Civil rights demonstrations
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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.
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.
Bryant discusses her childhood in Detroit, Michigan, where her father was involved in fair housing work. The interview also includes recollections of her education at a private girls' school in Washington, D.C. and at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, where she received an AB in history; her move to Louisville with her husband, a physician; her work with the West End Community Council; and involvement with the Black Six conspiracy trial.
Eighty-years-old Hawkins, a native of Kuttawa, KY., discusses his childhood and youth in Louisville’s California neighborhood in the 1950s, his travel in freight cars as a youth, and how racism in the U. S. prompted his resignation from the Marines. He then describes his enlistment in the local Open Housing movement, his work as a VISTA (Volunteer In Service To America) community organizer in both Louisville and Philadelphia, and his involvement as President of the Black Unity League of Kentucky in the local Police brutality protests in May, 1968, the Police provocation that led to days of civil unrest in the Parkland neighborhood, and the bogus charges and litigation that followed against himself and five others as the “Black Six.” Mr. Hawkins frequently focuses less on legal actions and more on what happened to those involved, including his friend, Robert Kyyu Sims, both at the time and subsequently.
Higgins discusses living in Russell during protests of 2020, David McAtee, Breonna Taylor, promoting discussions about race and inequity, growing up in Russell, parents life and marriage, WWII, Old Walnut Street era, notable perons on Old Walnut St., racial inequity in employment during segregation, redlining, life and career as a Black, female engineer, Catholocism in west Louisville, decline of Russell, halfway houses, outside investors purchasing houses in west Louisville, housing problems in west Louisville, housing inequity, revitalization of Russell.
These and other interviews were conducted by the Louisville Story Program and collaboratively edited with the participants authors between 2020 and 2023. The culmination of this collaborative work is the documentary book, “If You Write Me A Letter, Send It Here: Voices of Russell in a Time of Change.” This anthology of nonfiction documents the rich layers of history and cultural heritage in the Russell area of west Louisville, a neighborhood whose history is centrally important to the Black experience in Louisville.
Irvin discusses her childhood in Hopkinsville, Kentucky; her primary and secondary education there; her move to Louisville in 1950, a city she found to be "friendly to blacks, but very segregated"; involvement in open housing demonstrations in Louisville's south end, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; and work in Democratic politics as a precinct co -captain, captain, and committee woman.
Ms. Kidd discusses her life, including her childhood growing up in Bourbon County. Kidd attended the Lincoln Institute in Simpsonville, Kentucky, and then began working for Mammoth Life Insurance Company, Louisville-based black-owned life insurance company. She discusses her career with Mammoth Life, which was interupted by service in the Red Cross during World War II. She discusses her experiences with the Red Cross, both during her training and during her service overseas. She discusses differences in white attitudes, in particular. She describes her work in pubilc relations and sales after the war, as well as her political career. She was elected to the Kentucky Assembly in 1967 and began serving in 1968. She discusses her attempts to pass legislation to give tax breaks to companies that would provide training to Kentucky residents, and her successful efforts to pass a low-cost housing bill.
Dr. Love was a U of L professor and administrator, and sister of civil rights leader Whitney Young, Jr. Dr. Love discusses her parents, Laura and Whitney Young, Sr., their lives and involvement with Lincoln Institute in Simpsonville, Kentucky. Dr. Love and her brother were born in Lincoln Ridge, while her father was a teacher at Lincoln Institute, and she discusses the education they received there, and the atmosphere of safety and support that was fostered at Lincoln Institute. She describes her father's tenure as principal. She describes her experiences at Kentucky State, and also discusses her brother's emergence as a leader there. She recounts his subsequent service in the Army during World War II, where he discovered his ability to negotiate; specifically, he realized his ability to negotiate better conditions for his fellow black soldiers. She relates his educational experiences following his return to the States, and his involvement in a Harvard-based think tank. She discusses his involvement with the Urban League, and his relationships with those who chose different approaches to furthering the equal rights of African Americans. She describes the role of the Black Panthers and the riots, particularly in Detroit, in drawing some supporters to the Urban League. She also gives her perspective on the University of Louisville, which she came to in 1966 as a GE scholar. Dr. Love was quickly identified as a skilled negotiator, and she became involved in working with students, including the students who eventually took over the office of the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in 1969. She offers criticism of the University of Louisville at that time (and in the 1970s) for failing to recruit and support black students and faculty. She does commend President Miller for his support of programs for students needing skill-building work. She gives her assessment of area public schools, and the possible reasons for their shortcomings. Dr. Love also headed the Lincoln Institute at the end of its days, from 1964 to 1966, and she discusses that experience. She recounts its closing, its brief life as a school for gifted and talent students, and its rebirth as the Whitney M. Young Job Corps Center. She discusses briefly the origins and role of the Lincoln Foundation.
Vivian Stanley discusses her career as a social worker and her life with Frank Stanley, Sr., editor, manager, and publisher of the Louisville Defender. She describes events and programs that she and the newspaper were involved in, including Clothe-A-Child and the annual Exposition organized by the Louisville Defender. She also discusses Frank Stanley, Sr.'s personality and civic and political involvement, and the management of the paper after his death. Mr. Stanley had two sons, Frank Jr. and Kenneth, and she also provides some information on their lives.
Reverend Tachau discusses his work in race relations as a Juvenile Court judge during the 1950s in Louisville. During the 1960s, as an Episcopal priest, he took and active role in the open housing demonstrations.