Discrimination in public accommodations
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.
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.
Henry Wallace was born to Augusta Graham French Wallace and Tom Wallace, a former editor of the Louisville Courier-Journal, in 1915. He attended the University of Louisville, but was graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1938 with an A.B. in history and political science. After college Wallace worked for the Lexington (Kentucky) Leader. He later worked for papers in Ohio and Puerto Rico. Wallace served in military intelligence early in World War II, but in 1943 he began a hitch in the merchant marine which lasted until the end of the war. In 1948 Wallace went to Cuba, where he worked for the Havana Daily Post and the Havana Herald, English language newspapers. While in Cuba Wallace also did freelance photographic work for Life magazine. He later worked for Time as a full-time reporter, covering Paris, Tangiers, and the Middle East. Wallace returned to Louisville in 1956 to manage his family's farm near Prospect. After the death of his parents, Wallace became active in civil rights, working for passage of public accommodations and open housing ordinances in Louisville.