Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Jerry Bransford, July 27, 2009

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

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Partial Transcript: My name is Gerald Smith and I'm interviewing Jerry Bransford, uh, on Monday July 27th, 2009.

Segment Synopsis: Bransford talks about growing up and going to school in Glasgow (Ky.) Bransford explains what it was like going to a segregated school and how some kids would have to ride a bus for over an hour to go there because there were no other schools in the area. Bransford talks about his principal who was strict and made sure everyone worked hard and achieved well. The principal later went on to be elected mayor of Glasgow and was liked by both white people and African Americans. He was the first African American mayor in Kentucky to be elected twice consecutively.

Keywords: African American schools; Glasgow (Ky.); Segregation

Subjects: African American neighborhoods; African Americans--Education; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social Conditions; African Americans--Southern States; Childhood

00:05:01 - Race relations in Glasgow

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Partial Transcript: How would you describe, uh, race relations in Glasgow in the six--fifties and sixties.

Segment Synopsis: Bransford talks about the race relations in Glasgow during the 1950s and 1960s. He says he always felt safe in his neighborhood but you could tell when you were entering or leaving the African American side or the white side. Bransford said he remembers signs on the diner downtown that said "no coloreds allowed" and the movie theater which said "coloreds go upstairs." He says even after the Civil Rights Act was passed the diner still was not open to people of color, it took a much longer time for them to open up.

Keywords: Civil rights; Glasgow (Ky.); Segregation

Subjects: African Americans--Civil right--Southern States; African Americans--Relations with Irish Americans; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions; African Americans--Southern States; Race discrimination--Kentucky; Race relations; Racism

00:07:12 - Experimental integration of schools

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Partial Transcript: Why don't you talk about that a little bit?

Segment Synopsis: Bransford talks about being in the first class of around 9 kids to integrate with the historically white public high school in Glasgow. Bransford said he was nervous and afraid at first but soon realized that a lot of the white kids liked the stuff he liked too. This was especially the case for musical artists because the late night TV shows they got at the time came from Nashville, which had a lot of black artists that the white kids enjoyed watching.

Keywords: African American relations with Irish Americans; Education integration; Integration

Subjects: African Americans--Education; African Americans--Race identity; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social Conditions; Civil rights--Law and legislation

00:16:02 - Segregation

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Partial Transcript: So what, what do you think it was that sense--that you sensed that, "Wow, I'm out of my, I'm out of my neighborhood. I'm out of my domain."

Segment Synopsis: Bransford talks about how as kids they always made sure to be careful in white neighborhoods because they did not feel welcomed. Bransford had more experience with them though because he would help his father do landscaping on the front yards of the wealthy white people. Bransford said you could tell the segregation between the white area and the African American area because the white people would grow big shrubs or bushes so they did not have to see it.

Keywords: Black communities; Black neighborhoods; Segregation; White neighborhoods

Subjects: African American neighborhoods; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions

00:20:01 - Bransford family and Mammoth Cave

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Partial Transcript: Tell me about the Bransford family then.

Segment Synopsis: Bransford talks about how his uncle was one of the last men of color to work as a guide in Mammoth Cave before they let him go. His father was a chef at the Mammoth Cave Hotel and worked there until the day he died. There were seven Bransfords working at Mammoth Cave at the same time. There were four generations that worked at Mammoth Cave.

Keywords: Bransford family; Cave explorers; Cave guides; Mammoth Cave; Mammoth Cave Hotel; Mammoth Cave Resort

Subjects: African Americans--Social conditions; African Americans--Southern States; Discrimination in employment; Family histories

00:31:25 - Flint Ridge community / Bransford family

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Partial Transcript: So, um, now here's another part of Mammoth Cave I'm interested in: Flint Ridge.

Segment Synopsis: Bransford talks about the community that lived on Flint Ridge. He explains how it was not an entirely black community; it had a few white families and black families. The white people and black people got along quite well in the community. However, as soon as the leaves fell in Autumn and you could see across the ridge, the Ku Klux Klan would burn a cross and you could see it for miles. This would be traumatic for both black people and white people in the community because it could be anyone doing it because it was anonymous. Bransford talks about his family tree and how some of his family was sold into slavery. Thomas Bransford was a man from England and he had a child with a slave. The child was Jerry Bransford's great grandfather. Bransford says it's fascinating to think about how his ancestors who were slaves would lead rich white people into caves and were completely responsible for their well being. He says that would probably not occur anywhere else.

Keywords: African American communities; Family history; Flint Ridge (Ky.); Ku Klux Klan (KKK); Racists

Subjects: African American neighborhoods; African Americans--Southern States; Integration; Race discrimination; Race relations--Kentucky; Racism

00:39:19 - Mammoth Cave Resort

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Partial Transcript: Let me ask you another question about Flint Ridge.

Segment Synopsis: Bransford talks about how his relative, Matt Bransford, built a resort at Mammoth Cave where black people could stay and enjoy the cave. Bransford explains how a lot of rich and educated black people would stay there, it being the only option, and Matt was making good money. Enough money that he was able to get a brand new truck that most white people couldn't even afford.

Keywords: Mammoth Cave Resort; Matt Bransford

Subjects: African American business enterprises; Segregation

00:44:36 - Barbara Bransford

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Partial Transcript: It's July the, uh, 27th, 2009 and I have just a couple of questions I want to ask Ms., um, um, Barbara Bransford uh about the Glendale Colored School.

Segment Synopsis: Barbara Bransford talks about a teacher who would pick up students in her personal vehicle from all around and drive them to school. She taught 1st grade to 8th and would have to teach them all at the same time in the same room.

Keywords: Glendale Colored School; Harsh winters; One room schools; School teachers; Segregation

Subjects: African Americans--Education; Discrimination in education; Segregation in education--Kentucky