Interview with Lillian Gillespie Delaney, June 11, 1997
Project: University of Kentucky Oral History Project
Interview SummaryLillian G. Delaney was born on March 1, 1925 and is a native of Lexington, Kentucky. She was the second of five daughters. Her mother, Ethel Carter, was from Mortonsville, and her father, Wallace Gillespie, was from Midway; both communities are located in Woodford County, Kentucky. Her father received an elementary education and was a mechanic for Taylor Tire; her mother graduated from high school in Lexington in 1942 and worked in the home. She says they did not travel much because her father sold the car to purchase their house, but Mr. Taylor would let her father borrow a car. She remembers her father being a good provider during the Great Depression. Delaney talks about her education in Lexington while growing up and mentions various teachers. Delaney discusses how segregation affected her family and recalls they learned at home how to deal with segregation outside of the black community. She notes that Lexington "was not as bad as some other places further south," but remembers having limited contact with white people while growing up. She graduated from Paul Laurence Dunbar High School.
Delaney remembers she went to Kentucky State University after her father died, where she earned a double major in chemistry and sociology, and was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. She recalls that it was more expensive to attend K.S.U., but U.K. was not open to black students at that time. Delaney recalls the only employment opportunities open for black women during this time were in teaching or the medical field. She worked as a playground director with the Parks and Recreation Department during the summers while she was in college.
After graduation, Delaney went to Maysville, Kentucky in 1946 to teach mathematics and physics for one year. She mentions the "dual salary" system, where white teachers were paid more than black teachers for the same position, but this was not the situation when she came back to Fayette County to teach. She attended graduate school at Ohio State in the summer of 1949 for additional core curriculum work. She notes that U.K. was open to black students, but it was more difficult to get in. The following year, she transferred to U.K. and earned her master's degree in 1952. She also became certified to teach physical education.
Delaney taught at Douglass High School from 1947-1963. She describes the process of desegregation of the schools during this period. Delaney moved to Leestown Middle School for one year then transferred to Tates Creek High School, where she became the first African American instructor.
Interview LC SubjectDelaney, Lillian G. (Lillian Gillespie), 1925- Delaney, Lillian G. (Lillian Gillespie), 1925- --Interviews University of Kentucky University of Kentucky--History African American college students--Social conditions African American college students. African American leadership African Americans--Education (Higher) African Americans--Education. African Americans--Segregation African Americans--Social conditions. College environment College students--Attitudes. College students--Conduct of life. College students--Social conditions Education, Higher--Kentucky Minorities in higher education African Americans--Civil rights Discrimination in education. Integration Race discrimination. Race relations--Kentucky School integration--Kentucky Segregation in education--Kentucky African American teachers.
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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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Delaney, Lillian Gillespie Interview by Terry L. Birdwhistell. 11 Jun. 1997. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Delaney, L.G. (1997, June 11). Interview by T. L. Birdwhistell. University of Kentucky Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.
Delaney, Lillian Gillespie, interview by Terry L. Birdwhistell. June 11, 1997, University of Kentucky Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
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