Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with David Kelly, May 26, 1999

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00 - Grandparents / parents / neighborhoods in Owensboro, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: --for the record, and what is your name?

Segment Synopsis: Kelly provides some biographical information about his grandparents and parents, including their occupations. He lists the various neighborhoods within Owensboro, Kentucky that his family lived in.

Keywords: "Baptist Town"; "Mechanicsville"; "Strawberry Ridge"; Churches; Grandchildren; Grandparents; Growing up; Housewives; Parents; Principals; Seven Hills

Subjects: Daviess County (Ky.); Employment--Kentucky; Families; Genealogy; Neighborhoods; Owensboro (Ky.)

GPS: Owensboro (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.757748, -87.11839
00:06:30 - Education history and its importance growing up

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Partial Transcript: Where did you attend school?

Segment Synopsis: Kelly explains what schools he attended both prior to and after integration. He talks about the importance of education expressed by his family, as well as the larger African American community, during this time period.

Keywords: 1963; African American community; Dunbar Elementary School; Grade schools; Grandfathers; Opportunities; Owensboro High School; Teachers; Values; Western High School

Subjects: African Americans--Education.; Education; Families; Owensboro (Ky.); School integration.

GPS: Owensboro (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.757748, -87.11839
00:09:59 - Church and politics

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Partial Transcript: Um, was the church an important part of your family's life?

Segment Synopsis: Kelly talks about his childhood church experiences and becoming aware of the church's political involvement as he got older. He discusses his father's political involvement with the Republican Party, campaigning for Nixon; and Reverend Winstead at Center Street Baptist Church, who counseled and influenced many young people in Owensboro, Kentucky.

Keywords: Center Street Baptist Church; Church services; March on Frankfort, Kentucky; Memberships; Ministry; Political campaigning; Political involvement; Reverend Winstead; Social functions

Subjects: African American Baptists; African Americans--Politics and government.; Childhood; Churches; Civil rights movements--United States; Families; Frankfort (Ky.); Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994.; Owensboro (Ky.); Republican Party (Ky.)

GPS: Owensboro (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.757748, -87.11839
00:14:53 - Housing disparities in Owensboro, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Um, what were some of your earliest impressions of growing up in Owensboro?

Segment Synopsis: Kelly recollects his memories of the various housing types in Owensboro. He talks about living in military and public housing but knowing areas where people lived in substandard housing with dirt floors.

Keywords: "Baptist Town"; Dirt floors; Memories; Military housing; Shanty

Subjects: African Americans--Housing.; Housing; Neighborhoods; Owensboro (Ky.); Public housing

GPS: Owensboro (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.757748, -87.11839
00:17:54 - Early jobs and work

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Partial Transcript: What type of work did you do when you were growing up and, and through your younger days, schools days, and then when you first got out into employment?

Segment Synopsis: Kelly talks about the jobs he had growing up and hypothesizes why "Mechanicsville" was called that.

Keywords: "Mechanicsville"; Coal; Colleges; Custodians; Janitors; Jobs; Railroads; Shoeshines; Tobacco pickers; Work

Subjects: Employment--Kentucky; General Electric Company; Neighborhoods; Occupations; Owensboro (Ky.)

GPS: Owensboro (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.757748, -87.11839
00:19:53 - High school and community activities

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Partial Transcript: Did the community at that time--were there any general activities within the community that you could--that you remember like, uh, uh, could be celebrations or sporting events or, uh--

Segment Synopsis: Kelly describes the tournaments involving various games that happened between the local and neighboring all-black high school.

Keywords: Activities; Checkers; Clay courts; Henderson Douglas High School; Horseshoes; Softball; Summers; Tennis; Tournaments

Subjects: African American high school students; African Americans--Social life and customs.; Communities; Neighborhoods; Recreation

GPS: Owensboro (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.757748, -87.11839
00:21:13 - Race relations growing up in Owensboro, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: How would you describe race relations in Owensboro and Daviess County during the time when you were young, when you were growing up?

Segment Synopsis: Kelly describes his relative unawareness of race relations growing up in Owensboro, Kentucky due to the sort of general acceptance that segregation was normal.

Keywords: Acceptances; Childhood; Growing up; Police; Resistances

Subjects: African Americans--Social conditions.; Civil rights movements--United States; Daviess County (Ky.); King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968.; Owensboro (Ky.); Race relations.; Segregation

GPS: Owensboro (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.757748, -87.11839
00:23:24 - African Americans involved in community government

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Partial Transcript: At the time when you were growing up, um, when you were younger, or--and up into high school, were any blacks involved in community wide actu--activities, that you know, like in the government?

Segment Synopsis: Kelly talks about his earliest memories of black community members being involved in local politics.

Keywords: Civic issues; Cousins; Freedom Riders; Local governments; Political campaigning; Politics

Subjects: African Americans--Politics and government.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Communities; Freedom Rides, 1961.; March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (1963 : Washington, D.C.); Owensboro (Ky.); Watts Riot, Los Angeles, Calif., 1965.

GPS: Owensboro (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.757748, -87.11839
00:26:50 - African American careers

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Partial Transcript: What, what type of career opportunities were available for African Americans in the Owensboro area back in those days?

Segment Synopsis: Kelly talks about how teaching was basically the only career type employment held by African Americans in Owensboro, Kentucky during the 1960s.

Keywords: African American community; Integration; Jobs; Menial labor; Respected; Work

Subjects: African American teachers; African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Careers; Employment--Kentucky; Occupations; Owensboro (Ky.); Segregation

GPS: Owensboro (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.757748, -87.11839
00:29:14 - Memories of school / education then versus now

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Partial Transcript: What are your most positive memories of your school--if you don't mind mentioning the school's name again--and what your most positive memories of your school days, both, uh, grade school and high school.

Segment Synopsis: Kelly tries to recount his most positive memories of his schooldays and then discusses his belief that education then was of a better quality than now due to the practical applications taught and the more nurturing environment, which he sees as lacking in today's education systems. He also talks about teachers who influenced him, particularly his English teacher, Mary Morris.

Keywords: Athletics; Drug problems; English teachers; Extra-curricular activities; Grade schools; High schools; Jails; Memories; Nurturing; Plays; Quality; Reading; Schooling; Teaching

Subjects: African American school children; African American teachers.; African Americans--Education.; Education; Owensboro (Ky.)

GPS: Owensboro (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.757748, -87.11839
00:36:36 - Athletics in segregated versus integrated schools

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Partial Transcript: Were you involved in sports or extrar--extracurricular activities in school?

Segment Synopsis: Kelly talks about his involvement in band prior to integration, not being able to pursue band after integration due to financial constraints, and how athletics became a more competitive opportunity in the integrated schools.

Keywords: African American community; Bands; Coaches; Extra-curricular activities; Grade schools; High schools; Integration; Opportunities; Summer band camps; Teachers

Subjects: African American athletes; African American high school students; African Americans--Social conditions.; High school athletes; Owensboro (Ky.); School integration--Kentucky; Segregation; Segregation in education--Kentucky; Sports

GPS: Owensboro (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.757748, -87.11839
00:41:13 - Memories of integrating the schools in Owensboro, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: When they had the push for integrate--gration of the schools, um, you were involved in, in, at that time, going to school. Did you favor integration of the schools?

Segment Synopsis: Kelly talks about his feelings at the time regarding school integration and the changes that came with it. He describes the experience as Owensboro just going along with a larger national movement.

Keywords: Catholic schools; High schools; Opportunities; Proms; Schools; Traditions; Western High School

Subjects: African American teachers.; African Americans--Education.; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Louisville (Ky.); Owensboro (Ky.); School integration--Kentucky

GPS: Owensboro (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.757748, -87.11839
00:45:42 - African American college graduates leaving Owensboro, Kentucky / segregated public accommodations

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Partial Transcript: Um, where did black high school graduates from this area tend to go to--away to college when you were--

Segment Synopsis: Kelly says that most black students from Owensboro, Kentucky who went to college did not return to Owensboro after graduating. He also talks about his memories of segregated public accommodations, like the local movie theater.

Keywords: Balcony; Black graduates; College degrees; Colleges; Movie theaters; Restaurants; Segregated public accommodations

Subjects: African American high school students; African Americans--Education.; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Discrimination.; Integration; Kentucky State University; Owensboro (Ky.); Restrooms; Western Kentucky University

GPS: Owensboro (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.757748, -87.11839
00:48:54 - Housing / racial violence / harassment

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Partial Transcript: Were there any integrated neighborhoods that you know of prior to the '70s? Integration of--open housing became an issue in the '60s and, uh, did you notice a big change in the housing patterns in Owensboro, or--

Segment Synopsis: Kelly speaks briefly about segregated housing, not having any particularly strong memories of racial violence, avoiding certain areas in Owensboro, and instances of harassment.

Keywords: Changes; Desegregation; Growing up; Harassment; Name calling; Parents; Public parks; Racial violence; Safety; White neighborhoods

Subjects: African Americans--Segregation; Bethea, Rainey, -1936; Discrimination in housing.; Housing; Integration; Neighborhoods; Owensboro (Ky.); Race discrimination.; Race relations--Kentucky; Racism

GPS: Owensboro (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.757748, -87.11839
00:51:52 - Owensboro, Kentucky not at the forefront of the civil rights movement

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Partial Transcript: Do you remember any leaders, uh, you mentioned a few earlier, in the Owensboro/Daviess County area in, in the civil rights movement? Who are the, the, the key people who come to your mind?

Segment Synopsis: Kelly shares his thoughts that Owensboro, Kentucky was never at the forefront of the desegregation movement but instead most people seemed to just go along with what was happening in the larger surrounding area, for fear of stirring the pot.

Keywords: Desegregation; Leaders; Reverend Winstead; Teachers

Subjects: African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Civil rights movements--United States; Daviess County (Ky.); Integration; Louisville (Ky.); Owensboro (Ky.)

GPS: Owensboro (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.757748, -87.11839
00:56:02 - H.L. Neblett Community Center in Owensboro, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: How would you describe the role of the Neblett Center in the black community?

Segment Synopsis: Kelly talks about the Neblett Center in Owensboro, Kentucky.

Keywords: Basketball; Black community; Fellowship; H. L. Neblett Community Center; Meeting places; Neblett Center; Roller skating

Subjects: African Americans--Recreation; African Americans--Social life and customs.; Community centers; Owensboro (Ky.)

GPS: Owensboro (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.757748, -87.11839
00:58:03 - Accomplishments of African American community from Owensboro, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: What do you see as some of the most positive accomplishments of African Americans in the Owensboro area, Daviess County area?

Segment Synopsis: Kelly reflects on the accomplishments of the black community in Owensboro, Kentucky, and while he says there is not much tangibly present within Owensboro, per se, he thinks there is great pride in the fact that over the generations more young people from Owensboro have gone on to influence the greater world, even if that means they do not return to Owensboro.

Keywords: Accomplishments; African American community; Black community; Generations; Pride; Teaching

Subjects: African American leadership; African Americans--Social conditions.; Children; Daviess County (Ky.); History; Owensboro (Ky.)

GPS: Owensboro (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.757748, -87.11839
01:00:41 - Chatauqua movement in Owensboro, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Can you tell me anything about the Chatauqua movement in Owensboro? Have you ever heard anything about that movement?

Segment Synopsis: Kelly briefly talks about his mother's memories of her involvement with the Chatauqua movement in Owensboro, Kentucky.

Keywords: Activities; Chatauqua movements; Chatauquas; Lectures; Parks; Picnics; Speakers

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

GPS: Owensboro (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.757748, -87.11839