Dorothy Harvey

Dorothy Harvey was interviewed in the sesquicentennial project and the St. Luke centennial project. Her two daughters, Karen Byers and Debra Hicks, were also interviewed in 1977. Mrs. Harvey came to Lawrence from Kansas City, Kansas, to attend KU. She tells an Underground Railroad anecdote related to St. Luke AME Church. She married Dean Harvey, a member of a prominent Douglas County farming family, in 1945. She talks of "an ice cream prescription" at Raney's Drugstore and black-Native American identity confusion. As an African American, she could not be hired to teach in Douglas County. Mrs. Harvey discusses fair-housing movements, the NAACP, black church leadership and theology, Rick Dowdell's death and memorial service, public transportation and the need to open more jobs to blacks. She was an active member of St. Luke AME Church.

Dorothy Harvey
June 22, 1977

Interview by Curtis Nether

MR. NETHER: What's your name?

MRS. HARVEY: Dorothy Harvey.

MR. NETHER: Your marital status?

MRS. HARVEY: Married to Dean Harvey.

MR. NETHER: What's your age, if you don't mind telling me?

MRS. HARVEY: Fifty-one.

MR. NETHER: What were your parents' names?

MRS. HARVEY: Walter Singleton and Ida Craig Singleton.

MR. NETHER: Were your parents born here in Douglas County?


MR. NETHER: Where were your parents born?

MRS. HARVEY: My mother was born in Missouri. My father in Chicago, Illinois.

MR. NETHER: Were your husband's parents born here in Douglas County?


MR. NETHER: Where in Douglas County were they born?

MRS. HARVEY: His father was born in Douglas County. His mother was born in western Kansas and moved to Douglas County as a young girl.

MR. NETHER: Do you perhaps know why your husband's parents first came to Douglas County? I am talking about now the Harveys on your father's side.

MRS. HARVEY: His father's mother was brought here from a raid in Arkansas by Colonel Blunt, or General Blunt, maybe. I don't know, whatever his title was, but she was brought after he raided in Arkansas. And she settled on five acres of ground in Douglas County.

MR. NETHER: Why did you come to Douglas County?


MR. NETHER: Was it at KU where you met your husband?


MR. NETHER: Why out of all the universities in the country did you decide on Kansas University?

MRS. HARVEY: Because my father said we were all too young to go away the first year of school and everybody had to go to KU.

MR. NETHER: Was KU a school that most people from say western Missouri attended during the time when you were of college age?

MRS. HARVEY: Western Missouri. Kansas.

MR. NETHER: Where were you born, in Kansas?

MRS. HARVEY: In Kansas City, Kansas.

MR. NETHER: That's what I wanted. I was thinking Kansas City, Missouri. Were most people in Kansas City, Kansas, expected to go to KU?



MRS. HARVEY: Most of them went to Negro colleges.

MR. NETHER: Why do you think your father was anxious for you to come to KU instead of some other institution?

MRS. HARVEY: I assume because of the proximity to home, the fact that he had four that he was educating and all of us were going somewhere in the same period of time.

MR. NETHER: Was KU a prestigious place to get an education then?

MRS. HARVEY: Oh, yes, it was the state school.

MR. NETHER: When you came here to attend KU, did you have any acquaintances here?


MR. NETHER: Who were your acquaintances?

MRS. HARVEY: I guess it would have been members of the AME Church. There would have been Mr. and Mrs. Harry Brown. My sister and brother had both come to KU ahead of me so my parents were pretty well acquainted in Lawrence.

MR. NETHER: Did your brother and sister graduate from KU?

MRS. HARVEY: No. I guess Debbie is the only one of us graduated. Nobody stayed after their first year. Everybody resented the treatment that they received and eventually went to other colleges.

MR. NETHER: What was it like when your brother first came, and you were a little girl and he came back and told you what it was like at KU? What was some of the things that he mentioned?

MRS. HARVEY: Actually, he wasn't that much older than I, just a year, so same things that I could tell you about from firsthand knowledge.


MRS. HARVEY: The fact that most of the professors were not geared to teaching Negroes. Some of them didn't really want Negroes in their classes. They would tell you when you went in that no matter what your grades were you weren't going to get anything above a C, period. We didn't live on campus. We lived on the fringe edges of the campus. I lived on Mississippi. My sister had lived over on Ohio. I am not sure. I think my brother may have lived in the Alpha House, and these homes were widow women who kept girls. We had to live by the same rules that the university laid out. But we were not permitted to live on campus.

MR. NETHER: What kind of subjects were taught at KU? Did they teach you things about black heroes and so on?


MR. NETHER: Did they have many fraternal organizations on campus, like the Kappas, Alphas?

MRS. HARVEY: Yes, Kappas, Alphas, Deltas, AKAs, Zetas.

MR. NETHER: What was the object of some of these fraternal organizations?

MRS. HARVEY: Social.

MR. NETHER: Just purely social, you think?

MRS. HARVEY: Most of it, yeah.

MR. NETHER: How many blacks, approximately, attended KU?

MRS. HARVEY: When I was here, I would say between seventy-five and a hundred with most of us being girls because I was here during the war years.

MR. NETHER: Was it very hard or was it easy for you to come down and relate to the black townspeople in Lawrence?

MRS. HARVEY: No. They were fighting. They had them very terrified of their jobs. We attempted to break down the discrimination in the movies by going to the movies and sitting wherever we so desired, and they were very upset with us because their jobs were threatened, and while they were only maids and janitors and really had nothing to do with the students, they still kept them under their thumb.

MR. NETHER: Did they have any professors up on the Hill?


MR. NETHER: If you saw a black up on the Hill and they weren't a student, what was their business generally? Were they domestics?

MRS. HARVEY: Janitors, maids.

MR. NETHER: So you had no one working in science labs, no professors, no administrators?


MR. NETHER: Mrs. Harvey, I want you to think back again to the first time whether you were coming to attend college or just coming to visit Douglas County. Can you tell us what was it like? What did the houses look like? What were the streets like?

MRS. HARVEY: It was a very pretty town. It was a clean town. I don't remember the Negroes living in one particular area, but there were what you might call pockets of them, like in east Lawrence. Then we knew people in [old] west Lawrence, and then as I said right on the fringe edge of the campus, and then there was an area south of the campus that was owned by Negroes.

MR. NETHER: What was south Lawrence like during this time?

MRS. HARVEY: South Lawrence?

MR. NETHER: Yes, say across past Twenty-third Street.

MRS. HARVEY: Wasn't anything out there but farms.

MR. NETHER: So that's recently developed neighborhood there?


MR. NETHER: And [old] west Lawrence, had it been developed much at all at this time?

MRS. HARVEY: I guess to the river and about, let me see, what would be the end of it? I guess up to what would now be Iowa St. there was housing all through there.

MR. NETHER: What was north Lawrence like?

MRS. HARVEY: Didn't get over into north Lawrence too often. It was just a small community. We passed it, riding the buses back and forth.

MR. NETHER: Were there many blacks living in north Lawrence at this time?


MR. NETHER: I want you to think back as far as you can from your earliest involvement in Douglas County where there was visiting or when you went to school. How did blacks and whites relate to one another? Was there separation? Was there ideal separation which blacks kind of knew their place and blacks were expected to act in a certain way?

MRS. HARVEY: As far as I know, yes. My mother had a brother who lived in Baldwin, Kansas, and I came over here as a child, but of course we just went to his home and to the ball park and that's about it as far as going around in Baldwin. There wasn't I think, four Negro families over there and they all had ten-twelve children. We visited those people, but this was just on Sundays, so I really couldn't say what their relationship was working wise, although it was my understanding that Baker University hired most of those men as janitors and their wives as maids.

MR. NETHER: You say you played baseball. When you played, did you play with some of the whites in Baldwin?


MR. NETHER: Just with your family?


MR. NETHER: What about here in town? What was it like here? How did whites and blacks relate?

MRS. HARVEY: They didn't, as far as I know. There was no place for us to go recreational wise except to the places on Vermont Street that were open. There was two restaurants, as I remember.

MR. NETHER: Did whites and blacks socialize together, do you think?

MRS. HARVEY: No, unless it was in private homes.

MR. NETHER: Mrs. Harvey, I am going to ask you some questions about certain periods of time in history, and a lot of these questions I take it for granted you might not be able to answer, but I am just kind of searching. Maybe you have heard something about it, folklore, something somebody had told you. The first one I wanted to ask about is the Civil War. What was happening here that pertains to black history in Douglas County during the Civil War?

MRS. HARVEY: Can't give you much information about that.

MR. NETHER: What about Quantrill's Raid, when Quantrill came through and burned Lawrence?

MRS. HARVEY: All I can tell you is what I have heard from my husband's side of the family, is that Quantrill came through supposedly through the Eudora area, and there was a young Negro boy who overheard them talking and he ran into Lawrence to warn them that Quantrill was on his way in. Then after the burning of Lawrence, I understand that the property that we now own was where the sheriff of Douglas County lived at that time, and he had a four-room cabin there. He went up on the hill just north of where we live right now and watched Lawrence as it burned, and then Quantrill came back out through the country, he burned some of the homes going south. Then he turned and came toward the east, passed the Harvey property, and as I understand it my husband's grandmother had a very young baby, and she took this child and hid, and in order to keep this child from crying she put her had over his mouth as Quantrill rode past. I don't know of any damage that he did to their property.

MR. NETHER: This black boy that came from Eudora, how did he get to Lawrence? Did he run? Did he ride a horse?

MRS. HARVEY: I understood that he ran. This is the story I have heard.

MR. NETHER: Was he successful? Did people take heed to what he was saying?


MR. NETHER: Mrs. Harvey, right after the Civil War, there was a period of time where blacks and whites at least on paper were equal. They could vote, they were citizens and so on. After this time in I think it was 1877, Rutherford B. Hayes was president. He took the troops out of the South, white supremacy came back into existence, the old plantation owner was trying to enslave blacks again—not legally, but by sharecropping and not allowing them to own land and so on. Blacks became upset, disenfranchised. They left the South. The first place they migrated was here in Kansas. Do you have any knowledge of the first migrations that came to Kansas since you are from Kansas City, which is in the easternmost part of the state and now you live in Douglas County, where a lot of blacks seem to settle? Have you heard any stories? Do you know any families that came with this massive exodus?

MRS. HARVEY: I can't say that I can pinpoint any families. I know that they came into Quindaro in Kansas City through the Underground Railroad. I know the AME Church was very prominent in helping these people in this mass exodus. The AME Church here is at Ninth and New York and was established about that time. They hid them in the basement of the church.

MR. NETHER: Do you know if they came and settled in Lawrence in great numbers?

MRS. HARVEY: Evidently not, from what I have been able to gather, no. Most of them that did settle were willing to farm, and they took five acres, as I understand the story, and if they would clear it off and keep it, then in five years I think they were able to lay claim to this property, and most of them, as I understand it, were brought here by somebody, such as the Harvey family by this General Blunt. I understand that my husband's grandfather came on his own seeking his family, and it was after he arrived here that my husband's father was born.

MR. NETHER: After Reconstruction and after the great migration here to Kansas by blacks, in the early part of the twentieth Century blacks were held in lowest esteem since slavery. They were being lynched, they were not accorded the right of suffrage, the right to vote, and right after this time came World War I. World War I was the war where they said people stood in line to fight. Do you have any knowledge of this time period as it related to black people here in Douglas County? Do you think maybe that the blacks here, were they as enthusiastic to go to war and fight as most of the whites were?


MR. NETHER: Do you know why wouldn't they? Was it the lynchings which were taking place most frequently that they were kind of discouraged in going?

MRS. HARVEY: I can only relate what my parents have told me, was that they really did not want the blacks in the army. They were not seeking them and taking them in until white mothers began to scream, "My boys are being killed. Let's take those boys." And this was the beginning of the drawing or reaching out and taking Negro boys into the army, to the service, to World War I.

MR. NETHER: What kind of units were the blacks in, do you have any knowledge of that?

MRS. HARVEY: They were all separate units. I know that there was a unit at Ft. Riley.

MR. NETHER: What type of jobs did these blacks from this area take part in? Were they out on the front lines fighting?

MRS. HARVEY: No, not to my knowledge. Most of them were doing burial detail.

MR. NETHER: The jobs that nobody else wanted?

MRS. HARVEY: That they did back here, right. The dirty jobs, cleaning up in the horse barns and this type of thing.

MR. NETHER: After World War I, now came the Roaring '20s. Everybody is supposed to be rich during this time. Actually it was a bad time for farmers and bad time for laborers. Big business was reaping most of the profits. Mrs. Harvey, do you have any knowledge of the 1920s? What have you heard that blacks did for fun in the '20s? Maybe your husband, who is a little older than you, maybe he was a young man, very young man at that time. What did he do for fun?

MRS. HARVEY: I am sure they did nothing because their father was the type that kept them on the farm, and they just were church oriented.

MR. NETHER: Do you feel that any social activities they had stemmed from the church?

MRS. HARVEY: Oh, yes.

MR. NETHER: Okay. What was happening? How was your husband's family able to survive? Were they able to prosper during the 1920s?

MRS. HARVEY: Yes, evidently, they did quite well during the '20s They had coal mines on the place, and they had educated the three younger boys with one being a doctor, one being a lawyer, and my father-in-law was the educated farmer of that day, having a degree from KU, and they had all been involved in politics here in Douglas County.

MR. NETHER: Okay. You mention that one was a doctor, one was a lawyer. Were there many black professionals here during this time period?

MRS. HARVEY: No, not from what I can gather. There were a few doctors. I know of only two other lawyers that were here, and that was the one Judge Clark and Leroy Harris, the attorney.

MR. NETHER: Mrs. Harvey, again, I want to mention that some of these things I am asking you I don't expect you to remember because I know you weren't born during that time, but I am still just kind of searching.


MR. NETHER: So don't worry about asking you something you don't know. After the 1920s in 1929 came the stock market crash.

MRS. HARVEY: Uh-huh.

MR. NETHER: There were dust storms and so on in Kansas, farmer was losing a lot of his crops. How was your husband's family able to survive the Depression? What did they do?

MRS. HARVEY: Like most people, I assume they sold a little of the ground in order to keep going, but they were fortunate in having three boys who were able to carry on the work because their father was quite a bit older. He was an older man. And it's my understanding that my mother-in-law raised chickens, and they raised a lot of crops that they took to the factory, like peas, tomatoes, canning-factory-type things that they had not previously raised.

MR. NETHER: Has the Harvey family at any time lost a large or major portion of their land?


MR. NETHER: Do you know what period of time this happened?

MRS. HARVEY: During the 1930s. The late '30s.

MR. NETHER: Did many blacks here in Douglas County lose their land at that time?

MRS. HARVEY: Oh, yes, from what I can gather.

MR. NETHER: Last night I saw a lot of black landowners during this time and am trying to determine when did most blacks lose their land?

MRS. HARVEY: Yes, and then many of the young men did not want to stay on the farm. This was something that they were always being downgraded for, the fact that you were a farmer. But it just happened that my father-in-law had reared three sons who wanted to stay on the farm, and the three boys were able to hold onto the land for him. They were old enough to sign the notes and take over the payments to keep them from losing everything completely, and as I said, they sold two farms that I am aware of in order to hold onto the home place.

MR. NETHER: So they at one time owned much more property than you do now?


MR. NETHER: During the Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected. Franklin Roosevelt was said to be the most loved, the most hated president of all time. What were black peoples' general reaction to Franklin Delano Roosevelt? Maybe this is something that you could use your life in Kansas City to help bring out.

MRS. HARVEY: Since I lived in an all-black community, it was easy for us to determine the feeling of Negroes toward the president. I think we were pretty well divided in the sense that many people were out of jobs at that period and they had the WPA, so this took over the load where they would have had nothing and they ate sometimes better than those who such as my father who had a job constantly. I can remember these people having chicken every Sunday. They had nice homes, and yet they just never seemed to work. I mean they must have been on the government. So they loved Franklin Roosevelt. It seems to me that the Republican people who were attempting to stay off of the public dole were the ones who were not completely happy with his system, the chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.

MR. NETHER: That's why I asked that, trying to see if black people had any one main idea for the president.


MR. NETHER: And I take it for granted if you were working and you had to finance those programs, you didn't particularly like it, but if you were out of a job and you were able to work with those programs, it was a different thing all together.

World War II, unlike World War I, people were not very enthusiastic to go. First I want to ask you, Mrs. Harvey, what year did you get married?

MRS. HARVEY: 1945.

MR. NETHER: After the war?

MRS. HARVEY: Yes, just as the war ended.

MR. NETHER: And the beginning of World War II blacks still were not accorded equal rights. They weren't hired at federal ammunition plants and so on as much as many thought that they should be, but still blacks were willing to go fight. Where did most blacks from this area go when they were drafted or when they enlisted? Have you heard?

MRS. HARVEY: You are asking me where they went to be drafted?

MR. NETHER: Where were most of them sent?

MRS. HARVEY: Europe, I think, European theater most of them went. But there were many of our young men who refused to be drafted. They preferred to make their own choice, so they joined the services because most of them as I understood it were being put in the army. They were still being given the menial jobs. If they joined, they did have a little more choice, although they were still the cooks and so forth.

MR. NETHER: Where did they take their basic training at, most of them?

MRS. HARVEY: Not in this particular area. They usually sent them away from home in order to get them trained so that they would be adjusted to being away from home, so I think most of them possibly went to the South.

MR. NETHER: Mrs. Harvey, when did you first take residence here in Douglas County?

MRS. HARVEY: 1945.

MR. NETHER: This was the time when many people were coming back from the war. Were jobs plentiful for blacks?

MRS. HARVEY: No. You couldn't even get a job in government installations.

MR. NETHER: What type of jobs did they mostly do, how did they survive?

MRS. HARVEY: Still domestics.

MR. NETHER: Were there any struggles for equality for the overthrow of Jim Crowism in Douglas County during 1945?

MRS. HARVEY: Not so much in the 1940s. It would be the late 1950s and early 60s when the fights really became hostile and open.

MR. NETHER: What were some of the complaints of the blacks then during the first demonstrations?

MRS. HARVEY: We had no recreation, our children had never been allowed to swim, we still were fighting to go in the movie and sit wherever they wanted to sit. Eating places. If you had a guest, you couldn't put them up at a motel or anything of that nature. I can remember that I had a friend come to a church conference with two small children and she wanted to go to the laundromat to wash, and she could not even do this.

MR. NETHER: Mrs. Harvey, what would they say to you? If you took a load of wash in a laundromat and put your clothes in, what—

MRS. HARVEY: You just didn't get in. You didn't get that far.

MR. NETHER: What would they say to you?

MRS. HARVEY: They would just tell you that you couldn't use their facilities.

MR. NETHER: What if you say, "Well, why not?"

MRS. HARVEY: "It's my place of business." I mean what difference did it make to them?

MR. NETHER: Just pick people out and say, "Well, I don't want you in my business?"

MRS. HARVEY: They just didn't let you in the door. They were mostly family-owned types at that time, and so, whoever was there running it would just stop you at the door and say, "I'm sorry."

MR. NETHER: Did they have signs up most places?

MRS. HARVEY: Yes, we reserve the right to refuse—I can't remember white only particularly, but just the signs, "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone."

MR. NETHER: And these signs were up in places like what?

MRS. HARVEY: Restaurants, hotels.

MR. NETHER: Do you know the names of any of the particular business where you can remember a sign being up of that nature? Can you remember Raney's Drug Store?

MRS. HARVEY: I didn't have a problem at Raney's. I had a doctor who gave a prescription for an ice cream cone to a child, and it was to Raney's. This is how we happened to go to Raney's, and I went in and I knew at that point that they really did not want you to sit down or anything, but I can remember one of my children getting up on the stool and someone made a remark, and Mr. Raney turned around and said, "It's all right." And that was when he was on Massachusetts Street, and I think we have done business with him possibly because of this ever since. I remember I was reaching to take the child down, but a little child doesn't know this type of thing. He knew no prejudice. And it was either my oldest daughter or my son. I can't remember which child it was, but they just climbed up on the stool while I was handing the prescription. But the doctor didn't give it to one child, he gave it to all the children. And he would fill the prescriptions and everything and he was always very polite, so there were always some who were ready and willing to be nice. Then, of course, we always have the problem of people not really knowing what you are, and we have the Indian school here. There were many times when people would not really know whether you were black or Indian or what you were. They didn't really want to be nasty, so they would sort of bend over a little backward to go out of their way to wait on you and this type of thing. But truthfully, I have to say I think most of us just didn't try to go in these places. We patronized the Negro places and just didn't attempt to go in, but we had no Negro doctors here. We had no other hospital facilities but Lawrence Memorial, but it was segregated. There was an area where they had beds for even a certain ward and this type of thing. Put your children in the hall if the room was filled; they just put them in the halls.

MR. NETHER: So you had a segregation when it came to also your health care?

MRS. HARVEY: Right. There were even some doctors who did not want to take Negro patients. I had an experience with one who told me that my son was too dark for him to tell me whether he had chicken pox or measles or whatever, so I just told him I would pay him for his services and wouldn't darken his doorway any more, but I immediately went on and reported the incident to the medical profession, because I feel that sometimes we have to take these things in our own hands, even though we know that we are going to get in some difficulty about it.

MR. NETHER: So kind of sum it up about hospitals. You mean blacks were always held in low esteem, even in the hospital?


MR. NETHER: They received secondhand health care, would you say?


MR. NETHER: Mrs. Harvey, in 1954, there was a court decision, this is backing up a little bit, that said blacks and whites no longer legally could be separated. The idea of separation but equal was against the law. What effect did this court decision have on the blacks here in Douglas County?

MRS. HARVEY: Not too much because Douglas County was never really segregated as far as the school systems were concerned. Lawrence had one Negro school in north Lawrence. Otherwise, as far as I know, they went to the schools when I came into this area. There were no black teachers, however, and this was also one of the fights that I was involved in because I resented the fact that I was qualified and licensed to teach but when I came to Douglas County, I could not teach, and many times my children had teachers who were not as well qualified or educated as I was, and I did resent this.

MR. NETHER: Did you belong to a PTA, seeings how you had children?

MRS. HARVEY: No, because we were in the rural school.

MR. NETHER: Have you ever been confronted with your children coming back from school telling you some stories of what happened in school, maybe they weren't accorded the equal education that the whites were? Were they forced to sit in the back of the room or if they were intelligent could they be sent to an advanced class, do you think?


MR. NETHER: Any problems with the children?

MRS. HARVEY: Yeah, we had problems with this type of thing, and I think the only thing that really helped to overcome any of these problems was at that time the state gave a test every year, and they couldn't deny the fact that if the child passed the state test with flying colors that he had to have something upstairs, and our children went to the rural schools and they were the only Negro children in there. There were two families of them, so they became very, very close and banded together so that they fought their own battles mostly.

MR. NETHER: Do you think the teachers there tried to encourage the few black children they had?


MR. NETHER: Your children to be farmers or be servants, be domestics?

MRS. HARVEY: Yes, they didn't encourage them to look forward to going to college or doing anything with their lives particularly. This became your problem.

MR. NETHER: The first movements took place in the late 1950s. Again, what was the object of movements, of racial unrest here, the first type of racial unrest here?

MRS. HARVEY: One of the first that I can remember was housing, fair housing, jobs, and then, of course, the opening up of public facilities.

MR. NETHER: How did whites react when all of a sudden they had to be threatened with the fact of living with black people? Did they react violently or did they kind of say, "Well, they are people," do you think?

MRS. HARVEY: I think there was mixed feelings about it. The churches at that point took a pretty good stand and helped to open many of these areas by the ministers banding together through the Council of Churches. And the church women united at that point and were very, very forceful in this movement of getting some of these things opened up. I can remember we had a preschool nursery that was in the basement of St. Luke AME Church, and there were more whites than there were black, although it was the black church that was open to them, but our people just did not have the money to pay for the things that they did, and so often while you wanted to be involved financially you could not afford to be involved, and they offered to pay tuition for some of the children, black children, just to get some of them involved. Then the parents could work out a part of the tuition by giving one day a week to helping in this particular movement, and then housing was a very strong fight. While I said they were not really in any particular area, they were very definitely in pockets and could not spread out and as new areas opened up, you just were not given an opportunity to even look at these houses. And this was one of the things. And I think it was either in 1966 or '67 while I was president of the Church Women United that we did get a fair housing law in Lawrence.

MR. NETHER: Mrs. Harvey, what was the names of the first organizations that tried to combat racism in Douglas County?


MR. NETHER: Were you involved in the NAACP at this time?


MR. NETHER: What were some of the names of other people that were essential in the fight for equality for blacks in Douglas County?

MRS. HARVEY: Mayzelma Wallace, Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Thomas, both deceased now, their daughter Gwen, Maxine Brown.

MR. NETHER: Are these people that were in the NAACP now?

MRS. HARVEY: I think most of us were. While a lot of times we were not overly active, we were all paying members. At that time we had many forceful ministers. One was the Reverend Vincent R. Anderson, who was here and Reverend H. H. Brookings, who is now a bishop in the AME church, was a pastor here. This was back in the 1950s, however, when they first really began to push for some of these things. Reverend Frank Brown. I just want to get these names because these men were really forceful and because of them, people were willing to follow their leadership. They were not afraid to go out and say what they wanted to say.

MR. NETHER: Mrs. Harvey, I want to kind of clarify something. Do you think the black church was the first form or organization used to combat racism or was it the NAACP or did they work hand in hand?

MRS. HARVEY: They had to work together. They had to work together because most of the leaders in either instance would be a minister and mainly the reason he could afford to be a leader was because he did not receive his living from a white organization. His living came through the black church, and therefore he was not afraid to stand up because you weren't going to cut him off. His housing was furnished and everything, and so he could afford to stand up. You might run him out of town, but he was not afraid of his money.

MR. NETHER: That's good because that's important to point out too, just the role of the black church in fighting racism, how it was then that the black church was able to break down a lot of the barriers. I cut you off there a minute earlier. Are there any other people that you feel were essential in the fight for equality in Douglas County?

MRS. HARVEY: Oh, yes, Mrs. Gertrude Clark. Many of these people are deceased and it's been a lot of years since I worked with them. Mrs. Maxine Newman, Mrs. Ethel Moore, Mrs. Pearl Fry. Let me see, who else?

MR. NETHER: Who were the main organizers of these groups or the people—

MRS. HARVEY: Again, they would be called by your ministers. I remember Reverend H. C. McMillan was—if I remember right, he led the march that they had here in Lawrence.

MR. NETHER: What march was this?

MRS. HARVEY: I can't remember the march. I was thinking about it this morning and I tried to find the information, but he led a march right here to the old courthouse down Massachusetts Street. I was in NAACP because he was very strong in the NAACP and it was during this time that the NAACP really grew in Lawrence. I think Mrs. Della Hamilton was the last president because I don't think they are really functioning now. I remember that Mrs. McCree, I think, was here at that time when we had this. Mrs. Louise Lane, who is now in Philadelphia, was very, very active in this movement. Mrs. Danny Standfield, Mrs. Vivian Alexander worked with me on fair housing committees. Many times we had to bring in people from Kansas City, Topeka, or we brought in Dr. Rothmore from Wellington, Kansas, who was the Kansas president of the NAACP. These people were also willing to come because, they were just going to be here for the day and could leave town, so often they could come in, strike and then be on their way. Or they could come in and meet us at the church and lead a rally, and get spirits high enough that the people would follow very rapidly, but you had to really strike while they were in the mood, because if you let them go home and think about these things too long or let somebody call the--they would back out..

MR. NETHER: Mrs. Harvey, what I am going to do now is I am going to ask you some things about the latest racial unrest they had in Douglas County, the one that occurred in the early 1970s which a young man was killed because of it, and I am going to ask you to compare the two time periods, the one that you were instrumental in and the reverends and the church played an important role in, compared to the other one where the younger people reacted more violently than they had then.

What do you think set off the violent racial unrest here in Douglas County?

MRS. HARVEY: I think the young people were tired of the same old story. They had been hearing this all their lives. They had heard their parents tell their stories. They had heard grandparents tell these same stories. They wanted to be treated as equals. They wanted to just go out and just walk in a place and, you know, feel like they were welcome or free to do certain things. They were still having a problem with some of the eating places. I can remember that one of the first incidents they had was at a drive-in, and I can't really remember which drive-in, I don't think it's going now. But it seems as though the young people went in to put in their order, and they just continually walked around them and took everybody else's order until they just became unruly. If I remember right, some of them were arrested and their parents came down to try to work the situation out. One of the people that I remember now was Jesse Milan, who was very, very active in the discrimination period here in Lawrence. Then I can remember the incident at the school when the young people wanted to be accorded the same right to be queen and so many of the minority girls applied for the honor. Then I can remember up on the Hill when they burned the Union. The racial unrest at that time. And if I am not mistaken, that was sort of the beginning of the violent period.

MR. NETHER: Mrs. Harvey, do you think that KU kind of helped to span the racial unrest here in Douglas County?

MRS. HARVEY: Yes, in many ways, although I don't think they didn't feel they were responsible. But KU set up on the Hill and has always more or less dominated many areas of public life here in Lawrence as well as political situations, and because they did not have jobs open for Negroes up there. They didn't push for jobs in Douglas County. One of the incidents I can remember with my own children was my son in the 4-H. They met in the school where they went to school, and I can remember one day when they didn't come home on the bus as early as I thought I mentioned it to them, and they said, "Oh, yeah, 4-H met today." And I said, "Well, what were you doing while 4-H was meeting?" "Oh, they put us outside." At that point, we decided something had to be done, so we tried to find out how 4-H was financed. Now, it's financed through taxes and we felt that if it was being financed by taxes, then they had not right to discriminate against these children. They either ought to belong or meet somewhere else. This was our feeling. So we tackled the situation and found that they claimed that they could join if they were voted in to the 4-H. We found that they were not going to be voted in, so then we were told, if you have some purebred livestock or something of this nature that you can get them in this way, so I can remember my husband and I almost going under financially buying purebred livestock, which did not open the door to the 4-H. So at this point then we decided that something else would have to be done, so we appealed to the school board, which was a local board, and the school was then closed to the 4-H and they had to go somewhere else to meet, which doesn't enhance you to your neighbors particularly, but this was just one of the issues I can remember that we fought. Then when he came in to high school, they did invite him to join the Future Farmers of America. I am not sure if the man knew whether he was a Negro or not. I think he just went down the list of graduates of rural schools. So I can't honestly say whether he knew or not, but he was invited to join, which he did not because he wasn't that interested in farming. I think Debra was in high school when they had the walkout at high school, and she didn't feel that what they were walking out for was what she wanted to walk out for and she did not participate. So I can remember her father had to come in and escort her home for about two weeks every day.

MR. NETHER: Mrs. Harvey, I want to ask you something about your son. He's deceased now?


MR. NETHER: Do you feel that because of some of the things that happened to him during his school days, his early school days, that he would have been one of the forerunners or would have been actively involved in some of the violent demonstrations that took place here in Douglas County?

MRS. HARVEY: I don't think he would have been involved in the violent part. I think he would have been a leader, however, because he was that type of a person, he was one of the first to play football at West, of course, which was a new school, but they weren't actively recruiting Negro boys, but he went out anyway. He worked with the basketball boys, and he seemed to be able to relate to people. I don't think he would have ever been violent, at least I would have hoped he wouldn't have been a violent-type person, but I think he would have stood for what he felt was right. He had enough of all the mixtures of bloods, Singletons, Harveys, Craigs, and Henrys, to really stand for what he felt was right, because he had a heritage and I think this makes a difference with our young people because Dean's family, the Henrys, were old settlers in Douglas County and owned property here. With my side of the family, my mother had taught prior to her marriage, which back in those days was something, and my father had been a government man all of my life. That's the only job I have ever known my father to have. He got it when he graduated from high school, so they were steady people. We all lived in one home, Dean and I both lived in one home until we married, and set up our own home, so I think they would have been steady and they knew their heritage, they could go way back on both sides of the family, and knew from whence they came, and I think this makes a big difference with our young people.

MR. NETHER: The reason I asked that is your son did come up in a period of time when you were being active and—

MRS. HARVEY: Yes, but ours was a nonviolent time. We were always going as a committee to somebody, appealing to their better judgment, using the forces that we had at hand. The fact that we are taxpayers, we are entitled to this, that or the other. And we would like to know what our taxes are being used for, why we can not use certain facilities. I always resented the fact that my children could never swim in Douglas County. I had grown up in Kansas City, Kansas, where I swam, did all the types of things, recreational things, that you think of. For us it was a financial drain and I was determined that my children were going to have things that Douglas County did not offer, so therefore we took them either to Topeka or Kansas City, making it an outing. You went to the park and spent the day. There were many things I think they became involved in quietly.

I was going to relate an incident on the Hill when the young people were very, very upset, and they talk about their demonstrations, but my youngest brother was one of the first to be involved in a racial demonstration that I can remember here in Douglas County at KU. He went to the Rock Chalk, which was right on the fringe edge of the campus, and it was a privately owned business, but it was open to the students, and all the white students went and so this young group went in, and they were escorted out. I can remember my mother and I were sitting at home—I was married at that time, but I happened to be visiting her—and the news came over the air, this group had been put out, and the leader was Willard Singleton. My mother just had a heart attack right there, but these are the types of things that our people have been doing a long time. Some has been done quietly, some has been done violently. I think it was when Karen was in KU that they had demonstrations, and they arrested many of those young people. She didn't happen to be on campus at the time, so she was not one of those who was arrested, but I can remember that many of those who were arrested, but I can remember that many of us offered to put our property up as bond that night—and this is when Jesse Milan was very active—to get these young people out of jail, and it had to be a property owner who could come down and put the bonds up that night, and many of us had to. They didn't take as many of us as we thought they would, but many of us offered property.

MR. NETHER: I was just wondering again about your son, seeings how he came from a long line of fighters and the fact that, kind of important time for me, I think, a personal important time, because here they were fighting. You had fought for years; your brother had fought for years for equality and so on and then you came a period of time when he went through school, 4-H, football. He was discriminated against. I just wonder would that be a reason why many of the black people became disenchanted.


MR. NETHER: And felt that violence was—well, we have tried for so long to do it peacefully. My mother had tried to do it peacefully—

MRS. HARVEY: I don't think the young people really intended to be violent. I think what happened was when the police moved in and it because an all-out time of fight, that many fathers included my oldest brother had come back from the service, and I can remember him saying very determinedly, "My son will not go through some of the things that I have gone through. I would rather die right here on this ground and fight for things than to go overseas, because we fought the battle overseas and now we have to fight the battle here." And I am sure many of these children heard their parents say this same thing and this is what caused a part of the violence.

There's always violent people. There's always someone who is willing to start an argument because I can remember the radio station called a group of us out to talk because we were considered moderates to see if we could appeal to some of these people to stop some of this violence. We could appeal to some, but then you lose some because they become headstrong, they are angry, they are disillusioned, and when the young man was killed, I can remember how very upset everybody was. He was a young man that we had reared here in Lawrence. He had gone to our church. I taught him in Sunday School,  and I never thought of him as being a violent child. He was not that. But then I don't know what he got involved in after he left the influence of the church, but I do know that the night that he was killed that most of us went home and just closed our doors, and especially the local people here in town. Those of us who lived in the rural areas, we really weren't going to be bothered, I don't think particularly, but the people here in town were so frustrated by what was happening. They were shooting in every direction. There was a group down at St. Luke AME Church on the steps. They were shooting and I can remember there was a white woman injured. This aroused many of the whites. I don't think anyone shot at her particularly. She was in her home across the street from the church. She was hit by a stray bullet, but she was still hit, and she was a white woman. This made all the difference in the world.

MR. NETHER: This is the one that they accused Jerry Dowdell of fining upon?

MRS. HARVEY: Mrs. Johnson?

MR. NETHER: Uh-huh.

MRS. HARVEY: She was shot in the leg, I think. Now, he could have. I don't think anybody ever proved one way or the other who did fire the shot. I just know that they were shooting from our church. But they had been shooting down in this area for many months. They had shot at our parsonage many times, but no one ever remembers that, although our minister's wife was just as frightened as Mrs. Johnson was. She could have easily been hit by a stray bullet or her children. We did have a violent element move in, Harrison, who was over, I believe at Ballard Center, and he was a very violent man, and he aroused our young people. He was young, he was going to KU, and he was a leader, and many of our young people looked up to him, and he was one who kept saying, "Well, we have been patient long enough. Now let's do it our way," you know, "let's do it our way." And this is what caused some of these young people to follow him and to eventually get involved in this, and then when Rick Dowdell was killed, I don't want to get this story wrong, but I think that is the same time that they had the unrest on the hill and the young white boy was killed?

MR. NETHER: For a Vietnam demonstration, the war demonstration and so on, and the young girl from Kansas City was killed too. I think the KU demonstration took place during the spring, like in May, and then the racial unrest took part that summer.

MRS. HARVEY: Yeah, because Dowdell was killed shortly after that. Well, we would have to look that up to get the dates straight, but I remember. And then they had what they called African funeral, and they appealed to us to allow them to have it at St. Luke. So the officers were called in and we could not say no because the Dowdells were members of our church. We were not particularly happy with what they planned, but it was their right to have the funeral as they so desired. So therefore the church was open to them. And I remember that the church was very, very filled with people from all areas. They made it a big to-do by having the TV cameras there, made it nationwide. The family I don't think was particularly happy. The boy's mother was dead; his father was in Washington and came back for the funeral. There was a lot of the family here. But I can remember they had not too much to say about the funeral, as I remember it. It was taken over by this young group that wanted to make it a demonstration, and they had everything dyed black, the flowers, the casket, everything. They pulled it down Massachusetts Street on a horse-drawn wagon, and the people followed on foot and came down to the church. They played drums. I don't think too many of the local people went. I can only remember one officer, male officer, who went, who was a little perturbed by what happened. That was Mr. Jones, who can tell you about the funeral because I did not attend myself. I knew it was going to be a mob, and we all paid our respects to the family, went to the funeral home, but we left the funeral strictly up to that particular group.

I can remember that they brought in a speaker from Chicago, I believe, who preaches violence. Our minister was attempting to pacify the group by preaching love, and I think they also had a speaker from Kansas City, but I am not positive about that. I just know that that was probably the largest demonstration we have had for some time, but this again was due to the influence we felt from some of the outsiders who had come into town. When Harrison was here and preached violence, he was very, very upset with those of us who refused to go along with his violent movement. They would threaten in subtle ways. They rode past our house one evening, just carloads of them, and I can remember them telling us, "You own all this land out here, and we are going to come out and we are going to do this and I can remember my husband say, "Yeah, you just said I owned it, so I will tell you when you will come and when you won't." But they wanted to come out and take over plots and decide what they wanted to raise and this type of thing.

MR. NETHER: Really?

MRS. HARVEY: Yeah. This was their idea, that you have it, now we are going to divide it and of course this didn't set with people who had worked a lifetime to accumulate what they had and had done without many things to get where they were, so that didn't really get off on the ground. But these were just some of the small ways that the blacks had at that point of trying to intimidate other blacks into moving into their corner, you might say.

MR. NETHER: Mrs. Harvey, what was the Afro House?

MRS. HARVEY: All I ever knew about the Afro House was that it was a big house down the street here a ways and where a number of young black men had lived. Can't say that they were all students and I can't say that they weren't, but they had a lot of parties. I mean it was sort of a good-time-type house from what we could gather. Never was in it and didn't really know where it was until the night of the shooting, and then I was able to pinpoint the exact house. Up to then I just heard about it.

MR. NETHER: Could you tell me anything about the Concerned Black Parents of Lawrence, which organized at this time?

MRS. HARVEY: Yes, I think they organized for educational purposed more than anything else, as I remember. They were upset because we had no teachers, minority teachers, in the school system to speak of. They felt that their children were never taught Negro history. They felt that their children were often pushed back and not given an opportunity to participate in various activities in the school, and their major emphasis was to open up areas where their children would learn their history.

MR. NETHER: Is there anything else now you would like to relate to us about either time period before we compare them, maybe something you thought of about the nonviolent movement which you were so essentially involved in compared to the violent movement, which took place during the early 1970s?

MRS. HARVEY: I think what I would relate mostly is when we first got married, like most young people, we were very poor, and Dean wanted to get involved in a business. We didn't have anything. I think I have already related the fact that they had lost their property and the boys had redeemed it, so therefore they were up to their necks in debt, in trying to save the home place. Dean wanted to get involved in haying. We wanted to go out and mow, rake, bale, and put the hay up, which we felt would be a lucrative business at that time. We did not have the necessary equipment, and we could not get a loan in Douglas County, so we went back to Wyandotte County, Kansas City, Kansas, which was my home. We went to Douglas State Bank and told them our story. They gave us the loan, and we are able to get our start from there, so we really at this point don't feel that Douglas County gave us an opportunity to be what you call good citizens. We were trying to make our own living, trying to make our own way trying to rear our children to the best of our ability and yet they didn't give us this opportunity by granting us a loan, and Douglas State at that time and still is a Negro Bank in the Negro community, and so it was on the basis of who we knew there and the fact that my father was also well known in Kansas City that we were able to get the loan to get started.

I can't say now that things have progressed that much in Douglas County, because I still look around and I still see the need for jobs for our people. They can't say we are not educated because we have bent over backwards to see that our young people are educated, and our young people are still leaving Douglas County to get better jobs. I have always felt that anywhere where our tax money is involved somewhere we should be represented, and we are not represented in many of these areas. The stores still do not hire Negroes. Jobs I would say would still be one of the things we are going to have to fight for eventually in Douglas County. I think recreational-wise most of the things are open, but our people without jobs still are not able to take advantage. Let me give an illustration. I can remember when we were trying to get the restaurant open. One of the fears was that we were going to come en masse and just sit down and take over their restaurants. We kept trying to tell them this you don't have to fear. We don't have the money to come in your restaurant and eat more than once a year or something of that nature. And I think if they look around that this is basically true. People still don't have the money because they don't have the jobs or they don't have the good-paying jobs.

Now, many things have changed. We now have the professors on the University campus, but they do not come into the community and really become a part of the community and help in any of these areas. They have gotten their start, but they got it off of somebody's shoulders. I can remember this is one of the things my parents always told us. They wanted us to stand on their shoulders and move from there on up. This is why they sent all of their children to college. My mother had gone through normal school; my father got the government job before his graduation. In fact, he was on his first run graduation day, but we still see the places where our people are not getting the jobs. The schools, we don't have enough Negro teachers in the schools. I think we still have a few schools that are all white.

MR. NETHER: Yeah. Lot of them.

MRS. HARVEY: Our children still are not being taught Negro history. If they don't get it in the home, they just don't get it, as I see it. You are still being intimidated as long as you ruffle some feathers. If you cause a few waves, they don't like it. I will be honest, we don't have any black deputies here. We don't have too many secretaries as I see it in the courthouse, city hall. The utility companies don't hire that many. We have a few token ones.

MR. NETHER: Mrs. Harvey, you think there has been a regression for black people here in Douglas County?

MRS. HARVEY: I am beginning to think this in some ways. When I go downtown, I just don't see us in the stores. There for a while we did have at least one in every other store. I don't mean we ever got them in every store, but we had one or two, and we are hearing the same old stories. They don't want to work or they don't apply, when you ask, the managers why we don't have the jobs. We don't have the skills. I was talking to the young man the other day who is in the cleaning business. He said that he had to go in and talk with the man and there were two of them up for the job. He finally convinced the man that you are going to train him, so why don't you train me also, so he split the hours between the young Negro boy and the white boy and gave him an opportunity, but business wise, no, we don't have any people. We do have more nurses now than when I first came to Lawrence. I can only remember three when I first came to Lawrence. We didn't have any doctors and still don't have any doctors in Lawrence. We don't have any lawyers here. We did have one lawyer when I came. We had some professional people prior to that, but we don't have them today.

MR. NETHER: What are some of the reasons? Why not, you think?

MRS. HARVEY: I can't give you too many answers. I know I talked with one doctor who came here during must have been the early 1950s and tried to set up a business here, but he said that he found at that time that the Negroes had gone to the white doctors for so long, been a little brain washed, that a Negro doctor couldn't take care of them. They hadn't had Negro doctors for such a long time that he found he couldn't make a living for his family, so he moved on into Kansas City, Kansas. Lawyers, I can't give you any answers as to why we don't have any lawyers in Douglas County.

MR. NETHER: Leonard's a lawyer but he's working for the government?

MRS. HARVEY: Yeah, in Kansas City, Kansas. This had been true with our people forever since I have known about Douglas County. Many of them have lived in Douglas County, because living expenses were a little cheaper, but they have worked somewhere else, either in Topeka or Kansas City. They have reared their families here and very, very few of them encourage their families to stay in Douglas County because of the job opportunities.

MR. NETHER: Would you want your children to live here?

MRS. HARVEY: Not particularly.

MR. NETHER: Why not?

MRS. HARVEY: I guess because I just have the two girls left and I think they would have better opportunities for marriage away from Douglas County, for one thing. Debbie is teaching here, but I know she could go somewhere else and get more money teaching if she were willing to leave her family. For Karen, it would be health reasons. I would like for her to leave Kansas, period, because Kansas is just bad for her allergies.

MR. NETHER: What about your two grandsons? How would you feel if they decided to stay here in Douglas County?

MRS. HARVEY: Opportunity wise, I would want them to go wherever the best opportunities are. Family wise, of course, we would want them somewhere near us. Their grandfather I am sure is hoping that some day one of the boys, one of his grandsons, will want the farm. But this was always a part of our discussions, that our son was not a farmer at heart, and yet his father desperately wanted him to take over the family farm, since he was the only Harvey to carry on the name, but that was taken care of, so we don't have that problem, but with the girls I want a better life for them. I want them to be happy. I think since they both are educated women, I would like for them to have educated men for all reasons, social, marital relations. In fact, I would want the boys since their father is not with them, to have a good stepfather who would encourage them to be educated. I don't want to ever see the family regress. I hope that every generation from now on out will be an educated generation in some way. This is why we have hung on, because Dean has never been able to make it on the farm. He's always had to hold down a job. His jobs have been good jobs, not necessarily because they were in Douglas County, but because of the war he was a supervisor at Sunflower, or he's always had a skill which he never used because he couldn't use it in Douglas County until recently.

MR. NETHER: What skill was this?

MRS. HARVEY: Welding.

MR. NETHER: Welding.

MRS. HARVEY: Welding. I have never really worked since I have been married, because the only thing I really knew was teaching and since there were no jobs in Douglas County and we were going to make our home here. Then naturally, I didn't ever use my talents for anything other than being hopefully a good wife and mother, but the only reason I would say stay in Douglas County would be because of a family relationship.

MR. NETHER: So still even today for black people Douglas County isn't the land of opportunity, maybe?


MR. NETHER: There's bridges to be crossed yet?


MR. NETHER: Mrs. Harvey, could you compare the two movements in Douglas County, racial movements, could you compare the nonviolent one which you were mostly involved with with the one that was a little more radical, little more violent?

MRS. HARVEY: I honestly think that the nonviolent movement accomplished more.


MRS. HARVEY: And not because I was involved in it, but because we did get the fair housing law. We did open up the restaurants, the hotel accommodations. Some of these things, of course, were passed with federal law, but we still had the problem of enforcing them on the local level. People were willing to sit down and talk. They were willing to listen if you had a point. The violent movement, I really think, turned off many people, both black and white. Those of us who had worked hard, who had struggled, who had taken many slurs, both by meeting people on the street and over your telephone, sometimes you almost hated to pick up your telephone, but you did it because you wanted something better for the generation that's coming up. What hurts the most is that our parents fought for some of the very same things that we turned around and fought for in the land of opportunity. Then you see your own children having to almost fight the same battles for their children. So this makes four generations of people that are still fighting to just do what you feel you have a right to do.

I mean we are not trying to infringe on people's rights, all we are saying is if we have the money, let us go in and spend our money the same way you spend your money. I for one do not do much shopping in Lawrence, because I resent the fact that I go in these stores and we do not have young people working, not necessarily young people, but Negro, minorities, working in these stores. I feel like my money ought to go somewhere where some young person is going to get a wage, a decent wage. We buy our cars here, our farm equipment, because we do feel that we live in Douglas County, we owe them some things. But we know we could get some better deals away from here because we do know some black people who are in business who would be more than willing to sell us equipment at a lower price than we are going to pay in Douglas County.

We are black farmers and have been involved in trying to make a living and we find that so many times, prices just haven't been good enough to sustain us, so we have had to figure out a way to make a living. Your children have been bussed all their lives. My children don't know anything but bussing. My grandsons don't know anything but bussing. I can't say we haven't had problems, I think the Harveys might disagree with me, but we had problems. They may have been of my making, but I am not the type of person who can sit back and be mistreated and feel like I don't have a right to say that I have been mistreated. I don't want any of them to ever be violent people.

I want to see Douglas County grow. I will be honest with you. This is why I think I have stayed in some of the organizations attempting to help with the nonviolent type of movement. If I can relate this incident. We have people who are on welfare who still don't know where to go to get the necessities of life who are still insulted when they walk into an office, not that they want them to stay on welfare. I have taken many of these young people around after we felt that they were qualified for jobs, only to have the manager of a business say, "Well, you are better off on welfare."

This turns you a little bit. It makes you wonder what are we working for? Why are we standing out here still trying to better the situation if this is the way that they are going to be treated? We would like to see those young women get off of welfare, become self-sustaining. I know that they have problems with their children finding decent baby sitters, because to me a baby sitter who just sits and looks at a child is no good for that child. That child needs to be motivated from the time he is a baby on up, so many of them just stay at home because they draw enough to eat and to clothe themselves, and this is all that they are doing, is existing.

We have put up low-income housing in Lawrence, and it is not very long before it is turned over to the hands of a private enterprise, and it is then no longer low income. Many people gave up their homes in east Lawrence, [old] west Lawrence, to move out to what we call Hope Plaza, and it wasn't very long before those people were forced out of there because they could not pay the rent. They put them in such awkward places that they don't have any transportation. Lawrence offers no transportation, and this is one of the things I have been battling with a long time. It doesn't matter to me because I live in Douglas County and have to drive wherever I am going.

But I do feel like a woman who is on welfare goes in a store to buy her groceries, all right, ever if she has food stamps and can buy enough groceries to feed her family for two weeks, she still has the problem of getting those groceries home. She's got to always be aware that she's got to pay a taxicab to get home. I don't have that problem. I walk out, I'm going to get in the car and hope it will start, and go on wherever I am going, but she has this problem. She has walked to the store many times if she can not get somebody to take her; then she has to pay the taxi to get home. I disagreed with where they put these low-income housing projects for this particular reason: they are not within walking distance of a shopping center, so these people have no recreation either, so far from the swimming pools, they can't get their children there even if it is a free day, they are way, way from the library, and so therefore most of them don't try to read and better themselves.

MR. NETHER: They have that shuttle bus service for KU, but that's the only place that it operates around, is the campus?

MRS. HARVEY: Right. And they don't worry about how the people are going to get work. These people have to either get somebody to take them to work or they have to depend on somebody to get them to the hospital or to the doctor. While we do try to do this through a volunteer clearinghouse, it's difficult to get somebody to go clear across town to 1600 Haskell, pick up a welfare patient, take him to a doctor, wait until he is through, or go back and pick him up and see that he gets back home. And so we find they have many problems this way. There used to be buses running in and out of Lawrence when I first came. Boy, we went home every hour. Now you can hardly get a bus into Kansas City, and the fares are so high that again they can not make it off of what they had. So many times these people, their health is bad, and they need to go to the medical center but they don't have any way to get there. If they have an appointment and they call the volunteer clearinghouse, they try to find rides for them, but you don't have enough volunteers willing to do that, and doctors' offices are all near the hospital, so they have that problem. Also I object to the little stores that crop up near these housing projects. They charge such a ridiculous price, yet they know that these people are not within walking distance of any other store, and the prices they charge are outrageous but this is all they have. They don't have any other choice of either running to this little store and buying or waiting until they get back downtown. It seems to be that they don't consider their problems when they put in these projects, or when they let all these stores build out in the newer areas. They closed up all the other stores. I guess Weavers is the only one left in the downtown area. But these are just some of the things as I see it that Douglas County is going to have to come to grips with some day.

MR. NETHER: Do you know many people on welfare here in Douglas County?

MRS. HARVEY: I know some, yes.

MR. NETHER: When did most of the black people here get on welfare?

MRS. HARVEY: I can't honestly answer that. I don't know. But I would assume that it was somewhere in the late 1950s and early '60s when they began to come up en masse from the South. After the war some didn't go home, got a job, and began to tell the others about the opportunities and they would come up.

MR. NETHER: This is after World War II?



MRS. HARVEY: No, I would say after the Korean War more is when they came. They just didn't go back home. The young man didn't want to go back and sharecrop, didn't want to live the same way daddy had lived and so he took a job and stayed in what he called the North, and he would tell his brother or some member of the family, and they would come. And they were not educated, so they were unable to get good jobs. Most of them have had to take menial jobs, and if they didn't find that, then they went on welfare.

MR. NETHER: Mrs. Harvey, do you think that there's class distinctions here in Douglas County between blacks, say, the blacks that are farmers, compared to the blacks that are professionals, compared to the blacks that's on welfare, compared to the blacks that live in north Lawrence?

MRS. HARVEY: Unfortunately, yes. I don't know who causes the distinction, but in my own case, I would have to say that I hope I am not prejudiced in that sense of the word, but our living is just a different type of living from those in the city, so if I don't meet them at the church, I just don't have much opportunity to meet these people. Maybe through my volunteer work, I might run into them, but other than that, I personally don't come in town to visit that often, and they don't have transportation, so they don't know where we live. Therefore there is that distinction, yeah. Professional people, they have a tendency to look up to anyone who owns land. They think they are rich.

MR. NETHER: What about the ones from the South? Mostly here in Douglas County I found a lot of black people that migrated here from Mississippi.


MR. NETHER: So is there a class distinction there between the blacks that were born here and the blacks that migrated here from Mississippi?

MRS. HARVEY: I would say there is. I don't think it's an intentional thing. It again boils down to the social aspect of it. You don't socialize with these people, so therefore you really don't ever get to know them. If you live in a different area of town, so therefore your children don't go to school with their children until they reach teenage years, and again it boils down if you don't meet them at the church, you just don't meet them, and they seem to have their own ideas about religion, so they set up their own churches. They are clannish; they stay in their own back yard, you might say. They seem to be friendly enough, if you speak to them, you can get in a conversation with them very easily, if you are willing to do this. When I first came to Lawrence, it was a very clannish small town since that everybody knew everybody, and most families were intermarried and with the new migration, you don't really know these people. You walk down the street with someone that you know very, very well and you say, "Well, who is that?" You have no ideas who those people are, where they came from, you don't know whether they are related to the community through the university or through living here, welfare-type people, or what. You just don't know them. And I am not sure that we are going to really break this down unless we band together in some way in the segregated environments. Because with the churches being open, most of the university people I notice are inclined to go to the white churches. I think I related most of these people from the South have set up their own churches, meet in their own homes.

MR. NETHER: What church do you belong to?

MRS. HARVEY: I belong to St. Luke AME, which is the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

MR. NETHER: How long have you belonged to this church?

MRS. HARVEY: To St. Luke?

MR. NETHER: Uh-huh.

MRS. HARVEY: Twenty-four years.

MR. NETHER: How long have you been a Methodist?

MRS. HARVEY: All of my life, born, baptized.

MR. NETHER: What's your participation in this church? What are some of the things that are involved?

MRS. HARVEY: I have always taught Sunday School.


MRS. HARVEY: I am a steward. I have been a trustee. Most any office that they have, Christian education.

MR. NETHER: Do you see any major changes in the church? Compare the Methodist church when you were in Kansas City to now.

MRS. HARVEY: Recreation or social activities were involved with the church. This is where you met your friends. The young people were encouraged to go to church. They were always a part of the church. They were never set aside. We were taught pride in the church. We knew that it was a break off of the Methodist Episcopal Church and that it was due to the fact of segregation that, we were in a separate church. We had our own bishops whom we looked up to. Our ministers were usually well- educated men who came in with their families and one could inspire you, maybe, one couldn't, but anyway, they would come in and they stressed education. We have schools all over the world. And this is one of the things that we always talked about. I think having grown up in Kansas City we had Western University, where all of the AME ministers were educated, so let's say that we spent a lot of time on the campus. Then when I came to Lawrence, St. Luke was a small church, but it was an active church. You participated in almost every movement that we had in Douglas County. Most of the people there were, I guess I would have to say they were educated in the sense that you have two AME churches in this town.

The other little churches always felt that St. Luke was just a step above them, and this is why they have never merged the two churches, even though today we should be merged because we don't have enough people participating to actually keep both churches open, but the people who belonged to St. James always felt a little beneath. This was in their minds because I assume St. Luke was the larger of the two churches. It was on the south side of the river, and the professional people that I knew in Lawrence were members of that church.

When I first came, they had the two teachers that taught at Lincoln were members of the St. Luke. Let's see. Mrs. Black was a member of St. Luke and she was a nurse, only one of the black registered nurses here. I think there were three when I came. Of course, Judge Clark, Mrs. Clark, who were involved in politics. I had understood that Dr. Harvey had been a factor in the church. I don't know. They always received the better-educated minister, I would assume, from what I could judge, from the conference, and they just played a prominent role. Our ministers came in and they were mostly young aggressive men, and they saw an opportunity to step in here: I am going to step in, I am going to lead these people, I am going to remodel this church, and therefore it will be a step up, and St. Luke has been fortunate in that in the sense of the AME Church we have had three men who pastured there who later became bishops, Bishop Gregg, Anderson, Brookings. Anderson and Brookings are both pretty well known. Brookings especially is a well-known figure in the push movement and NAACP. All of these Negro organizations. Reverend Cobbs, he's a correctional officer. That's what I am trying to say. He came here from Kansas City. He had a master's degree, was working on a PhD, and was a little unhappy in Lawrence because he didn't feel that it was a progressive town at all. Many of the ministers have taken the opportunity of being in a college town to go to KU to further themselves, to get master's degrees.

Those I mentioned previously, McMillan, Anderson, Brookings, Branch, all of them took the opportunity to go to KU because they knew it was a good school, had a name, would help them wherever they went. They used this as a stepping stone to further things in the AME church, and those men that I have mentioned were all leaders. I think Reverend Anderson was president of the ministerial alliance here in Lawrence, just a short while because he was moved, but they were active in this movement. They didn't take a back seat to anything. Their churches were always open for anything that their people asked. If you got involved in something, I remember when I first was involved in Church Women United, Reverent Anderson and his wife backed me on every movement. Then the McMillans came, then the Branches and there was nothing that I put forth that they were not back behind me, with advice, with the money, or presence, whatever. I think this helped us a lot in knowing that we did have these courageous people behind us. They always made us understand though that they could be moved at any time. This is the method of the AME church, that at conference time, anyone could be moved or if there was a death and there was an opportunity to move up, he could move at any time. Unlike the Baptists, who choose their own minister, and he's usually here for quite a period of time. This is not true with my church. But our church was always a leader. I think Rosa Parks was an AME who started this movement by refusing to take a back seat in the bus.

MR. NETHER: Richard Allen?

MRS. HARVEY: Richard Allen, yes, our founder, because he was denied the right to pray in the church is why he walked out and led us in the movement and our motto is here, "God our Father, Christ our redeemer, man our brother." We are having a seminar next week. I was just reading through some of the material. But we have never discriminated. We have white members. We even have some white ministers. We have never discriminated, although we are separate because of the discrimination that our people felt back in those days. And Absalom Jones. So we were always taught this and of course I went to a black school. I had nothing but black teachers until I came to KU. My first real incident with prejudice was here in Douglas County, and for a long time I was ready to move. Slightest thing, I could have moved back home, but, I came and I found things were not like I liked it, and so I in my own way attempted to change some of the things.

MR. NETHER: You kind of feel that when you get here that it's not the best place to be, but anybody can turn and leave and run?

MRS. HARVEY: True. I have to stand and fight some time.

MR. NETHER: If people would have had that same idea, black people would be less advanced than if you claim any advancement there would be less advanced now if people had that idea.

MRS. HARVEY: From what I could gather, my mother had this brother that lived in Baldwin, and I don't even remember why my uncle moved to Baldwin, but I think my grandfather's sister had married a Porter in Baldwin. My uncle had a large family and she encouraged him to come over there, I think, so this is when I used to come as a child to play over in Baldwin, but I never once thought I would end up in Douglas County, to be honest with you, but we don't know what life is going to hand us. I think that the first blacks such as Dean's family and the Henrys, the Mitchells, and all that bunch that came up right after slavery days came looking for a better life. All they knew was farming and so they farmed, but there was a generation there that did not want to farm. Farmers had been looked down upon for a long time, out there sweating and all that foolishness. And so Dean can tell you more about the things in the school. He's told me many things about the prejudices that they felt. I can remember now when I was at home that Lawrence High School had a separate basketball team, because they came to Kansas City to play our teams and we never really thought about being segregated, I guess. We just didn't know any difference because we all lived in this area and all of our schools and all the professional people that we had to look up to, we even had Douglas Hospital, which is an AME institution, but we never even thought about going anywhere else.

MR. NETHER: Did you attend Sumner?

MRS. HARVEY: Yes, I did, high school.

MR. NETHER: And your grade schools were all black also?

MRS. HARVEY: All black.

MR. NETHER: Do you think you got a good education?

MRS. HARVEY: Yes, sure did.

MR. NETHER: You know they are planning to close Sumner down?

MRS. HARVEY: We sure do and while I'm in Douglas County, we are fighting to keep it open. They have asked graduates to participate in some way to keep it open because I can name many people who came out of Sumner High School. One of the regents, Elmer Jackson, is a graduate of Sumner High School. Naturally he wants to keep it open. Many of the teachers who are in Kansas City and we came to KU with all hopes of getting a good education, I mean it's quite a shock to file in the class and the man suddenly looks at you, says, "I don't care what kind of grade you make, you are only going to get" —I nearly died the first time one of the professors told me that. I didn't believe what I was hearing. My sister said it was true and she was seven years ahead of me. She ran into this and yet she's a Phi Beta Kappa. Yes, they can't say these people don't have a good education. I don't say everybody has a good education. No matter where you are, some are going to goof off. I know many who went on, who are lawyers, doctors, PhDs. I run into them sometimes, and I think, oh, boy.

MR. NETHER: I think about that often now because I think when blacks did have schools they were well educated.

MRS. HARVEY: Let me explain it this way: Most of the teachers that we had were qualified to do something else but could not get a job. They either had degrees that would have qualified them to teach in colleges, but there were not enough Negro colleges to hire them so therefore they taught in the lower grades. One of the best math teachers I ever had was an engineer but could not use his engineering degree for anything until after the war, but math was something he could teach us and I mean he was able to relate it to us. We were always taught to take skills- type courses that would qualify you for jobs such as typing and shorthand, tailoring.

MR. NETHER: Mrs. Harvey, you right now are living on the farm. Have you and your husband ever thought of selling your farm"

MRS. HARVEY: I have. He hasn't.

MR. NETHER: Why have you thought of selling the farm, and to whom?

MRS. HARVEY: Oh, I thought about selling it to anybody in particular. When you don't make any money and you see all the money that he's making going back into the ground, just not anything that would be a racial thing, just a wife's intuition. I'm tired of doing without, but no, Dean would never sell. He will be dead when we sell.

MR. NETHER: Have you ever owned a business in your family, ever owned a business in Douglas County?

MRS. HARVEY: Not in Douglas County. My family did in Kansas City.

MR. NETHER: Did you know Langston Hughes?

MRS. HARVEY: No, I didn't. Never had that opportunity.

MR. NETHER: What black organizations were there here in Douglas County when you first moved here in 1945? Was it Masons of—

MRS. HARVEY: Oh, yeah, lodges. They were here.

MR. NETHER: What were the names of them? Some of them have Greek names, fraternal order and so on?

MRS. HARVEY: I can't tell you because I know some of the names, but I don't know whether they were organized then or not.

MR. NETHER: Were there all black PTAs, can you remember?

MRS. HARVEY: Not that I know of. If there was, it was at Lincoln School, which was still operating when I came.

MR. NETHER: Mrs. Harvey, basically, those are all the questions that I want to ask you. But is there anything that you have knowledge of, maybe you looked over the questions and something came about, something came up in your mind that you want to relate to us as far as the history of Douglas County is concerned. Anything at all? Maybe something I haven't asked you that you want to talk about.

MRS. HARVEY: I can't think of anything that we haven't covered, really. I think we have about covered it all. My same concerns about jobs, transportation within the area. The housing situation, while people with money can now buy, I'm sure. I haven't heard of anybody having a problem here lately, but I am still concerned about people who are on welfare, the situations that they live in.

back to top