NAACP in Kentucky
NAACP in Kentucky is very active with branches all over the state, largest being in Louisville and Lexington. The Kentucky State Conference of NAACP continues today to fight against injustices and for the equality of all people.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was founded in 1909 as a civil rights organization for African-Americans during some of the most violent times of segregation in the United States. With locations across the United States, it grew to ensure the rights for all people within the country no matter race or ethnicity: “to fight for social justice for all Americans.”. Branches are set up in different states and work together for the common goal of equality. There are also different branches within the states. In Kentucky, there are over 55 branches located throughout the entire state (see the list at the NAACP Kentucky website).
History of the NAACP in Kentucky
Kentuckians played a large role in the NAACP. William English Walling from Louisville, Kentucky (1877–1936), an American labor reformer and socialist educated at the University of Chicago, the Hull House and Harvard Law School, brought his interest in women's rights to his work with the American Federation of Labor and founded the National Women's Trade Union League. A few years later, the Springfield Race Riot of 1908 in Illinois informed his work with Mary White Ovington and Henry Moskowitz to form the NAACP.
The Kentucky branch of the NAACP gained national recognition as early as 1940 in Louisville, Kentucky. The NAACP had already supported several court cases to protest the unequal pay of African Americans teachers. Vallateen Virginia Dudley Abbington (1907–2003), one of several school teachers in Louisville who petitioned against the differential in pay, became a plaintiff in a NAACP suit argued by Thurgood Marshall that led to the removal of a 15 percent salary discrepancy between black and white teachers in the Louisville public schools. The case, Abbington v Board of Education of Louisville (KY), filed on December 5, 1940, caused the School board to agreed to equal pay, but only if Mrs. Abbington from Jackson Junior High School dropped the lawsuit. The lawsuit was dropped and the salaries of teachers in Louisville no longer differed on the basis of race.
The Kentucky branch of the NAACP also fought against other discrimination through the civil rights movement and beyond. In the case of Eilers v. Eilers, attorney James Crumlin, Sr. of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, helped Anna sue for custody of her five children from her ex-husband, George Eilers of Jefferson County, Kentucky. In 1964 Eilers had successfully sued his former wife (a white woman from New Haven, Kentucky) after she married Marshall C. Anderson, an African American man, gaining custody of their children since interracial marriage was illegal in Kentucky at the time. Another important leadership role of the NAACP in Kentucky was in the 1970s when the NAACP of Louisville and the Kentucky Civil Liberties Union worked together to fight segregation in the Jefferson County Public Schools.
Women in the Kentucky NAACP
Women had leadership roles in the state and local branches. Osceola A. Dawson served as secretary to the Kentucky NAACP and Audrey Grevious was the president of the Lexington Chapter. Other accomplishments within the NAACP included the first woman prosecutor in Kentucky (1964), Alberta Jones, who also was the first African American woman to pass the Kentucky Bar (1959). With the help of Julia Etta Lewis, Grevious was able to join the Lexington Congress of Racial Equality together to increase their efforts towards equality. Other notable African American women in Kentucky’s NAACP throughout history include:
- Olive Burroughs (1951–2003), the first African-American woman elected to the Owensboro, Kentucky City Commission
- Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beatrice Cooke Fouse (1875–1952), served as the national organization's principal correspondent from Lexington, Kentucky
- Rebecca Craft (1887–1945), a schoolteacher from Versailles, Kentucky, who formed the San Diego Women's Civic Organization and was president of the local branch NAACP
- Daisy Jones, escaped from slavery in Kentucky to live in Canada, trained to be a nurse and when she moved to Denver, Colorado in 1904, she became one of the organizers of the NAACP there
- Jennie B. Liggin (1904–1977), founded the first AME Girl Scout troop in Kentucky and with her husband, Reverend Clyde Absalom Liggin, in 1938 led a successful membership campaign of the Louisville Branch of the NAACP
- Frances Harriet Williams (1899–1992), born in Danville, Kentucky was active in the YWCA and the NAACP
Women within the Kentucky branches of the NAACP also received several notable awards in the organization such as the NAACP Magistrate Daniel Massie award for NAACP Involvement Above and Beyond the Call of Duty and the NAACP Herman E. Floyd Award along with other community awards for their participation. Women in the NAACP also helped to organize fundraisers and other events to help fund their causes and struggle.
For more information on each of the branches below, see the national NAACP website:
Ashland - Boyd County Branch
Covington Holmes High School Chapter
Cynthiana & Harrison County Branch
Danville Youth Council
Danville-Boyle County Branch
Falmouth-Pendleton County Branch
Frankfort (Franklin County) Branch
Hamilton/Fairfield West Chester Branch
Hardin County Branch
Hardin County Youth Council
Hazard Perry County Branch
Kentucky State University
La Grange Reformatory Branch
Lexington (Fayette County) Branch
Madison City Branch
Madison County (Richmond) Branch
Maysville Mason County Branch
Nelson County Branch
New Albany Branch
Northern Kentucky Branch
Northern Kentucky University Cc
Scott County Branch
Shelby County Branch
University Of Kentucky
University Of Louisville
Winchester (Clark Co)
Woodford County (Versailles) Branch
- Audrey Grevious
- Loving v. Virginia
- National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
- NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
- Jefferson County Sunday School Association
- "Our Mission." National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Accessed 16 Nov. 2010. http://www.naacp.org/pages/our-mission.
- For more see Papers of the NAACP, Part 3, The Campaign for Educational Equality: Legal Department and Central Office Records, 1913-1950 / Series B, 1940-1950 / Reel 8; see "Kentucky Cases" in The Negro Handbook 1946-1947, edited by F. Murray; "Alumna, 96, remembered as strong-willed activist," Exemplar (Eastern Michigan University), Winter 2004, Special Annual Report Issue; and "Vallateen Abbington, social worker, civic leader," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 10/19/2003, Metro section, p. D15. See also Hardin, John A. Fifty Years of Segregation: Black Higher Education in Kentucky, 1904-1954. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1997. Print.
- Anna Frances Eilers (now Anna Anderson), Appellant, v. George F. Eilers, Appellee, Court of Appeals of Kentucky, 412 S.W.2d 871: 1967 Ky, March 17, 1967. See the "Eilers v. Eilers" entry in the Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington, Kentucky.
- See more on this in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education and John E. Kleber's The Encyclopedia of Louisville.
- "Abbington v Board of Education of Louisville (KY)," Notable Kentucky African Americans. University of Kentucky Libraries. Accessed 16 Nov. 2010. http://www.uky.edu/Libraries/nkaa/subject.php?sub_id=103. Audrey Grevious, president of the local NAACP chapter in Lexington, was featured in “Living the Story: The Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky,” Kentucky Educational Television: Education, Public Affairs, Arts and Culture, Online Video. Ed. Betsy Brinson, Tracy K’Meyer, Arthur Rouse, and Joan Brannon. Kentucky Oral History Commission, 2001. Accessed 16 Sept. 2010. This video requires RealPlayer - if you need help, see the KET RealPlayer Help Page. See also the transcript of the oral history interview by Betsy Brinson with Audrey Grevious on April 13, 1999, catalog no. 21 E 17, “Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky Oral History Project,” Kentucky Historical Society, 2000. Accessed 16 September 2010. http://220.127.116.11/civil_rights_mvt/media/KCRP.20.B.21.Grevious.pdf.
- Bracey, John H. "Papers of the NAACP." Lexus Nexus. University Publications of America. Accessed 29 November 2010. lexisnexis.com
- Biography of John J. Johnson, youngest president of a Kentucky chapter of NAACP (currently Executive Director of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights) http://kchr.ky.gov/aboutExecDir.htm
- "Living the Story: The Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky – Audrey Grevious." Kentucky Educational Television: Education, Public Affairs, Arts and Culture, Online Video. Ed. Betsy Brinson, Tracy K’Meyer, Arthur Rouse, and Joan Brannon. Kentucky Oral History Commission, 2001. Accessed 16 Sept. 2010. KET video.
- Johnson, Larry. "An Unsung Hero: Audrey Rice Grevious," History of Kentucky Women in the Civil Rights Era. University of Kentucky. Accessed 28 Nov. 2010. http://www.kywcrh.org/voices/grevious.