Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Harry E. Fields, October 31, 1997

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:07 - Introduction and personal background

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Partial Transcript: My name is Lee Dew, representing the Community Life Foundation of Owensboro, Kentucky.

Segment Synopsis: Fields discusses his background, childhood, and family history. He speaks about his education and time at college and his various jobs over his lifetime. He discusses how he arrived in Owensboro and his occupation as a teacher.

Keywords: Family history; Occupations; Teachers

Subjects: Childhood; Education; Owensboro (Ky.)

00:04:41 - Segregation in Owensboro, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Now, you came to Owensboro into a, again, a, a totally segregated environment.

Segment Synopsis: Fields discusses segregation in Owensboro when he first arrived. He also discusses semi-integration at Knoxville College, and how that compared to Owensboro. He believes that African Americans in Owensboro do not stand up for what they believe and they are repressed.

Keywords: Discrimination; Integration; Knoxville College; Race relations; Racism; Segregation

Subjects: African Americans--Segregation; Owensboro (Ky.); Racism

00:10:35 - African American community in Owensboro

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Partial Transcript: What was, what was the black community like?

Segment Synopsis: Fields describes the African American community in Owensboro after he graduated college. He describes the different groups of people in the community.

Keywords: African American community; Black community

Subjects: African American neighborhoods; African Americans--Social conditions.; Owensboro (Ky.)

00:15:17 - Leaders of the African American community

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Partial Transcript: Who, who were the leaders, uh, uh, of the community at this time?

Segment Synopsis: Fields describes the various leaders of the African American community. He mentions and describes Dr. Neblitt and Monetta Sleet.

Keywords: African American community; Black community

Subjects: African American leadership; African Americans--Social conditions.; Owensboro (Ky.)

00:21:11 - African American businesses

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Partial Transcript: What about black businesses?

Segment Synopsis: Fields discuss the various African American businesses and restaurants that were utilized by the African American community. He mentions drug stores, restaurants, an insurance business, and bars.

Keywords: African American community; Black businesses; Black community

Subjects: African American business enterprises; African Americans--Social conditions.; Owensboro (Ky.)

00:26:22 - Integration in Owensboro

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Partial Transcript: Well, let's, let's talk about integration.

Segment Synopsis: Fields discusses the integration of the schools in Owensboro. He describes the process of integration and the effect of putting African American schoolteachers in the new schools.

Keywords: African American community; Black community; Discrimination; Integration; Racism

Subjects: African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Education; Owensboro (Ky.); Teachers--Kentucky

00:32:50 - Racial tensions in Owensboro

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Partial Transcript: I was not in Owensboro at this time, but I've heard stories of, of, uh, uh, tensions during this period and stories about, indeed about a period when there was a curfew.

Segment Synopsis: Fields describes racial tensions in the Owensboro area. He tells of a man who was shot in Henderson, as well as retaliatory riots. He also says that he was threatened by radical African Americans who did not like his efforts to keep the peace between the groups.

Keywords: African American community; Black community; Discrimination; Race relations; Racism; Violence

Subjects: African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Owensboro (Ky.); Race discrimination.; Race relations--Kentucky

00:42:29 - Opportunities for young African Americans

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Partial Transcript: Tell me, do you think the black community is, is better off today than it was in say 1960?

Segment Synopsis: Fields describes the opportunities for young African Americans. He says that they do not take full advantage of the many opportunities that they have. He also believes that white teachers do not teach to the needs of the African Americans students. He also discusses the views of the African American population and the white population toward each other.

Keywords: African American community; Black community; Teachers; Young people; Youth

Subjects: African Americans--Social conditions.; Education; Race relations

00:48:12 - Leaders of the African American community in Owensboro

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Partial Transcript: Who are the, who are the leaders of the contemporary black community?

Segment Synopsis: Fields discusses the leaders of the African American community in Owensboro.

Keywords: African American community; Black community

Subjects: African American leadership; African Americans--Social conditions.; Owensboro (Ky.)

00:50:18 - Thoughts on Reverend McFarland

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Partial Transcript: Tell me about--what do you think the, the real contribution of, of Reverend Mcfarland's tenure on the commission has been?

Segment Synopsis: Fields discusses the impact of Reverend McFarland on the Kentucky Commission of Human Rights. He says that he had a large impact on the commission and extreme African Americans wanted to radicalize him.

Keywords: Kentucky Commission of Human Rights; Owensboro City Commission; Reverend McFarland

Subjects: African American leadership; African Americans--Social conditions.; Owensboro (Ky.)

00:53:57 - Thoughts on Olive Burroughs

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Partial Transcript: Olive Burroughs, a very visible, very active member of the city commission, uh, particularly the current commission, uh, elected with a very comfortable margin, broad support for Olive within the white community.

Segment Synopsis: Fields says that Ms. Olive Burroughs has not made herself active in the African American community in Owensboro. He says that he doesn't know what most African Americans think of her, but says that he is proud of her accomplishments.

Keywords: Olive Burroughs

Subjects: African American leadership; African Americans--Social conditions.; Owensboro (Ky.)

00:56:52 - Activities within the African American community

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Partial Transcript: You talked about the activities within the black community that, that bond the community together. What are some of those activities?

Segment Synopsis: Fields discusses the activities within Owensboro's African-American community. He mentions church activities as the one of the largest bonding activities. He also discusses the role of ministers and church members in the community. He also discusses the jobs and occupational opportunities for African Americans.

Keywords: African American community; Black community; Jobs; Occupations

Subjects: African American churches; African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Recreation; African Americans--Religion.; African Americans--Social conditions.; African Americans--Social life and customs.; African Americans--Societies, etc.; Owensboro (Ky.)

01:03:34 - Strengths of the African American community / Urban renewal

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Partial Transcript: What are the, uh, what other factors do you feel that, that give strength to the black community today?

Segment Synopsis: Fields describes the opportunities and prospects that act as the strength of the African American community in Owensboro. He mentions the integration of neighborhoods and better job opportunities. He also discusses urban renewal in Owensboro. He says that he opposed it. He then describes the opposition to the idea across Owensboro.

Keywords: African American community; Black community; Urban renewal

Subjects: African American neighborhoods; African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Owensboro (Ky.); Race relations--Kentucky

01:12:22 - Waitman Taylor / Richard Brown / Mr. Goodloe

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Partial Transcript: Who in the, in, in the, the white community do you feel have, have done the most to help race relations in Owensboro?

Segment Synopsis: Fields discusses the leaders of the white community that have done the most for race relations. He mentions and describes Waitman Taylor and his efforts to help race relations. He also describes Richard Brown and his efforts to push progressive policies. He also describes Mr. Goodloe, calling him a "get things done person." He also says that he wanted to improve discipline in the schools.

Keywords: African American community; Integration; Mr. Goodloe; Race relations; Richard Brown; Waitman Taylor

Subjects: African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Integration; Leadership; Owensboro (Ky.); Race relations

01:24:50 - African Americans at General Electric / Owensboro Community College

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Partial Transcript: You talked about hiring, uh, blacks at GE and certainly this was a pioneering effort.

Segment Synopsis: Fields discusses the hiring of African Americans at G.E. and the overall job situation for the African American community. He also discusses the impact of the Owensboro Community College on the African American community.

Keywords: General Electric (GE); Higher education; Owensboro Community College; Race relations

Subjects: African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Education, Higher; Owensboro (Ky.)

01:32:05 - Wish for the African American community

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Partial Transcript: If you had, uh, one wish for the future of the black community in Owensboro, what would it be?

Segment Synopsis: Fields says that he wishes that there could be fairness between the white and African American communities in Owensboro. He also wishes that there could be better trust, cooperation, and understanding between the two groups.

Keywords: African American community; Black community; Race relations

Subjects: African Americans--Social conditions.; Owensboro (Ky.); Race discrimination.; Race relations--Kentucky; Racism