Interview SummaryMr. Combs reminisces about his family's history: the mixed ancestry on both sides; paternal grandmother was a former slave who returned to school at age 70 to learn to read and write, who lost her savings during the Depression but still managed to purchase a home and land; the aunt who could not become accustomed to freedom and returned to her former life; and, the grandparents who raised him upon the separation of his parents.
He discusses growing up and living in Perry County: the interaction among African Americans and whites; being related to "half the population"; and, participating in church related activities. An army veteran, Mr. Combs recalls his military experiences during the height of segregation; travelling around the world at age 15; and, friendships with white colleagues. While stationed in Austria, Mr. Combs was unjustly accused for murder, dishonorably discharged and served time at Ft. Leavenworth. Upon returning to Eastern Kentucky in 1949, he obtained employment in the coal mines where he stayed until retirement. He recalls his employment history and working in a variety of positions from coal miner to supervisor.
Mr. Combs presents his opinions regarding the lack of ambition show by today's youth, both African American and white; the disrespect towards women and older citizens; and, talks about the lack of African American supervisors within the industry. He reiterates his distaste for politics, politicians and Ronald Reagan; mentions his children and his pride in their achievements; and comments upon the economic impact of integration upon the African American community. Living within an integrated community in Clay County, Mr. Combs talks about social interaction, the importance of a good reputation and personality; and, the common sense of his neighbors.
Interview KeywordAfrican Americans African Americans in Lexington Lexington, Kentucky Race relations
Interview LC SubjectAfrican American families African Americans--Civil rights--Kentucky African Americans--Education--Kentucky--Lexington African Americans--Kentucky--Lexington--Economic conditions African Americans--Race identity. African Americans--Religion African Americans. Combs, R.V. Combs, R.V.--Interviews
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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.
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Combs, R. V. Interview by Emily Parker. 21 Apr. 1987. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Combs, R.V. (1987, April 21). Interview by E. Parker. Black People in Lexington Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.
Combs, R. V., interview by Emily Parker. April 21, 1987, Black People in Lexington Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
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