Interview SummaryA former teacher, Ms. Gray recalls her family history including the story of her great grandfather, a slave, who was able to buy his own freedom but not that of his mother. She discusses the White ancestors in her family, and her family's feelings about their background. Her parents farmed on a small scale, sharecropping hemp. She remembers the gender roles on the farm during her childhood, and attitudes towards education based on gender. She examines the role of the church in the African American community, and the importance of religion in her life. Ms. Gray remembers segregation and its effects on all aspects of African American life: the practice of separating pints of blood based on racial origin, lack of educational opportunities, disenfranchisement of African American citizens from the voting process, and socioeconomic development.
She recounts her teachers training at Kentucky Normal School, beginning her career at a one room, segregated schoolhouse, and her retirement upon doctor's advice in 1928. She delineates the differences in the educational system from her time as a teacher with the present system. She reminisces about African American businesses in Kentucky: the Laborer's Lunch restaurant owned and operated by her brothers on Water Street in Lexington, the effects of desegregation upon the business community, and the restaurant she owned in Versailles for seven years. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement are commented upon, as is her affiliation with the Republican party as part of the legacy of Abraham Lincoln. She remembers her parents' participation in the democratic process, and the ability to exercise freedom of choice in the voters' booth for the first time.
Interview LC SubjectAfrican American business enterprises African Americans--Economic conditions African Americans--Education African Americans--Religion African Americans--Social conditions Civil rights movements--United States Gray, Mattie Gray, Mattie--Interviews Race discrimination Rural schools--Kentucky Slavery United States--Race relations
Interview RightsAll rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.
Interview UsageInterviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.
All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.
Add this interview to your cart in order to begin the process of requesting access to a copy of and/or permission to reproduce interview(s).
Gray, Mattie Interview by Emily Parker. 28 Jul. 1986. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Gray, M. (1986, July 28). Interview by E. Parker. Black People in Lexington Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.
Gray, Mattie, interview by Emily Parker. July 28, 1986, Black People in Lexington Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
You may come across language in UK Libraries Special Collections Research Center collections and online resources that you find harmful or offensive. SCRC collects materials from different cultures and time periods to preserve and make available the historical record. These materials document the time period when they were created and the view of their creator. As a result, some may demonstrate racist and offensive views that do not reflect the values of UK Libraries.
If you find description with problematic language that you think SCRC should review, please contact us at SCRC@uky.edu.
Persistent Link for this Record: https://kentuckyoralhistory.org/ark:/16417/xt78gt5ff36x