Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with PG Peeples, April 30, 2013

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


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00:00:01 - Childhood hobbies / athletics and education in Lynch, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: I am Nieta Wigginton. I am here with the executive director of the Urban League in Lexington...

Segment Synopsis: Peeples describes his childhood in Lynch, Kentucky, and shares some of his favorite activities as a child. He also talks about athletics and the importance of education in his community.

Keywords: Basketball; Bicycles; Big Black Mountain; Fishing; Football; Hunting; Lynch East Main School (Lynch, Ky.); Mountains; Parents; School; Sports; Swimming; US Steel; United States Steel

Subjects: African American coal miners; Athletics; Childhood; Coal miners; Education; Harlan County (Ky.); Lynch (Ky.)

GPS: Lynch (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 36.965906, -82.919816
00:04:55 - Peeples's family and community

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Partial Transcript: We're just gonna ask a few questions in those time periods.

Segment Synopsis: Peeples discusses his large family and shares both their given names and nicknames. He also talks about his neighborhood, and family discipline.

Keywords: Carrie Lou Peeples; Discipline; Neighbors; Nicknames; Porter G. Peeples, Sr.; Roy O'Neill Peeples, Sr.; Siblings; Small towns

Subjects: Children; Families; Lynch (Ky.)

GPS: Lynch (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 36.965906, -82.919816
00:09:15 - Childhood and adolescence

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Partial Transcript: Now, now you mentioned in middle school might have been some time when you got into more foolishness than others.

Segment Synopsis: Peeples describes his experiences in childhood and middle school, including school, his family, and his leisure activities.

Keywords: 709 Church Street (Lynch, Ky.); Church Street; Fires; Masculinity; Middle school; New Circle Road (Lexington, Ky.); Playgrounds; School; Sledding; Snow; Streets; Talkativeness; Winter

Subjects: Families; Youth

GPS: 709 Church Street (Lynch, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 36.962533, -82.902363
00:11:54 - Teachers and other role models

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Partial Transcript: Who were the leaders in the community? Who were some of the people, men and women, that you looked up to?

Segment Synopsis: Peeples talks about his teachers growing up, and how they worked to prepare him and the other students for life outside of their isolated community. He also mentions the opportunities he was given to visit cities such as Cincinnati and Knoxville.

Keywords: Black colleges; Church Picnics; Eastern Kentucky; Ms. Knight; Picnics; Vacations; Work ethic

Subjects: Alabama; Education; Leadership; Segregation; Teachers

00:16:06 - The Great Migration and visiting Brooklyn

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Partial Transcript: And uh, the reason there was a, that, uh, those cities-- our people were there...

Segment Synopsis: Peeples talks briefly about the Great Migration of African Americans that occurred in the first part of the 20th century. He tells how he used to spend his summers in Brooklyn, and talks about some of the jobs he had while there.

Keywords: Gofers; Great Migration; Parents; Summer jobs

Subjects: Alabama; Bessemer (Ala.); Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.); Migration, Internal

GPS: Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 40.650039, -73.953609
00:18:10 - Protests and riots in New York / visiting the Apollo Theater in Harlem

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Partial Transcript: I, I was there, and this was pre-- you, this was not, you would not recall this...

Segment Synopsis: Peeples talks about some of the riots and protests that went on when he was visiting Brooklyn in the 1960's. He also briefly mentions getting to visit the famous Apollo Theater while he was staying in Brooklyn.

Keywords: Adam Clayton Powell; Apollo Theater; Riots

Subjects: Columbia University; New York; Student protesters

GPS: Columbia University (New York, N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 40.807938, -73.963898
00:20:36 - The integration of Kentucky schools / attending the University of Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: So what was it like to spend a summer in New York? Big Apple, place they say...

Segment Synopsis: Peeples states that his high school in Harlan County was integrated his senior year, several years before the schools in Lexington were. He also talks about the community college he attended immediately afterwards, and the University of Kentucky.

Keywords: Dunbar High School (Lexington, Ky.); EMR; Southeast Community College; Special education; Teaching; Teaching certificates

Subjects: Harlan County (Ky.); Integration; New York (N.Y.); School integration; Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College; University of Kentucky

00:24:50 - Working for the Urban League / collaboration with organizations

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Partial Transcript: And that summer they opened the Urban League.

Segment Synopsis: Peeples talks about his early experiences working for the Urban League. He also talks about some of the other organizations that the Urban League of Lexington worked with.

Keywords: Bill Smith; CORE; Churches; Collaboration; Great Y Program; Recreation programs; Reverend Henry Jones; Salvation Army; Walter Brown; YMCA

Subjects: Civil rights demonstrations; Congress of Racial Equality; Kentucky Commission on Human Rights; Lexington (Ky.); National Urban League; Urban League of Lexington (Ky.)

GPS: Lexington (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.043360, -84.496536
00:28:46 - Educational programs / the Urban League of Lexington's building projects

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Partial Transcript: As the young director, um, what was one of the first challenges in Lexington that you, um...

Segment Synopsis: Peeples talks about some of the educational programs that the Urban League of Lexington established during his first years as director. He also talks about the Urban League's commitment to affordable housing, and shares how it has financed the construction or renovation of many houses and apartment complexes in Lexington.

Keywords: Apartments; Charlotte Court (Lexington, Ky.); Clerk typist training program; Construction; Education directors; Elm Tree Lane Apartments (Lexington, Ky.); Housing; Integration; Intervention; Jobs; Rental; Scholarships; Training

Subjects: Education; Lexington (Ky.); Segregation; Urban League of Lexington (Ky.)

GPS: Lexington (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.043360, -84.496536
00:33:45 - Building houses and rehabilitation / rehabilitating ex-offenders

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Partial Transcript: What role does housing play in human rights in the commission?

Segment Synopsis: Peeples shares several ways that the Urban League's work in housing has helped both families looking for a home and the rehabilitated ex-offenders who help to build the houses. He also discusses how this program helps ex-offenders find work after leaving prison.

Keywords: Affordable housing; Collaboration; Computers; Credit; Ex-offenders; Governor's Scholars Program; Housing; Housing construction; IBM; Lexmark; Middle school; Prisons; Voting rights

Subjects: African Americans; Families; Family; Housing; Rehabilitation; Single mothers; Suffrage; Urban League of Lexington (Ky.)

GPS: Lexington (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.043360, -84.496536
00:39:21 - The Urban League of Lexington's education programs

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Partial Transcript: Okay. In terms of, um, the Urban League supporting education, what are some of the things that...

Segment Synopsis: Peeples talks about some of the educational programs that the Urban League of Lexington sponsors, including programs to train typists, computer classes, and academic competitions for middle school students.

Keywords: Academics; Clerk typist training; Competitions; Computers; Digital divide; IBM; Lexmark; Middle school students; Scholarships; Software; Students; Superintendent's Cup; Tubby's Clubhouse; Typing; Wide Lead (??)

Subjects: Education; Urban League of Lexington (Ky.)

00:44:51 - Helping African American students become Governor's Scholars

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Partial Transcript: We've um, worked with the Governor's Scholars Program, and, you know the Governor's...

Segment Synopsis: Peeples tells how the Urban League of Lexington works to inform African American students and their parents of the Governor's Scholars Program.

Keywords: African American students; College applications; High school students; Kentucky Governor's Scholars Program; Parents; Receptions; Scholarships

Subjects: Transylvania University; Urban League of Lexington (Ky.)

00:47:11 - The funeral of Whitney Young

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Partial Transcript: Now, the, the Urban League has always, um, historically been involved in economic development and things of that nature...

Segment Synopsis: Peeples discusses the funeral of Whitney Young, who was a major leader within the Urban League and the civil rights movement. He describes his role in organizing the funeral in Lexington, as the director of the local Urban League chapter.

Keywords: "Big Six"; Congressmen; Funerals; Media; Senators; Walter Brown

Subjects: Economics; Jackson, Jesse, 1941-; National Urban League; Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994; Urban League of Lexington (Ky.); Young, Whitney M.

GPS: Lexington (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.043360, -84.496536
00:51:12 - Consistency and sustainability in the Urban League

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Partial Transcript: What was it like as a young leader in the, in the, in the uh, Kentucky area, when the national leader...

Segment Synopsis: Peeples states that he feels that the strength of the Urban League comes from its having a clear, unchanging mission, and how this has sustained it as an organization over the years. He tells how this affects fundraising and the organization's board members.

Keywords: Board members; Consistency; Funds; Leaders; Mission; Money; Organizations; Sustainability; Volunteers

Subjects: Fund raising; National Urban League

00:54:37 - A protest over the academic achievement gap

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Partial Transcript: Education. Uh, back in about 2000, we were having, it was chaotic here...

Segment Synopsis: Peeples talks about the Fayette County School Board's unwillingness to acknowledge the academic achievement gap for African American students, and how the Urban League protested this in the early 2000's. [There is a break in the recording]

Keywords: "No confidence, no trusts"; Accountability; Achievement gap; Arnold Gaither; Chamber of Commerce; Children; Communities; Demonstrations; Educational standards; Fayette County School System; Learning; Marches; Parents; Reverend Aiken; Reverend Bob Brown; Robert Jefferson; Roy Woods; School boards; School system; Stu Silberman; Students; Superintendents

Subjects: Education; Lexington Herald-Leader; Urban League of Lexington (Ky.)

01:01:47 - Becoming involved in the Urban League / mentors

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Partial Transcript: How does someone get involved with the Urban League?

Segment Synopsis: Peeples shares how someone can become involved with the Urban League. He also briefly mentions some of his mentors when he was a young man.

Keywords: "One community, one voice"; Organizations; Reverend Cal Wallace; Reverend G.M. Smith; Reverend Peeples

Subjects: Urban League of Lexington (Ky.)

01:03:31 - Starting a radio station

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Partial Transcript: Now you've mentioned, uh, Cal Wallace. I know he had a radio station...

Segment Synopsis: Peeples shares how the Urban League of Lexington started a radio station, WTLA, meant to cater especially to African American listeners.

Keywords: Cable; Cable radio; Contemporary Music; Dot Stone; Franchises; Gospel; Low powered radio; Media; Music; Radio programs; Volunteers; WTLA

Subjects: Radio stations

01:06:23 - Bias within the media

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Partial Transcript: And you mentioned that, that um, when you're doing this type of work, there's always someone...

Segment Synopsis: Peeples states that sometimes those who have wanted to discredit the work of the Urban League have shared untrue rumors with the media. He gives his opinion that the media will often publish untruths as fact so that they can be the first to get the "scoop".

Keywords: Bias; Boston bombing; Current events; Fairness; Intimidation; Media; Media literacy; Misinformation; News; News stories; Research; Rumors; Slant; Social media

Subjects: National Urban League

01:10:14 - Time commitment to the Urban League / fiscal responsibility

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Partial Transcript: One thing, um... we're curious about is the sacrifice-- we know the professional and the, um...

Segment Synopsis: Peeples discusses the large amount of time that he devotes to the Urban League. He also talks about the importance of fiscal responsibility within the organization.

Keywords: Community development; Funds; Meetings; Money; Responsibility; Rules; Sacrifice; Tax returns; Tubby Smith; Urban League Young Professionals

Subjects: Families; Fund raising; Racism; Urban League of Lexington (Ky.)

01:16:48 - African American predecessors in civil rights / responsibility to prisoners and others

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Partial Transcript: In this world, we'll always have to remember the people whose shoulders we stand upon...

Segment Synopsis: Peeples discusses the legacy of previous generations of African Americans, including his father. He also talks about what he feels is the responsibility to young African American men who are in prison, and to others.

Keywords: Bombings; Freedom riders; Great Migration; High school dropouts; Parents; Predecessors; Prisons; Responsibility

Subjects: African American men; Coal miners; Coal mines and mining; Education; National Urban League

01:22:04 - Becoming educated as "being white" / the rewards of working with the Urban League

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Partial Transcript: What would you say to young people now who think doing well academically or doing well uh, in terms of...

Segment Synopsis: Peeples refutes the notion that getting an education or focusing on academics is "white". He also shares what he feels has been the reward of working for the Urban League of Lexington.

Keywords: Money; Parents; Passion; Retirement

Subjects: African Americans; Education; Teachers; Urban League of Lexington (Ky.); Youth

01:25:56 - Academic motivation from high school integration

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Partial Transcript: You were mentioning that you were one of the students to integrate the high school...

Segment Synopsis: Peeples shares how the integration of his high school made him feel more motivated to do well academically, since he felt he should compete with his white classmates.

Keywords: Block voting; Classes; Coaches; College; Community colleges; Competition; First generation college students; Grades; Inspiration; Motivation; Predictions; Student government; Students; Traditions; Voting

Subjects: School integration; Segregation

01:31:55 - Teachers and others who have made positive influences

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Partial Transcript: If you could, let's say in an, an imaginary world, you could gather all those teachers up...

Segment Synopsis: Peeples talks about his teachers, family members, and others in his community who positively influenced him when he was growing up. He discusses the legacy of these people, as well as civil rights activists of the past.

Keywords: "'Fessor"; Community; Dogs; Gifts; Holidays; March from Selma to Montgomery; Martin Luther King March; Mentors; Mr. Richard Blackman; Parents; Preachers; Protests; Robert Jefferson; Sacrifice

Subjects: Civil rights movements; Coal miners; Families; Teachers

01:36:49 - Instances of racism at the University of Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: During your time in Lexington, when you first arrived here as a student at the University of Kentucky...

Segment Synopsis: Peeples shares some of his experiences dealing with racism when he attended the University of Kentucky.

Keywords: Dormitories; Fraternities; Harassment; Illinois; Moving; Roommates; Rooms

Subjects: Basketball; Racism; University of Kentucky; University of Kentucky--Basketball

GPS: University of Kentucky (Lexington, Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.030752, -84.503832
01:39:52 - Humor when dealing with prejudice

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Partial Transcript: It feels like people from your generation who were dealing with those uh, situations...

Segment Synopsis: Peeples describes the need for a sense of humor when others act in a prejudiced way.

Keywords: Basketball; Board of Trustees; Humor; Meetings; Phones; Power; Spindletop Hall; Televisions; Workers

Subjects: Racism

01:43:01 - Racial issues and perceptions of Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Before you do that, before we end, end this interview, you're from Appalachia, and most people don't know about...

Segment Synopsis: Peeples discusses others' perception of him as a black man from Appalachian Kentucky, and how Americans as a whole perceive Kentuckians to be. He shares his opinions on what he feels are some of the major racial issues in the state of Kentucky, including the strong hatred of President Barack Obama.

Keywords: Hatred; Health care; Hillbillies; Jobs; Money; Obamacare; Post-racism; Reporters; Stereotypes; Stimulus

Subjects: African Americans; African Americans--Appalachian Region; Kentucky; McConnell, Mitch; National Urban League; Obama, Barack; Paul, Rand; Race; Racism

01:47:35 - The importance of voting / Peeples' legacy / disappointments within the civil rights movement

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Partial Transcript: What would you say to young people, knowing your efforts uh, to vote?

Segment Synopsis: Peeples describes the importance of voting. He talks about the legacy he hopes he has left to his son, and shares how he has been sometimes disappointed by the seeming lack of progress of the civil rights movement.

Keywords: "Do the right things for the right reasons. Right will prevail."; Children; Disappointment; Family; Koch Brothers; Legacy; Money; Motivation; Mottoes; Progress; Sacrifice; Selfishness; Voting

Subjects: Families; Voting

01:52:30 - Barack Obama's opponents / Lexington's Latino community / Kentucky's community colleges

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Partial Transcript: Were you at the inauguration of President Obama?

Segment Synopsis: Peeples discusses the Republican opposition to President Barack Obama, especially from Mitch McConnell. He briefly discusses the issues facing the Latino community in Lexington. [There is a break in the recording] He also mentions a speech that he gave related to the Kentucky community colleges. [context is unclear] The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Community colleges; Gays; Hatred; Hispanics; Horse racing; Horses; Inaugurations; Kentucky Derby; Latinos; Lesbians; Speeches

Subjects: Lexington (Ky.); McConnell, Mitch; Obama, Barack; Republican Party (Ky.); Urban League of Lexington (Ky.)