Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Lillian Butner, January 30, 1987

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:02 - Family history

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Partial Transcript: I'm George Wright, a professor of history at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas.

Segment Synopsis: Lillian Butner is introduced. She talks about her family background in Corbin, Kentucky, including her grandfather's businesses and land ownership. She talks about her father working for the railroad and on his father's farm.

Keywords: All-Black schools; Charlie Kinkead; Children; Cincinnati (Ohio); Death; Farming; Fathers; Grandfathers; Hack business; Houses; Landowners; Liquor business; Mothers; Orville McKee; Property ownership; Railroads; Remarried; Saloons; Sam McKee; Stepfathers; Taverns; Whitley County (Ky.)

Subjects: African American business enterprises; African American families; African American leadership; African Americans--Economic conditions.; African Americans--Education.; African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Housing.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Childhood; Corbin (Ky.)

GPS: Corbin (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 36.941667, -84.095556
00:09:45 - Race riot in Corbin, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Now after your father died your mother remarried about several years later?

Segment Synopsis: Butner talks about the race riot that occurred in Corbin, Kentucky in 1919. She talks about the African Americans working for the railroad who were run out of town by white men, possibly due to a lack of jobs in town. She says that her family was not affected by the riot.

Keywords: Jobs; Mail handlers; Mothers; Railroads; Remarried; Stepfathers; Trains; Transfers

Subjects: African American families; African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Childhood; Corbin (Ky.); Race discrimination.; Race relations--Kentucky; Race riots; Racism

GPS: Corbin (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 36.941667, -84.095556
00:16:22 - Race relations in Corbin versus London, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: And then after you finished high school did you go to college or?

Segment Synopsis: Butner talks about her husband's background, and his work as a porter at the Wilbur Hotel. She talks about working as a doctor's receptionist. She talks about the differences in race relations between Corbin and London. She talks more about the riot, and about race relations in Corbin at the time of the interview.

Keywords: Black families; Colleges; Discouragement; Drums; Farms; Houses; Husbands; Laurel County (Ky.); McDonald's; Porters; Priests; Receptionists; Renting; Schools; Stores; Wilbur Hotel

Subjects: African American families; African Americans--Education.; African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Housing.; Corbin (Ky.); London (Ky.); Race discrimination.; Race relations--Kentucky; Race riots; Racism

GPS: London (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.1275, -84.084167
00:25:19 - Education

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Partial Transcript: We saw some pictures of--what were those men in the, in--over in London in the restaurant?

Segment Synopsis: Butner talks about her education and about attending Kentucky State in 1938. She talks about the conditions in all-Black schools. They discuss other people they could interview.

Keywords: All-Black schools; Injuries; Roads; Sisters

Subjects: African American college graduates--Kentucky; African American college students.; African Americans--Education (Higher); African Americans--Education.; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Childhood; Corbin (Ky.); Kentucky State University; London (Ky.); Segregation in education--Kentucky

GPS: Kentucky State University
Map Coordinates: 38.2, -84.858333
00:30:34 - More on race relations in Corbin, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Well you know, you were the first person after all these years that I have actually met who was in Corbin, though you were a child during that time, and then went back and lived there.

Segment Synopsis: Butner talks about other Black families who remained in Corbin after the riot in 1919. She talks about whether there were signs warning Black people to stay out of the town. She talks about the Wilbur Hotel hiring African American workers.

Keywords: Guests; Image; Livingston family; Returning; Signs; Staying; Warnings; Wilbur Hotel; Woods family

Subjects: African American families; African Americans--Employment.; Childhood; Corbin (Ky.); Race Relations--Kentucky; Race discrimination.; Race riots; Racism

GPS: Corbin (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 36.941667, -84.095556
00:37:39 - Effects of integration on race relations

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Partial Transcript: The one other thing I wanted to just talk briefly with you about was your whole experience as a teacher.

Segment Synopsis: Butner talks about being a teacher when schools in the area began to integrate. She talks about her experiences teaching at the former white school. She talks about incidents of violence against African Americans in the area, including lynchings. She talks about the increasing number of interracial marriages in the area and their acceptance by the community.

Keywords: Altamount; Fires; Hazel Green School; Schools; Throwing rocks

Subjects: African American families; African Americans--Crimes against.; African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Segregation; Corbin (Ky.); Depressions--1929--Kentucky; Integration; Race Relations--Kentucky; Race discrimination.; Racism; School integration--Kentucky; Segregation in education--Kentucky; Teachers--Kentucky; Teaching

GPS: Corbin (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 36.941667, -84.095556
00:46:11 - Other people to interview

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Partial Transcript: If I've heard you correctly, if we wanted to pursue any more about Black people living in Corbin, other than those--that one family of people still over there, that's really about it.

Segment Synopsis: Butner talks more about other people who were in Corbin during the race riot, and talks about why they cannot be or refuse to be interviewed.

Keywords: Claire Woods; Domestic work; Howard Nolan; KET (Kentucky Educational Television); Maids; Marguerite Carson; Porters; Railroad stations; Tomi Morris

Subjects: African American families; African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Health and hygiene.; Corbin (Ky.); Oral history.

GPS: Corbin (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 36.941667, -84.095556
00:52:42 - More on the race riot in Corbin, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: When we did look at Corbin we saw this race riot event, uh, in 1919 as being something that must have dramatically changed people's lives.

Segment Synopsis: Butner talks more about the race riot, including others who were or were not living in Corbin at the time. She talks more about how her family was not affected by the riot. She talks more about race relations in Corbin versus London. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: "Certain element"; Acceptance; Brown family; Changes; Children; Dances; Drums; Fear; Kicked out; Parents; Restaurants; Russell Brown; Sy Brown; Trains; Treatment; Work

Subjects: African American families; African Americans--Education.; African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Childhood; Corbin (Ky.); London (Ky.); Race discrimination.; Race relations--Kentucky; Race riots; Racism; Teachers--Kentucky; Teaching

GPS: Corbin (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 36.941667, -84.095556