Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Loretta J. Clark, December 8, 1997

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:50 - Beginning school at the University of Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Um, Mrs. Clark, um, I thank you for allowing me to come in and interview you today.

Segment Synopsis: Clark talks about why she attended the University of Kentucky due to the influence of her parents, the cost of an out-of-state institution, and social life on campus.

Keywords: 1954; 1956; Cheap; Commuted; Desegregation; Graduates; High schools; Influence; Integration; Off campus; Parental; Parents

Subjects: African American college students--Social conditions; African American college students.; African Americans--Education--Kentucky--Lexington; College choice; College environment; College integration; College students--Attitudes.; College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Social conditions; Education, Higher--Kentucky; Minorities in higher education; Universities and colleges.; University of Kentucky; Women in higher education.; Women--Education (Higher)

00:04:18 - Racial climate at UK

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Partial Transcript: What was the racial climate like for you at the time while attending the University of Kentucky?

Segment Synopsis: Clark discusses the racial climate during her time of entry at the University of Kentucky and how she adapted to her new environment.

Keywords: Difficult; Expectations; No interracial friendships; Racial climate

Subjects: African American college students--Social conditions; African American college students.; African Americans--Education--Kentucky--Lexington; College environment; College integration; College students--Attitudes.; College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Social conditions; Discrimination in higher education; Education, Higher--Kentucky; Educational change; Minorities in higher education; Universities and colleges.; University of Kentucky; Women in higher education.; Women--Education (Higher)

00:08:21 - Academic career / Integration

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Partial Transcript: Okay, and you attended Douglass High School?

Segment Synopsis: Clark discusses her transition from a predominately black high school to a predominately white institution.

Keywords: 1956; Discrimination; Family values; Graduates; Hard work; Integration; Marches; Martin Luther King, Jr.; Obstacles; Parental involvement; Tight-knit community; Undergraduates

Subjects: African American college students--Social conditions; African American college students.; African Americans--Education--Kentucky--Lexington; College environment; College integration; College students--Attitudes.; College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Social conditions; Education, Higher--Kentucky; Educational change--Kentucky; Minorities in higher education; Universities and colleges.; University of Kentucky; Women in higher education.; Women--Education (Higher)

00:14:55 - Facing racism head-on

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Partial Transcript: Okay, I consider you a successful African American woman.

Segment Synopsis: Clark discusses how her home, school, and church environment shaped her into the student and person she was.

Keywords: Attitudes; Belittle; Christian; Churches; High standards; Overcome; Parental expectations; Pleasant; Principles; Racism; Role models; Self esteem; Teachers

Subjects: African American college students--Social conditions; African American college students.; African Americans--Education--Kentucky--Lexington; College environment; College integration; College students--Attitudes.; College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Social conditions; College teachers, Black; Education, Higher--Kentucky; Minorities in higher education; Universities and colleges.; University of Kentucky; Women in education--Kentucky--Lexington; Women in higher education.; Women--Education (Higher)

00:20:48 - Life at UK

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Partial Transcript: Okay. What was University of Kentucky--what was UK like at the--at that time, for you?

Segment Synopsis: When asked what her life was like at UK, Clark talks about her drive to reach her goal, and how she pushed on and disregarded hate. She also thrived off the independence she experienced once entering university, which contrasted with the tight-knit community she had in high school. Clark is asked how she handled university and what she did differently. She responds by saying being herself and enjoying college life, as well as having a great support system that made her feel like she could succeed.

Keywords: Articulate; Awareness; Black athletes; Churches; College life; Colleges; Determination; Excuses; Family; Independent; Internalize; Married; Minority; Minority students; Relationships; Student friendliness; Support systems; UK; Work ethic; Work groups; Writing centers

Subjects: African American college students--Social conditions; African American college students.; African Americans--Education--Kentucky--Lexington; College environment; College students--Attitudes.; College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Social conditions; Education, Higher--Kentucky; Minorities in higher education; Religion; Universities and colleges.; University of Kentucky; Women in higher education.; Women--Education (Higher)

00:26:14 - The future of integration

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Partial Transcript: Did you think much about the future of integration at the University of Kentucky?

Segment Synopsis: Swain asks Clark about the future of integration and what she thinks about it, to which Clark responds that she wanted more people like her on campus. She said it would have helped her feel more comfortable and helped her have a sense of community. Clark also felt like university was worth the money and was grateful that her parents stepped up to pay the tuition.

Keywords: Costs; Expectations; Future; Grouping; Guilt; Integration; Minorities; Tuition

Subjects: African American college students--Social conditions; African American college students.; African Americans--Education--Kentucky--Lexington; College discipline; College environment; College integration; College students--Attitudes.; College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Social conditions; College teachers, Black; Education, Higher--Kentucky; Minorities in higher education; Universities and colleges.; University of Kentucky; Women in education--Kentucky--Lexington; Women in higher education.; Women--Education (Higher)

00:28:05 - Change through college experience

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Partial Transcript: How did you think your college experience changed you the most?

Segment Synopsis: When asked about how college changed her, Clark talks about learning the importance of preparation. She says that teachers would prioritize certain students who they expected to enter university and focus on them over other students. This would distort the education received by the students, and completely defies the meaning of ‘equal access.’ This shaped her thinking as a teacher and would influence her to expose her students to everything rather than assuming what they should or shouldn’t do. Clark was also called “privileged” because of the preference her teachers had on her, but Clark had said it was because she worked hard to get to that point. Clark also mentions that because she’s a minority individual, people assume what she wants or doesn’t want, and ultimately it’s her decision to decide that.

Keywords: Desire; Discrimination in education; Educators; Effort; Equal access; Expectations; Focus; Minorities; Preparation; School system; Schools; Teachers; Teaching; Teaching styles; Work ethic

Subjects: African American college students--Social conditions; African American college students.; African Americans--Education--Kentucky--Lexington; College environment; College integration; College students--Attitudes.; College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Social conditions; Education, Higher--Kentucky; Minorities in higher education; Teachers; Universities and colleges.; University of Kentucky; Women in education--Kentucky--Lexington; Women in higher education.; Women--Education (Higher)

00:31:09 - Campus involvement

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Partial Transcript: What kinds of activities were you involved in, uh, during your college career?

Segment Synopsis: Swain asks Clark about her social involvement during her time at UK, to which Clark responds by saying she wasn’t that involved socially. She and a few other girls formed a club that would consist of meeting up at each other’s houses. However, on-campus, she didn’t like the social climate and that would lead her to not get as involved. Clark also says that her time at university mainly consisted of studying and doing her homework.

Keywords: Activities; Social clubs; Social life; Student social life; UK-ettes; UKettes

Subjects: African American college students--Social conditions; African American college students.; African Americans--Education--Kentucky--Lexington; College environment; College integration; College students--Attitudes.; College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Social conditions; Education, Higher--Kentucky; Minorities in higher education; Universities and colleges.; University of Kentucky; Women in education--Kentucky--Lexington; Women in higher education.; Women--Education (Higher)

00:32:57 - Race relations

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Partial Transcript: Okay. Let me back up a little bit and ask you a couple questions. Over the course of your youth, how much, uh, contact did you have with white people?

Segment Synopsis: Clark discusses her contact with white people, which she says was on employee basis. Her father, who worked as a valet for the owner of Bradley’s Farm, is an example of such an instance. Besides that, there were white people living in her neighborhood and they would regularly make contact at the grocery store.

Keywords: Bosses; Clerks; College student parents; Contact; Desegregation; Employees; Employers; Employment; Family life; Grocery stores; Integration; Neighborhoods; Parents; Personal valets; Racial connections; Shopping; Stores; White people

Subjects: African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions; Integration; Race relations--Kentucky

00:34:55 - English as a major / Regrets in life

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Partial Transcript: Uh, I noticed that you majored in English.

Segment Synopsis: Swain asks Clark why she chose English as a major. Clark responds by saying she enjoyed writing and naturally loved English. Swain asks Clark about what she would do differently back then, to which Clark responds that she would’ve liked to live on campus and pursue a doctorate. Clark finds it very important for minority individuals to pursue a doctorate degree because that would mean that there was more diversity in academic fields. She would also have worked at a more diverse school, so that she could give back to the black community and promote diversity.

Keywords: Advocates; Articulate; College majors; Diversity; Educational equalization; English majors; Influence; Love; More education; Need; Networks; Reading; Regrets

Subjects: African American college students--Social conditions; African American college students.; African Americans--Education (Higher); African Americans--Education--Kentucky--Lexington; College environment; College integration; College students--Attitudes.; College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Social conditions; Education, Higher--Kentucky; Education--Study and teaching; Minorities in higher education; Teachers--Kentucky; Universities and colleges.; University of Kentucky; University of Kentucky. Department of English; Women in education--Kentucky--Lexington; Women in higher education.; Women--Education (Higher)

00:38:51 - Disadvantages of attending UK

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Partial Transcript: Um, is there any incidents that stand out in your mind while you attended the University of, uh, Kentucky.

Segment Synopsis: When asked about any momentous incidents when Clark attending UK, she responds by saying there weren’t any. Swain has a follow-up question about any advantageous or disadvantageous experiences during Clark’s time at UK, to which Clark responds about an experience that she thought was an advantage but ended up being a disadvantage. Clark, one day, applied for a job through UK’s career center. Her qualifications matched her up with a school outside of Lexington, to which she was requested to go to and meet with the principal. Upon arrival, there were two white men there who told her that there was no appointment and the principal wasn’t there. She had a hunch that one of the people who was telling her this was the actual principal, and that they didn’t want to interview her because she was black, which had humiliated her.

Keywords: Advantages; Dependent; Experiences; Expressions; Humiliating; Incidents; Interviews; Job placement centers; On campus; Principals; Qualifications; Racism; Racist; Racists; Superintendents; Vindictive

Subjects: African American college students--Social conditions; African American college students.; African Americans--Education--Kentucky--Lexington; College environment; College integration; College students--Attitudes.; College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Social conditions; Discrimination in employment; Education, Higher--Kentucky; Educators; Minorities in higher education; Race discrimination--Kentucky; School administrators; Teachers--Kentucky; Universities and colleges.; University of Kentucky; Women in education--Kentucky--Lexington; Women in higher education.; Women--Education (Higher)

00:45:42 - Advice for current students

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Partial Transcript: Okay, this kind of concludes our interview, but I'd like to ask you a couple of more questions.

Segment Synopsis: During this segment, Clark gives advice to incoming minority students at the University of Kentucky.

Keywords: Accessible; Attending; Charitable; Diversity; Expand; Experiences; Friendly; High schools; Involvement; Open; Opportunity; Perspective; Preparation; Principles; Recognition; Respect; Teachable; Vocal

Subjects: African American college students--Social conditions; African American college students.; African Americans--Education (Higher); African Americans--Education--Kentucky--Lexington; College environment; College freshmen; College integration; College students, Black; College students--Attitudes.; College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Social conditions; Education, Higher--Kentucky; Education--Study and teaching; Integration; Minorities in higher education; Teachers--Kentucky; Universities and colleges.; University of Kentucky; University of Kentucky. Department of English; Women in education--Kentucky--Lexington; Women in higher education.; Women--Education (Higher)

00:51:41 - Final thoughts

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Partial Transcript: I have one more question.

Segment Synopsis: This segment concludes the interview with Clark giving her final thoughts.

Keywords: Ambassadors; Better place; Black church coalitions; Build your own; Cannot wait; Come together; Community; Do its part; Educating; Effectively; Getting outside; Give back; Help others; Individuals; Involved; Keep working; Not be fearful; Rallied; Reflection; Same problems; Security; Support each other; Supporting

Subjects: African American churches--Kentucky; African American college students--Social conditions; African American college students.; African Americans--Education (Higher); African Americans--Education--Kentucky--Lexington; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions; College environment; College integration; College students--Attitudes.; College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Social conditions; Education, Higher--Kentucky; Education--Study and teaching; Integration; Minorities in higher education; Race relations--Kentucky; Teachers--Kentucky; Universities and colleges.; University of Kentucky; University of Kentucky. Department of English; Women in education--Kentucky--Lexington; Women in higher education.; Women--Education (Higher)