Interview with James Godfrey, May 16, 2023

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

 

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00:00:00 - Introduction / Decision to attend Kentucky State University

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Partial Transcript: Okay. My name is Nadia Sesay, and I'm interviewing James Godfrey.

Segment Synopsis: James Godfrey says that he was born in Florida but moved to Kentucky. He also talks about his decision to attend Kentucky State University, a HBCU.

Keywords: African Americans; Black male; Frankfort (Ky.); HBCU; Historically Black Colleges and Universities; Kentucky State University; college student

00:02:45 - First semester of senior year in high school / First time contracting COVID-19

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Partial Transcript: Now your freshman year, was that pre-COVID?

Segment Synopsis: Godfrey says that he believes he had COVID-19 at the end of his fall semester of his senior year in high school.

Keywords: COVID-19; COVID-19 (disease); asthma; flu; high schools; pandemics; pneumonia; school systems

00:06:15 - First time learning that a pandemic may occur

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Partial Transcript: Your earliest memory, you know, of hearing about the possibility of a pandemic

Segment Synopsis: Godfrey says that he first learned of a pandemic while watching the news. He briefly also describes the reaction of his mom and school mates to the knowledge the pandemic.

Keywords: COVID-19; COVID-19 (disease); medias; misinformation; pandemics

00:08:24 - Second semester of senior year high school

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Partial Transcript: You said a lot that I want to get into.

Segment Synopsis: Godfrey says that unlike first semester of senior year, second semester was chaotic.

Keywords: COVID-19; COVID-19 (disease); educators; lockdowns; masks; pandemcis; school systems; teachers; vaccines

00:10:24 - Reaction to learning about school closure / Adjusting to online learning

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Partial Transcript: What was it like--what was your reaction when you learned

Segment Synopsis: Godfrey describes his feeling when he realized that school would remain closed and his adjustment to taking classes online. He briefly also says that he spent time with friends and relied on the news as his main source of information while schools were closed.

Keywords: COVID-19; COVID-19 (disease); Twitter; Zoom (video conferencing platform); lockdowns; medias; news; online learning; pandemics; school systems; shutdowns; virtual learning

00:15:20 - How COVID disrupted senior year of high school

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Partial Transcript: Now we're still in second semester senior year

Segment Synopsis: Godfrey describes the impact to his friends of losing their senior year of high school due to COVID-19. He briefly also describes how he provided emotional support for classmates who were distressed.

Keywords: COVID-19; COVID-19 (disease); YouTube; graduations; lockdowns; mental health; proms; school sytems; shutdowns; social distancing

00:22:36 - Taking care of mental health / Staying connected to family

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Partial Transcript: I think this is a good opportunity to segue into some questions

Segment Synopsis: Godfrey explains how he cared for his mental health during lockdowns. He briefly also says that not seeing his family was difficult but they found ways to stay connected.

Keywords: Black males; Black men; COVID-19; lockdowns; mental health; pandemics; shutdowns; social distancing

00:29:26 - Having a pre-existing condition with COVID-19

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Partial Transcript: You said you had asthma

Segment Synopsis: Godfrey says that because he has asthma he was worried about contracting COVID-19.

Keywords: African Americans; Black males; COVID-19; COVID-19 (disease); masks; pre-existing conditions; precautions; vulnerable populations

00:31:21 - Recalling friends' hesitancy to the vaccine / Deciding whether to get vaccinated

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Partial Transcript: I'm going to ask you about the public health response to the pandemic.

Segment Synopsis: Godfrey says that he initially hesitated to get the COVID-19 vaccine. He briefly also describes the response of his friends when he was ultimately vaccinated.

Keywords: African Americans; COVID-19; COVID-19 (disease); medical mistrusts; racism (healthcare); vaccinations; vaccine hesitancy; vaccines

00:35:45 - Realizing toll of pandemic / Mental health awareness

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Partial Transcript: I mean, not to bring up old wounds, but the pandemic did a number on you

Segment Synopsis: Godfrey says that not being able to travel to Egypt at the end of his senior year was when the toll of the pandemic set in. He also says that feeling disappointed about the trip led him to take mental health more seriously.

Keywords: Black males; Black men; COVID-19; mental health; pandemics

00:41:30 - Racial justice activism / Personal connection to Breonna Taylor

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Partial Transcript: Thank you for sharing that. You--one of the things you just said

Segment Synopsis: Godfrey says that Breonna Taylor was his cousin's girlfriend, so he participated in protests in order to honor her. He also says that he learned about activism from his mother.

Keywords: Ahmaud Arbery; BLM; Breonna Taylor; George Floyd; Louisville (Ky.); activism; activists; black lives matter; civil rights; police brutality; protests; racisms

00:49:37 - Starting college at a HBCU in the midst of a pandemic

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Partial Transcript: You talked about your mother's history of activism, and that you are a legacy student at a historically Black college in Kentucky

Segment Synopsis: Godfrey describes the feeling of entering a HBCU after enduring the pandemic for several months prior.

Keywords: African Americans; HBCU; Historically Black Colleges and Universities; Kentucky State University; pandemics

00:52:57 - Describing the experience of the pandemic in one word

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Partial Transcript: If you could describe your experience of the past few years

Segment Synopsis: Godfrey says that the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic was trying. He briefly also says that we are still feeling the effects of the pandemic, especially in regards to mental health.

Keywords: COVID-19; COVID-19 (disease); masks; mental health; pandemics; social distancing

00:56:28 - Spreading mental health awareness on campus

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Partial Transcript: You've spoken a lot about mental health, and I really appreciate that you're so public

Segment Synopsis: Godfrey explains how he advocates for mental health on his campus. He briefly also discusses how the pandemic has made conversations about mental health easier to initiate.

Keywords: Black males; Black men; HBCU; Historically Black Colleges and Universities; anxiety; depression; mental health

01:00:30 - Artifact that recalls the pandemic / Conclusion

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Partial Transcript: So I'll get ready to close up. I just have a few final questions for you.

Segment Synopsis: Godfrey says that masks represent the pandemic because people physical wore them but also figuratively masked their mental health state.

Keywords: African Americans; Black males; Black men; COVID-19; COVID-19 (disease); masks; mental health; pandemics