Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Grace G. Coleman, September 12, 1986

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:08 - Family history part I

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Partial Transcript: Give me your name.

Segment Synopsis: Coleman discusses her family background, including talking about her grandparents who were slaves. She mentions that her father's parents worked on plantations but did not have field jobs. She goes on to talk about her father's background, including the small area that her father and his relatives lived on which had a school and church. She also talks about her family eventually losing their land.

Keywords: Black churches; Black schools; Family heritage; Farmers; Hickman (Ky.); Land parcels; Slave era; Slavery; Small black community

Subjects: African American families; African Americans--Education

00:11:10 - Food preservation

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Partial Transcript: So, background, when always knew the importance of school, that was a must. In fact, uh, we weren't supposed...

Segment Synopsis: Coleman talks about her father working as a farmer. She discusses the different types of food that they at when she was a child. She also talks about the different ways they would preserve their food for the winter. She goes on to mentions how her neighbors helped her family because her mother was sick.

Keywords: Dried Sweet Potatoes; Dried foods; Drying greens; Farm children; Farmers; Food preservation; Share cropping

Subjects: African American families; African American farmers.; African Americans--Economic conditions

00:16:58 - Recreation / role of the church / orphaned black children

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Partial Transcript: What kind of things did your mother and father do for recreation?

Segment Synopsis: Coleman mentions the lack of recreational activities in her community. She also mentions the role the church played in her community, noting that her church was "strictly for worship". She goes on to talk about how the community dealt with orphaned children, mentioning that some of them were sent to work in white homes. She talks about what the situation was for orphaned children sent to work in other peoples homes.

Keywords: Children workers; Community support; Orphaned children; Role of the church; Treatment of working children; Working conditions

Subjects: African American churches--Kentucky; African Americans--Religion

00:24:45 - Rural life / family history part II

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Partial Transcript: So your father raised you from very young?

Segment Synopsis: Coleman mentions that her father remarried. She also mentions the lack of attention given to children in rural communities. She goes on to talk about the growth of her family after her father remarried.

Keywords: Father; Jessamine County (Ky.); Needs of children; Rural life; Stepmother

Subjects: African American families; African Americans--Social conditions; Rural African Americans.

00:27:27 - Early work history / education

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Partial Transcript: So, when did you leave Jessamine County?

Segment Synopsis: Coleman discusses what brought her to Lexington. She talks about her early work history. She mentions going to school in Lexington and going to live with families for work. She talks about working her way through college at Kentucky State University.

Keywords: Child care; Dunbar High School (Lexington, Ky.); Great Depression; K-State; Work history; Working conditions

Subjects: African Americans--Economic conditions; African Americans--Education--Kentucky--Lexington; Kentucky State University

00:33:35 - Working as a teacher

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Partial Transcript: So then what did you do after you finished Kentucky State?

Segment Synopsis: Coleman talks about the various schools and places that she worked, including a school in Paducah and Kentucky State University. She talks about coming back to Lexington to work as a family service counselor. She mentions that one of her co-workers from New England had a tough time working in the South.

Keywords: Brooks County Training School; Child care provider; Country school; Family service counselor; Graduate School; Integration; Junior college; Kentucky State; Paducah (Ky.); Teachers

Subjects: African Americans--Education

00:37:56 - Working conditions as counselor

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Partial Transcript: Now, were you paid the same amount of money as...

Segment Synopsis: Coleman talks about her working conditions as a social worker. She mentions that she was not paid as much as her white counterparts. She also mentions not being allowed to attend the her jobs professional club because of her race. She goes on to talk about when her working conditions began to change during the integration period. She also mentions the racial makeup of Lexington's social workers.

Keywords: Discrepancies in salary; Family Services; Racial discrimination; Salaries; Segregation; Social professional club; Social workers; Upward mobility; Working conditions

Subjects: African Americans--Kentucky--Lexington--Social conditions; Discrimination in employment

00:43:18 - Office dynamics

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Partial Transcript: I think that's about sums it up as far as the social work profession.

Segment Synopsis: Coleman discusses how she was treated by her administrator and coworkers. She also mentions there being a class divide between her white coworkers.

Keywords: Administrators; Class distinctions; Coworkers; Discrimination in employment; Office dynamics; Race relations; Social classes; Work connections

Subjects: African Americans--Employment--Kentucky--Lexington

00:47:47 - New job / retirement

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Partial Transcript: Now when, when did you first get your white caseloads?

Segment Synopsis: Coleman discusses when she was first able to have white clients. She talks about moving to a new job and getting more responsibilities. She goes on to mention the lack of child services for black children. She also mentions getting equal pay and also her last job before retirement.

Keywords: Adoptions; Equal pay; Fayette County Children's Bureau; Liberal attitudes; Retirement; Retiring; Supervisory role

Subjects: African Americans--Employment--Kentucky--Lexington

00:52:39 - Church involvement in the community / civil rights movement

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Partial Transcript: In the church here?

Segment Synopsis: Coleman discusses what her church was like when she was in her youth compared to the church she in involved in as an adult. She also mentions the leadership of ministers. She goes on to discuss her involvement in the civil rights movement.

Keywords: Black church leaders; Black churches; Church leadership; Civil rights movement; Community involvement; Role of the church; Social betterment

Subjects: African American churches--Kentucky; African Americans--Religion

00:57:03 - Changes in Lexington's black community / black businesses / community closeness in Lexington

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Partial Transcript: Do you um--tell me the changes you've seen in Lexington since that time.

Segment Synopsis: Coleman talks about the changes she has seen in Lexington since she was younger. She talks about the different employment opportunities that have been opened for blacks. She goes on to talk about the decline of black businesses since integration. She also compares the community closeness of her old community and of her current neighborhood.

Keywords: Black businesses; Black patronage; Community closeness; Community support; Employment opportunities; Integration; Neighborhood closeness

Subjects: African American business enterprises; African Americans--Kentucky--Lexington--Social conditions

01:02:00 - Quality of education / church scholarship

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Partial Transcript: Do you think the quality of education back at the old Dunbar and the quality of education now is better? Worse?

Segment Synopsis: Coleman discusses the change she has seen in the education systems since integration. She mentions the impact integration had on the education of blacks. She goes on to talk about a scholarship she started in name of her daughter. She mentions a little about her daughter, Ann Worthington Coleman.

Keywords: Ann Worthington Coleman Scholarship Fund; Church scholarship; Disservice; Integration; Student awareness; Student motivations

Subjects: African Americans--Education--Kentucky--Lexington

01:08:49 - Blacks today in Lexington

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Partial Transcript: Do you think black people are better off in Lexington now then when you came?

Segment Synopsis: Coleman mentions some of the improvements in Lexington's black community. She also talks about a need to better educate black males across the board. She also mentions her interactions with whites throughout her life. [The interview is concluded]

Keywords: Both worlds; Educating black males; Positive experiences; Race relations

Subjects: African Americans--Education--Kentucky--Lexington; African Americans--Kentucky--Lexington--Social conditions