Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Gerald Neal, September 16, 2014

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


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00:00:00 - Career as State Senator

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Partial Transcript: I'm Betty Baye and we're interviewing Kentucky state senator Gerald Neal. It is the sixteeneth of September, 2014. We're in Louisville, Kentucky. This interview is for the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame Oral History Project.

Segment Synopsis: Neal describes the district he represents in Louisville. He discusses his start in politics, and other African American senators. He talks about his efforts to avoid being portrayed as only representing issues of African Americans. He talks about the importance of finding common ground with people from across the state. He compares the state House and the Senate. Neal describes his pride in being involved with the Kentucky Education Reform Act.

Keywords: African American senators; African American students; Democrats; Demographics; Georgia Davis Powers; KERA; Kentucky Education Reform Act; Kentucky Senate; Kentucky politics; Kentucky senators; Media; Political science; Politicians; Press; Republicans; Senate District 33

Subjects: African American politicians--Kentucky.; Kentucky--Politics and government.; Kentucky. Education Reform Act (1990); Kentucky. General Assembly.

GPS: Louisville, Kentucky
Map Coordinates: 38.25, -85.766667
00:21:27 - Childhood and family

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Partial Transcript: Well, you know, Senator Neal, as we talk about education. That's going to take me back to before Gerald Neal was a Senator. Let's go back to, uh, little Gerry Neal.

Segment Synopsis: Neal talks about his family and where he grew up in Louisville. He describes his parents' efforts to expose him to new things, his father's advocacy for labor rights, and the music in his home. He talks about McCarthyism in Kentucky. Neal describes his father, including his father's family and political beliefs. He relates stories about his ancestors.

Keywords: Anne Braden; Beecher Terrace, Louisville, Kentucky; Beverly Neal; Brothers; Carl Braden; Family; Fathers; McCarthyism; Mildred Coleman Neal; Mothers; Music; Neighborhoods; Racism; Segregation; Sisters; Sterling O. Neal, Jr.; Sterling Orlando Neal, Sr.

Subjects: African American families.; African American fathers.; African American parents; Civil rights workers--Kentucky--Louisville.; Louisville (Ky.)

GPS: Louisville, Kentucky
Map Coordinates: 38.25, -85.766667
00:39:12 - More on family / education

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Partial Transcript: And you were shaped in, in this environment. And at some point, you leave, you know--yeah, Ormsby Avenue. Tells us what happens next.

Segment Synopsis: Neal talks about moving to a new neighborhood as a child and describes his mother. He talks about his parents' expectations of him and his siblings. He talks about his education and his decision to attend law school. He discusses his parents' education.

Keywords: College; Education; Family; Jobs; Kentucky State University; Law schools; Louisville, Kentucky; Mothers; Parents; Political science; Sociology; University of Louisville

Subjects: African American families--Kentucky.; African American lawyers--Kentucky--Louisville.; African American mothers.; African American parents; Louisville (Ky.)

00:47:44 - Segregation in Louisville / involvement in the Civil Rights Movement

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Partial Transcript: Now, while you were in, I guess, junior high and high school, there were things going on in Louisville. Louisville, uh, whether it was Mississippi north, or not quite, or what was that. But we know that Louisville did have segregation, and tell me about your involvement in that.

Segment Synopsis: Neal discusses segregation in Louisville, being arrested for civil rights activism, and the civil rights activism of his siblings. He discusses his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement in Louisville. He talks about his involvement in taking over the president’s office at the University of Louisville. He describes facing possible expulsion from law school from his involvement with protests.

Keywords: Beverly Neal; Blue Boar; Civil Rights Movement; Demonstrations; Fathers; Fontaine Ferry Park; Football players; Louisville schools; Mothers; Parents; Protests; Segregation; University of Louisville; Velma Neal; Violence; Woodrow M. Strickler

Subjects: African Americans--Segregation--Kentucky--Louisville.; Civil rights movements--Kentucky--Louisville.; Civil rights workers--Kentucky--Louisville.; University of Louisville

01:01:13 - Louisville's response to the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. / west end of Louisville

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Partial Transcript: What about, we know that, uh, Dr. King had a relationship with Louisville. Dr. King, as well as his brother A.D. King, who was a pastor here. After Dr. King was killed, something happened in Louisville, in the west end.

Segment Synopsis: Neal talks about the reaction in Louisville to Dr. King's death. He discusses the detriment of the urban renewal project in Louisville and the old Walnut Street business district. He talks about his efforts to address the deficiencies of communities in the west end of Louisville.

Keywords: AAI; African American Initiative; Civil Rights Movement; Louisville riots of 1968; Louisville, Kentucky; Lymon T. Johnson; Martin Luther King's death; Martin Luther King, Jr.; Old Walnut Street, Louisville, Kentucky; Police; Riots; Urban renewal

Subjects: Civil rights movements--Kentucky--Louisville.; King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968.; Louisville (Ky.); Urban renewal--Kentucky--Louisville.

GPS: Louisville, Kentucky
Map Coordinates: 38.25, -85.766667
01:15:37 - Neal's children's perception of racism / Highlander Folk School

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Partial Transcript: And just to, um, come toward the end of where we are. We're talking about paying it forward. I mean, your parents paid it forward for you. As Gerald Neal looks back on your own life, and look forward--as you think about paying it forward, what, what would you want--you're in the Hall of Fame--what would you want your legacy to be, in terms of where you are?

Segment Synopsis: Neal talks about sharing his experiences with his children and the difference in racial concerns between his generation and the generation of his children. He talks about attending the Highlander Folk School and describes the excitement of being involved with the Civil Rights Movement.
[The interview is paused during segment.]

Keywords: African American young men; Children; Daughters; Family; Fred Shuttlesworth; Highlander Folk School; Legacy; Myles Horton; Sons; The Highlander Research and Education Center; Wyatt Tee Walker

Subjects: African American families--Kentucky.; African American fathers.; Civil rights movement; Highlander Folk School (Monteagle, Tenn.); Racism.

01:26:16 - More on law school / providing guidance to a younger generation

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Partial Transcript: Going to law school, did you feel that purpose in, in, learning the law and reading law as being part of, um, working in Civil Rights for your future?

Segment Synopsis: Neal talks about disliking law school. He describes receiving financial assistance from the Legal Aid Society. He explains redlining. He describes his father arranging meetings with other civil rights activists which gave him guidance. He discusses his efforts to offer guidance to young people. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: AAI; African American Initiative; African American lawyers; Ed Post; James R. Merritt; Joe Hammond; Law school; Legal Aid Society Louisville; Lyman T. Johnson; Mentor; Redlining; University of Louisville School of Law; Wilford Porter; William "Bill" Summers IV

Subjects: African American lawyers--Kentucky--Louisville.; Civil rights workers--Kentucky--Louisville.; Discrimination in mortgage loans; University of Louisville. School of Law