Interview with Ruth Million, Jackie Cruze, September 20, 1997

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:04 - Childhood and family life

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Partial Transcript: Okay, and, uh, we'll start out...

Segment Synopsis: Ruth Million and Jackie Cruze describe their childhood in Lexington, Kentucky. They describe their family relationship and their family's socioeconomic background. She talks about her parents' relationship and eventual divorce. She talks about her mother's work at an insurance agency and her father's job as one of the first African American police officers in Lexington.

Keywords: 1953; Affairs; African American police officers; Assertive; Authoritative; Black police officers; Broken homes; Chief deputy constables; Children; Churches; Confidence; Divorce; Dunbar High School; Emotionally unavailable; Family life; Fathers; Film; Graduation; Happy; Home life; Housekeepers; Infidelity; Insecurity; Kentucky State University; Knowledge; Law; Love; Mammoth Insurance Company; Materialistic; Mothers; Parents; Police departments; Police force; Relationships; Rich; Schools; Separation; Step brothers; Unfaithful; Upbringing; Work

Subjects: African American families; African American police.; African Americans--Economic conditions.; African Americans--Education.; African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Religion.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Childhood; Families.; Lexington (Ky.)

00:11:56 - Racial climate in Lexington, Kentucky during their childhood

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Partial Transcript: Um, how would you describe the racial climate of Lexington as you were growing up as a child?

Segment Synopsis: Million and Cruze talk about not being aware of the racial climate of Lexington during their childhood because they went to all-black schools, churches, and neighborhoods. Million talks about how she learned about racial discrimination when she applied to attend Fugazzi Business School.

Keywords: 1953; 1954; 1955; All-black churches; All-black neighborhoods; All-black schools; Applications; Awareness; Cognizant; Constitution Elementary School; Contact; Denied; Dunbar High School; Fathers; Fugazzi Business School; Kentucky State University; Police; Racial climate; Schools; University of Kentucky

Subjects: African American neighborhoods; African Americans--Education (Higher); African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Childhood; Discrimination in education.; Lexington (Ky.); Race discrimination.; Race relations--Kentucky; Racism; Segregation in education--Kentucky

00:14:25 - Encouragement to attend college

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Partial Transcript: Okay, I'll let Jackie talk now.

Segment Synopsis: Million and Cruze talk about their mother and their teachers encouraging them to attend college. They talk about how their mother took out loans to finance their college educations. Million talks about how she wanted to attend Fugazzi Business School instead of a four-year college, but could not due to segregation.

Keywords: Certificates; Dormitories; Encouragement; Expectations; Finances; Freshmen; Fugazzi Business School; High schools; Instilled; Integrated; Junior colleges; Kentucky State University; Loans; Mothers; Personality; Secretarial degrees; Teachers; undergraduates

Subjects: African American college students--Social conditions; African American families; African Americans--Economic conditions.; African Americans--Education (Higher); African Americans--Education.; African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Childhood; College choice; College environment; College students, Black; College students--Attitudes.; College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Social conditions; Education--Kentucky; Families.; Integration; Lexington (Ky.); Segregation in education--Kentucky; Universities and colleges.; University of Kentucky

00:19:17 - High school

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Partial Transcript: Um, so, uh, just to back up just a little bit, what were your high school days like?

Segment Synopsis: Million and Cruze describe their high school years. Cruze talks about taking several aptitude tests. They talk about their social lives, much of which revolved around the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA.

Keywords: Age; Aptitude tests; Aspirations; Average; Card games; Dances; Dunbar High School; Early; Expectations; Grandmothers; High schools; Lessons; Mothers; Phyllis Wheatley YWCA; Playing cards; Social life; Socials; Teaching

Subjects: African American families; African Americans--Education.; African Americans--Recreation; African Americans--Social conditions.; African Americans--Social life and customs.; Childhood; Families.; Lexington (Ky.)

00:23:48 - Million's career and experiences with discrimination--Part I

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Partial Transcript: It's paid off. I've had good jobs.

Segment Synopsis: Million talks about her job at the V.A., which she says she left due to incidents of discrimination. She then began working at IBM until she had a child, then worked at the V.A. again for two months before returning to IBM, where she worked until she retired in 1990.

Keywords: Children; Civil Rights Commission; Department of Veterans Affairs (VA); International Business Machines (IBM); Jobs; Maternity leave; Promotions; Retired; Secretaries; Secretary; Veterans Administration (VA); Work

Subjects: African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Discrimination in employment.; Lexington (Ky.); Race discrimination.; Race relations--Kentucky; Racism

00:28:49 - How high school prepared them for college

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Partial Transcript: Okay, so--

Segment Synopsis: Million and Cruze discuss whether their high school experience prepared them for college. Cruze talks about the limited music education she received in high school. She talks about why she wanted to enroll at a music conservatory instead of a four-year college. She talks about her lack of interest in teaching, and describes her experiences as a student teacher.

[Silence from 31:20-31:34]

Keywords: Ability; Concert pianists; Determination; Dunbar High School; Elementary schools; Exposure; Harmony; High schools; Interest; Lacking; Liberal arts education; Music; Music conservatory; Performers; Policy; Preparation; Segregated schools; Student teaching; Teaching; Theory

Subjects: African Americans--Education.; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Childhood; Discrimination in education.; Lexington (Ky.); Race discrimination.; Race relations--Kentucky; Segregation in education--Kentucky

00:34:07 - Attitudes about liberal arts education and racial climate at the University of Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: So, anyway, my experiences, uh, were, were very rewarding at school.

Segment Synopsis: Cruze talks about her lack of interest in music theory classes. She talks about how she had often misbehaved in class during elementary and high school, but because she was one of few African American students at UK she felt she had to be better. She talks more about her lack of interest in a liberal arts education. She talks about transferring to Kentucky State, and later transferring back to UK which resulted in many of her credits not counting. She talks about a positive encounter with a music professor at UK. Million talks about her experiences in the College of Commerce and being unaware of incidents of discrimination at UK.

Keywords: Accounting; Albert Kirwan; Alone; Arts; Behavioral problems; Better; Business; Choirs; Choristers; Chorus; College of Commerce; Consultation; Courses; Credits; Department of Veterans Affairs (VA); Expectations; First class; Fugazzi Business School; Grades; Harmony & theory; History; Ignored; Interest; Kentucky State University; Liberal arts education; Music majors; Oblivious; Preparation; Prepared; Racial incidents; Rationale; Rebellious; Seating arrangements; Transfers; Treatment; Unaware; Universal language; Veterans Administration (VA)

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

00:44:39 - Social life at UK

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Partial Transcript: So did you have, either one of you--uh, you mentioned your social life while you were at UK, well somewhat.

Segment Synopsis: Million and Cruze describe the lack of social life for African American students at UK. They talk about hanging out in the Student Center between classes. They compare the social life at UK to Kentucky State. They describe how a group of African American women students attempted to start a chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha at UK, but were unsuccessful. They describe how their mother taught them sex education and how their father brought them Easter baskets in college.

Keywords: Alpha Kappa Alpha; Bonding; Classes; College majors; Curfews; Doris Wilkerson; Doris Wilkinson; Dormitories; Easter baskets; Elementary education; Grades; Greek letter organizations; Health department; Jobs; Kentucky State University; Liberal; Libraries; Library; Meetings; Mothers; Pledging; Population; Secret societies; Secret society; Segregated; Sex education; Sororities; Sorority; Sorority chapters; Strict; Student Center; Student Union; Studying

Subjects: African American college students--Social conditions; African Americans--Education (Higher); African Americans--Education.; African Americans--Recreation; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; African Americans--Social life and customs.; Childhood; College environment; College students, Black; College students--Attitudes.; College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Social conditions; Discrimination in education.; Education--Kentucky; Families.; Greek letter societies.; Integration; Lexington (Ky.); Race discrimination.; Race relations--Kentucky; Segregation in education--Kentucky; Universities and colleges.; University of Kentucky

00:53:45 - Feeling discouraged about majoring in applied music

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Partial Transcript: Now, along toward my junior year I was majoring in applied music 'cause I still had this thing in mind I wanted to be a performer.

Segment Synopsis: Cruze talks about working for a publishing company during summers in college. She talks about having an interview at the Detroit Institute of Musical Arts and being discouraged from a career in applied music by someone there.

Keywords: Applied music; Child prodigies; Child prodigy; Defeated; Detroit Institute of Musical Arts; Interviews; Jobs; Music conservatories; Music conservatory; Publishing companies; Summers; Work

Subjects: African Americans--Education.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Childhood; Families.; Music; Musicians

00:56:57 - Why Cruze did not graduate

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Partial Transcript: Uh, I, I just have a couple more questions and then I'm gonna let you go.

Segment Synopsis: Cruze talks more about her difficulty in transferring credits from Kentucky State to UK. She says she finished all of her classes but never performed her senior recital and therefore did not graduate. She talks about whether she would return now to complete her degree. She talks about working for musician Duke Madison at a club in Lexington playing the organ.

Keywords: Applied music; Aunts; Club Hurricane; College majors; Credits; Deweese Street; Duke Madison; Graduation; Hurricane Club; Jobs; Music education; Organists; Pianists; Piano; Preparation; Prepared; Returning; Saxophonists; Senior recitals; Teaching certificates; Transfers; Union scale

Subjects: African American college students--Social conditions; African Americans--Education (Higher); African Americans--Education.; African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Social conditions.; College students, Black; College students--Attitudes.; College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Social conditions; Education--Kentucky; Lexington (Ky.); Music; Musicians; Universities and colleges.; University of Kentucky

01:00:56 - Million's career--Part II

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Partial Transcript: Well, how about you Mrs. Million?

Segment Synopsis: Million talks more about her career at IBM until her retirement. She talks about how she now works as a temp at various companies in Lexington, and how she began working as a temp at UK.

[This segment ends abruptly.]

Keywords: Careers; Fugazzi Business School; International Business Machines (IBM); Jobs; Liberal arts education; Retirement; Retiring; Temporary jobs; Temporary services; Temporary work; Toyota; University of Kentucky

Subjects: African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Lexington (Ky.)

01:02:45 - Gratitude for their education

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Partial Transcript: --right and I--really, the, the more you talk, the better it is.

Segment Synopsis: Million and Cruze say that they do not regret their time at UK. They talk about the psychological effect of being the only African American student in their classes. Cruze discusses her childhood music education and how it may have held her back when she began at UK because she did not understand the fundamentals of music.

Keywords: Alone; Basics; Ben Ali Theatre; Experiences; Feelings; Fundamentals; Gratefulness; Instilled; Kentucky State University; Money; Music teachers; Music tutors; Negative; Private lessons; Private teaching; Psychological effects; Regrets; Sophomores; Unwelcome; Wages

Subjects: African American college students--Social conditions; African Americans--Education (Higher); African Americans--Education.; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Childhood; College environment; College students, Black; College students--Attitudes.; College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Social conditions; Discrimination in education.; Education--Kentucky; Families.; Integration; Lexington (Ky.); Music; Musicians; Race relations--Kentucky; Segregation in education--Kentucky; Universities and colleges.; University of Kentucky

01:09:06 - Stalking incident

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Partial Transcript: So I, I don't regret my experience at UK at all.

Segment Synopsis: Cruze describes an incident in which a man often followed her home, trying to convince her to model for him.

Keywords: Cadillacs; Fathers; Modelling; Stalkers; Stalking; Staring; Threats; Today

Subjects: African Americans--Conduct of life.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Families.; Lexington (Ky.)

01:11:37 - Million's career--Part III

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Partial Transcript: Looking back I don't regret anything that I've...

Segment Synopsis: Million talks about whether she has any regrets and discusses what she loves about her current temp job at UK.

Keywords: Careers; Determined; Fugazzi Business School; Jobs; Meeting people; Regrets; Temporary jobs; Temporary services; Temporary work; University of Kentucky

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

01:13:08 - Atmosphere of racism

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Partial Transcript: I just regret the fact that, that, that racism still exists.

Segment Synopsis: Million and Cruze talk about whether the atmosphere of racism in society has really changed since their childhood.

Keywords: Beatings; Better; Changes; Easier; History; Jails; Jim Crow; Legacies; Legacy; Pioneers; Regrets; Today

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

01:14:21 - More on attitudes about liberal arts education

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Partial Transcript: But as regards my experience, I'm grateful.

Segment Synopsis: Million and Cruze talk more about their mother's insistence on them getting a liberal arts education. Cruze talks more about whether she will return to UK to complete her degree. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Aunts; Benefits; Incomplete; Liberal arts education; Mothers; Returning

Subjects: African American college students--Social conditions; African American families; African Americans--Education (Higher); African Americans--Education.; African Americans--Social conditions.; College environment; College students, Black; College students--Attitudes.; College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Social conditions; Education--Kentucky; Families.; Lexington (Ky.); Universities and colleges.; University of Kentucky