Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Elizabeth R. Harris, July 15, 1986

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:04 - Family and educational background

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Partial Transcript: Where were you born?

Segment Synopsis: Elizabeth Harris talks about growing up in various places in Kentucky and the schools she attended. She talks about her parents' educational background and what she knew about her grandparents' education. She talks about her family's history of owning property.

Keywords: Chandler Normal School; Constitution Elementary School; Cumberland (Ky.); Farmers; Fathers; Grandparents; Great grandparents; Harrodsburg Road; Jessamine County (Ky.); Landowners; Mothers; Ms. Mason; Orchards; Parents; Property owners; Reading; Russell Elementary School

Subjects: African American families; African Americans--Economic conditions.; African Americans--Education.; African Americans--Housing.; Childhood; Lexington (Ky.)

GPS: Constitution Street (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.047221, -84.492023
00:04:55 - Jobs / more on family and educational background

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Partial Transcript: Do you remember anything at all about the people he worked for, working conditions, salary? Can you tell me anything about--

Segment Synopsis: Harris talks about the types of jobs her father held during her childhood. She talks more about her family owning property and why her family often moved from place to place. She talks more about the schools she attended in Kentucky.

Keywords: Booker T. Washington Elementary School; Bourbon County (Ky.)Employers; Community; Constitution Elementary School; Homeowners; Jobs; Mothers; New England; Property owners; Renting; Russell Elementary School; Salary; Woodford County (Ky.); Working

Subjects: African American families; African Americans--Conduct of life.; African Americans--Education.; African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Housing.; Wages.

GPS: Russell Elementary School (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.053286, -84.489381
00:10:25 - Recreation / role of the church

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Partial Transcript: I'd like you to tell me a little bit about your community growing up.

Segment Synopsis: Harris talks about the types of entertainment she and her family enjoyed when she was growing up in Lexington. She talks about the role of church in her life and in the community during her childhood.

Keywords: Charity; Church; Church revivals; Church services; Community; Dances; Drinking alcohol; Entertainment; Helping; Interest; Movie theaters; Pastors; Playing cards; Restaurants; Visits

Subjects: African American churches--Kentucky; African American neighborhoods; African Americans--Conduct of life.; African Americans--Kentucky--Lexington--Social conditions; African Americans--Recreation; African Americans--Religion.; African Americans--Social life and customs.

00:15:10 - Changes in the community

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Partial Transcript: It was, it was--I--to me, th, things were better then than they are now.

Segment Synopsis: Harris talks about how the community has changed since her childhood. She talks about the sense of safety she once felt, and how people in the community looked out for one another, especially for the children. She talks about discipline during her childhood, and how schools and education have changed over the years.

Keywords: All-black schools; Bedtime; Books; Chandler Normal School; Changes; Community; Computers; Corporal punishment; Discipline; Favors; Fear; High school; Math; Money; Opportunity; Paddling; Parents; Punishments; Quality of education; Rules; Russell Elementary School; Safety; School; Selfish; Spelling; Studying; Trust; Walking

Subjects: African American families; African American neighborhoods; African Americans--Conduct of life.; African Americans--Education.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Neighborliness; Neighbors

00:24:27 - More on family background / more on jobs

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Partial Transcript: I forgot to ask you about your family. Is, uh, your family racially mixed?

Segment Synopsis: Harris talks about her ancestors, including her grandparents' Native American heritage. She talks more about the jobs she has held over the years, her wages, and how she was treated at work. She talks about why some jobs seem to be racially segregated.

Keywords: Ancestors; Catering; Commission; Cooking; Driving trucks; Grandparents; Jobs; Laundries; Madagascar; Native Americans; North Upper Street; Poor; Racially mixed; Salary; Shipping clerk; Treatment; Waitresses; Washing dishes; Work experience; Working

Subjects: African Americans--Conduct of life.; African Americans--Economic conditions.; African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Genealogy.; African Americans--Kentucky--Lexington--Social conditions; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Discrimination in employment.; Race discrimination.; Wages.

GPS: North Upper Street (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.052741, -84.489955
00:33:11 - Communities she grew up in

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Partial Transcript: Did you always live in an all-black community?

Segment Synopsis: Harris talks about whether she ever lived in an all-black community. She describes some of the neighborhoods she lived in, how neighbors got along with each other, and how the areas have changed since her childhood.

Keywords: Changes; Charles Young Park; Chestnut Street; Children; Community; Douglass Park; Duncan Park; Fear; Fifth Street; Friends; Georgetown Street; Lindberg Drive; Playing; Poor whites; Problems; Rules; Visiting

Subjects: African American families; African American neighborhoods; African Americans--Conduct of life.; African Americans--Kentucky--Lexington--Social conditions; African Americans--Recreation; African Americans--Social conditions.; African Americans--Social life and customs.; Childhood; Lexington (Ky.)--Race relations.; Neighborhoods.; Neighborliness; Neighbors; Race relations--Kentucky--Lexington

GPS: Chestnut Street (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.049716, -84.486163
00:36:56 - School integration

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Partial Transcript: And that's the reason why I said when this integration came about if they left the thing alone themselves--course they wer--they were all had these little petty names that they called one another.

Segment Synopsis: Harris discusses her opinions on the desegregation of schools and how it has affected the quality of education the children receive. She discusses how the quality of teachers and the students' lack of interest in learning affect their educations.

Keywords: Attitudes; Black teachers; Changes; Children; Improvement; Interest; Learning; Parents; Quality of education; Sit-ins; Skills

Subjects: African American families; African Americans--Education--Kentucky--Lexington; African Americans--Education.; African Americans--Segregation; Civil rights movements--United States; School integration--Kentucky--Fayette County; Segregation in education--Kentucky; Teachers--Kentucky; Teaching

00:44:16 - Jobs before and after the civil rights movement of the 1960s

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Partial Transcript: What do you think happened to the business after the Sixties?

Segment Synopsis: Harris discusses how the quality, availability, and wages for jobs have changed since the 1960s. She talks more about the racial segregation of jobs. She talks about segregation in businesses in Lexington before the 1960s.

Keywords: Busboys; Cooking; Deweese Street; Downtown Lexington; Downtown businesses; Factories; Hotels; Jobs; Movie theaters; Teachers; Waitresses

Subjects: African Americans--Civil rights--Kentucky; African Americans--Economic conditions.; African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Kentucky--Lexington--Social conditions; African Americans--Segregation; Civil rights movements--United States; Discrimination in employment.; Integration; Race discrimination.; Segregation--Kentucky--Fayette County; Wages.

GPS: Deweese Street (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.044350, -84.491996
00:50:06 - Black businesses

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Partial Transcript: You were saying that you don't know what happened to the businesses after the Sixties. Do you think a lot of them might have closed because they did not want to serve blacks?

Segment Synopsis: Harris talks about black businesses in downtown Lexington during the 1960s and how they were affected by integration. She talks more about the entertainment that was available in Lexington.

Keywords: Biltmore; Closing; Cotton Club; Dance halls; Downtown Lexington; Downtown businesses; Duke Ellington; Earl Hines; Entertainment; Fear; Fires; Georgetown Street; Louis Armstrong; Main Street; Orchestras; Restaurants

Subjects: African American business enterprises; African Americans--Conduct of life.; African Americans--Kentucky--Lexington--Social conditions; African Americans--Recreation; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; African Americans--Social life and customs.; Civil rights movements--United States; Discrimination.; Lexington (Ky.); Race discrimination.; Segregation--Kentucky--Fayette County

GPS: Georgetown Street (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.071204, -84.501571
00:54:27 - More on the role of the church / segregation on buses

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Partial Transcript: Tell me about your church now.

Segment Synopsis: Harris talks about the current role of the church in the community and how it assists people. She tells a story about refusing to sit in the back of a bus. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Black community; Buses; Charity; Donations; Dr. Benjamin Baker; Main Street Baptist Church; Money; Needy; Pastors; Suburbs

Subjects: African American churches--Kentucky; African Americans--Kentucky--Lexington--Social conditions; African Americans--Religion.; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Discrimination.; Lexington (Ky.)--Race relations.; Race discrimination.; Racism--Kentucky--Lexington; Segregation in transportation

GPS: Main Street Baptist Church (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.051596, -84.503871