Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Bertie Nokomas Wilkerson, April 24, 1990

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

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Partial Transcript: This is an interview conducted on April the 24th, 1990 with Bertie Wilkerson.

Segment Synopsis: Bertie Wilkerson is introduced. She talks about attending a segregated school in Lexington, discussing the class size, her teachers, the students' recreation, and being bullied at school.



[An interruption in taping occurs during this segment.]

Keywords: Behavior; Bullying; Buses; Class size; Facilities; Family values; Fathers; Fort Spring Elementary School; Games; Interest; Mothers; Playgrounds; Respect; Siblings; Spelling; Subjects; Teasing; Trouble

Subjects: African American families; African Americans--Education.; African Americans--Recreation; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Childhood; Fayette County (Ky.); Segregation in education--Kentucky; Teachers--Kentucky

00:08:26 - Home life

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Partial Transcript: Um, could you tell me what type of things you did after you came from school?

Segment Synopsis: Wilkerson talks about her chores at home after school, taking piano lessons, and her mother and father's occupations.

Keywords: After school activities; Chores; Day work; Domestic work; Farms; Fathers; Homework; Mothers; Piano lessons; Piano practice; Playing

Subjects: African American families; African Americans--Conduct of life.; African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Recreation; Childhood

00:12:23 - Childhood community

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Partial Transcript: Um, Ms. Wilkerson, could you describe to me the community in which you live?

Segment Synopsis: Wilkerson talks about growing up in Little Georgetown, discussing her house, neighbors, family activities, and more about her education.

Keywords: All-Black schools; Canning; Douglass Junior High School; Dunbar School; Family activities; Farms; Houses; Interest; Layout; Little Georgetown; Relationships; Rooms; School principals; Schools; Sewing; Siblings; Values; Well water

Subjects: African American families; African Americans--Education.; African Americans--Housing.; African Americans--Recreation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Childhood; Neighborhoods.; Neighborliness; Teachers--Kentucky

00:19:02 - Race relations

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Partial Transcript: How, how was your family politically?

Segment Synopsis: Wilkerson talks about her family's interest in politics, her thoughts on Martin Luther King, and race relations in her childhood community. She talks about her grandfather who lived in Michigan.

Keywords: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Grandparents; Henry Ford plant; Integrated neighborhoods; Michigan; Personality; Prejudice; Stores; Treatment; Voting polls

Subjects: African American families; African American leadership; African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Politics and government.; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Civil rights movements--United States; Race discrimination.; Race relations--Kentucky; Racism

00:24:07 - More on home life

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Partial Transcript: I want to go back to your home. Could you tell me in what room did you eat, whether it was the kitchen or the dining room?

Segment Synopsis: Wilkerson describes her childhood house, her chores, and her relationship with her father.

Keywords: Cars; Chores; Clothes; Cooking; Diseases; Duties; Electricity; Fathers; Fireplaces; Houses; Hunting; Iceboxes; Indoor plumbing; Ironing; Kitchens; Mail carriers; Meals; Mechanics; Outdoor toilets; Pets; Relationships; Relatives; Shoes; Stoves; Visiting

Subjects: African American families; African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Housing.; African Americans--Recreation; Childhood

00:33:13 - Employment / growing food

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Partial Transcript: Um, did you contribute to the family income?

Segment Synopsis: Wilkerson talks about her early jobs, including babysitting, working as a waitress, and doing domestic work. She talks about her family's orchard and gardens, and her father raising animals.

Keywords: Allowance; Canning; Chores; Cows; Day work; Domestic work; Fathers; Gardens; Growing food; Growing vegetables; Income; Jobs; Labor; Meat; Orchards; Raising animals; The Campbell House; Waitresses; babysitting

Subjects: African American families; African Americans--Conduct of life.; African Americans--Economic conditions.; African Americans--Employment.; Childhood; Food habits; Gardening; Wages.

GPS: The Campbell House (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.03474, -84.524755
00:37:44 - Social events and holidays

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Partial Transcript: What did Saturday mean to you?

Segment Synopsis: Wilkerson talks about going into town on Saturdays, and going to church on Sundays. She talks about how her family celebrated Christmas, Easter, July 4th, and birthdays. She talks about how the seasons affected their daily life.

Keywords: Baptist churches; Barefoot; Baths; Birthdays; Christmas; Christmas carols; Christmas trees; Douglass Park; Easter; Egg hunts; Entertaining; Fans; Fireworks; Floods; Guests; Ice; Ice cream; Impact; Independence Day; Presents; Saturdays; Stores; Summers; Sunday dinners; Sunday school; Sundays; Visitors; Weather; Winters

Subjects: African American churches--Kentucky; African American families; African Americans--Conduct of life.; African Americans--Recreation; African Americans--Religion.; African Americans--Social life and customs.; Childhood; Holidays--Kentucky; Lexington (Ky.); Neighborliness; Neighbors

GPS: Douglass Park (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.071204, -84.501571
00:45:45 - Recreation

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Partial Transcript: What did you do for recreation?

Segment Synopsis: Wilkerson talks about what her family did for fun, her involvement in organizations like 4-H and Girl Reserves, visiting relatives, and her childhood desire to be a barber.

Keywords: 4-H Club; Admiration; Barbers; Cars; Cutting hair; Driving; Friends; Girl Reserves; Grocery stores; Hobbies; Horseback riding; Louisville (Ky.); Playing; Playmates; Role models; Running; Shopping; Softball; Swimming; Taffy pulls; Track; Trains; Vacations; Visiting relatives; Yards

Subjects: African American families; African Americans--Conduct of life.; African Americans--Recreation; African Americans--Social life and customs.; African Americans--Societies, etc.

00:52:57 - Married life

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Partial Transcript: Um, when and where did you meet your husband?

Segment Synopsis: Wilkerson talks about how she met her husband, when they were married, and their life in Little Georgetown.

Keywords: Children; Constructions workers; Engaged; Husbands; Little Georgetown; Married; Moving; Occupations; Shot; War; Weddings

Subjects: African American families; African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Marriage.; Lexington (Ky.)

00:55:59 - Changes in society

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Partial Transcript: Have you been politically active during your lifetime?

Segment Synopsis: Wilkerson talks about changes in fashion, technology, and societal values since her childhood. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Achievements; Advice; Changes; Drugs; Fashion; Future; Marriage; Memory; Progress; Technology; Transportation; Values; Voting

Subjects: African Americans--Social conditions.; Drug abuse; Politics and government; Technological innovations