Sr.; United States Senate campaign; Edward T. Breathitt's gubernatorial campaign; Norbert Bloom's career in the Kentucky General Assembly; and her own successful race for the state senate in 1966. Powers also discusses her support of a state open housing bill and the Poor People's March on Washington, D.C., in 1968, which she attended as an observer for the Kentucky Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Louise Reynolds was the first African American woman elected alderman in the city of Louisville. Ms. Reynolds discusses her work with the Republican Party, including her work as a precinct committeewoman, in the party's headquarters, and for Representative John Robsion. She worked for Robsion in the 1950s, and was elected to Louisville's Board of Alderman in 1961. Ms. Reynolds discusses the legislation passed during her time on the board, including the Public Accommodations Ordinance, the establishment of the Human Relations Commission, and an Equal Opportunity ordinance, and her involvement in trying to pass an open housing ordinance. She discusses the administrations of mayors William Cowger, and to a lesser extent, Kenneth Schmied. She also describes a visit to the White House at the invitation of President Lyndon Johnson. She also worked for the Small Business Administration, and she talks about the advice she gives small businesspeople who approach the SBA for loans, and notes several successful African American businesspeople in Louisville.