FRANKFORT, Ky. (December 30, 2004) – Since 1998, more than 80 Kentuckians have shared their memories of the civil rights movement in interviews with the Kentucky Oral History Commission. Now their powerful stories, in their words, will be available on a new Kentucky Historical Society online database to be launched in time for Martin Luther King Day.
The following are just a few examples of interviews available at http://history.ky.gov:
Mary Northington, talking about growing up in Covington during the 1930s and 1940s:
“There was nothing for black people but the home, the church and the school. . . . you could not go to movies . . . you could not go to the Y. We had to walk to Cincinnati . . . for any activities of that nature.”
Audrey Grevious (Lexington), recalling desegregating the lunchroom at her place of work:
“I walked in and took a seat and destroyed the lunchtime for everybody . . . I decided that my place was going to be in the dining room. . . . A whole lot of people threw their food in the trashcan, and on the floor, and everything else and marched on out but I was there to stay. . . . How can I talk about segregation, breaking down segregation elsewhere and I’m working and eating in the same sort of situation?”
Raoul Cunningham (Louisville), who began his civil rights career as an NAACP youth member at age 14:
“Segregation made me angry . . . It made you feel less than a human being . . . Now is
the time that we might be able to break the barriers down.”
Alice Wilson (Graves County), one of ten black students to integrate Mayfield High School in 1956:
“We decided to integrate because we had heard some of the news reports about the desegregation law that had come about. . . . We decided well, maybe we should try. And we did. And the day that we walked into the building was a real shock, because nobody expected it.”
An agency of the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet, The Kentucky Historical Society, since 1836, has provided connections to the past, perspective on the present and inspiration for the future. KHS operates the Old State Capitol, Kentucky Military History Museum and its five-year-old headquarters, the Kentucky History Center. Since 1999, the thirty-million-dollar History Center has welcomed almost one million visitors. For more information about the Kentucky Historical Society and its programs, visit the Web at http://history.ky.gov or call (502) 564-1792.