Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Eric Tachau and Mary Tachau, November 11, 1989

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Search this Transcript

FOSL: All right, now, it's, uh, November the 12th, and I'm at the Tachau's house talking with Eric Tachau--that's the right pronunciation--

E. TACHAU: Right.

FOSL: --right? And, um, well, first of all, Anne had thought you might be a good person to talk with. But then when Andrew Wade told me you'd be a good person to talk with, I thought, well, I really needed to do it, too. Um, so maybe you could just begin by telling me your- -what you were doing in 1954 and your impression of the community in Louisville, the situation with respect to, you know, progressive groups and race relations, and, you know, the arena--

E. TACHAU: Um-hm.

FOSL: --I'm interested in, that sort of thing. So, you know, a little-- briefly, but so just a little background from your point of view.

E. TACHAU: Well in 1954, I was not really very involved. I was a, a 00:01:00so-called bright young man, uh, very busy making money in the business world. I was a, an officer of a small insurance company. By that time we had our--by the summer of '54, we'd had our second child. Uh, according to Mary K., I really wasn't spending as much time being a father as I thought I was.

And my memory is different from hers on that. But I was pretty busy, uh, very busy in my work and with the family. We had just bought this house. And I really wasn't that involved other than being on a couple of civic boards, um, one of which--and I may be jumping ahead, but that's, I'll tell you how, how I got involved in the Andrew Wade thing--one of 'em was, uh, the board of Red Cross Hospital, which was a black hospital. And, uh, we were--back then our hospitals were totally segregated at that time. Um, but I was on that board along 00:02:00with two or three other whites, my father having been the first white member of that board. And, um, one of the board members, and a very good friend, was a fellow name Charlie Steele (??), who was then the executive secretary, I think, of the Louisville Urban League. And he's the person who actually called me regarding the insurance problem on the house. Um, I considered myself a liberal, and I guess I was. Um, I had not been, um, I had not been at all turned on by Henry Wallace's campaign in '48.

FOSL: Um-hm.


FOSL: And why was that?

E. TACHAU: Uh, I guess I thought he was totally unrealistic. That--and I didn't feel that--I mean, most of the pro-Wallace people who were friends of mine were people who felt that it was, uh, that it didn't 00:03:00matter the fact that Wallace didn't have a chance of winning because, uh, Truman was no good anyhow. So taking the vote again--away from Truman didn't hurt anything. Uh, I felt differently. I thought Truman was, uh, I was a st-, fairly strong Truman supporter. So although a lot of my friends were in the progressive movement, uh, I wasn't. Uh, in '52, I was very much involved in, uh, the Stevenson campaign. But I've always considered myself a Democrat. Um, I joined the Rainbow Coalition. I voted for Jesse Jackson in the primary here, but had, uh, had there been a real third party movement, I would have voted for Dukakis. Um, so I'm, uh, uh, I've always been a liberal Democratic, and not that far, not nearly as far to the left, as, um, many of the 00:04:00people who were Wallace supporters or would have been later on. Um--

FOSL: What was your impression of the Communist Party here in Louisville or, you know, was there--

E. TACHAU: I'd never think--thought it, took it seriously as a threat. Uh, I didn't know anyone that I knew to be a communist. Um, I don't recall ever feeling that the communists were at all, either locally or otherwise, a threat to us--in-, internal communism.

FOSL: Right.

E. TACHAU: Uh, the, uh, I, although I was really in my teens in the thirties, there were an awful lot of people, good, liberal people who were communists in the thirties and who, um, I guess, were turned off, most of 'em, by the purges. But a lot of 'em really were probably, 00:05:00uh, pretty sympathetic through World War II, when they were our allies. And it was really only after World War II that the a lot of people, who had been either communist or very pro or sympathetic, got totally turned off by Stalin's, uh, imperialism. But I never, uh, uh, and I still don't think that there was any--ever any threat to this country from internal communists. I never took it very seriously then. Um, I thin-, well, there was one fellow who had told me he was communist, I remember. And it just comes to mind because I talked to his son just a couple weeks ago, a fellow named Herb Monsky, whose been dead a long time. Uh, Herb was very active in the Progressive Party in 1948. I didn't know him well until later. But Herb admitted that he had been a post-World War II communist. And he was--but that was actually years 00:06:00later. Uh, he was lawyer here. Now, your question really was, what was the climate in Louisville. Um, I don't know that, uh, well, I really can't say what I thought the climate was before World War II. I was a child, for all practical purposes. Um--

FOSL: What year were you born? Was it--

E. TACHAU: I was born in 1924.

FOSL: Same as Anne.

E. TACHAU: Yeah, that's right. She's a month younger than I am, I think, or maybe a month older.

FOSL: July 28th.

E. TACHAU: July--well, then she's two months younger. Um--

FOSL: Please join us if you'd like.

M. TACHAU: I was just gonna interject that, uh, he went off to college in '41, went in the Marine Corps, came back in '48. So he wouldn't have kind of known--and then he was busy building his career, and we were having children and stuff.


E. TACHAU: I went to totally segregated schools. Our society was so segregated that we never thought much about it. I had a, uh, what we refer to as a colored mammy or more or less, she was really the family cook and everything else--

FOSL: This was in Louisville?

E. TACHAU: In Louisville. Um, but she, uh, the house that I grew up in--a farm-house, a very nice old farm-house. Uh, she--Tepe had her own room. And she was, um, we were very close. Uh, she would not let us kiss her. Um, and I do recall one time--and I must have been quite young--but she and I were going somewhere on a streetcar, and the conductor would not let her sit with me and wouldn't let me sit with her. And I was pretty upset about the fact that she was being forced to sit in the back and insisted that we get off. And, uh, good--I 00:08:00don't know what we did. (laughs) We got off someplace and probably got on another streetcar because we certainly weren't where we were going. And, uh--

FOSL: How old were you, probably--

E. TACHAU: --so I was, so I was--

FOSL: --at that time?

E. TACHAU: --probably about seven, eight or nine, something like that. Um, I was brought up in a family where they were very, very much concerned with quote social justice unquote. Uh, but, um, it was very noblesse oblige, and certainly as far as blacks are concerned. My family were good to colored people. But they were good to colored people, and they were really, by and large, they would treat 'em very much as the Old South--the nice people in the Old South there. Um, but I went off to college in the fall of '41, went to Oberlin, which was 00:09:00actually the first desegregated college in the United States. And the first night there, they had a mixer, and I decided, uh, that I would dance with this colored girl just to make sure that I got over the hump of having that kind of a social relationship. And, uh, it was a little bit of a, strange for me to do it. And I'm sure it must have been--(laughs)--real strange for her. She was a very fine musician from Louisville, actually.

FOSL: Oh, she was from Louisville.

E. TACHAU: She was from Louisville. I didn't realize it at the time, uh, till we talked. So I'm sure it was just as strange for her to dance with a white boy as it was for me to dance with a colored girl. Uh, but that was sort of my background. Um, but, uh, by 1954--but by the summer of '54, of course, there had been Brown against Board of Education--at the time that that came down, uh, Mary K. and I were on a 00:10:00business trip through the South. And we were hearing the reactions of nice people that we were doing business with. And we both of us sort of swore that we would never go back south until they became civilized. And it didn't for a long time, I mean, fifteen, twenty years.

FOSL: And what did you think when you came back to Louisville--(laughs)- -and--

E. TACHAU: Well, Louisville didn't, uh, Louisville reacted very well, actually. Um, our Male High School, our schools were desegregated that fall.

FOSL: Yeah.

E. TACHAU: And very peacefully, and Eisenhower praised--

M. TACHAU: ----------(??). I'm sorry, it was '56, 'cause I had a student who wrote a master's dissertation--

E. TACHAU: I guess you're right. It was ----------(??)--

FOSL: That they were desegregated--that's right.

E. TACHAU: Yeah, but it went very peacefully and, uh--

M. TACHAU: But there was more trouble about desegregating Male High School to admit women than there was to desegregate because they got the power structure of the community behind it and worked with the PTAs--


FOSL: I guess what I was thinking of when I--

M. TACHAU: --for two years.

FOSL: --asked that question was, you know, it was the same weekend that the, that the decision was handed down that the Wades moved into that house.

E. TACHAU: Yeah, right.

FOSL: And so I guess there's, you know, one view of looking at it is that that was just a little tiny way that, that, you know, the wrath of a certain segment of the population in Louisville was directed actually at them, I think was somehow--

M. TACHAU: And if they'd have done it two years earlier or two years later, the same thing would have happened.

E. TACHAU: Yeah, I don't think--

FOSL: You think so?

E. TACHAU: --the decision--

M. TACHAU: Well, it still happens there. I mean, a year ago, in the summer--

FOSL: Go ahead.

M. TACHAU: He's giving me the do not interrupt look.

E. TACHAU: Right.

M. TACHAU: I'm on the State Human Rights Commission, and there were the same kinds of, of bombings and burnings of a house of a black couple who moved into the South End and one who moved over here to St. Matthews. So I think it would've happened no matter whether they'd done it in 1954 or almost any other time. Moving into the bla-, uh, a 00:12:00black family moving into what was considered a white community was the problem, not, not really Br-, Brown.

E. TACHAU: Yeah, I think that's right. I don't think it was the--I think it was coincidence it was that weekend because actually, it was thirteen years later that we, uh, finally had open housing. And the reaction in that same type of neighborhood was at least as violent. Now, they didn't blow up the house or any house. Um, the police didn't choose to ignore it. We didn't have a prosecuting attorney or Commonwealth's attorney--whatever Scotty Hamilton was, who, uh, chose to take the other side. He never, uh, a lot of things were different, but the basic fear of what it would do to property values 00:13:00in the neighborhoods where the home represented 90 percent of people's property, uh, it didn't change. And I don't think Brown against Board of Education had a great deal to do with that. Um, I suspect, I suspect that the blockbusting that really started earlier than that in the West End and was promoted by real estate agents did more to create a climate for the Wade situation than almost anything else. Uh, I think that it became, uh, I think it became very convenient to be able to convert it into a communist plot. The, the, I recently, just, you know, within the past year, re-read Anne's book which I think--


FOSL: Um-hm. You know, it's about to be reissued.

E. TACHAU: Is it? Well, it should be. It's a wonderful book, much better to--

[Pause in recording.]

E. TACHAU: --as I'm still impressed by her courage and her dedication and her self-sacrifice and all those things. But this time I was much more impressed by the wisdom because of her ability to really foresee, uh, and how far ahead of most of us she was. Um, I think it's a tremendous book.

FOSL: Yes.

E. TACHAU: But I think that the one weakness in the book--and I don't know how one could expect otherwise--is that she can't help but feel and seems to feel that the incident was more important to the people of this county than it was to most of 'em. I suspect that within weeks 00:15:00after the house was blown up, had you asked--done a cross-section, a county pie, who were the people who'd ever heard of Andrew Wade, the fourth, or third, fourth?

FOSL: Fourth, yeah.

E. TACHAU: Yeah--90 percent wouldn't be able to answer. I think that--

FOSL: Hmm. But they had warned who that--An-, Anne and Carl Braden were, didn't they?

E. TACHAU: Well, uh, again, probably 20 percent. I mean, a fairly large number--to know of some people, people who don't hold any public office or anything like that--but still a minority. Um--

FOSL: Really, because I, I guess I, of course, I--


FOSL: --you know, I was born, uh, six months after all that happened, and I didn't grow up in Louisville. But just from looking at the way the headlines read, I mean, we're talking--

E. TACHAU: Oh, yeah.

FOSL: --banner headlines--

E. TACHAU: That's right.

FOSL: -- all the way across, yeah.

E. TACHAU: That's right. Um, certainly it was sensationalized. And, um, the--it was still McCarthyism. I mean, the, the thing that, uh, 00:16:00the thing that really got the headlines was the idea of it being a communist plot--

FOSL: Oh, yeah.

E. TACHAU: --not the fact that it was attempting to desegregate.


E. TACHAU: And the stories themselves, the Courier was reasonably good, as I recall in, uh, not giving a great deal of credence to the notion of a communist plot. But the headlines were bad.

FOSL: Yeah, they were.

E. TACHAU: The atmosphere about it was bad. But the, um, I think the great majority of people, uh, read the paper and then went on to think about other things. I don't think the community was up in arms. Now, the, the Shively people, the people in the immediate neighborhood certainly were. And I don't mean to minimize at all the, the physical danger that-- and--that those people were under and the courage that they had.

FOSL: Right.


E. TACHAU: But the community as whole was not up in arms. Uh, for example, when I provided the insurance, and thereafter, there was never a moment that I thought that I was in any danger whatsoever. And I'm convinced to this day, I was never in any danger. No one was gonna do anything to me about it.

FOSL: No one threatened you? No one threatened?

E. TACHAU: Not really. I had people tell me that other people were threatening or were--they, you know, that someone would say, "What you're doing is really pretty risky," or, "You better be careful." But not saying, "I'm gonna do something to you." I mean, these were, uh, ostensible friends. Um, and I think perhaps what I can add for, for your benefit is of the, of the people who were even peripherally involved--and I consider I was only peripherally involved--um, I had come closest and maybe the only person who would be considered, 00:18:00uh, white middle class and lived in this end of town and knew the power structure and, and, uh, had, you know, uh, although I didn't belong to any of the, uh, the social clubs. Um, I knew most of those kinds of people. And most of them--a great majority of 'em--were not particularly upset about it. They really, more than anything else--they thought it was a dumb thing for the Bradens to have done. They may have been or may not have been communists. That wasn't too important. Most of 'em didn't really see them as a great threat as much as they were--those people who claimed to be progressive were upset in that they thought this put back progress. This is what Anne 00:19:00talks about so well in her book. And were unwilling to confront--and I don't think, really, I don't think many of us, except maybe people like Anne and Carl Braden, understood the importance of confronting the evil of segregation and bigotry and racism until Martin Luther King came along. I mean, he's the one that taught most of us. Uh, Anne already knew it. She knew the necessity of confronting it. But most people--and even as late as 1967 when we were having our open housing demonstrations--there were a lot of sympathetic people that thought that it was very bad to be having these demonstrations because we were making people angry--we were stirring things up. And I think it was a lot of that. I think Anne's book is very accurate in that. But I think that, uh, where it's inaccurate is in thinking that most of these people really gave a damn. I mean, it was more--they were 00:20:00intellectually disturbed at what was happening, but, by that, I'm talking about the middle class and the moderates.

FOSL: Um, you know, Anne said that, uh, among some of the interracial groups she was involved with at that time, there were a lot of, of course, black women who worked as domestics in white people's houses 'cause they didn't have options, you know, and that they would tell stories, uh, up near the river, uh, I think which is, you know, I guess--

E. TACHAU: ----------(??)--

FOSL: --she must have talking about this area where--

E. TACHAU: --right.

FOSL: -- there were a lot of wealthy, white Louisvillians--would be, like, throwing books in the river. You know, this would be a tale that they would tell because everybody was, 'cause it did, you know, make the community too fearful, just, you know, for liberals to be holding a book on Karl, written by Karl Marx would--it became a, a ----------(??).

E. TACHAU: Uh, I don't think there was much of that, really.

FOSL: Really?



M. TACHAU: Honey, do think that's the time to talk about people overhearing and at the Bell's party and the lady next door?

E. TACHAU: Well, actually, that was much later.

M. TACHAU: Yes, I know.

E. TACHAU: Um, I think--I really don't think that we had, uh, that the liberals in Louisville ever were really very frightened for themselves during the whole McCarthy period. Uh, now that doesn't mean there weren't individuals. There was one fellow that was a good friend of ours that taught at the University of Louisville who had a, who was a liberal and had a reputation of being a liberal and was a, a good, decent guy, who was very frightened, um, by McCarthyism. But by and large, McCarthyism didn't really catch on here. Um--

FOSL: It was in the headlines every day, though, for several years.


E. TACHAU: Yeah, but not like it was in much of the rest of the country- -nothing like Indianapolis, for example. Uh, now, the, um, the fact that the, well, McCarthyism nationally didn't really get into the race question, particularly. The Wade thing made it more confusing here because the people who were anti-desegregation or pro-segregationists, when they could latch onto to the, uh, uh, deemed communists, uh, gave them, uh, legitimacy to their hatred. But I don't think the liberals, who were clearly not communists and who didn't know Carl and Anne Braden and weren't, uh, involved with Carl and Anne, were particularly 00:23:00afraid for their safety.

I don't, I don't mean--

FOSL: Um-hm. I see what you're saying.

E. TACHAU: I don't mean there weren't some--

FOSL: They were on the fringes, anyway.

E. TACHAU: Yeah. Now, I don't mean that there may not have been some. Um, certainly as Mary K. was saying, the blacks, the blacks knew, um, the attitudes of their employers and their employer's friends. I mean, you had--even today, you go to cocktail parties where, uh, I, I mean, I'm still appalled at conversations that take place in front of black waiters and waitresses, uh, as if they didn't have ears. And I mean, the things that people will say, uh, I mean, just thoughtless things. And certainly there was a lot of it then, too.

FOSL: Now, what was this event she was--

E. TACHAU: Well, what she was, uh, years later, several years--well, probably would have been thirteen years later--during an open housing demonstration--

M. TACHAU: ----------(??).

E. TACHAU: Hmm. We had, uh, we, we were having a, uh, dem-, open 00:24:00housing demonstrations, and a lot of people were being arrested.

FOSL: Sixty-five, '67?

E. TACHAU: Sixty-seven.

FOSL: That's what I thought, '67.

E. TACHAU: And I was involved in ----------(??) and trying to raise money for bail. And, um, the maid for the woman next door, that I really barely knew, came one time, and just gave me a whole bunch of money that had been given to her by other maids on the buses that just knew that, uh, she said, "We all just knew that you would be raising money for this." And actually--

M. TACHAU: And then at her church, do you remember?

E. TACHAU: --huh?

M. TACHAU: At, at her church--and she and Francis Berkholder (??).

E. TACHAU: Right, at her church, that's right. Yeah, her church people had given her money to give to me. She didn't want her employer to know about it next door. And, um, and it wasn't as if there had been any particular appeal for it or anybody, really, that I was officially 00:25:00raising money for it. But it just, it was a, kind of an interesting indication of how these black servants were riding the buses out here- -take care of people's houses, you didn't know who their friends were-- (laughs)--didn't know what was going on.

FOSL: Um, well, I, I know the, sort of the bare bones of the story, but will you tell me, just for the record, what exactly you did with respect to the Wade case. I mean, I know you insured his house. But you weren't asked. You came forward. Is that correct?

E. TACHAU: Not really. Um, I was running a, a, I was--I say running--I was, I guess, executive vice president of this little insurance company here in Louisville, fire insurance company. And, um, my recollection is this was a Saturday in the, in--like, in May, that, uh, maybe June, that Charlie Steele of the Urban League called me--I was working in the back yard, actually. And told me--and I didn't know anything about this, that this, uh, this black couple had bought this house in 00:26:00a white subdivision. And they, uh, the mortgage company was calling the mortgage which would mean that they would lose the house because they couldn't furnish insurance. And under the contract, they were to furnish insurance. And was there anything I could do about it? And I said, "Yes, we will insure it." And, um, so our company agreed to write the insurance, um, or I did it for the comp-, we had a hard--I had a hell of a hard time getting an agent who would agree to be agent. And, um, under the customs of the business, you, you didn't want to, uh, company didn't want to ever write a policy without an agent because of the, the competition then between the so-called agency companies and direct writers, the Allstate's and State Farm's that deal through their own agents. So, uh, I had to find an agent who would be willing to take the commission on the policy and arrange to re-insure a great deal 00:27:00of it with Lloyd's, um, but wrote the policy. And I--um, I didn't see that I was being much of a crusader or doing anything particularly, um, anything more than one, it just didn't seem to me that this battle of whether these people should or should not be allowed to live in--buy a house in a white neighborhood should be decided on a technicality. Um, I was, uh, well, at that time, my recollection is that there was no great body of law that said that a neighborhood couldn't be, uh, segregated. I think that the notion of, um, of deeds that, uh, when the, the plot plans, uh, for segregation, I think that was still, uh, 00:28:00had not been thrown out by the Supreme Court at that time. Uh, the St. Louis case--I guess it was the St. Louis case was later but--

FOSL: Now, that's not the restricted covenant you're referring--

E. TACHAU: The restricted covenant thing. Maybe that was earlier.

FOSL: I think it had been thrown, uh--

E. TACHAU: Okay.

FOSL: --out.

E. TACHAU: All right.

FOSL: But it was still very, uh, much operative--

E. TACHAU: Okay.

FOSL: --in Louisville, even though--

E. TACHAU: Well, I'm sure.

FOSL: --it had been--

E. TACHAU: Yeah.

FOSL: -- you know--

E. TACHAU: But I wasn't at that time, although I, you know, I always--I mean, as far back as I can remember as an adult--favored desegregation. That was not really, as far as I'm concerned, was concerned, the issue in writing that insurance policy. It was just a plain one of fairness. It just seemed to me that these people had a right to have their rights decided some other way than on the fact that they couldn't get insurance. And I, I think I got a lot more credit then, and I think I got a lot more credit and Anne gives me credit today that I don't feel 00:29:00I really was entitled to. Um--

FOSL: Well, Andrew certainly feels, I think, that you deserve a lot of credit.

E. TACHAU: Well, that's nice. Um, but n-, n-, none of 'em ever knew what my motive was. And it, it was not--I didn't think it was courageous or anything like that, and I still don't. What is amusing and I'd like--can we turn this off for a moment?

FOSL: Yeah.

E. TACHAU: 'Cause I wanna tell you something that's kinda amusing about that.

[Pause in recording.]

FOSL: --this, don't worry--

E. TACHAU: Right. Right.

FOSL: --is--did you feel that your business suffered in the white community from having taken this stand?


FOSL: I mean, it wasn't really a stand, but it ended up to--objectively speaking, in the end, it was seen--

E. TACHAU: Uh, no, I, uh, you know, it--actually, at that point, most of my business in running this little insurance company had--it was not done in Louisville. It was done nationally. So it wouldn't have made any difference as far as my Louisville reputation was concerned. Later, when I was involved in more, much more involved in the Civil 00:30:00Rights Movement than I was in 1954, um, and was an insurance agent and was selling insurance primarily to small businesses who were concerned, I had any number of my customers tell me, "What you're doing is gonna hurt your business." And I would--made it a standard rule of invariably saying, "Well, is it gonna affect our relationship?" "Oh, no, you got a right to do what you want. But you're being very foolish. Other people are gonna mind." Uh, my personal conviction is that it never hurt me. I think it helped me more than in hurt me. I think more liberals, blacks and whites, bought insurance from me strictly because I was standing up for what we believed in, than people who refused to buy from me because they didn't believe in it. So I think, in actual fact, I think it helped more than it hurt.

FOSL: Hmm. Okay. Well, now, I'd like to turn now to another subject 00:31:00which is related, of course, and that is this idea of this--the myth of the Bradens as this communist threat and this kind of--I mean, it--Anne calls it the Braden sickness, really, of how they became such a symbol. And she still remains one--

E. TACHAU: Oh, I think that's true.

FOSL: --and so, uh, like, for instance, this is just--let me put this on this--

[Pause in recording.]

FOSL: Okay, well this is off the record--for the record.

E. TACHAU: Okay. Now, Lee has been, uh, involved in the Civil Liberties Union from the very beginning, whether he was one of the founders or not, I don't know--he's given, uh, a lot of money, by most of our standards, at least, year in and year out. But he's always had--and he's been a leader of the Quaker community. Lee was very much a liberal leader, of course, in the anti-Vietnam War era, uh, issues, as a Quaker would be expected to be. For some reason, Lee is one of the 00:32:00few liberals that I've known who was very, very afraid of the communist influence in this county. Lee is a capitalist--

FOSL: Right, I was just thinking--

E. TACHAU: --all the way. He's a very opinionated, self-assured capitalist. Communism is absolutely the worst thing in the world to Lee, and has been. He, he bought hook, line, and sinker, the notion that the Bradens were communists. And I don't know that there's anybody that's ever been able to be closely related with Lee or closely affiliated with--that hasn't been forced to take a position on the Bradens. Most of the people who would be active, still active in the Quaker community here would be anti-Braden. So you would have run into 00:33:00the one enclave of Louisville liberals who would be the most likely to be anti-Bradens, the Louisville Quaker group.

FOSL: Which is the last group you would think.

E. TACHAU: It's the last group you would think of. But, um, well, it's been long enough ago-- an awful lot of the liberals really don't know who Anne and Carl Braden were or are--I mean, who Anne is, and who Carl was. Certainly, um, I think the majority view of the middle class was that they were foolish people, uh, that they did more harm than good. They were well-intentioned, whether they were communists or not. Uh, they were not dangerous, but that they upset the apple cart. They 00:34:00couldn't work with the establishment to bring about progress. And by and large, the establishment here, uh, thinks that it's progressive--

FOSL: Um-hm.


FOSL: Yeah, I can tell that.

E. TACHAU: I mean, it--

FOSL: The Courier-Journal, for instance.

E. TACHAU: That's right.

FOSL: Yeah.

E. TACHAU: And, um, the Bradens got in the way because they made it easy for the reactionaries to oppose progress. Uh, I think that's the general attitude. And I think that, uh, I think it's very sad how few people--'cause I think the attitude still is that, uh, Anne Braden, the general attitude from the middle class community is that Anne Braden is a foolish person who perhaps is articulate, but, uh, has been ineffective. They have no idea what she has amounted to nationally. I 00:35:00find, for example, uh, in Washington, in Moscow, actually--but that was with an American group, but we were on a visit over there. Um, I mean we were on just a tour. But in Chicago, that, um, I find any time that I have occasion, socially or otherwise, to meet real liberal activists, they all know who Anne Braden is, and they all have the utmost respect for Anne Braden, outside of Louisville. She isn't known here. Um--

FOSL: What about, like, the leading role she played in Progress in Education, in the open housing marches, in the, the Fontaine Ferry desegregation thing, in the SNCC stuff that was here in Louisville? I mean--

E. TACHAU: Well, uh, uh, SNCC wasn't well-known. Uh, okay. Let's 00:36:00take the Fontaine Ferry thing. I think the only thing that the great majority, the only person's name that the great majority of the community knew was a boy named Bill Dady, came down here from Buffalo. You've heard of him.

FOSL: Anne was just talking [telephone rings] with me about him yesterday. In fact, you don't have any idea what ever happened to him, do you?

E. TACHAU: [telephone rings] No, uh, there was a song that some of the liberals used to--he was--uh, again, uh, a lot of the liberals, or moderates, at least, not only them but still--I mean, always, fall for this business of, of being opposed to, or falling for the, the, uh, opposition's, uh, talk about outside agitators.


FOSL: Oh, yeah.

E. TACHAU: Well, Bill Dady became very quickly identified as an outside agitator. And I'm thinking right now of the song that I remember people were singing that I--so-called moderates were singing, "Won't you go home Bill Dady. Won't you go home." Well, he did. He went back to Buffalo. Summer was over, and he went back and went back to school. And that was, uh, actually, um, Fontaine's Ferry desegregation did take place. Uh, Anne's role was strictly behind the scenes. She, she was very influential to the young people that really were involved, like the young guy named Steve Goldsmith, I remember, uh, who--there were a bunch of young people there with us. I, I was asked the day that they attempted to desegregate and all got arrested--I was asked to go down that Sunday morning and witness the fact that they were non-violent, which they were. And, uh, they got arrested, and they got charged with--


FOSL: So you knew about this--

E. TACHAU: --trespass.

FOSL: --Gandhi Corps, they were called--

E. TACHAU: Yeah, right.

FOSL: --that he organized in the black community.

E. TACHAU: Right, right, right. And Bill Dady was, was a powerful organizer, very young, that charisma. Uh, I don't think there's any question, Anne had a great deal of influence, but I don't know if the community much thought about her influence. In the, uh, open housing marches in the spring of '67, um, as far as the community is concerned, Anne was part of it. In-- to my everlasting shame, in '64, when we had our big march on Frankfort, that Frank Stanley Jr. headed up, and I was treasurer of that organization, uh, Frank decided that we didn't need the baggage of being accused of being communist and really wouldn't let Anne and Carl participate. And I remember at the meeting 00:39:00with the small group I was--that were really the steering committee, in which I spoke up and said that I disagreed, you know, that I thought that, uh, that we shouldn't throw out one important principle while trying to fight another one. And I pretty quickly got told that, you know, we had--we were a one issue group. So ----------(??) and I went along with it, didn't fight it. But Anne and Carl were really left out of that on purpose. In fact, they had a, they and some of their supporters had come, like a half dozen of 'em or maybe twenty of 'em had a separate march the next day after our march on Frankfort. So they were not included, and the committee knew they weren't included 'cause Frank made it pretty clear that they were not included.

FOSL: Spring of '67?

E. TACHAU: This was in the spring of '64. That was the, the march on Frankfort for--

FOSL: Right.

E. TACHAU: --a statewide.


FOSL: (pause) And that was open housing?

E. TACHAU: Public accommodations.

FOSL: Public accommodations.

E. TACHAU: That was a statewide--

FOSL: I'll get this.

E. TACHAU: --that was a march for a statewide public accommodations state law. The other guy that was sort of left out was Bishop E. Ewbank Tucker.

FOSL: (laughs) Was he? Another of their cronies.

E. TACHAU: Yeah, uh--

FOSL: And for the same reason?

E. TACHAU: No, I think he was kind of left out because he was such a difficult guy to work with. And, uh, th-, this organization was called Allied Organizations for Civil Rights. And it was, uh, an ad hoc situation, and Frankly Stanley Jr. was chair of it. And he--Frank 00:41:00had tremendous charisma and leadership. And virtually all of the civil rights organizations and all of the civil rights people, uh, accepted his leadership except--I don't know that, I don't really know that E. Ewbank Tucker refused to accept it, or everybody knew he wouldn't accept it, and would be sort of an inconvenience. But, yeah, he was left out. And he and Anne and Carl and some of their friends went up the next day and--I mean, actually, what it was, it was typical of Anne and Carl. They still wanted to demonstrate their support. And it was during that spring that their daughter died. Very tragic. I mean, well, it was part of Anne's and Carl's dedication to humanity in that they--I mean, it had to be heartbreaking for them to be left out 00:42:00of this thing. But they accepted it as to--well, they knew, I guess, that if they fought to be included that that would be disruptive and that, um, it was more important for the cause to succeed than for them to be treated decently. And they were not treated decently. And I was partly to blame, I guess, that I didn't fight it, at least. Um--

FOSL: And then what about--coming up more recently, like the Progress in Education stuff, do you think that the, the furor around the very idea of the Bradens had died down by that time? I mean, that's more than--

E. TACHAU: Yeah.

FOSL: --twenty years--

E. TACHAU: Yes, uh--

FOSL: -- after that case.

E. TACHAU: --we're, we're down to talking about 1975, I guess--the, the--

FOSL: Yeah.

E. TACHAU: --school--

FOSL: Yeah, right.

E. TACHAU: --desegregation of--

FOSL: Um-hm.

E. TACHAU: --busing. Um--

FOSL: 'Cause Anne really--

E. TACHAU: --well, by that time--

FOSL: --organized that Progress in Education--

E. TACHAU: Anne, Anne certainly played a major role. Mary K. was at that time president of the Kentucky Civil Liberties Union, which really--it was the Kentucky Civil Liberties Union, and more 00:43:00specifically, Bob Sedler, the attorney, who really provided the, the leadership from a legal standpoint. Um, Anne--I think that at that period was when we had the Louisville Civil Liberties Union as a branch of the Kentucky. And Anne and I were on that board.

FOSL: And there was a young woman that had kind of helped Anne get on that after so many years of being excluded, or called her out of the clear blue sky and asked her to ----------(??)--

M. TACHAU: I'd, I'd be glad to, uh, speak to that.

E. TACHAU: Yeah, yeah, I don't know--

FOSL: Could you? Would you?

M. TACHAU: I went on the Civil Liberties board, I think, in 19--

E. TACHAU: You better identify yourself.

M. TACHAU: Oh, I'm Mary K. Tachau. Eric and I met at Oberlin, and we married in '47. And I came to this segregated community from 00:44:00Cleveland. Anyway, I, I went on the, uh, Kentucky Civil Liberties Union board. I project--

FOSL: I think she's doing fine.

E. TACHAU: Okay.

M. TACHAU: --uh, in 1959, 'cause they always had a woman seat. And they had Priscilla Robertson, who was no token woman. But they had a token woman seat. And there was a lot of hostility, uh, among the leadership, principally, um, expressed by a man who had been instrumental in forming the Civil Liberties Union, named Arthur Kling, who did a lot of good things in the community. But he reflected this attitude to which you have referred and which I think that Anne was correct about, that, um, if the Bradens were involved in the Civil Liberties Union, everybody would think it was a communist, and we would lose our middle class liberal base--

FOSL: [microphone noise] Ooh, that's gonna be--excuse me. Let me just move this to your side, and then we'll really be cooking with gas.


M. TACHAU: ----------(??) move around to this side.

FOSL: Yeah, that's what--okay.

M. TACHAU: And so there was a considerable amount of worry expressed from time to time when, of course, we were fighting for the same things that Anne was fighting for about Anne's dedication with the Civil Liberties Union. And perhaps this was attributable to the fact that there was an aw-, an awful lot of guilt by association that goes on in--

[Pause in recording.]

FOSL: --this passion he had. His niece didn't share it.


M. TACHAU: Right. Uh, Susie did not share that fear. I think obviously and clearly, and I think, well, she's really more than a generation younger than Arthur and, uh, and she may reflect that. Uh, I mean, Arthur was older, I think, than her father and--

E. TACHAU: Right.

M. TACHAU: --her father is older than most people's fathers were when she was born. And she is a very open-minded person who judges on her 00:46:00own. Now, the Civil Liberties Union--the, uh, the problem first--n-, not the problem of, of, uh, working on busing because, uh, we had this excellent attorney named Bob Sedler who was at the University of Kentucky then who, um, had read the Swann decision and had informed that, you know, this meant that because we were gonna be one school district, that our plan would not fail. The problem was that, um, Anne, who had supervised a study of the black schools or the schools that were predominantly black and who had a large number of black teachers--were not inferior to the schools that were predominantly white with the predominantly larger number of white teachers. And this is the only time I've ever philosophically disagreed with Anne, so I remember it very well. The, uh, KCLU had a meeting down at the Brown 00:47:00Hotel when it was then part of school board property. And Anne and I were on one side--I mean, Anne was on one side, and Lyman Johnson and I were on the other because I really thought that unless you got middle class white parents as well as middle class black parents, um, in the same school system or talking about the same, exact schools--I mean, individual schools, you were gonna perpetuate inadequate education for the poor kids. And it's the only time I've ever disagreed with Anne. She was, I think, being a purist.

FOSL: And, uh--er, tell me again her position.

M. TACHAU: Uh, she believed that, that we should not try to desegregate all the schools in Jefferson County, and particularly the ones in the West End that were good schools. And, and I don't know whether she was--

E. TACHAU: Well, it goes beyond that because if she and I were in the Louisville Civil Liberties Union at that time, she--what she wanted 00:48:00the lawsuit to be about was to desegregate the schools within the city rather than county-wide because she felt that if it went county-wide, which turned out to be the case--I mean, she was right about that--was that the blacks would be such a minority in every school that they would be, uh, mistreated.

FOSL: Okay. That was my question--

E. TACHAU: Right.

FOSL: --because I under-, I know that she and, I think, some other people that I've talked with, in fact, Atlanta--DeKalb County in Georgia where I live is now facing that exact same problem, and the black community is very opposed to the busing--

M. TACHAU: Right.

FOSL: --for that--

M. TACHAU: And, and, and so that was Anne's position. But, uh, Sedler's position was that if we did not-- if we only desegregated the county schools where the blacks were a very small minority, didn't include the county school system, you would fall before the Supreme Court because 00:49:00you, you would be--it's the way, uh, Milliken v. Bradley failed in the Supreme Court. Sedler was a tremendous, uh, legal strategist. Anne may have been right on the issue.

E. TACHAU: Well, and then there was a third group whose opposition to Anne's position was that if we don't desegregate all the schools, we'll have white flight. And it--the Louisville school system will then fall of its own weight. Um, or the--

M. TACHAU: You see, everybody will move out of Louisville. And in fact--

FOSL: ----------(??)--

M. TACHAU: --there has been a continual movement, but I'm not sure it's because of the busing plan. I think it's because of this, you know, the greatest mass migration in human history has happened not, you know, from country to country or anything like that, but in the United States from urban to suburban, uh, in the post-World War II period. And that has continued after 1975. Uh, but the reason the KCLU took- 00:50:00-had to argue about this--and the meeting started, like, around noon, I should think, and went on till seven or eight at night was, uh, 'cause Anne may have been right philosophically, but others of us were arguing legal strategy.

FOSL: Well. Well, um, I didn't wanna get into too much detail about this PIE stuff because--


FOSL: The Progress in Education--


FOSL: --and that whole era because I'm not really up on it. You know, I haven't gotten quite up to that my point in my research. I just wanted to mention it as--in terms of the, the Braden, uh, the fear of the Bradens--

M. TACHAU: Well, that certainly existed.

FOSL: --how operative that was.

M. TACHAU: Uh, and, and in probably the most--the best organized activist liberal group in Kentucky from the late fifties on was the Civil Liberties Union. And in fact, the, the incident that galvanized it into becoming a real organization was the Wade case. And then here was the Civil Liberties Union leadership, uh, specifically, Arthur 00:51:00Kling--(laughs)--but most people went along with him, uh, saying you can't have the Bradens associated with this or we'll lose our membership or our support--

FOSL: Um-hm. Well, of course, you know, if you look at the history of the American Civil Liberties Union, it has a similar sort of schizophrenic past--

M. TACHAU: Yeah, right, right.

FOSL: --you know, so--

E. TACHAU: But I think also, in fairness, you've met and known Anne, but you've never met Carl.

FOSL: Right.

E. TACHAU: Carl was much more abrasive, didactic. Uh, he turned people off much more than Anne.

FOSL: Right, ----------(??).

E. TACHAU: Anne, Anne's reputation turns people off that aren't even willing to give her a chance, but anybody who listens to Anne--I mean, even real conservative people, have to agree that she's articulate. She makes sense. She marshals her facts. She's well organized. You 00:52:00know, they--even if they still disagree, they end up feeling that it is an honest disagreement.

FOSL: And I know that on a national level, anyway, she has a real reputation for being a unity person--

E. TACHAU: That's right.

FOSL: --for not trying to, not being, you know, I read something--

E. TACHAU: She's not--

FOSL: --I know Lyman Johnson made some public statement at one point about her being--it was quoted in this article I have about her, about her being, you know, just too, uh, you know, too much of a hardliner. You couldn't talk to her. She wouldn't listen. She had her position. That was it. But that's really not--

E. TACHAU: It's not really true.

FOSL: --the whole story.


M. TACHAU: And, and could I add something about that in the feminist organization?

FOSL: Yes.

M. TACHAU: When, when we were organizing, um, I chaired because Susie Post kinda pushed me into it--(laughs)--in the spring of 1970--the first statewide meeting of women who were interested in feminist issues. And after that, we got the women's political caucus and NOW and a whole bunch of stuff like that. But at this initial meeting, 00:53:00there were people, feminists, coming from all stages of the feminist spectrum. And there were several times when there were, uh, anti-male feminists who were just putting down men generally. And Anne said, "Look, we live in a human community. And we need men who are humane as much as men need us." And Anne was the only person who had sufficient stature to calm down this kind of attitude. And it was very moving to me. I was very touched by what she said. And it must reflect something about her own relationship, which I think must have been a very satisfying one.

FOSL: Um-hm. I'm glad to hear that. I mean, to--that comment that-- and, okay. I, I'm a little pressed for time I think 'cause I'm leaving very early in the morning. I have a whole crowd of people I have to go back and take to somewhere else in Louisville. It's a long story. But 00:54:00is there anything that either of you would like to mention in closing--

E. TACHAU: I, yeah--

FOSL: --that I haven't asked--

E. TACHAU: I have, uh--

FOSL: --you specifically?

E. TACHAU: I, I, I would like to say two things.

FOSL: Um-hm. Okay.

E. TACHAU: One is that the, uh, only thing that Anne and I--only thing that I really disagree with about Anne--she may disagree with a lot - ---------(??) but we would have a running disagreement for I don't know how long as to--(Fosl coughs)--civil liberties for the Ku Klux Klan. I've always considered that was Anne's blind spot in that I don't think you can be a civil libertarian and choose who won't apply for it, particularly if you have been victimized as she has. But she doesn't believe the Ku Klux Klan is entitled to the rights without--the Civil Liberties Union says they stand for which--


FOSL: That's kind of an old standing debate--I mean, like, a--

E. TACHAU: It's like, right. But I interpret that as proof that Anne is human.

FOSL: Um-hm. (laughs)

E. TACHAU: The, uh, I guess the other thing is, uh, because of your studies, uh, and the people you're talking with are all people who do know Anne or know about Anne or are associated one way or another, um, I would wanna emphasize that, uh, by and large, in this community, except for the summer of 1954, uh, the Bradens have not been prominent and, uh, although the impression has been basically anti-Braden. And they're right about that. Um, and I'm sure there's been some real 00:56:00physical danger, and I don't mean in any way--

FOSL: She's had two cars bombed.

E. TACHAU: Right. I mean, I don't mean to minimize in any way their courage or their dedication or any of that. But, uh, I think it's important as a historian that you understand that, uh, that to the community as a whole, she's no big deal. Anne and Carl Braden are no big deal, which is unfortunate because they really are a big deal--that their influence is, uh, been much greater than is known. And when the schools were being desegregated, and when, uh, the busing and the open housing and all the things which they influenced greatly, uh, the community was by and large not aware of their influence. Well, the community--the only time the community was really aware of their influence was when the Wade house blew up. And it turned out that they 00:57:00had, uh, a subterfuge was responsible for that, quote, unquote. But as far their influence in the Civil Rights Movement was concerned, by and large the community is not aware of how much influence they had. Their influence was not overrated; it's underrated.

FOSL: Well, that's important to know.

E. TACHAU: At least that's my view of it.

FOSL: Well, thank you.

E. TACHAU: Yeah.

FOSL: And Mary K., did you have anything to add? Oh, I guess she--

M. TACHAU: Sorry?

FOSL: Did you have anything to add?


FOSL: Okay.

M. TACHAU: No, I--that--

[Pause in recording.]

FOSL: Okay. Go ahead.

E. TACHAU: Uh, when the house--it happened that when the house blew up, uh, I had just flown to London to, to, to negotiate with some reinsurance renewal contracts with Lloyd's. And then a cable was waiting for me when I got there that the Wade house a blown up. And I had, um, I had reinsured that, something like 80 percent with Lloyd's. 00:58:00So as I went in the negotiation session the next morning with the Lloyd's people, I told 'em that this house--(Fosl laughs)--told 'em the whole story, which they really didn't really know about because we'd done it by treaty, as it was called. But I told 'em about it and they- -and why I'd insured it and why I'd reinsured it and so forth. And this Englishman said, uh, although most of the money that had been lost was their money--had said, uh, "Well, you did absolutely the right thing. I'm--we're proud to be doing business with you."

FOSL: Hmm. Well--

[End of interview.]