I am an avid reader. At any one time, I’m reading no less than three books: one at work, one in the living room, and one on my nightstand. On my nightstand right now is The Help. It’s a gripping story that digs into race relations in early 1960’s Jackson, Mississippi. I first read this book in 2010 at the library and immediately went out and purchased it.
While The Help is a great book, I was really interested in race relations in Louisville and Kentucky during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. I checked out a book from the university library (Jim Crow Guide to the U.S.A.; The Laws, Customs and Etiquette Governing the Conduct of Nonwhites and Other Minorities as Second-class Citizens by Stetson Kennedy if you are interested), and while that gave me a good background on the laws regulating education, housing, and entertainment between the races, it still wasn’t specific to our area.
Luckily, this year I get to be a part of “National Issues, Local Struggles: The Civil Rights Movement in the Ohio Valley and Beyond,” The Filson Institute’s upcoming public conference. While I’m not speaking, one of the perks of working at The Filson is that working sometimes includes attending our events, and I am very much looking forward to this event. The conference kicks off on May 17 with a reception and viewing of our upcoming exhibit 20th Century African American Collections at The Filson, followed by a keynote speech by John Dittmer, Professor Emeritus at DePaw University. The conference continues on Friday, May 18 with a day of lectures. The speakers include Clarence Lang, Rhonda Y. Williams, and Luther Adams, with topics such as the border south, women’s role in the Civil Rights Movement, and the struggle for open housing in Louisville. Friday’s lectures will conclude with a panel discussion moderated by Tracy K’Meyer and featuring three local Civil Rights activists: Blaine Hudson, Mervin Aubespin, and Raul Cunningham. The conference ends with a driving tour of various Civil Rights sites in Louisville. The tour is led by Cate Fosl, Mervin Aubespin, and Bob Cunningham. During the tour, the leaders will talk about their own experiences in Louisville during this tumultuous period in history.
In related news, the winning essay from The Filson’s 3rd Annual High School Essay Contest was about desegregation efforts in Louisville throughout the 1960s and 70s. Grace Elizabeth Daly, a senior at Sacred Heart Academy, authored the essay entitled “An Analysis of the Desegregation Efforts in Neighborhoods throughout the 1960s and 1970s in Louisville, Kentucky.” Her essay will be featured in the upcoming issue of The Filson magazine and will be uploaded onto our website in the next few weeks.
For more information about “National Issues, Local Struggles: The Civil Rights Movement in the Ohio Valley and Beyond,” check out the informational page here. We are adding more information all the time, and registration will open soon!