Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Crystal Wilkinson, May 24, 2001

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:01 - Demographics of Casey County, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Testing. This is an interview with Crystal Wilkinson.

Segment Synopsis: Wilkinson explores the demographics of Casey County during her childhood in the 1960s and 1970s, with an emphasis upon the African American population. The lack of diversity in Casey County and the dynamics of the African community are also mentioned.

Keywords: Annapolis (Md.); Casey County (Ky.); Cousins; Demographics; Family; Family bibles; Farming; Friends; Grandmothers; Grandparents; History; Indian Creek; Indianapolis (Ind.); Industry; Jobs; Middleburg (Ky.); Nineteenth century; Ohio; Relatives; School; The Great Migration

Subjects: African American authors; African Americans; Childhood; Families.; Slavery

00:05:48 - Childhood

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Partial Transcript: When you stared school, approximately how many children total were there in your first class? Do you remember that far back?

Segment Synopsis: Wilkinson describes her childhood, including her education during this time. The interviewee's early interest in reading and writing is also touched on.

Keywords: Birthdays; Book clubs; Casey County (Ky.); Cinderella; Cousins; Demographics; Education; Elementary schools; Ethnicity; First grade; Golden books; Grandmothers; High schools; Holidays; Native Americans; Reading; Schools; Stories; Teachers; Testing

Subjects: African American authors; African Americans; Childhood; Education; Writing

00:12:54 - Book club / library / graduation

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Partial Transcript: Uh, what is a book club?

Segment Synopsis: Wilkinson explains what the book club was like in her school. Additionally, Wilkinson describes the impact of her local library upon her life. The summer job she had at the public library is also mentioned. Next, the interviewee makes a connection between working at the library and strengthening her connection to her African American heritage and culture. Lastly, Wilkinson briefly talks of her graduating class in high school.

Keywords: Adult books; Baptist; Bibles; Birthday; Book clubs; Books; Casey County (Ky.); College; Colored paper; Controversy; Culture; Diaries; Focus; Graduating class; Graduation; Grandmother; Heritage; High schools; History; History teachers; Hymnals; July; Library; Lincoln County (Ky.); Magazines; News; Novels; Orders; Paper; Pencils; Pens; Plantation books; Public libraries; Representation; Roots (1977); School; Size; Summer programs; Summers; TV; Television; Weekly Reader Club; Work

Subjects: African American authors; African Americans; Childhood; Education; Slavery; Teachers

00:21:49 - Church

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Partial Transcript: You, um, you've referred to a church twice now. Tell me about the church. This is the church you grew up in?

Segment Synopsis: Wilkinson chronicles the role of religion in her early life in Casey County, Kentucky.

Keywords: Casey County (Ky.); Christianity; Fears; Grandparents; Hustonville (Ky.); Isolation; Letters to the editor; Mt. Salem Baptist Church; Newspapers; Poems; Reciting poems; Relatives; Schools; Shy; Singing; Socialization

Subjects: African American authors; Childhood; Churches; Religion; Writing

00:24:17 - Writing

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Partial Transcript: So how early did you start writing?

Segment Synopsis: Wilkinson talks of the start of her writing career, which was apparently inspired by her love of reading as a child.

Keywords: Age; Bookbinding; Bound; Casey County (Ky.); English teachers; Golden books; Grandmother; High schools; Letters; Lexington Herald-Leader; Lindsey Wilson College; Only children; PBS; Pieces; Poems; Projects; Reading; Self-discovery; Sewing; Songwriting contests; Stories; Word play; Writers

Subjects: African American authors; African Americans; Childhood; Writing

00:29:22 - Extracurricular activities

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Partial Transcript: Were you involved in any extracurricular school activities growing up?

Segment Synopsis: Wilkinson recalls the various extracurricular activities that she participated in during high school.

Keywords: 4-H clubs; Casey County (Ky.); Cheerleading; Cincinnati (Ohio); Competitions; Display; Driving; Driving lessons; Eastern Kentucky University; Extracurricular activities; Felt; Future Business Leaders of America; Future Teachers of America (Organization); Grandfathers; Grandmothers; Historians; Pep clubs; Schools; Scrapbook journaling; Speech competitions; Woodworking

Subjects: African American authors; African Americans; Childhood; Education; Travel

00:33:25 - Possible careers

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Partial Transcript: Tell me some of the careers that you kind of went through, for yourself.

Segment Synopsis: Wilkinson remembers the various careers that she considered before deciding to become a writer.

Keywords: 4-H Talent Show; Art; Artists; Careers; Casey County (Ky.); Charcoal; Churches; Cousins; Eastern Kentucky University; Grandfathers; Grandmothers; Guitars; High schools; Home; Mothers; Organs; Pastels; Piano lessons; Pianos; Prizes; Scholarships; Talent shows; Visual arts; Vocal music; Woodworking; Writers

Subjects: African American authors; African Americans; Employment

00:38:36 - College

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Partial Transcript: So you would have graduated in about what year, from high school?

Segment Synopsis: Wilkinson reflects upon her time in college at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky.

Keywords: Casey County (Ky.); College visits; Colleges; Counselors; Cousins; Grandparents; High school; High school graduation; Life; Life-changing; People; Shy; Stanford (Ky.)

Subjects: African American authors; African Americans; Eastern Kentucky University; Education, Higher; Higher education; Journalism; Richmond (Ky.)

00:42:30 - Life changes

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Partial Transcript: Tell me a little bit about what lead to you making those decisions, that you wanted to do those things.

Segment Synopsis: Wilkinson illustrates how her life changed once she entered college, and the various ways in which she tried to re-invent herself during this time.

Keywords: Accents; African-American culture; Blacks; Casey County (Ky.); College; Culture; Danville (Ky.); Dress shops; Drugstores; Eastern Kentucky University; Essence Magazine; Family; Friends; Grandmother; Grandparents; Grocery stores; Imagination; Laundromats; Liberty (Ky.); Magazines; Nervous; Outfits; Pronunciation; Reading; Right on Magazine; Shopping; Speech classes; Strangers; Stuttering; Summer; Town; Twang; Voice; Wardrobe; White; World

Subjects: African American authors; African American women; African Americans; Education; Education, Higher; Higher education; Stereotypes (Social psychology)

00:51:43 - Personality

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Partial Transcript: Were you always shy in all settings growing up, or did it vary from setting to setting?

Segment Synopsis: Wilkinson details her personality, with an emphasis upon her lifelong shyness, which is found to have improved throughout the years.

Keywords: Casey County (Ky.); Churches; Cousins; Dinners; Grandparents; Guests; Home; Houses; Life; Ministers; Neighborhoods; People; Persnickety; Personality; Quiet; Shy; Social; Stanford (Ky.); Summers; Teenagers; Uncomfortable

Subjects: African American authors; African Americans; Childhood