Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Kathryn F. (Kitty) Woodard, March 26, 1984

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:03 - Growing up in Georgia

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Partial Transcript: So, uh, can you tell me a little bit about your parents? You know, their background.

Segment Synopsis: Woodard discusses her experience in her hometown of Fort Valley, Georgia. She recalls a time that her father helped her uncle escape a mob intent on lynching him, after a white waitress accused him of trying to rape her. At that point her father contacted Woodard's aunt in Philadelphia to see if the family could move there, which they did in 1921. Later, her father moved back to Georgia, after working at the Campbell's Soup Company. She recalls that her family rarely had trouble with white residents in Fort Valley, because her family was well known and respected, and lived comfortably, as they worked jobs such as teachers, horse breeders, carpenters, and midwives. She considered them middle class, although looking back, she recognizes how poor they were.

Keywords: Accusations of rape; Campbell Soup Company; Fort Valley High and Industrial School; Fort Valley, Georgia; Horse breeders; Lynching; Macon, Georgia; Middle class; Midwives; Ministers; Rape; Teachers

Subjects: African Americans--Crimes against.; African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Social conditions.; African Americans--Southern States.; Migration, Internal.

GPS: Fort Valley, Georgia
Map Coordinates: 32.545, -83.889
00:05:31 - Transition to the North

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Partial Transcript: How did you all get up here?

Segment Synopsis: Woodard discusses the transition of moving to the North after taking a segregated train to Philadelphia. She was surprised that there were so many white children in her class at school, since she was used to segregated education. Her father found a place for them to stay and worked for the Campbell's Soup Company. He then got a job in the trade of lathing because he could pass as Italian with his name, Lorenzo Fambro, and his light complexion. Woodard's mother did not like the North, but her father wanted to be there for the educational opportunities for his children. He also liked the freedom to do what he pleased, which was not an option in the South.

Keywords: 13th Street (Philadelphia, Pa.); 13th and Ellsworth (Philadelphia, Pa); Broad Street (Philadelphia, Pa.); Campbell Soup Company; Education; Expectations before moving north; Federal Street (Philadelphia, Pa.); Italian; Journey north; Lathing; Lorenzo Fambro,Impressions of Philadelphia; Rail transportation; Segregation; South; Temple University; Trains; University of Pennsylvania

Subjects: African Americans--Education.; African Americans--Employment.; African Americans--Segregation; Integration; Migration, Internal.; Philadelphia (Pa.)--Social conditions.

GPS: 13th and Ellsworth, where Woodard lived.
Map Coordinates: 39.936384, -75.164909
00:11:54 - Demographics of Philadelphia neighborhoods

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Partial Transcript: Did, um--now when you all arrived, you say you came up 1919.

Segment Synopsis: Woodard did not notice the amount of Blacks from the South that were coming into Philadelphia. However, she recalls her father's surprise in the early 1950s after he had been living in the South, commenting that there were more Blacks in the city than in the whole state of Georgia. She discusses the divide between Black and white neighborhoods, split by Point Breeze. Woodard's family lived in an Italian neighborhood, but also lived in an Irish neighborhood at one point. She notes a difference between her family and their predominantly white neighbors and the "real North Philadelphia Blacks." Woodard recalls that her father did not really like white people.

Keywords: 21st Street (Philadelphia, Pa.); 2234 Reed Street (Philadelphia, Pa.); Fairmount Park; Grays Ferry (Philadelphia neighborhood also known as Irish Town or Ramcat, site of 1918 riots); Irish; Italian; North Philadelphia; Point Breeze (Philadelphia neighborhood); Wharton Street (Philadelphia, Pa.)

Subjects: African American neighborhoods; African Americans--Relations with Irish Americans.; African Americans--Relations with Italian Americans; Philadelphia (Pa.)--Social conditions.; United States--Race relations.

00:14:34 - Experience as a child in the North

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Partial Transcript: When you, when you arrived in the city, you--well I guess when you were growing up, you, you'd been brought up in the South, at least for your first eight years of your life or so.

Segment Synopsis: Woodard lists the many schools she attended including Jackson, Wilson, Logan, and William Penn, most of which were mixed race schools, aside from Logan School. She discusses how her neighborhood raised all of the children together and they had very good relationships with the Italians, going to one another's houses to eat. She explains that prejudice has intensified since the Civil Rights movement. Lastly, she discusses how the teachers in her mixed school did not treat the Black students any differently.

Keywords: Civil Rights Movement; Jackson School (12th and Federal, Philadelphia, Pa.); Landreth School (Philadelphia, Pa.); Logan School (Philadelphia, Pa.); Segregation; Teachers; Titan Street (Philadelphia, Pa.); Wharton Street (Philadelphia, Pa.); William Penn High School; Wilson School (Philadelphia, Pa.)

Subjects: African American neighborhoods; African Americans--Education.; African Americans--Relations with Italian Americans; African Americans--Social conditions.; Integration; United States--Race relations.

00:19:54 - Parents' involvement in Philadelphia politics

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Partial Transcript: Were your parents p--what--were your parents politically active?

Segment Synopsis: Woodard explains her parents' roles in politics. They were committee people ("Committee Men") who worked to get James McGranery out of his position as U.S. Congressman and replace him with William A. Barrett. They were both Democrats in the 36th Ward who worked to get William Scott Vare out of office and make the ward Democratic. She discusses her mother and father's personalities as well as the atmosphere in politics during the 1930s and 1940s. Woodard reports that her parents were not active in the South prior to moving to Philadelphia.

Keywords: 36th Ward (Philadelphia, Pa.); Atlantic Refinery; Attorney General; Congressman; Congressmen; Democrats; Franklin Delano Roosevelt; James McGranery; Johnny Sills; Philadelphia ward politics; Republicans; Ronald Reagan; Vare; Washington, D.C.; William A. Barrett; William Scott Vare

Subjects: African Americans--Politics and government.; Democratic Party (U.S.); Republican Party (U.S. : 1854- )

00:29:15 - Forrest White Woodard, "The Philadelphia Independent," and White's Wander Inn

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Partial Transcript: Do you remember Ed Henry back then?

Segment Synopsis: Woodard explains that her husband Forrest White Woodard founded "The Philadelphia Independent" in order to give Democrat Ed Henry exposure, which he did not receive in the "Philadelphia Tribune." She talks about her husband and his ownership of a bar and nightclub, White's Wander Inn. She gives more background on her husband's life, including his upbringing in Norfolk, Virginia, his personality, and business ventures including White's Wander Inn. Woodard notes that her father never let her visit the Wander Inn, as it was not an appropriate place for a young woman to patronize.

Keywords: "Philadelphia Independent" (African American newspaper founded in 1931); "Philadelphia Tribune"; Bars; Democratic Party; Edward Henry (2nd black magistrate, appointed in 1925); Forrest White Woodard; Lillian Woodard; Naudian Street (Philadelphia, Pa.); Newspapers; Night clubs; Nightlife in Philadelphia; Norfolk, Virginia; Prohibition; Republican Party; White's Wander Inn

Subjects: African American business enterprises; African American newspapers.; African American politicians.; African Americans--Politics and government.

00:35:49 - "The Philadelphia Independent"

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Partial Transcript: Now when you met him, I guess, uh, you all married, and he's still on "The Independent."

Segment Synopsis: Woodard discusses "The Independent," the Black newspaper for which her husband was publisher. "The Independent" was a community paper, which Forrest Woodard called "for the masses, not the classes," in contrast to a tabloid, which is how Kitty Woodard characterized the competing "Philadelphia Tribune." "The Independent" painted Black people in a positive image and sharing what they were doing in the community. At one point it was the city's widest circulated Black newspaper; however, Forrest W. Woodard became concerned with the way it was being run when he was paralyzed and unable to go to the facility. Woodard discusses the corruption and bribery that may have tied politicians to "The Independent's" writers.

Keywords: "Philadelphia Independent" (African American newspaper founded in 1931); "Philadelphia Tribune"; Black newspapers; Democratic Party; Editors; Forrest White Woodard; Government; Money; Newspapers; Politicians; Publishers; Ralph Jones; Republican Party; Samuel Hart; Scandals; William Barrett

Subjects: African American business enterprises; African American newspapers.; African Americans--Politics and government.

00:42:17 - Involvement in Civil Rights and local politics

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Partial Transcript: Okay, so, so, what, you know, what became of "The Independent," then? What--

Segment Synopsis: Woodard discusses taking over "The Philadelphia Independent" as publisher after her husband died. She was heavily involved in the local Civil Rights Movement, led by Cecil B. Moore, and used the newspaper to support the cause. She then sold it to Robert L. Williams to be a full-time mother. Williams sold it to Oscar Gaskins which is when the paper folded. She also describes some of her experiences in politics. She helped keep Moore's protest peaceful, which led to her respectful friendship with Police Commissioner (1968-1971) and Mayor (1972-1980) Frank Rizzo, not known for friendly relations with the Philadelphia African American community.

Keywords: "Philadelphia Independent" (African American newspaper founded in 1931); Cecil B. Moore; Common pleas judge; Congressmen; Frank Rizzo; Girard College; Government; Howard Leary (Philadelphia Police Commissioner); Marches; Newspapers; Oscar Gaskins; Picketing; Protests; Publishers; Robert L. Williams; Robert N.C. Nix

Subjects: African American business enterprises; African American newspapers.; African American politicians.; African Americans--Politics and government.; Civil rights demonstrations; Civil rights movements--United States

00:49:19 - Family dynamics

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Partial Transcript: Hmm. Did your mother work in Philadelphia?

Segment Synopsis: Woodard explains how her mother worked doing "day work" as a servant in a family's home, but her father didn't like that she worked outside the home. She explains that southern men felt more strongly about women staying at home with the children than northern people, in part because northerners had need for two-incomes, more than those living in the South. Woodard discusses her father's emphasis on education and achieving independence, "weaning a calf," as she describes. Woodard recalls not running around with girls who stayed out late and did not have the morals she was raised to have. Lastly, she reflects on being a grandmother today, which has given her insight on parenting.

Keywords: Attitudes; Day work; Domestic work; Economic stability; Education; Eleanor Roosevelt; Family; Gender roles; Housework; Salary; Wanamaker's Department Store; Wives

Subjects: African American families; African Americans--Employment.

00:56:10 - Neighborhood dynamics

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Partial Transcript: Would you say that, then, there were more opportunities in the 1930s, for instance, for Blacks in Philadelphia, than in the South?

Segment Synopsis: Woodard expresses her disagreement with the idea that there were more opportunities for Blacks in the North; however, she does think there was more freedom due to the lesser degree of segregation. She recollects an instance where a Chinese food restaurant refused to serve her calling her "a coal." Lastly, she explains the differences in the neighborhoods such as Point Breeze and Grays Ferry. She doesn't remember the violence but she knows that it happened.

Keywords: 20th and Columbia Avenue (Philadelphia, Pa.); 2120 Wharton Street (Philadelphia, Pa.); 2234 Reed Street (Philadelphia, Pa.); Black neighborhood; Chinese food; Freedom; Grays Ferry (Philadelphia neighborhood also known as Irish Town or Ramcat, site of 1918 riots); Grover Cleveland; Irish Americans--Philadelphia; North Philadelphia; Opportunity; Oxford Street (Philadelphia, Pa.); Point Breeze (Philadelphia neighborhood); Racial resentment; Ralph Jones (newspaperman); Raymond Pace Alexander

Subjects: African American neighborhoods; African Americans--Relations with Irish Americans.; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Philadelphia (Pa.)--Social conditions.; Race discrimination.; United States--Race relations.