Interview with Harry N. Sykes, February 6, 2009

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:01 - Experience as city commissioner

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Partial Transcript: We just, uh, city commissioner of the total of, uh, the, uh, the government.

Segment Synopsis: Sykes discusses his time as a city commissioner for Lexington, Kentucky.

Keywords: Chief administrative officer; City commissioner; City government; Commissioners; Districts; Election; Fayette County (Ky.); Lexington (Ky.); Politicians; Politics; Public policy; St. Martin's Village; Urban League; Voting

Subjects: African American politicians; African Americans--Employment; African Americans--Politics and government; African Americans--Social conditions

00:10:06 - Administrative boards / accomplishments as city commissioner

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Partial Transcript: Were there boards related to different sections of town?

Segment Synopsis: Sykes discusses how city government was organized and some of the accomplishments he made as a city commissioner.

Keywords: Administration; Aspendale; Black community; Bluegrass Park; Boards; City government; City managers; Douglas neighborhood; East End neighborhood; Housing Authority; Landlords; Lexington (Ky.); Privy; Public health; Public policy; Renters; Sanitation; Sidewalks; Smithtown

Subjects: African American neighborhoods; African American politicians; African Americans--Housing; African Americans--Politics and government; Discrimination in housing; Race relations--Kentucky; Segregation

00:22:54 - Segregation / founding the local Urban League

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Partial Transcript: Why, um--in Aspendale, when it was segregated did they get different services?

Segment Synopsis: Sykes discusses segregation in Lexington, Kentucky. He also describes how he helped found the Urban League in town.

Keywords: Access; Aspendale; Bluegrass Park; Civic organizations; College students; Education; Finances; Funding; Fundraising; Jobs; Public accommodations; Segregation; University of Kentucky; Urban League; Whitney Young

Subjects: African Americans--Economic conditions; African Americans--Education; African Americans--Housing; African Americans--Social conditions

00:33:54 - Staff of the Urban League / impressions of President Obama / recreation in Lexington

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Partial Transcript: Uh, we were talking about the Urban League getting started and you were telling me you had three employees.

Segment Synopsis: Sykes discusses some of the staff that were employed at the Urban League. He also describes his impressions of President Barack Obama. He also gives insight on how policies of segregation affected recreation in Lexington.

Keywords: Administrative staff; Anna Tatman (??); Civic organizations; Deweese Street; Directors; Eleanor Heine; Employees; Jacqueline Jackson; P. G. Peeples; Paul Laurence Dunbar High School; Politics; Raymond H. Brown; Recreational sports; Renovations; Segregation; Staff; Students; Urban League; Walter M. Brown

Subjects: African American politicians; African Americans--Politics and government; African Americans--Recreation; African Americans--Social conditions

00:46:32 - Politics and recreation in Lexington

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Partial Transcript: --(coughs)--I requested the mayor and the other commissioners.

Segment Synopsis: Sykes discusses the many political maneuvers he had to make to get certain projects done. He also describes the process of helping local student athletes be able to participate in athletic competitions.

Keywords: Athletic competitions; Coaches; Commissioners; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Frankfort (Ky.); General assembly; Junior high school; Kentucky Athletic Association; Legislation; Lexington (Ky.); Marches; Marching; Mayor; Paul Laurence Dunbar High School; Politicians; Politics; Public meetings; Public schools; Recreational sports; Segregation; State legislature; State representatives; Student athletes

Subjects: African American politicians; African Americans--Politics and government; African Americans--Recreation; Race relations--Kentucky; Segregation

00:58:32 - Personal life / Isaac Murphy

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Partial Transcript: Mr. Sykes, did I ask you your birth date?

Segment Synopsis: Sykes discusses his personal life after retiring from politics. He describes his high school career. He also briefly speaks on the life and legacy of Isaac Murphy.

Keywords: Big Red; Birth date; Board; Burials; Education; Funerals; High school students; Horse racing; Isaac Murphy; Jockeys; Kentucky Derby; Maywood (Ill.); Pleasant Green Baptist Church; Proviso East High School; Race horses; Reverend T. H. Peeples; Trustee

Subjects: African American Christians; African American history; African American jockeys; African Americans--Education; African Americans--Religion