Interview with Valinda Livingston, February 9, 2009

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries

 

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00:00:00 - Preparation for leadership through church and elementary school

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Partial Transcript: So if we could begin by, um, just giving your name and--

Segment Synopsis: Valinda Livingston is introduced. She talks about her birth and growing up on Warnock Street in East End Lexington. She talks about attending Constitution Elementary School and discusses some of her teachers, including Ms. Hazel Green who was her inspiration to become an educator. She talks about being a member of Shiloh Baptist Church, the leadership roles she was given there, and how she overcame her shyness. She talks about the popular style of dress when she was a child.

Keywords: Aspendale Housing Project; Birth; Children; Constitution Elementary School; Dresses; East End Lexington; Extroverted; General secretary; Goodloe Street; Hairstyles; Hazel Green; Hospitals; Inspiration; Leadership roles; Mrs. Page; Ms. Bell; Ms. Brown; Operettas; Pants; Personality; Plays; Preparation; Public speaking; Respect; Segregated; Shiloh Baptist Church; Shy; Special education; Sunday school; Thomas Street; Walking; Warnock Street; Wilson Street

Subjects: African American churches--Kentucky; African American neighborhoods; African Americans--Education--Kentucky--Lexington; Clothing and dress.; Education; Fashion.; Religion; Segregation in education--Kentucky; Teachers--Kentucky

GPS: Warnock Street (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.042971, -84.486013
00:07:38 - Education from junior high through college

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Partial Transcript: Okay. So as you, um--so has your life kind of paralleled that way with education and church?

Segment Synopsis: Livingston talks about how education and church combine in her life. She talks about attending Dunbar Junior High, which was later combined with Dunbar High School. She talks about the quality of the teachers and about her father's encouragement of her education. She talks about fearing her teachers and disliking school for many years, and discusses overcoming her shyness. Livingston talks about attending Kentucky State College to obtain her undergraduate degree before enrolling at the University of Kentucky and later Eastern Kentucky University. She discusses the experience of attending college as integration was beginning to occur.

Keywords: Acceptance; Afraid; Caring; Changes; Chestnut Street; Choirs; Devoted; Dunbar Junior High School; Eastern Kentucky University; Encouraging; Enjoyment; Fathers; Gifts; Kentucky State College; Kentucky State University; Lonely; Masters degrees; North Limestone Street; Nurturing; Segregated; Shyness; Singing; Strict; Teaching; University of Kentucky; Upper Street; Walking

Subjects: African American churches--Kentucky; African American college students--Social conditions; African American college students.; African Americans--Education--Kentucky--Lexington; College integration; Dunbar High School (Lexington, Ky.); Education; Kentucky State University; Minorities in higher education; Religion; Segregation in education--Kentucky; Teachers--Kentucky

00:14:37 - Work as a teacher and principal

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Partial Transcript: So you had put a lot of thought into teaching.

Segment Synopsis: Livingston talks about beginning her career as a teacher, and the various schools she taught at before becoming principal at Russell Elementary. She discusses some of the things she achieved as principal, including a business partnership with Saint Joseph Hospital. She talks about leaving her position at Russell to work for the Fayette County school system, and talks about beginning a scholarship at Kentucky State for students in the education field.

Keywords: "North end school"; Achievements; Black history; Booker T. Washington; Business partnerships; Community involvement; Dorothy Cooper; Fayette County school system; Kentucky State College; Mary Todd Elementary; Millcreek Elementary School; Russell Elementary School; Saint Joseph Hospital; Scholarships; School principals; Segregated

Subjects: African Americans--Education--Kentucky--Lexington; Kentucky State University; School integration--Kentucky--Fayette County; Segregation in education--Kentucky; Teachers--Kentucky; Teaching

00:20:15 - Shiloh Baptist Church

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Partial Transcript: Let's talk about, um, teaching in the church.

Segment Synopsis: Livingston talks more about leadership positions she has held in the church. She discusses the pastors who have lead the church since her childhood and how they have affected the church. She talks about changes that have occurred in the church and gives her opinion on these changes. She talks about her involvement in the choir and why she sometimes feels out of place due to the new styles of music and worship.

Keywords: Accommodation; Balance; Baptist Training Union; Changes; Children's Fellowship; Choir robes; Choirs; Church body; Congregation; Fifth Street; Gospel music; Leadership; Meaning; Ministers; Moving; Pastors; Reverend George Childs; Reverend J.B. Haile; Reverend Joseph Owens; Reverend T.H. Smith; Sacred; Shiloh Baptist Church; Singing; Split; Sunday school; Teaching; Thomas Street; Turmoil; Unified; Vocal training; Worship; Younger generations; Youth directors

Subjects: African American churches--Kentucky; Clothing and dress.; Music; Religion

GPS: Shiloh Baptist Church (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.050155, -84.485121
00:32:08 - Family / leadership positions after her retirement

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Partial Transcript: So then along the way of teaching, becoming a principal, being active in the church, you began your own family.

Segment Synopsis: Livingston talks about her mother, husband, and son. She talks about staying busy after her retirement and the organizations she continues to be involved in. She discusses her role as Chair of the Board of Regents at Kentucky State, and talks more about the scholarship she established.

Keywords: Baptist Women's State Education Convention; Busy; Chair of Board of Regents; Diplomas; Husbands; Joe Livingston; Kentucky State College; Kentucky State University Lexington Alumni Chapter; Leadership; Married; Mothers; Retirement; Scholarships; Sean Livingston; Sons

Subjects: African American families; Education; Education, Higher--Kentucky; Education--Study and teaching; Kentucky State University

00:36:26 - Childhood in East End Lexington

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Partial Transcript: Um, talk to, talk to me some more about growing up in East End.

Segment Synopsis: Livingston talks about the East End neighborhood and how the community looked after one another, especially the children. She talks about parties and playing in the Charles Young Park. She discusses whether her life was affected by racism and segregation as a child.

Keywords: Charles Young Community Center; Charles Young Park; Children; Community; East End Lexington; Fears; Girl scouts; Holidays; Movies; Neighbors; Parties; Playing; Racism; Riding buses; Trick-or-treating; Warnock Street

Subjects: African American families; African American neighborhoods; African Americans--Segregation; Childhood; Segregation--Kentucky--Fayette County

GPS: Charles Young Park
Map Coordinates: 38.041951, -84.485821
00:40:45 - Warnings about Deweese Street

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Partial Transcript: Do you remember, um, you know--Deweese Street was pretty much dead by the time I came along but I do remember the street actually being there and the buildings starting to go down--

Segment Synopsis: Livingston talks about the businesses on Deweese Street in Lexington. She talks about the warnings she was given about going there. She talks about the Lyric Theater and how her husband's grandfather's picture was hung in the theater.

Keywords: "Chicken shacks"; Brothels; Deweese Street; Entertainment; Illinois Street; Kentucky State College; Kentucky State University; Lyric Theater; Mr. Chaney; The Hurricane; Ulysses Grant

Subjects: African American business enterprises; African American families; African American neighborhoods; Lexington (Ky.)--Buildings, structures, etc.; Minorities--Kentucky--Lexington.

GPS: Lyric Theater and Cultural Arts Center (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.046081, -84.489303
00:45:20 - Revisiting East End recently / African American legends

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Partial Transcript: I'm running out of questions. I can't believe that we've got--(laughs)--we've done so much in such a short amount of time.

Segment Synopsis: Livingston talks about revisiting the East End area recently and how it has changed since she lived there. She talks about some of the names of famous African Americans she heard growing up. She talks about the lack of women on the list. She talks about a local legend, William Wells Brown.

Keywords: African American history; Ann Street; Black history; Booker T. Washington; Changes; Charles Young Community Center; East End Lexington; Elementary schools; George Washington Carver; Isaac Burns Murphy; Isaac Scott Hathaway; Jackie Robinson; Joe Louis; Legends; Marion Anderson; William Wells Brown; Women

Subjects: African American business enterprises; African American leadership; African American neighborhoods; Lexington (Ky.)--Buildings, structures, etc.; Teachers--Kentucky; Teaching

GPS: Charles Young Community Center (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.042838, -84.484428
00:49:06 - Deweese Street businesses

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Partial Transcript: Do you remember in the Deweese Street area, um, uh, like the doctors offices and businesses and--

Segment Synopsis: Livingston talks about some of the businesses located on Deweese Street, including doctors offices, barbers, and tailors. She talks more about the Lyric Theater. She talks about another local legend, S.T. Roach, who was a teacher and basketball coach at Dunbar High School.

Keywords: Barbers; Basketball coaches; Basketball players; Brothels; Charles Livisay; Dentist; Deweese Street; Doctors; Douglass High School; Dr. Hunter; Dr. Sims; Dunbar High School; Legends; Lyric Theater; S.T. Roach; Students; Tailors; Urban League

Subjects: African American business enterprises; African American leadership; African American neighborhoods; African American physicians--Kentucky--Lexington; Educators; Lexington (Ky.)--Buildings, structures, etc.; Teachers--Kentucky; Teaching

GPS: Deweese Street (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.044367, -84.491971
00:54:48 - Race and teaching

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Partial Transcript: When you were coming up in the education system as a teacher and then a principal did you ever face any challenges of race or gender or anything?

Segment Synopsis: Livingston talks about being chosen as principal of Russell Elementary School because it was a predominately black school. She talks about the lack of African American teachers there when she first arrived, and talks about wanting her son to have the experience of having at least one black teacher. She talks about why there may be so few African American teachers.

Keywords: Challenges; Education field; Faculty; Jobs; Ms. Cooper; Race; Retirement; Russell Elementary School; School principals; Sons

Subjects: African American leadership; African Americans--Education--Kentucky--Lexington; African Americans--Kentucky--Lexington--Social conditions; Education; Teachers--Kentucky; Teaching

00:59:57 - 2008 election

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Partial Transcript: Let me completely change the subject--

Segment Synopsis: Livingston talks about how she felt when Obama was campaigning for election and when he won the 2008 presidential election. She talks about the experience of attending the inauguration ceremony. She talks about her hopes for Obama's presidency.

Keywords: Congress; Inaugurations; Presidential elections; Qualified

Subjects: African Americans--Segregation; Obama, Barack; Presidents--Election

01:04:08 - Third Street

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Partial Transcript: What else can I ask you about East End?

Segment Synopsis: Livingston describes Third Street in the East End neighborhood when she was growing up there. She talks about how it has changed over the years. She lists some of the businesses that were once there, including grocery stores and drugstores. She talks about funeral homes in the area.

Keywords: Changes; Drugstores; East End Lexington; Funeral homes; Grocery stores; Hawkins Funeral Home; Prices; Restaurants; Soda; Stores; Warnock Street

Subjects: African American business enterprises; African American neighborhoods; African Americans--Kentucky--Lexington--Social conditions; Lexington (Ky.)--Buildings, structures, etc.

GPS: Third Street (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.044005, -84.484581
01:06:52 - East End churches

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Partial Transcript: Was Greater Liberty there?

Segment Synopsis: Livingston talks about the three churches located in the East End neighborhood: Greater Liberty Baptist Church, Shiloh Baptist Church, and Star of Bethlehem. She talks about her experiences with each of the churches, and discusses why a husband and wife did not always attend the same church.

Keywords: Anointing; Chestnut Street; East End Lexington; Greater Liberty Baptist Church; Holiness churches; Husbands; Scared; Shiloh Baptist Church; Star of Bethlehem Baptized Pentecostal Church

Subjects: African American churches--Kentucky; African American families; African Americans--Kentucky--Lexington--Social conditions; Religion

GPS: Greater Liberty Baptist Church (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.045343, -84.486130
01:11:11 - More on elementary school

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Partial Transcript: Course, um, we had an incident at, at Constitutional. We had a fire at Constitutional.

Segment Synopsis: Livingston talks more about her experiences at Constitution Elementary School, including a fire that occurred there. She talks more about her favorite teachers and talks about working with her favorite teacher, Ms. Hazel Green, later in life.

Keywords: Academic teams; Bryan Station High School; Caroline Johnson; Constitution Elementary School; Fire drills; Hazel Green; Ms. Withrow; Policemen; Sons; Withrow Way

Subjects: African American families; African Americans--Education--Kentucky--Lexington; African Americans--Kentucky--Lexington--Social conditions; African Americans--Segregation; Segregation in education--Kentucky; Segregation--Kentucky--Fayette County; Teachers--Kentucky; Teaching

01:15:01 - Philosophy on education

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Partial Transcript: What do you think now days of schools that are--I mean, have larger populations of black kids?

Segment Synopsis: Livingston talks about the importance of parents' involvement in their children's education. She talks about why it is important for black children to have black teachers as role models.

Keywords: Black teachers; Communication; Interest; Involvement; Parents; Race; Role models; Russell Elementary School; Students

Subjects: African American leadership; African Americans--Education--Kentucky--Lexington; African Americans--Kentucky--Lexington--Social conditions; Education; Education--Study and teaching; Teachers--Kentucky; Teaching

01:17:45 - Moving from East End

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Partial Transcript: I'm gonna ask you--(coughs)--maybe this one last question.

Segment Synopsis: Livingston talks about why her family moved away from the East End neighborhood.

Keywords: Cousins; East End Lexington; Limestone Street; Mothers; Moving; School

Subjects: African American families; African American neighborhoods

01:19:13 - History of Russell Elementary School

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Partial Transcript: What is the history of Russell School?

Segment Synopsis: Livingston talks about the history of Russell Elementary, which was named for George Russell who was principal at the school for many years. She talks about other principals who have served at the school over the years. She talks about why the school was closed and why she believes it was not renovated instead. She talks about the new school that was built in the area, who it was named for, and who she believes it should have been named for. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Black schools; Closing; Community; Council member Andrea James; Dorothy Cooper; George Russell; Hayes Elementary School; Johnson Elementary School; Junior high schools; Mr. Sills; Renovations; Russell Elementary School; School principals; William Wells Brown

Subjects: African American leadership; African Americans--Education--Kentucky--Lexington; African Americans--Kentucky--Lexington--Social conditions; African Americans--Segregation; Lexington (Ky.)--Buildings, structures, etc.; Lexington (Ky.)--Race relations.; Race relations--Kentucky--Lexington; School integration--Kentucky--Fayette County; Segregation in education--Kentucky; Segregation--Kentucky--Fayette County; Teachers--Kentucky; Teaching

GPS: Russell Elementary School (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.053286, -84.489381