Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with George C. Wright, January 31, 2021

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:42 - Meeting Lyman T. Johnson and the history of the NAACP

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Partial Transcript: So, uh, we're gonna talk for just a few minutes about Lyman Johnson.

Segment Synopsis: Wright talks about his move to Louisville, Kentucky and his introduction to Lyman T. Johnson. He talks about going to the University of Kentucky and when he began to study Lyman T. Johnson. He talks about contacting Lyman T. Johnson for his dissertation. He talks about interviewing Lyman T. Johnson along with others who provided him with information about the history of the NAACP.

Keywords: Albert E. Meyzeek; Desegregation; Dissertations; Graduate schools; History; Integration; Kentucky; Louisville (Ky.); Louisville, Kentucky; Lyman T. Johnson; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); Research; Teachers

Subjects: Desegregation; Education.; Louisville (Ky.); University of Kentucky

GPS: Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.2527, -85.7585
00:07:54 - Meeting Lyman T. Johnson and his impact on education in Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Tell me, if you can think back and remember, going to see Lyman Johnson for the first time.

Segment Synopsis: Wright talks about meeting Lyman T. Johnson and finding him to have a lot of spirit. He talks about how outspoken Lyman T. Johnson was due to his experience living in the north. He talks about how Lyman T. Johnson was able to bring about change due to his credentials and how his role in the movement differed from Martin Luther King Jr. He talks about the inequalities within education in Kentucky and the mindset of the times.

Keywords: Civil Rights Movement; Desegregation; Discussion; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; Education; History of desegregation; Integration; Lyman T. Johnson; Mindset; Outspoken; Racism; Separate but equal; Separate but not equal; South; University of Louisville; White society

Subjects: African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Civil rights movements--United States; Desegregation; Diversity; Education.; Race discrimination.; Race relations--Kentucky; Racism; University of Kentucky

00:16:04 - Lyman T. Johnson opening the door for others to enroll at the university

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Partial Transcript: But if that's the case, and, and let's say if that's, if that's the, uh--if that's what he really said, then what does that tell you about someone like that?

Segment Synopsis: Wright talks about the different people in the Lyman T. Johnson story at the university. He talks about some of the events he discussed in his book and the reactions of others following the law. He talks about the impact of Lyman T. Johnson's admission to the university and some of the other individuals who wanted admission to segregated institutions. He talks about one of the teachers that he had who enrolled in the university and the different experiences that many black students had at the university. He talks about some individuals' experience being called racial slurs and some of the situations where their experience was diminished.

Keywords: Achievements; American society; Arguments; Change; Degrees; Desegregation; Earle Clements; Education; Governors; Graduate schools; Herman Lee Donovan; Insults; Leading the way; Life experiences; Opening the door; President of the University of Kentucky; Racism; Status quo; Students; Undergraduates

Subjects: Activism, Students; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Civil rights movements--United States; Desegregation; Diversity; Education.; Race discrimination.; Race relations--Kentucky; Racism; University of Kentucky

00:26:03 - Lyman T. Johnson's honorary degree and the idea of "good trouble"

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Partial Transcript: But, but you know what Terry, again just to go to the time period of Lyman Johnson, um, in 1950, granted, Lyman Johnson's is 1949, in 1950, the very same day that Supreme--the U.S. Supreme Court ruled...

Segment Synopsis: Wright talks about McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents and the different acts the school took to separate him from his peers. He talks about what black individuals were missing during their time at the university. He talks about his work towards bestowing Lyman T. Johnson an honorary doctorate degree and his historical accomplishments. He talks about why he worked to get Lyman T. Johnson his degree and the idea of "good trouble." He talks about other "troublemakers" throughout history who were labelled that due to the fight for rights they were not afforded. He talks about President Eli Capiluto's quote in the alumni newsletter and the young person's perspective.

Keywords: "Good trouble"; "Troublemakers"; Classroom experience; Court cases; Education; Eli Capiluto; Honorary degrees; Lyman T. Johnson; McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); President Eli Capiluto; Relationships; Research; School; Segregation cases; U.S. Supreme Court

Subjects: Activism, Students; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Civil rights movements--United States; Desegregation; Diversity; Education.; Race discrimination.; Race relations--Kentucky; Racism; University of Kentucky

00:34:20 - The meaning and people behind Lyman T. Johnson

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Partial Transcript: Of course now, fortunately there's a historic marker on campus--

Segment Synopsis: Wright talks about the other figures who were working towards desegregation during Lyman T. Johnson's time. He talks about the meaning behind Lyman T. Johnson and the different buildings and awards named after him. He talks about the amount of work that Lyman T. Johnson put into his court case and the different people involved in the movement.

Keywords: Awards; Civil Rights Movement; Cooperation; Court cases; Desegregation; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; Education; Equality; Inequality; Life experiences; Lyman T. Johnson; People; Racial relations; Residence halls; Social movements; Symbol; Work

Subjects: Activism, Student; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Civil rights movements--United States; Desegregation; Diversity; Education.; Race discrimination.; Race relations--Kentucky; Racism; University of Kentucky

00:38:59 - Lyman T. Johnson's impact on other social movements

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Partial Transcript: I think it's important because it might help them oh, stand up and be involved in whatever issues that they think are important enough, uh, uh, to devote time to.

Segment Synopsis: Wright talks about the importance of Lyman T. Johnson in his ability to show students that they can enact change. He talks about the different potential trajectories of the Civil Rights Movement. He talks about how he got his job and being in the right place at the right time. He talks about many being unable to understand or see the struggles of others, such as women. He talks about the different groups who the Lyman T. Johnson story applies to, such as the women's movement.

Keywords: Civil Rights Movement; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; Education; Education equality; Equality; Gender; Gender discrimination; Hiring; Minority groups; Occupation; Social movement; Student activism; Students; Wisdom Project Podcast; Women's movement

Subjects: Activism, Student; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Civil rights movements--United States; Desegregation; Diversity; Education.; Race discrimination.; Race relations--Kentucky; Racism; Sexism.; University of Kentucky