Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Gifford Blyton, June 5, 1997

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:33 - Coming to teach at the University of Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Let's see. Testing, testing, testing.

Segment Synopsis: Gifford Blyton is introduced. He talks about teaching college in Michigan and how he came to work at the University of Kentucky in 1948.

Keywords: 1948; 1975; Michigan; University of Michigan; Western Michigan University

Subjects: College teachers--Social conditions; College teachers.; College teaching.; Education, Higher--Kentucky; Educators; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky

00:01:48 - African American undergraduates at UK before 1954

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Partial Transcript: Um, what--can you remember what Lexington was like in the fifties?

Segment Synopsis: Blyton describes Lexington, Kentucky in the 1950s. He says that there were African American undergraduate students at the University of Kentucky prior to the Supreme Court decision in 1954. He talks about a student in one of his own classes, Evelyn Green. He talks about leading an integrated, intercollegiate debate event between UK and Kentucky State.

Keywords: 1950s; Articles; Attitudes; Berea College; Cafeteria; Classes; Debate; Desegregation of education; Downtown; Enrollment; Evelyn Green; Galen Martin; Graduate schools; Herman Donovan; Historical events; Intercollegiate activities; Names; Population; Racial climate; Railway stations; Roll call; Segregated; Separated; Supreme Court; Trains; Undergraduates

Subjects: African American college students.; African Americans--Education (Higher); African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; College teachers--Social conditions; College teachers.; College teaching.; Discrimination in education.; Donovan, Herman Lee, 1887-1964; Education, Higher--Kentucky; Educators; Integration; Lexington (Ky.); Lexington (Ky.)--Race relations.; Race discrimination.; Race relations--Kentucky; Racism; Segregation in education--Kentucky; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky

00:10:51 - Campus environment at UK during integration

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Partial Transcript: Alright, um, now I want to go back to my questions here.

Segment Synopsis: Blyton talks about the attitudes of students regarding the integration of UK. He also talks about the attitudes of the wider Kentucky community. He mentions the growing acceptance of interracial dating, marriage, and adoption.

Keywords: Adoption; Adults; Attitudes; Basketball coaches; Campus climate; Interracial dating; Married; Problems; Rights; Segregated; Separate; Treatment; Trouble; Tubby Smith

Subjects: African American college students.; African Americans--Education (Higher); African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Basketball coaches--Kentucky; College environment; College students--Attitudes.; College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Social conditions; College teachers--Social conditions; College teachers.; College teaching.; Discrimination in education.; Education, Higher--Kentucky; Educators; Integration; Kentucky Wildcats (Basketball team); Lexington (Ky.); Lexington (Ky.)--Race relations.; Race discrimination.; Race relations--Kentucky; Racism; Segregation in education--Kentucky; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky

00:13:58 - Personal reaction to teaching integrated classes at UK and an integrated debate event

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Partial Transcript: Uh, when--so really you, you weren't prepared for Evelyn coming to your class.

Segment Synopsis: Blyton talks more about his experiences teaching integrated classes, focusing again on his student Evelyn Green. He talks about taking his integrated debate team on a trip and being refused service in a restaurant.

Keywords: 1940s; African American students; American Indians; Classes; Debate teams; Debates; Evelyn Green; Grades; Integrated; Kentucky; Michigan; Native Americans; Quality; Racist; Reactions; Restaurants; Service; Travel; Treatment; Trips

Subjects: African American college students.; African Americans--Education (Higher); African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; College environment; College students--Attitudes.; College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Social conditions; College teachers--Social conditions; College teachers.; College teaching.; Discrimination in education.; Education, Higher--Kentucky; Educators; Integration; Lexington (Ky.); Lexington (Ky.)--Race relations.; Race discrimination.; Race relations--Kentucky; Racism; Segregation in education--Kentucky; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky

00:17:43 - Integration of UK basketball

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Partial Transcript: So, um, you--when you were talking about the other students, you said the, the students--the white students pretty much accepted the black students.

Segment Synopsis: Blyton says that the decision to keep the UK basketball team segregated did not rest on Coach Adolph Rupp, but was instead instigated by the SEC because other SEC teams refused to play against integrated teams.

Keywords: Adolph Rupp; Alabama; C.M. Newton; Problems; Southeastern Conference (SEC); Southern; Tom Payne

Subjects: African American college students.; African Americans--Education (Higher); African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Basketball coaches--Kentucky; College environment; College students--Attitudes.; College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Social conditions; Discrimination in education.; Integration; Kentucky Wildcats (Basketball team); Lexington (Ky.); Lexington (Ky.)--Race relations.; Race discrimination.; Race relations--Kentucky; Racism; Rupp, Adolph, 1901-1977; Segregation in education--Kentucky; University of Kentucky

00:19:20 - UK faculty's reactions to integration

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Partial Transcript: Okay, um, so you don't--so do you think maybe that--what about the faculty?

Segment Synopsis: Blyton briefly mentions the UK faculty's attitudes regarding integration.

Keywords: Prejudiced; Prejudices; Racist; Word of mouth

Subjects: African American college students.; African Americans--Education (Higher); African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; College environment; College students--Attitudes.; College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Social conditions; College teachers--Social conditions; College teachers.; College teaching.; Discrimination in education.; Education, Higher--Kentucky; Educators; Integration; Lexington (Ky.); Lexington (Ky.)--Race relations.; Race discrimination.; Race relations--Kentucky; Racism; Segregation in education--Kentucky; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky

00:20:03 - More on the integrated debate event

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Partial Transcript: So you really have not maintained any contact with any of your former African American students...

Segment Synopsis: Blyton gives more details on the integrated, intercollegiate debate event between UK and Kentucky State.

Keywords: Articles; College presidents; Contact; Debate teams; Debates; Kentucky State University; Letters; Rufus Atwood; Rufus Ballard Atwood; University presidents

Subjects: African American college students.; African Americans--Education (Higher); African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; College environment; College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Social conditions; College teachers--Social conditions; College teachers.; College teaching.; Discrimination in education.; Education, Higher--Kentucky; Educators; Integration; Lexington (Ky.); Lexington (Ky.)--Race relations.; Race discrimination.; Race relations--Kentucky; Racism; Segregation in education--Kentucky; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky

00:21:48 - More on UK faculty's reactions to integration

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Partial Transcript: Um, do you know if there, um--of any other faculty members that are still, uh, in Lexington maybe that were teaching during the same time you were teaching?

Segment Synopsis: Blyton talks more about the UK faculty's attitudes regarding integration. He talks about others' prejudice and racist attitudes.

Keywords: 1954; Asian Americans; Attitudes; Beliefs; English; Instructors; Intellectual; Intelligence; Music; Nat Patch; Norman Passmore; Piano; Prejudices; Professors; R.T. Roach; Racist; Willis Sutton

Subjects: African American college students.; African Americans--Education (Higher); African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; College environment; College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Social conditions; College teachers--Social conditions; College teachers.; College teaching.; Discrimination in education.; Education, Higher--Kentucky; Educators; Integration; Lexington (Ky.); Lexington (Ky.)--Race relations.; Race discrimination.; Race relations--Kentucky; Racism; Segregation in education--Kentucky; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky

00:24:32 - Others to interview for this project

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Partial Transcript: Uh, so do you know whether or not--and I just have a couple more things and I'm done.

Segment Synopsis: Blyton talks about other administrators, faculty, and students who could be interviewed for this project.

Keywords: 1952; 1954; Appalachian Regional Hospital; Assistants; Dissertation; Evelyn Green; First class; Interviews; Joe Mainous; Johnson

Subjects: African American college students.; African Americans--Education (Higher); African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; College administrators; College environment; College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Social conditions; College teachers--Social conditions; College teachers.; College teaching.; Discrimination in education.; Education, Higher--Kentucky; Educators; Integration; Lexington (Ky.); Lexington (Ky.)--Race relations.; Race discrimination.; Race relations--Kentucky; Racism; Segregation in education--Kentucky; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky

00:28:43 - Cultural climate of prejudice and racism

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Partial Transcript: Well, um, is there anything you would like to add?

Segment Synopsis: Blyton talks about the mistreatment of African Americans and Native Americans. He describes more incidents of racism and prejudice he experienced while teaching and leading the debate team. He talks about how African Americans have been conditioned to segregate themselves. He talks about sports as a great way to break down racial barriers.

Keywords: 1960s; Arkansas; Athletics; Attitudes; Banned; Barriers; Catholics; Conditions; Conley; Cooks; Cultural differences; Debate teams; Debates; First; Genocide; History; Indian Americans; Intermarriage; Interracial dating; Interracial marriage; Jackie Robinson; Jewish; Major League Baseball (MLB); Meals on Wheels; Michigan; Native Americans; Olympics; Prejudices; Questions; Racial climate; Racist; Secretary of State; Segregated; Separation; Slaughter; Struggles; Treatment; University of Alabama; University of South Carolina

Subjects: African American college students.; African Americans--Education (Higher); African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; College administrators; College environment; College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Social conditions; College teachers--Social conditions; College teachers.; College teaching.; Discrimination in education.; Discrimination in sports; Education, Higher--Kentucky; Educators; Integration; Lexington (Ky.); Lexington (Ky.)--Race relations.; Race discrimination.; Race relations--Kentucky; Racism; Segregation in education--Kentucky; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky

00:38:32 - More on his personal reaction to teaching integrated classes

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Partial Transcript: Oh, here's another thing that I just happened to remember that will interest you relative to culture.

Segment Synopsis: Blyton talks about others' prejudiced reactions to his teaching integrated classes. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: "Fraternizing"; Complaints; Cooks; Criticism; Evelyn Green; Home; Houses; Neighbors; Prejudices; Racist; Reactions; Visits

Subjects: African American college students.; African Americans--Education (Higher); African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; College environment; College students--Attitudes.; College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Social conditions; College teachers--Social conditions; College teachers.; College teaching.; Discrimination in education.; Education, Higher--Kentucky; Educators; Integration; Lexington (Ky.); Lexington (Ky.)--Race relations.; Race discrimination.; Race relations--Kentucky; Racism; Segregation in education--Kentucky; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky