Civil rights demonstrations--Kentucky--Louisvile
= 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.
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.
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.