Joyce McCray Pearson

Joyce McCray Pearson

Interviewed by Reta Cosby and Leonard Monroe
December 9, 2006

RETA: Today is December 9th. We're interviewing Mrs. Joyce Pearson of the St. Luke AME Church. Do you mind me calling you Joyce?

JOYCE: Not at all.

RETA: Joyce, what is your full name, including your maiden name, and what is your date of birth?

JOYCE: My name is Joyce Anita McCray Pearson, and I was born June 4, 1957.

RETA: Where were you born?

JOYCE: Enid, Oklahoma.

RETA: I'm from Oklahoma! I get excited over these things, too. How long has your family lived in Lawrence?

JOYCE: We've lived here for twelve years. We moved here in July 1994.

RETA: Is this your immediate family or your parents?

JOYCE: Just immediate family. My family, shortly after I was born, moved and I spent most of my early years and education years through high school in Wichita, Kansas. Though born in Enid, Oklahoma, I was raised mostly in Wichita, Kansas.

RETA: When and why did your first family members come to Lawrence?

JOYCE: My husband and three kids and I moved here in 1994 for me to take a job at the University of Kansas, and he took a job at New York Elementary School. We came to work.

RETA: What is your husband's name?

JOYCE: Mitchell Daniel Pearson, and he's now an art teacher at Kennedy Elementary School.

RETA: What are your children's names?

JOYCE: Joel Oliver Pearson, and I think he's 27. He was born in 1979, so he's 27 or 26, I don't know (laughter). Isn't that terrible? I won't do ages then. My middle child, Magan Pearson, is a little different spelling of Magan. She's googled and there are sort of support groups for people who have spelled their name Magan with two "A's." She told me that at Thanksgiving. And there's Darion, and I know she's 23 because she just had her 23rd birthday and we put a two and a three on the cake. So I know that for sure (laughter).

RETA: Your family has lived in Lawrence for twelve years?

JOYCE: Twelve years, since 1994. Twelve plus.

RETA: Do you have any family stories about St. Luke?

JOYCE: About St. Luke? I think that my son had one of his first Christian experiences and he's really more involved in lay ministry, but I think he really experienced a born-again experience here at St. Luke AME.

RETA: This is your son?

JOYCE: My son, Joel. He started his ministry and had started going through indoctrination to become a minister and became licensed, but I can't remember what his licenses were, but through the AME church. But, then, made some other decisions and now just sort of has a lay ministry. So, that's a good St. Luke Story.

The other one has to do with myself and some other people in St. Luke, many others too numerous to name. Sister Morrison was really helpful with me, really did a lot of heavy lifting and, of course, Maryemma Graham when the whole university came here, in 2002, to hear and see Alice Walker.

RETA: Yes, I attended that.

JOYCE: That was huge. That's probably one of our biggest St. Luke moments, and I have an entire photo album dedicated to that. My daughter did poetry, my husband was here, and the big deal was that everybody drove over in ice and I have pictures of that ice. Hanging from trees and all over, they considered it to probably be one of the worst ice storms in the city history.

RETA: Can I get a couple of copies of those pictures?


RETA: Do you have a picture of Alice Walker here?


RETA: Can I get a copy of that?

JOYCE: Yes, you may. I have an entire photo album dedicated to that. That was one of my big St. Luke experiences. And, then, just about every Sunday, it's just fun here when I'm here and playing the piano or singing. I just have gone back and forth between AME churches and Baptist churches, but this is just home. St. Luke AME is home. I was raised mostly in Wichita at St. Paul AME, and there's something about AME people and Baptists, too, once you get that whole lay of that.

RETA: Have you been AME all of your life?

JOYCE: All my life, except when I first got married, I attended Baptist churches because my husband was Baptist. But there's never a good experience as AME. My husband actually joined St. Luke sometime in November of last year. That was huge that my husband went from Baptist to AME.

RETA: What inspired him to join?

JOYCE: I think what inspired him was that he is an artist and does artistic t-shirts for AIDS and went to an AIDS symposium or conference in Washington, DC, and a lot of those conferences and meetings were run out of that big AME church in Washington DC. So, it took something extra like that. It wasn't done in a Baptist church, it was done right there at an AME church. He was so inspired and so impressed by the AME church reaching out to that group of people that he came back and joined this AME church.

RETA: Has he tried to do or is he attempting to do similar work here through this AME church?

JOYCE: He has tried, but there's not much lay work involved in that on an individual basis. He was just at the AIDS Day down at Macelli's, and there was something else. There was another AIDS event just this past week. It was last Sunday and that previous Friday. I think December 1 was National AIDS Awareness Day, and he sold a few t-shirts, but I can't remember where that one was. But I did go over to Macelli's, and they were having a big art auction for that.

RETA: He does the t-shirts himself? He prints the t-shirts?


RETA: Good, because I was looking for someone to do some t-shirts for the NAACP Youth Council.

JOYCE: He doesn't print them himself, but he makes designs. Is that what you meant?

RETA: Yes.

JOYCE: He does designs and, then, he has the design done by a little t-shirt company over here on the east side of town somewhere. I can't remember the name of it.

RETA: Okay, I needed to know that. Where did you attend elementary school?

JOYCE: Two schools in Wichita, Kansas, Isely Elementary. At that time it was in the 1960s and that was an all-black school. I went there until third grade. All black and never saw white people.

RETA: So, you were born in Enid?

JOYCE: Born in Enid and then moved, probably when I was three or four months old, to Wichita. That's why I say I was raised mostly in Wichita. Then I went to Buckner Elementary. I remember Dr. Jensen was the principal there. I just remember him always saying, "A principal is a prince of a pal" (laughter). That's how much it stuck with me, I still remember it.

RETA: This was your third-grade principal?

JOYCE: Yeah. Third through sixth grade, I went to Buckner Elementary in Wichita, Kansas.

RETA: Was that segregated?

JOYCE: It was not. It was integrated and my father was instrumental in integration. My mother and father were both educators. My mother was a second-grade teacher, and my father oversaw student attendance and pupil welfare. So, he was very involved in integration in Wichita. I remember in third grade, we moved to a predominantly white school. We moved out of the black segregated area into a predominantly white school.

RETA: Your family moved?

JOYCE. I think 1967 or '68. Right when busing was really gearing up in Wichita.

RETA: After your elementary school and middle school, where did you go to high school?

JOYCE: Brooks Junior High was right up the street from Buckner, and that was seven through nine. Then high school was Wichita Heights High School. I had a really good experience and the entire sort of famous basketball players came out of Heights High School in Wichita. It was known back then and for many years, I say it when I go back now and nobody remembers unless you're about my age, Wichita Heights was called Hollywood. It was called Wichita Heights, but it was just sort of a nickname. We called ourselves Hollywood Heights (laughter), and we would just say Hollywood. We'd just cut it off and say, "We go to Hollywood."

RETA: What famous basketball players?

JOYCE: One of the Carrs came out of there. I think he played for Atlanta and Chicago. Darnell Valentine. He played right here at KU and then went on to play professional. He came from Heights. So, that's why we deemed ourselves Hollywood Heights.

RETA: Hollywood Heights was integrated also?

JOYCE: Yes, it was.

RETA: Were any of your teachers and coaches at Wichita Heights African American?

JOYCE: Yes, and probably one of the most important people that ended up coaching right here at KU is Lafayette Norwood. You've heard that name, Lafayette Norwood. I think he was a golf coach last here. He coached basketball here for a while. He was an African American. The art teacher was black. Of course, we had black history and that teacher was black. I had a lot of black teachers at Wichita Heights.

RETA: Were the school administrators African American?

JOYCE: Maybe the assistant principal. I know my dad was assistant principal at West and East in a couple of schools. So, I was familiar with black administrators.

RETA: Were any class officers African American?

JOYCE: Class officers? Not that I can recall.

RETA: Even though the school was integrated?

JOYCE: I do remember being on the court for homecoming queen.

RETA: You were homecoming queen?

JOYCE: Then the following year, I think a black friend of mine, a cheerleader, also was and did win, I think. So, there was. That was the late 1970s. I graduated in '75, so the mid '70s there was good black participation at that school.

RETA: What clubs, organizations or sports teams did you belong to in high school?

JOYCE: I was a cheerleader, I was in the choir, I was in band, I was a thespian, I was an actress, and I just did too much. I was way too involved, way too busy. But, yeah, I was a music major, so orchestra, band, cheerleading, acting, and in advanced placement English classes and that sort of thing. I was not very good at math, but was very good at English and music.

RETA: In your interaction with other races, did you have the opportunity to interact with Native Americans?

JOYCE: Back when we first moved over on Bluff, on the Northeast side of town, our next-door neighbor Noah Allen, who was a track coach, was a Native American. So, I lived next door to a Native American. I'll never forget him, Noah Allen. I can't remember what tribe he was.

RETA: What kind of interactions did you all have as neighbors?

JOYCE: Just as neighbors, "Hello," he's mowing grass, just everyday interactions.

RETA: What is your overall opinion of your educational experience?

JOYCE: I've had a really extraordinary educational experience. After I graduated from high school, I went to Emporia State for two years and got married, transferred back to Wichita State, went to Law School at Washburn and went to a Law Library internship at the University of Washington in Seattle, and I've just really embraced education and had a good experience that has parleyed me into a decent position at KU.

RETA: What is your position now?

JOYCE: I'm the Director of the KU Wheat Law Library. So, I'm basically administrator, using my law degree, I guess, not so much as an attorney full time, even though I do some consulting, but mostly just heading up research and sharing the collection we've got up there and supervising fifteen people and students. It's exciting. It's a great job.

RETA: That's wonderful. What are your first memories of St. Luke? How did you first become a member here?

JOYCE: When I first got here, I just went around to a lot of different churches. I'm trying to remember if I even knew about or even went to St. Luke. But my sister-in-law, my husband's brother's wife, Donna Pearson, went to church here. I think she's still on the membership roles here. I've looked at the paperwork and I don't think they've removed her. She was going to church here, and I think that's why I felt so good about going. She was also a long time member of St. Paul and her mother and grandmother and all of us. All of us from Wichita pretty much went to St. Paul and then sought out another AME church.

RETA: Did you visit St. James?

JOYCE: I don't think I ever visited St. James and didn't know about.

RETA: Is that an AME church?

JOYCE: It's over in North Lawrence. When I was looking around, I know I went to First Regular, I know I went to Ninth Street, I know I went to two or three black churches here in town.

RETA: Did you visit any white churches?

JOYCE: I must not have and, if I did, they must not have made an impression on me because I don't remember (laughter).

RETA: Are there any white AME churches?


RETA: African Methodist Episcopal (laughter), I imagine not.

JOYCE: There are white people in AME churches.

RETA: Your parents were AME members?

JOYCE: Yes. My father was a steward.

RETA: What about your grandparents?

JOYCE: Now, my grandmother is a pretty staunch Baptist and, in fact, they buried my mother at a Baptist church. My grandmother, who's still living, is 101; we'll probably bury her in the Baptist church cemetery.

RETA: Your mother is deceased?

JOYCE: My mother is deceased. Her funeral services were at a Baptist church. And that was simply because, at the time, the AME church was having a conference and we they weren't able to make time for her. When a person passes, it is never at an appropriate time or planned well. But her AME church was just booked. But she spent a lot of time in the Baptist church, too, taking her mother, who's Baptist, to church. So, they welcomed her with open arms at that Baptist church.

RETA: Are you actively involved in the congregation?

JOYCE: Yes. I would say I am. I'm a steward here at St. Luke.

RETA: What are your duties as steward?

JOYCE: Assist the pastor and the church in whatever the needs are, sometimes economic, assisting with economic development, problematic issues, programs, traveling. We're asked to visit. We just visited St. Marks in Topeka, Kansas, last Sunday. Basically stewards do whatever the pastor asks them to do.

RETA: What other duties or positions do you hold?

JOYCE: That's the only one. I play piano and sing in the choir, so I'm very involved in the choir and am a steward here.

RETA: What is your Sunday forum?

JOYCE: Do you mean, what's the program like and the service like?

RETA: Yes.

JOYCE: The order of service is very organized at AME churches and I think that's why some people like it so much. It opens up with Call to Worship, Opening Hymn, Prayer, Invocation, Selection. I can almost name it verbatim. The Decalogue, that's the Ten Commandments and another musical selection, Announcements, Tithes and Offering, Alter Call, one more selection, then Sermon, Invitation, and then Benediction.

RETA: Did you raise your kids here at St. Luke?

JOYCE: Primarily. I think before we came to St. Luke and, in Louisville, we did attend every now and then an AME church, but often times we attended a Baptist church with my husband. So, they've always been raised in church whether it be Baptist or AME. And I would say Darion, the youngest, would probably be mostly AME. Joel and Magan, it would probably be a mix between Baptist and AME.

RETA: Do they still attend St. Luke?

JOYCE: They don't. Joel attends a church. What is the name of his church in Junction City? When Darion goes to church, the youngest, she goes to church here and I know she knows of an AME church and she also attends school back east in Massachusetts. There is an AME church there and I think she's gone there from time to time. What is the name of Joel's church in Junction City? Magan attends one of these mega churches in Atlanta, Georgia, and they're non-denominational, they're not an AME church. People nowadays are in just all kind of churches out there now.

RETA: What are some of the memorable events that have happened at St. Luke?

JOYCE: Again, we've had lots of musicals, black history musicals and programs, but still, to this day, one of the most exciting events was Alice Walker. The Chancellor and Dennis Moore and the whole community coming out in that ice storm (laughter). That was still one of the most memorable times.

RETA: Are your events typically segregated?

JOYCE: Never intentionally segregated, but I know that we've had some musicals and things where we make sure we invite different integrated churches, like Victory Bible. I know that we have a white members and I know that Ninth Street does, just about every black church has white congregates.

RETA: I don't think I've ever attended an event here, and I've attended several events, at St. Luke, that were segregated.

JOYCE: Me neither. And, again, as I mentioned, if it was segregated, it wasn't intentional. But I think that we have always had integrated activities. I know that the Alice Walker prayer breakfast may have been predominantly white.

RETA: I'm always amazed at the diverseness of the audience that attends the events here. .

JOYCE: I think one of Napoleon Crews' first plays is one of the really memorable events.

RETA: Yes.

JOYCE: And, to tell you the truth, that was integrated and mostly white in the audience.

RETA: Yes, it was. I participated in the first couple of those plays and I was just amazed at the white audience presence that was there and how they supported it.

JOYCE: That was another memorable event.

RETA: What can you tell me about the Second Century Fund?

JOYCE: That's very important; I would say the fund-raising wing of the church, but not necessarily for the church proper and our running and maintenance, but for the national registry improvements that are going on, and a much-needed fund-raising wing. It's very important; it's done a lot of work to this day.

RETA: Has it affected your membership increase?

JOYCE: Perhaps. We'd have to look very closely at membership numbers, but it didn't raise it so significantly. I would say mostly the Crews family. That family was very instrumental and very involved and still members here.

RETA: How did the Second Century Fund originate?

JOYCE: I think it came out of the pastor, Dorthy Pennington, Napoleon Crews, and others, Bill Tuttle and some other people in the community. It's truly a community effort with church people involved, mainly to create a fund-raising effort to make sure that the church has the funds and raises the funds to have the matching funds to restore the church.

RETA: Restore the church building?

JOYCE: Restore the church building so that it meets the requirements for the national historic registry. That's my understanding, but I don't know if my understanding is accurate.

RETA: Are you actively involved in the Second Century Fund?

JOYCE: I'm not actively involved. I believe I'm a member; I have been invited to their meetings. I do get the emails. I'm trying to think if I've ever attended a meeting and I always had some sort of conflict.

RETA: When do they meet?

JOYCE: On various nights, but I remember lots of meeting times being on Tuesday and there was some reason why I just couldn't come. But I think it's a very important organization and that they work very hard. They've been working with the architect and different people.

RETA: What have been the results of the Second Century Fund?

JOYCE: There have been monies and different things set aside. I think we've had some architectural renderings. I just remember having met Stan Hernly the architect that was involved. But I think they're just always continually working, continually raising funds. A million dollars or whatever we're trying to raise is an astronomical amount of money coming out of a community that's always wanted to raise different things, and it's a giving and fund-raising community. But we're spread so thin, particularly with the extremely small membership of the church. I think that the church members, our biggest burden and our biggest concern is paying our tithes and offerings just to keep the church open, and I think that's one of the greatest obstacles, is that this very small membership is engaged in just keeping this church going, keeping the lights on, and the membership here is entirely too small.

RETA: Why is it so important to restore this church?

JOYCE: Because, dating back to the history of the Underground Railroad, Langston Hughes and the different people that have come through here. The church is not falling down, it's not in disrepair, but it needs to be upgraded and improved. You don't let an edifice that's this important have as many structural and internal problems that it has.

RETA: How old is the church?

JOYCE: Well, we just celebrated 144 years. Now the building is not 144 years old. I think we moved from another building here. I have the history on the back of a program if I could get my hands on one. But I know we haven't been in this building 144 years.

RETA: But you've been at this present site since when?

JOYCE: I can get a program and get the exact date. "The present church was constructed in 1910, during the administration of Rev. J.M. Brown."

RETA: I asked you what was the importance of restoring the church.

JOYCE: Because this church is so historical, I know that we want to preserve it. That's what it's all about, preservation.

RETA: Historical preservation?

JOYCE: We want to restore it to the original ceiling, from pictures of the way this church used to look. It didn't look like this before, so I think that's one of the main things, is to take this ceiling down, bring it back to the way it was, and I think the pews were a little bit different.

RETA: What historical events are associated with this church?

JOYCE: Langston Hughes' attendance. Quantrill's raid, because we had began to build the structure. Those were those biggest historical events.

RETA: It's been mentioned by several members that this was part of the Underground Railroad.

JOYCE: It was.

RETA: Do you consider your faith an important part of your life?

JOYCE: Probably the most important part of my life. I know that when you go through all sorts of things in life, the older you get and the more trials and tribulations and different experiences, death, different things with your family and children, the only way you can survive is by faith in God. You finally do realize that perfection and an easy life were never promised.

RETA: Have there been any conflicts between your profession and your faith?

JOYCE: None whatsoever.

RETA: How have you integrated your faith with your profession?

JOYCE: I think that freedom of religion and the right to practice it goes along with librarianship and professorship and administration. Just working with black students there. A lot of them have faith and have a hard time and struggle extremely in law school, and question why they're there. I often end up talking to a lot of the kids about God and their faith, because they know they're at the end of their rope many a day. I can share that with them. So, that gives me an opportunity on a one-on-one basis. And, nowadays any place you work, there are always Christians who profess their faith right there at your work place, and it's good to get with them.

LEONARD: That's really good, because a lot of people will not talk about religion at work.

JOYCE: That's true.

LEONARD: They're afraid of what other people might say. So, that's good that you can do that.

When did you first hear about Langston Hughes? Did you even know Langston Hughes lived here as a young boy?

JOYCE: I didn't know the relationship between Langston Hughes and this church really until I moved here and until I was involved with the Langston Hughes conference, and that's when it really struck me, when I knew. But growing up, of course, we knew Langston Hughes poems and he was a Poet Laureate to black people forever before he was even named in here. I didn't realize the significance until that conference.

RETA: Did you study Langston Hughes in your schools at Wichita?


RETA: His books or just his poems?

JOYCE: Poems and short stories.

RETA: Do you know about any black businesses in Lawrence, or if the church is associated with any black businesses in Lawrence?

JOYCE: The main black business that I go to is my hairdresser (laughter).

RETA: Who is that?

JOYCE: Edith Gilbert. Everybody goes to Edith. For many years, Edith was right across the street and that was sort of the relationship. We would watch people go in and out on Saturday and we'd be coming over for choir rehearsal. Every other time she wasn't too busy, I'd pop my head in and holler at her over there. I think that's the main black business that I deal with.

LEONARD: Not growing up in Lawrence, you wouldn't know those types of things here.

JOYCE: No, I didn't grow up here.

RETA: Did you ever patronize Odessa's?

JOYCE: Yes, I sure did. I went there a couple of times.

RETA: Do you know why that closed?

JOYCE: A good friend of mine, Gloria Chediak, is good friends with Odessa Shorter. In fact, Gloria and I went to eat over there one time, and I think it was just the hours and her inability to stay open a lot. And there's such competition in Lawrence.

LEONARD: There is, and her hours were a little weird.

JOYCE: Yeah, her hours were strange. They really were.

LEONARD: I went down to eat a couple of times and it wasn't open.

JOYCE: It wasn't open, that was the key. I think that she had a hard time staying open and getting family and friends and different people to work in there.

LEONARD: You're right. It's not that easy trying to run a restaurant; there are so many things required.

JOYCE: That's right. Especially when you're trying to do a family restaurant. That's my understanding, too, that family members became ill, and she had to take care of family and there were all sorts of reasons why.

LEONARD: But it did have a good reputation, even Hank Booth would talk about it on this radio station. He'd eat down there. It was just too bad, but for some reason, she couldn't stay open.

RETA: Then there's Janine Colter.

JOYCE: I've been to Da Shop. But she has another shop now. I need to go over there, thirteenth and Haskell. She has a new place. She won the NAACP award.

RETA: Yes, the small business award.

JOYCE: I patronized her for a while because I couldn't find Edith when she first moved from over here to this other shop. People would say where she was, but I just couldn't figure out in my mind where it was. So, since I knew where the Da Shop was downtown on Mass, I went to her a couple of times.

LEONARD: She's changed the name of it now that she's moved to Haskell.

JOYCE: Yeah, it's different now.

LEONARD: But it's a real nice place.

JOYCE: Since on this side of town, I think I'll try find it. I know everybody says it's on thirteenth and Haskell.

LEONARD: Yeah. It's right on the corner of thirteenth and Haskell.

RETA: The last time I talked to Edith, she said she was going to move to Chicago.

JOYCE: Yeah, she always threatens to leave us, and we tell her to stay. Because we don't feel like going to another hairdresser. She always trying to leave or start a new business. Edith has property and different things here in this town since her mother died.

LEONARD: We're blessed here at St. Luke by having Joyce here playing piano for us.

RETA: She mentioned that she plays the piano.

LEONARD: Right. She plays piano for our chorus and choir. Last Sunday we went to Topeka, and she went and played for us in Topeka.

JOYCE: We had a great time.

LEONARD: We had a great time in Topeka. But we are just blessed to have Joyce here with us.

JOYCE: I'm blessed to be here. I really am. It's just an honor and privilege to b be here every Sunday, and play and sing.

RETA: Since you're talking about music, what type of music do you all generally use in the AME church?

JOYCE: Mainly just standard gospel and we do some contemporary pieces too. We do more contemporary things. When we had this extraordinary organist, everybody testifies to Ronnie Clark. Now that Ronnie's gone, we're sort of back to the standards, because I'm playing the piano again (laughter). But we have another person, George Reynolds, and he's picking the pace up a little bit and he's sorting getting the feel for our order of service and the way we do things. I'm predicting that in a couple of weeks, he'll have us back to that upbeat tempo that Ronnie had.

LEONARD: Right, because when Ronnie was here, he directed us.

JOYCE: He played the organ so well and he could play. Anything he could hear, he could play it, because he played by ear and did an extraordinary job. We had a great drummer and we just had a really good sound. I think people are finally getting used to the old way when I first started by myself, because it took a couple of weeks for us to pull away from the Ronnie sound. But now that we don't have any choice (laughter) and this sort of died out of our ears, we're just sort of back to a traditional hymnal and sort of gospel, the thing that I read music to. That's what we're doing right now.

RETA: How does that impact the congregation as far as the young people and contemporary music and the old people? I know we have two services, a conservative service at Ninth Street at 7:45 and, then, a contemporary service at 10:45 for those who like the upbeat music. How does that impact your congregation?

LEONARD: We kind of integrate the songs, and I think that they enjoy that.

JOYCE: They do. We have such a core that stays here, they're so flexible and dedicated, they just go with the program. Since it's Christmas time and Advent season, we're doing a lot of things just straight out of the hymnal, and everybody just goes along with it. A lot of the other sort of contemporary things that I'm able to play, we've done them so much that the congregation just tends to sing along. Everything becomes congregational. You agree with that, Leonard (laughter)?

LEONARD: Yes, indeed. But it's nice.

JOYCE: It is very nice.

LEONARD: We try to get people involved.

RETA: You said you came to Lawrence because of work. Was it your job at KU that you're presently holding that brought you here?

JOYCE: Yes. Well, I came originally as an electronic services librarian. It's still library work, but people left and retired and, so, I've been able to go through some internal promotions. So, it's basically the same job, the same place, but a whole different level of responsibility than I had when I first came twelve years ago.

RETA: Has your job allowed you the opportunity to serve the church in a special way because of your profession?

JOYCE: I think that because, and it still goes back to the conference work and I image Maryemma said this, too, there is such a blending, we could be infringing the separation of church and state clause (laughter) in the constitution. Because there is such a common blending of what they call 'town and gown' in terms of KU and this church. As I mentioned before, back when Alice Walker was here, the Chancellor was here, most of the black professors were here, Dennis Moore. He's a congressman and he's sitting up in church. So, I think that we have violated the separation of church and state clause.

RETA: But that was in the Fellowship Hall, it wasn't in the church proper.

JOYCE: It was the Fellowship Hall, but it's still attached to this church. You really can't separate the basement from the church and the activities at KU.

LEONARD: That never bothers me, though, because our constitution, when you talking about separation of church and state, was built on religion anyway. Our money says, "In God We Trust."

JOYCE: That's true.

LEONARD: It's always there, Christian religion. America is "For God and Country." It's patriotic I think.

JOYCE: I think that, to take that a little step further, what we want to do is not ever force anyone to participate in anything. I think that's what it is more and that there isn't this overarching umbrella, where people don't feel like the opportunity not to be involved in church. So, that would not be permitted. If you don't want to come here, that's fine.

LEONARD: The last election, you never heard anyone in church say vote for this or vote for that, or vote for him or vote for her. That does not come out in the church. But, as far as having guests, we've had the governor here, we've had Emanuel Cleaver here, Alice Walker and Dennis Moore, they've all been here.

JOYCE: They've all been here.

RETA: So, the church has not infringed on the community events as far as being a religious event?

JOYCE: No. It's just that you could take away the cross, and St. Luke is just considered a community meeting place. The Boy Scouts meet here. It just is a wonderful meeting place, especially like you said, the Fellowship Hall is typically a meeting place for all sorts. NAACP, poetry groups, all sorts of things.

LEONARD: The NAACP, from my understanding, started right here.

RETA: We talked about you integrating your faith into your profession. Has KU valued your work?

JOYCE: I believe they have and, as an administrator, a person that works at the law school, I think the most important thing is that I have so much freedom to do all sorts of things as almost a service to the university, and they've never said, "Well, you can't do that because it's in church," or you can't invite the whole law school, your dean and your boss to these things because it's a church. Academic freedom is truly that, and that's what I get to experience. I can write about it, I can talk about it, I can invite people to it. I've had people from my job come to this church for different things. So, KU is very open and open-minded and knows that people have religious or nonreligious communities, and they don't interfere. They know nothing interferes with a person's religious freedom and academic freedom.


RETA: As a steward, can you talk about the future plans for St. Luke?

LEONARD: We're getting ready to get restored. Everything we do now is fundraising. As a matter of fact, Dennis Moore got us a hundred thousand dollars from DC, and that's the future of St. Luke, getting restored and put on the National Historic Record.

RETA: How close are you to that goal?

LEONARD: We're working on it.

JOYCE: Yeah, we're working on it. What is it, a million dollars that we need?

LEONARD: It's going to take probably two million to get it all done. We've got enough now to get started, I think.

RETA: Do you have any other plans for coming events through the Second Century Fund or St. Luke for fund raisers?

LEONARD: Everything we do is for fund-raising. Next Saturday our men's chorus is having our Annual Christmas Banquet in the lower level.

RETA: At what time?

LEONARD: Twelve o'clock. It's a success every year. It's a dinner. It starts at noon, we sing three or four songs, and then we serve everyone a delicious, beautiful dinner. After that, we sing three or four more songs. Every year, people just love it.

JOYCE: It is fantastic.

RETA: Do you have tickets for that?

LEONARD: Yes. Ten dollars for adults and five for kids. I have some if you want some.

RETA: It looks like St. Luke is really doing some great work.

LEONARD: Joyce has told us what she's done at St. Luke. We've had dinner plays here. Joyce has performed in them, I performed in them, you performed in them, and I think that was really magnificent. I'm going to try to get that back on track some how.

RETA: Make it an annual event?

JOYCE: At least biannual.

RETA: I think that would be great.

LEONARD: The first play we did, we were planning on doing it again next year in Black History Month. I don't know if we'll be able to do it now or not, but we'll see.

RETA: Black History Month is February.


RETA: Joyce, this has been a wonderful interview.

LEONARD: I told you I was going to be down here all day, because I've been down here ever since 11:00. But we've been busy. We're getting things ready for tomorrow. We practiced. We're going to have a kid's choir this year too.

RETA: Oh, wonderful! At the Christmas dinner?

LEONARD: At our banquet, yes.

JOYCE: Next Saturday.

RETA: That will be great!

LEONARD: It's always so wonderful to get the kids involved. We have two or three of them that, on some Sundays, Joyce will play and they'll sing from the choir.

JOYCE: We really have a mixed choir right now.

RETA: What are the age groups of the children that you have?

JOYCE: Chandra's kids are sixth grade and about first or second grade.

LEONARD: Anywhere from five to six years old up to twelve.

JOYCE: The son always brings a couple of boys. The Barfield boys are about eight and six or something like that.

LEONARD: All of them are boys. But in this choir we've about three or four girls.

JOYCE: Yeah, between Chandra and myself.

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