African American

Murray State University 1961 Shield Yearbook, Courtesy of Wesley Bolin at Pogue Library

A group of six college students walked from Murray State University across the street to a small restaurant, about to quietly protest its “white-only” policy. Entering the establishment, the five white boys from New York ordered meals for the group. When the food was ready, Nancy Tyler Demartra, the first African American to attend MSU full-time and eventually graduate, stood up to pay. When the cashiers refused her money, the entire group said “no, thanks,” and walked out. It took about three months of visits like these, but with the help of others on campus the group finally pushed the restaurant to adopt an “open” serving policy. That was 1961. Fifty-four years later, Nancy speaks with Kate on Sounds Good about her experiences at MSU and her accomplishments in the Human and Civil Rights arenas.

Wikimedia Commons/The National Institute on Drug Abuse

African American women in the South’s rural areas are less likely to suffer from depression than those who live in Southern urban areas.  That’s according to a new study from the University of Michigan.  The study uses data from the National Survey of American Life to examine how poverty and low education affect mental illness in black and white women living in the rural South.  

personnel.ky.gov

The NAACP writes on their Facebook page: "After tireless work and Congressional hearings that led to the Church Arson Prevention Act being passed in 1996 - almost 20 years later, we must again seek justice, investigate and find #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches. Six black churches have burned since the terrorist attack at Emanuel AME Church." Executive Director of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights John Johnson was the youngest president of any NAACP chapter at the age of 18 and spent 20 years working at the national headquarters before his current position. He spoke with Kate Lochte last week before the funeral for victims of the Charleston shooting, about it being long past time for racism to exist and how he thinks law enforcement can improve practices in black communities.

whospeaks.library.vanderbilt.edu

On the Kentucky side of the border along Tennessee sits a little railroad town named Guthrie, the home of the nation's first poet laureate and three-time Pulitzer Prize winning novelist and poet Robert Penn Warren, known as "Red" Warren, born in 1905. During the Civil Rights Movement, Warren wrote a book titled Who Speaks for the Negro? featuring interviews with activists like Malcom X, Martin Luther King Jr. and many others. For nearly a decade, these interviews have been available online for listening. On Sounds Good, Kate Lochte learns more about the digital archive from Mona Frederick, Executive Director of the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities at Vanderbilt University.

Photos courtesy of Jim Emison

Second Update: NPR's All Things Considered reported on this  effort. Here's the link to their story: Tennessee Community Pushes To Reopen 'Civil Rights Hero' Cold Case

Update: Part two of this conversation, which aired on Sounds Good Friday, June 19, has been added to this story, along with its narrative.  

Brownsville, Tennessee is in Haywood County mid-way northeast of Memphis and southwest of Jackson. On Saturday, the Haywood High School Gymnasium is the site of a Community Memorial Service honoring civil rights activist Elbert Williams on the 75th anniversary of his death. Alamo, Tennessee lawyer Jim Emison retired in 2011 and began a quest to understand more about the death of Elbert Williams, whose murder was never solved. Williams was the first known NAACP official to be killed for his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. Jim Emison speaks with Kate Lochte on Sounds Good about what he's learned.

Oscar Cross Boys & Girls Club of Paducah, Facebook

 The mission of the Oscar Cross Boys & Girls Club of Paducah is to enable young people to be productive, responsible and caring citizens. The organization recently announced the June 1 closure of their midtown facility, which means a consolidation of young people into the newer Park Avenue location. WPSD Local 6 Anchor Todd Faulkner is President of the Board of Directors and joins Kate Lochte on Sounds Good to talk about the closure, the challenge in overcoming financial struggles and how the organization helps give life skills to kids who need it most.

Niaz Khadem

The Paducah Racial Unity Group held several showings of the film Racial Taboo at Maiden Alley Cinema over the past month, to a strong and diverse attendance. Group organizers Beth Khadem and Lincoln Heights Missionary Baptist Church pastor Reverend Alfred Anderson visit Sounds Good to discuss the next steps in a six-part series of workshops called "Continuing the Conversation," which start tonight.

racialtaboo.com

The late Connie Donley's family and friends in Paducah continue her passionate interest in race unity with a roll-out of many events in coming weeks, all intended to get black and white people talking about race together. They found a project for a perfect opener. Brian Grimm, director of the film Racial Taboo, visits Paducah, dines with the Race Unity Group tonight, speaks with the Paducah Sun and helps with the first four showings of his creation set for this weekend at Maiden Alley Cinema. Kate Lochte speaks with Grimm on Sounds Good.

The Big Smoke book cover, adrianmatejka.com

Update: This reading was rescheduled to April 2, due to winter weather in February. This conversation was re-broadcast on Sounds Good, April 1.

In 2013, Penguin Books published Adrian Matejka's book about the flamboyant boxer Jack Johnson, the first African-American heavyweight champion of the world who held the title from 19088 to 1915. The book received the 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award recognizing its important contribution to the understanding of racism and human diversity. Writing for Boston.com of The Boston Globe, John Freeman says that Matejka's voice is that of the boxer: "The gold-toothed, Shakespeare-loving, womanizing child of ex-slaves talks jive, taunts opponents, and muses philosophical about the American condition: 'When I clinch a man/it's like being swaddled in forgiveness.'" Kate Lochte visited with Matejka about The Big Smoke ahead of his reading Thursday night at Murray State.

drtaskew.com

115 years ago, James Weldon Johnson's lyrics and his brother John Rosamond Johnson's music resulted in the hymn "Lift Every Voice and Sing." Over the years, the song has been called a national anthem for African Americans. Clark Atlanta University's Dr. Tim Askew talks about his new book, Cultural Hegemony and African American Patriotism: An Analysis of the Song, "Lift Every Voice and Sing" at Murray State's Wrather Auditorium Thursday at 4 p.m. On Sounds Good, Kate Lochte asks Dr. Askew about how his research led him to what some see as his controversial conclusions.

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