Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with James Fleming Gordon, March 12, 1980

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00 - The struggle to desegregate

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Partial Transcript: Okay, uh, just to start off the interview, I was wondering if, if you could briefly state what you saw as your role in 1975 and, and your feelings then about, uh, the order to desegregate.

Segment Synopsis: Gordon discusses his attempts towards getting the Louisville Board of Education to allow him to take responsibility for making the plan to desegregate Louisville schools.

Keywords: Action of mandamus; Board of education; Cane Run Elementary School; Circuit court; Court of appeals; Day Law; De facto segregation; De jury segregation; Jack Fulton; Litigation; Mergers; Newburg Middle School; Old Jefferson County school system; Old Louisville school district; Opinions; Personal feelings; Plaintiffs; Plans; Political heat; Resolution; Responsibility; School districts; State board of education; Supreme Court; Transportation

Subjects: Desegregation; Louisville (Ky.); Segregation in education.

00:08:25 - The 'Playground Test'

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Partial Transcript: I was wondering when you drew up your plan, I'm not sure exactly...

Segment Synopsis: Gordon talks about the guidelines that he set for the plan to desegregate. For example, the school had to pass the 'Playground Test' as well as have a white majority student population.

Keywords: Buses; Central High School; Lyman T. Johnson; Majority; Percentages; Plans; Playground Test; Population; Racial mix; School districts; Schools; Social disturbance

Subjects: African Americans--Social conditions.; Desegregation; Education; Segregation in education.

00:12:47 - Opposition to desegregation

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Partial Transcript: Uh, do you see that--has busing had any effect on the, the drop out rate?

Segment Synopsis: Gordon discusses the white opposition to the desegregation of Louisville schools. He talks about the attacks at the bus compounds and attacks on buses with African American children on them, as well as the need for extra police reinforcement.

Keywords: Attacks; Black community; Bus compound; Certification; Children; Cooperation; County judges; County police; Courthouses; Daily attendance; Drop out rates; Enrollment; Fairgrounds; Figures; Force; Governors; National Guard; National guardsman; Policeman; Political ambitions; Private schools; School buses; State aid; Support; Training; Troopers; U.S. Marshal; White flight

Subjects: African American leadership; Bullitt County (Ky.); Busing for school integration; Communities.; Oldham County (Ky.); Segregation in education.; Violence

00:22:45 - The board of education

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Partial Transcript: Uh, with regard to the school board, I was wondering if you thought there was any, anything they could have done that they didn't do or if they did all they could do within their power to make this easier...

Segment Synopsis: Gordon discusses the cooperation of the Louisville Board of Education with his plan for desegregation. He talks about the 'trouble schools,' in terms of desegregation and money problems.

Keywords: Black schools; Blame; Board of education; Cane Run Elementary School; Conservative; Cooperative; De jury segregation; Feedback; Jack Fulton; Law schools; Liberal; Money problems; Newburg Middle School; White schools

Subjects: Integration; Louisville (Ky.); Segregation; Segregation in education

00:27:54 - Quality of education

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Partial Transcript: Uh, as far as the, the primary goal of this desegregation, did you see that as being integration?

Segment Synopsis: Gordon discusses the concept of the quality of education going down because of African American children being brought into white schools and vice versa. He also talks about busing teachers.

Keywords: Ballard High School; Busing; Children; Guidelines; Integration; Prestigious; Quality; School administration; Teachers; duPont Manual High School

Subjects: African Americans--Education; Communities.; Desegregation; Education; Segregation in education

00:31:34 - Suspension rates

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Partial Transcript: Uh, as I recall and I've been told that they still are, that the suspension rates for blacks were greatly increased right after the start of busing.

Segment Synopsis: Gordon discusses the higher suspension rates after desegregation of the school systems in Louisville started.

Keywords: Absences; Ballard High School; Black principals; Blue Stocking Committee; Discipline; Hearings; Majority; Problems; Referees; Standards; Suspensions; Tardiness; The Courier-Journal; White principals

Subjects: African Americans--Education; Busing for school integration; Communities.; Discrimination in education.

00:37:37 - Was desegregation beneficial?

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Partial Transcript: Uh, I was wondering how, how you feel about busing now, you know, five years later.

Segment Synopsis: Gordon discusses whether or not the end result of desegregation of the Louisville school system was beneficial.

Keywords: Beneficial; Courts; Disciplines; Equilibrium; Housing; Justice; Motivations; Opposition; Real world; Social experiment; Standards; White community

Subjects: African Americans--Education.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Busing for school integration; Desegregation; Louisville (Ky.)