Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Virginia French, February 10, 2009

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


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00:00:02 - Early childhood and educational background

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Partial Transcript: Okay--(coughs)--I'm, I'm rolling the camera.

Segment Synopsis: French discusses her early childhood and her educational background.

Keywords: Cadentown Baptist Church; Childhood; Clarke's Farm; Douglass School; Education; Fayette County (Ky.); Georgetown College; Kentucky State University; Lexington (Ky.); Narcotic Farm; Paul Laurence Dunbar High School; Pricetown School; Segregation; Sharecropping; Sociology; Teaching; University of Kentucky

Subjects: African American college students; African American educators; African American families; African American farmers; African American graduate students; African Americans--Education; African Americans--Employment; Education, Higher--Kentucky; Education, Primary--Kentucky; Education, Secondary--Kentucky

00:10:44 - Family life / early education

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Partial Transcript: So, uh, roughly what age would you have been when you started teaching?

Segment Synopsis: French discusses her family life growing up on a farm. She also describes her love of school.

Keywords: Country; Family; Fathers; Home life; Lexington (Ky.); Mary Smith Howard; Mothers; Ms. Collins; Music lessons; Musical education; Musical performance; Parents; Pricetown School; Public schools; Saturday; School bus; Siblings; Sisters; Teaching; Walter Howard

Subjects: African American educations; African American families; African American farmers; African American parents; African Americans--Education; Education, Primary--Kentucky; Education, Secondary--Kentucky; Rural African Americans

00:20:50 - Coming to town / teaching career

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Partial Transcript: Did, um--some of the focus of these interviews are talking about, uh, the East End area.

Segment Synopsis: French discusses the vibrant social life that Black people had on Deweese Street. She also describes her career as a teacher and the many schools that she was employed at.

Keywords: Black-owned businesses; Booker T. Washington Junior High School; Deweese Street; Douglass School; Dr. Bush Hunter; Dr. J. E. Hunter; East End neighborhood; Employment; Entertainment; Job placement; Kentucky State College; Lexington (Ky.); Lyric Theatre; Open classroom; Recreation; School integration; Segregation; Southern Junior High School; Students; Teaching; Teaching positions

Subjects: African American business enterprises; African American educators; African American neighborhoods; African American physicians; African Americans--Education; African Americans--Employment; African Americans--Social life and customs; Education, Secondary--Kentucky; Race relations--Kentucky--Lexington; School integration; Segregation--United States

00:34:31 - Teaching curriculum / working with different principals

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Partial Transcript: And so when you were at Douglas and Booker T., you taught all different subjects or something specific?

Segment Synopsis: French discusses her career as an educator and the subjects she taught to her students. She also describes her experience working under multiple principals.

Keywords: English; Junior high school; Math; Middle school students; Owen Smith; Principal McIntyre; Principal Micheaux; School integration; School principals; Sixth grade; Subjects; Teaching

Subjects: African American educators; African Americans--Education.; Education, Secondary--Kentucky; School administration; School administrators; School integration

00:45:12 - Marriage and family life / importance of teaching

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Partial Transcript: Things are changing around here.

Segment Synopsis: French discusses her teaching career and the impact she has observed on some of her former students. She describes her marriage, and balancing her personal and professional life. She also shares her opinion about President Barack Obama.

Keywords: Barack Obama; Cadentown Baptist Church; Changes; Children; Classrooms; Education; Husband; Impact; Marriage; Musical performance; Piano; Politics; Presidential election; Retirement; Rewarding; Students; Teachers; William French; Work ethic

Subjects: African American children; African American college graduates; African American educators; African American families; African American parenting; African American parents; African Americans--Education; Teaching

00:53:49 - Changes in schools / retirement

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Partial Transcript: Were you a strict teacher?

Segment Synopsis: French discusses her time as a teacher and how she facilitated a classroom. She also describes the activities she enjoys as a retired person.

Keywords: Bluegrass Trust; Classroom; Discipline; Dr. C. C. Buford; Education; Engagement; Home; Investment; Open classroom; Retirement; Roberta Buford; School integration; Sternness; Students; Success; Teachers; Teaching; Travel; Volunteer work; Volunteering

Subjects: African American educators; African American older people; African Americans--Education; School integration