Interview with Karl M. Dawson, August 22, 1985

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History
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00:00:00 - Dawson's childhood / North vs. South Logan County, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Uh, though we want to talk about that, Mr. Dawson I would appreciate you telling us something about yourself first.

Segment Synopsis: Dawson talks about how he grew up in Logan County and what it was like. He lived on a farm his whole life until he was drafted for WWII. When Dawson got back to Logan County, he ran for the office of the tax commissioner. Next, Dawson talks about the differences between north and south Logan County. The main differences were in the quality of the land and the soil, which affected the surrounding farms. The south part of Logan County has the larger farms, which needed more slaves and people to work.

Keywords: Family farms; Rural towns; Slavery; Small towns; WWII; World War 2; World War II

Subjects: African Americans--Southern States; Logan County (Ky.); World War, 1939-1945

00:07:12 - School integration and race

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Partial Transcript: It would probably been right at the time they went ahead and integrated the schools in 1954.

Segment Synopsis: Dawson says he remembers racial integration happening around 1954. He also remembers the population being around 80% white people and 20% black. Dawson says he remembers growing up on a farm and playing with the black children of the families of sharecroppers. He talks about how everyone was treated equal on his family's farm, so he didn't know about the prejudice that African American people had to face.

Keywords: African American farm hands; Farms; Logan County (Ky.); Rural towns; Small towns

Subjects: African Americans--Education; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions; African Americans--Southern States; Race relations--Kentucky

00:15:15 - Stories from the Civil War and the past

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Partial Transcript: I want to go back to the earlier days again.

Segment Synopsis: Dawson talks about what he heard about the Civil War and his relationships with the black kids he grew up with. He also talks about going to school in a segregated white school. Dawson says the high schools in Logan County were good and so were their basketball teams. However, Dawson struggles to remember any details about the lynching that happened in Logan County.

Keywords: Lynchings; Prejudice; Racism; Segregated schools; Segregated sports; Segregation

Subjects: African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Southern States; Logan County (Ky.); Race relations--Kentucky; Segregation in education; United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.

00:20:09 - Lynchings / African American role models

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Partial Transcript: One of the things that, uh, that's interested us in, in looking at, you know, race relations in Kentucky over a long period of time is that, you know, how it's changed.

Segment Synopsis: Dawson tries to remember what he was told about the lynching and violence in Logan County. Dawson struggles to remember any specifics. Dawson says that when he was growing up, he was unaware of the custom of lynching in the South. Next, Dawson switches over to talking about some of his African American friends and role models. Dawson talks about his friend who was an African American farmer and community leader. He also was the first African American person to serve on the jury.

Keywords: Angry mobs; Executions; Hate crimes; Lynchings; Racism

Subjects: African Americans--Civil rights; African Americans--Crimes against.; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Southern States; Logan County (Ky.)

00:28:13 - History of lynching and race relations

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Partial Transcript: Let, let me just share what I've read about this from I think three different newspapers, all white newspapers and the court records.

Segment Synopsis: The interviewer recounts the story of the lynching to Dawson to see if he remembers hearing about any of it. However, Dawson says that the people that would do the lynchings are all dead now and he was never told the stories when he was young. Next, Dawson talks about how he called the two African American people that helped at his house "Auntie" and "Uncle."

Keywords: Discrimination; Hate crimes; Logan County (Ky.); Lynchings; Rural towns; Small towns

Subjects: African Americans--Crimes against.; African Americans--Employment; African Americans--Social conditions; African Americans--Southern States

00:38:29 - African Americans and politics

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Partial Transcript: What about the role of blacks in politics?

Segment Synopsis: Dawson says that some of his biggest supporters and voters were the African Americans in the community. Dawson discusses whether or not the north end of Logan County may have more prejudice towards African Americans. Dawson begins talking about the African American kids who play for the town baseball team with Dawson's nephew. One of the boys on the team actually lived on Dawson's farm so he and his nephew got to play together their whole life. Dawson mentions how the town undertaker, an African American, has been a part of the city council for around 10 years.

Keywords: African Americans in city council; City council; City government; Logan County (Ky.); Rural towns; Small towns

Subjects: African Americans--Politics and government; African Americans--Social Conditions; Integration; Race relations--Kentucky