Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Dorothy M. Cooper, September 15, 1986

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

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Partial Transcript: Good morning could you give me your name please?

Segment Synopsis: Cooper talks about her family history. She talks about her grandparents and great grandparents, mentioning some of their backgrounds including occupations. She also mentions the education and occupations of her parents.

Keywords: Army days; Bate School (Danville, Ky.); Black soldiers; Brick masons; Camp Nelson; Dunbar High School (Lexington, Ky.); Ethnic background; Family history; Financial situation; Financial support; Free blacks; Great grandmother; Literacy; Military pension; Military service; Parents; Slavery:Grandfather

Subjects: African American families; African Americans--Education; Danville (Ky.)

00:05:17 - Education / family history part II

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Partial Transcript: I attended West Virginia State College and graduated from West Virginia State College, uh, from there...

Segment Synopsis: Cooper discusses her educational background, including attending West Virginia State College, Purdue University and the University of Kentucky. She talks enjoying graduate school at the University of Kentucky. She also talks about her grandfather's personality and good nature.

Keywords: Black students; Campus support; College experience; Desegregation; Family stories; Financial support; Grandfathers; Masters degree; Purdue University; Teaching; UK; West Virginia State College (Charleston, Wv.)

Subjects: African Americans--Education; University of Kentucky.

00:09:52 - Different jobs in the school system

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Partial Transcript: Well, I don't know how long I was the principal, at my first job--after I had been to Dunbar for about twenty five years...

Segment Synopsis: Cooper talks about the various jobs she worked in the school system, mentioning ending her career as the principal of Russell Elementary School. She talks about when she retired. She also discusses how the black schools were not well supported by the superintendent and often black teachers had to pay for their own school resources.

Keywords: Black teachers; Carver Elementary School (Lexington, Ky.); Counselors; Discrepancies in salary; Principals; Retirement; Russell Elementary School (Lexington, Ky.); School resources; Superintendent

Subjects: Dunbar High School (Lexington, Ky.); Teachers--Salaries, etc.

00:13:47 - Teaching conditions / black summer camp

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Partial Transcript: When did you begin to get the same salaries as the white teachers? Do you recall?

Segment Synopsis: Cooper talks about various aspects of working as a teacher in Lexington. She talks about teacher salaries and the city school districts merger with county schools. She also mentions the lack of school resources that were provided for black teachers. She goes on to discuss her involvement with a local black summer camp.

Keywords: All black system; Black teachers; Camp Malloy (??); Five year plan; Integrated schools; Integration; Lexington City School system; Lexington-Fayette school system; Primary school children; Salary schedules; School resources; Segregation; Summer camps

Subjects: African Americans--Education--Kentucky--Lexington; Dunbar High School (Lexington, Ky.); Teachers--Salaries, etc.

00:18:10 - Recreational activities / community

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Partial Transcript: I want to know the kinds of things they did for recreation when you were growing up.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper talks about the different recreational activities that she and her family participated in. She also talks about the type of community she was raised in. She also mentions her father's connections in the white community and his influence in her life. She also mentions having homemade clothes and getting out of doing household chores.

Keywords: "Negro" Fair; All black communities; BYTU (??); Big Bands; Boy Scouts; Close-knit communities; Close-knit families; Family connections; Family games; Family men; Father's encouragement; High Bridge (Ky.); Homemade clothes; Household chores; Mrs. McVey; Napa Gas (??); Part-time job; Race relations; Recreation; Social clubs; Social life; White friends

Subjects: African American churches--Kentucky; African Americans--Kentucky--Lexington--Social conditions; African Americans--Religion; Danville (Ky.)

00:26:57 - Education since integration / role of the church

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Partial Transcript: But tell me the change you see in schools since they've been integrated.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper discusses how education has changed for black students since integration. She mentions how the parent-teacher dynamic has eroded and with it the degree of black parent involvement has also decreased. She goes on to discuss how her church has changed over the years, mentioning that ministers are too focused on money.

Keywords: All black schools; Black church leaders; Black parents; Black students; Black teachers; Church hopping; Church leadership; Church loyalty; Church membership; Church sponsorship; Cultural differences; Educating black students; Ministerial leadership; Ministers; Parent-teacher relations; Parental involvement; Role of the church; Tithing; White ; White churches

Subjects: African American churches--Kentucky; African Americans--Education--Kentucky--Lexington; African Americans--Religion; School integration--Kentucky--Fayette County

00:36:17 - Involvement in the church / church exodus

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Partial Transcript: I can't say much about me and my church because I was so disgusted with it that I stopped going for a long time.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper discusses how her involvement in the church has changed over the years. She talks about a time when dissatisfaction in black ministerial leadership drove church members out of her church. She also talks about the mentality of black ministers.

Keywords: BTU; Church clubs; Church deacons; Church leadership; Church relations; Church scandals; Church unity; Exodus to white churches; Lucrative business; Ministerial leadership; Race relations; Reverend Bob Brown; White churches; White ministers

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

00:43:21 - The YMCA / community relations / outreach work

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Partial Transcript: When I was growing up the Y used to be a great center of amusement...

Segment Synopsis: Cooper talks about the role the YMCA used to play in the black community. She discusses her involvement in different outreach programs, including a summer school program for kids that lived in the housing projects.

Keywords: Black communities; Close-knit communities; Community relations; Community support; Housing projects; Neighborhood clubs; Neighborhood demographics; Outreach programs; Outreach workers; Recreation; Recreational programs; Senior citizens; Summer school program; The Y; Urban County government; YMCA

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

00:49:48 - Changes after integration

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Partial Transcript: Tell me, after school integration how were the black teachers sent out into the integrated schools?

Segment Synopsis: Cooper talks about teacher integration, she mentions how some teachers were not happy with their new work situations. She also talks about how the quality of teachers changed after integration. She also mentions that it was her belief that too many black students were labelled with learning problems by white teachers.

Keywords: Black students; Black teachers; Labeling black students; Predominately black schools; Race relations; Special education; Student teachers; Teacher integration; Teacher quality; Teacher relations; White teachers

Subjects: African Americans--Education--Kentucky--Lexington; School integration--Kentucky--Fayette County

00:54:30 - Politics / changes in Lexington

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Partial Transcript: Tell me about your political involvement in Lexington or your, your community.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper talks about the political situation in Lexington's black community. She discusses how businesses in Lexington have changed since the 1960s, including the decline of black businesses. She also talks about two incidents she had in white businesses where she felt disrespected because she was black. She also mentions that since the 1960s employment opportunities have increased for blacks in Lexington.

Keywords: Aspendale; Black businesses; Black employees; Black politicians; Civil rights movement; Edgar Wallace; Election fraud; Fair wages; Integration; John Wiggington; Mike Wilson; Minimum wage; Race relations; Resentment; Third District; White businesses

Subjects: African American business enterprises; African Americans--Politics and government

01:00:43 - Impact of integration

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Partial Transcript: I think that generally the attitude has changed. But I'm telling you this things about integration is really, uh, it's something else.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper discusses the community's response and acceptance of integration. She also mentions the use of busing in Lexington. She also talks about the impact integration has had on the extracurricular involvement of black students.

Keywords: Acceptance; Black music teachers; Black parents; Black students; Community response; Extracurricular activities; Integration workshops; Lack of participation; Lexington Junior High School (Lexington, Ky.); Race relations; Racial balance; Subtle segregation; White community

Subjects: African Americans--Education--Kentucky--Lexington; Busing for school integration; School integration--Kentucky--Fayette County

01:07:18 - Changes in the black community / the black family

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Partial Transcript: Do you think the black people in Lexington are better off then they were before integration...

Segment Synopsis: Cooper talks about how the black community has become divided along class lines and how such division has effected the community. She also talks about the changes in the black family structure. [The interview is concluded]

Keywords: Black community; Black resentment; Class divisions; Community relations; Federal assistance; Original black community; Single parent households; The black family; Welfare programs

Subjects: African American families; African Americans--Kentucky--Lexington--Social conditions