Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Wendell Lynch, December 17, 2020

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00 - Family history

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Partial Transcript: Good morning, my name is Alissa Keller, and today I am with Wendell Lynch, um, in the Hopkinsville municipal center, today is December 17, 2020, um, and we are going to be discussing the African American experience in segregated Hopkinsville

Segment Synopsis: Lynch was born in Hopkinsville, KY as the eighth of ten kids. He states that having nine siblings was a chaotic experience. His father was eleven years older than his mother. His father worked selling insurance and helped as a tailor before working for Jennie Stuart Memorial Hospital. Lynch's mother worked in domestic work after they grew up. He discusses living situation in the house. His favorite meal that his mother cooked was fried chicken and blackberry cobbler.

Keywords: African American families; Black American history; Black families; Cooking; Dead; Domestic work; Domestic workers; Fathers; Food; Food habits; Home organization; Household management; Houses; Housing; Living situations; Maintenance workers; Mothers; Siblings

Subjects: African American history.; Brothers and sisters.; Christian County (Ky.); Families.; Family history.; Hopkinsville (Ky.); Hospitals.; Kentucky--History.; Maintenance.; Stewart County (Tenn.)

00:08:27 - Childhood

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Partial Transcript: Okay, so tell me what you did as a kid, like where did you go to school, where did you go and run around and have fun?

Segment Synopsis: Lynch's neighborhood was shifting from being predominantly White to predominantly Black. They had a lot of rules as children. Lynch describes childhood games he'd play, and how he would make his own toys. His family grew a garden. Lynch went to Booker T. Washington Elementary School until grade six and Crispus Attucks High School from grade seven to nine. Lynch's family attended Virginia Street Baptist Church. His next door neighbor was his Sunday school teacher and she would tell their parents if he or his siblings misbehaved. Lynch describes how his family shopped.

Keywords: African American children; African American families; African American neighborhoods; Black American history; Black children; Black families; Black neighborhoods; Booker T. Washington Elementary School; Crispus Attucks High School; Marbles; Virginia Street Baptist Church

Subjects: African American history.; African American students.; Amusements.; Basketball.; Christianity.; Church.; Family history.; Games.; Gardens.; Hopkinsville (Ky.); Hot rods.; Kentucky--History.; Religion.; Schools.; Students, Black.; Sunday schools.; Teachers.; Teaching.; Toys.; Vegetables.

00:18:31 - Attucks High School / Integrated school at Hopkinsville High School

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Partial Transcript: Wow, um, so you would have been there just through the ninth grade, so I guess, would you have integrated into Hoptown?

Segment Synopsis: Lynch says his current freshman class would then go to Hopkinsville High School for sophomore year and then the following year the schools would be combined. Lynch describes the atmosphere at Attucks High school. Lynch discusses the basketball Coach Falls, also known as Chief. Lynch's teachers attended his church. He was afraid of the integrated environment. Lynch discusses racism and class officer elections over his time there. Some of Lynch's teachers were racist.

Keywords: Black American history; Black students; City schools; Class elections; Class officers; Crispus Attucks High School; Intramural sports; Junior high schools; Metal working; Neighborhood schools; Ping pong; Public transportation; Shop classes; Welding; Woodworking; Yearbooks

Subjects: African American history; African American students.; African Americans--Education.; Basketball coaches; Basketball.; Black people--Segregation; Buses.; Coaching (Athletics); Discrimination in education.; Discrimination.; Gymnasiums; High schools.; Hopkinsville (Ky.); Industrial arts.; Kentucky--History.; Minorities.; Racism against Black people; Racism.; School integration.; Segregation in education.; Segregation.; Students, Black.; Students.; Teachers.; Teaching.

00:31:32 - High school basketball

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Partial Transcript: Okay, um, so what all did you, were you involved in in high school

Segment Synopsis: Lynch states that athletics were important to him, specifically basketball. His favorite class was an experimental class that had team learning to teach history and literature. During his senior year, his team was the first team from that school to qualify for the Boys State High School Basketball Tournament. He discusses the team's name of Black and Decker. He continues to discuss the basketball teams, including what happened at the tournament.

Keywords: Athletics; Black American history; Black Americans--Education; Black and Decker; Boys State High School Basketball Tournament; Classes; Cross-country running.; High school athletics; Running; Sports; Teaching; Tournaments

Subjects: African American history; African American students; African Americans--Education.; Basketball coaches.; Basketball--Tournaments.; Basketball.; Coaching (Athletics); Cross-country running.; Education.; High schools.; History.; Hopkinsville (Ky.); Kentucky--History.; Literature.; Pedagogy.; Students, Black.; Teachers.

00:40:56 - College and the Vietnam War

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Partial Transcript: Okay, so, with, before we get into some kind of later stuff, with Christmas right around the corner, what were holidays like in your household growing up

Segment Synopsis: Lynch briefly discusses holidays and his grandparents. He graduated in 1969. He went to college in Oklahoma at Phillips University, a small Christian college, because he was offered a scholarship. His older siblings had gone to college so he was expected to attend. The Vietnam War was a strong incentive to go to college because it gave them a draft deferment. They would see people go off to war and return in a coffin. He came back to Hopkinsville because he had a standing job opportunity.

Keywords: Black Americans--Education; Celebrations; Christian colleges; Christian schools; Deferments; Draft deferments; Gifts; Graduations; Presents

Subjects: African Americans--Education.; Basketball.; Christianity.; Christmas.; Draft.; Enid (Okla.); Food.; Grandparents.; Grants-in-aid.; Holidays.; Jobs.; Oklahoma.; Phillips University (Enid, Okla.); Religion.; Santa Claus.; Scholarships.; Universities and colleges.; Vietnam War, 1961-1975.; Work.

00:49:36 - Civic engagement after returning to Hopkinsville

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Partial Transcript: Um, okay, so you come back to Hopkinsville in the seventies, I guess

Segment Synopsis: Lynch says that when he returned to Hopkinsville, he got involved in the church. He was asked to be a Sunday School Teacher. He got involved in the Red Cross board, the Pioneers, Inc. organization, and the Multipurpose Community Center. Pioneers is an African American men's civic organization. He discusses the community events, engagements, and fundraising he organized, including barbecues and pageants. They have very few young members.

Keywords: Aaron McNeil Center; African American girls; African American women; BBQ; Barbecues; Beauty pageants; Black American history; Black girls; Black women; Civic duty; Civic engagement; Civic organizations; Community service; Multipurpose community facilities; Philanthropy; Young women

Subjects: African American history.; Beauty contests.; Catering and hospitality.; Christianity.; Church.; Cross-dressing.; Fundraising.; Hopkinsville (Ky.); International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.; Kentucky--History.; Red Cross and Red Crescent.; Religion.; Religious education.; Social groups.; Societies.; Sunday schools.; Teachers.; Teaching.; Volunteers.

01:04:24 - City council member

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Partial Transcript: Okay, so you, worked at the bank, climbed the ranks at the bank, when, and then, when did you retire?

Segment Synopsis: Lynch retired from the bank because the industry was changing dramatically. He moved on to other things in the community, including working on the city council for six years. He thinks its everyone's duty to give back to the community. He lists some accomplishments as keeping the city financially strong, the sidewalk plan, building the sportsplex, building out neighborhood parks, phase two of Greenway Trail, and other quality of life improvements so that people want to live in Hopkinsville.

Keywords: Civic duty; Civic engagement; Civic organizations; Community service; Financial stability; Greenway Trail; Sports complexes; Trails

Subjects: African American history.; Arenas.; Banks and banking.; Business enterprises.; City council members.; City councils.; Communication in community development.; Communities.; Community development.; Cost and standard of living.; Economic development.; Economic indicators.; Finance.; Government finances.; Hopkinsville (Ky.); Kentucky--History.; Parks.; Retirement.; Sidewalks.; Sports.; Stadiums.

01:09:53 - Time as mayor of Hopkinsville

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Partial Transcript: Well, and you, you are now the mayor, um, appointed in February?

Segment Synopsis: Lynch is currently the mayor of Hopkinsville at the time of the interview. He states that political tumult can lead to streamlining processes and procedures to enable moving quickly. They stayed connected with partners in the community. He says the pandemic has forced them to forge stronger relationships. They discuss F.E. Whitney, the first African American mayor who only held his position in Hopkinsville for a week, and another mentor who brought the Harlem Globetrotters to Hopkinsville for fundraising.

Keywords: BLM; Black leaders; Breonna Taylor; Chesterfield Lounge; City government; Coronavirus; EMS; EMT; F.E. Whitney; Fundraising; George Floyd; Health department; Murders; Police brutality; Skylark

Subjects: Administrative agencies; African American history.; African American leaders.; Basketball.; Black lives matter movement.; COVID-19 (Disease); Communicable diseases.; Communities.; Community health services.; County government; Emergency medical services.; Harlem Globetrotters.; Hopkinsville (Ky.); Kentucky--History.; Leaders.; Leadership.; Mayors; Municipal government; Nightclubs.; Pandemics.; Political science.; Politics.; Public health.; Race discrimination.; Race relations.; Racism against Black people.; Racism.

01:19:52 - Concluding thoughts

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Partial Transcript: Um, okay, so, look, so you said your grandparents were here, and, um, what do you think that if they looked back, what, or looked at you now, what do you think they would think of all of your accomplishments

Segment Synopsis: Lynch thinks his grandparents would be proud of him. His grandfather was a tailor and his grandmother was a cosmetologist. She attended the M&F college. He discusses the history of his last name and general family history research. He talks about his great great-grandfather, who got his freedom as a young man and started a lot of churches as a minister. His death was caused by a car accident. He discusses integration and racism in general.

Keywords: Black American history; Black Americans--Education; Christianity; Cosmetologists; Cosmetology; Cosmetology schools; Hopkinsville Male and Female College; M&F college; Ministers; Ministry; Moore's Baptist Church; Pastors

Subjects: African American history.; African Americans--Education.; Beauty culture--Study and teaching; Beauty culture.; Beauty operators.; Beauty schools.; Beauty shops.; Church.; Family history.; Genealogy.; Grandfathers.; Grandmothers.; Grandparents.; Hairdressing.; Hopkinsville (Ky.); Kentucky--History.; Religion.; Slavery.; Slaves.