Kenneth Monroe Newman

Kenneth Newman's great-grandparents were slaves and his great-grandmother was Native American. They settled in Bloomington, Kansas, and Mr. Newman grew up in the Pinckney School neighborhood. He discusses discrimination in sports at Lawrence High School. He was drafted in 1967 while in college and served in Vietnam. He was a member of the Ninth Street Baptist Church.

Kenneth Newman

Interview by Curtis Nether

MR. NETHER: Start off with your name.

MR. NEWMAN: Kenneth Monroe Newman, Augustus Charles.

MR. NETHER: What's your marital status?

MR. NEWMAN: Married.

MR. NETHER: How many children do you have?


MR. NETHER: What's the name and age of your child?

MR. NEWMAN: Danielle is five and her name is Danielle St. Ryan. My wife's name is Lillian Catherine.

MR. NETHER: What's your parents' names?

MR. NEWMAN: Jesse and Maxine Newman.

MR. NETHER: Where were your parents born?

MR. NEWMAN: My mother was born in Stull and my father was born here in Lawrence, Kansas.

MR. NETHER: When did your mother first come to Douglas County?

MR. NEWMAN: I don't know. I have no idea.

MR. NETHER: Your father was born here. Do you know approximately or exactly what year he was born here?

MR. NEWMAN: 1934.


MR. NEWMAN: December 7.

MR. NETHER: Where was your grandparents on your father's side born?

MR. NEWMAN: Here in Lawrence also.

MR. NETHER: When did the Newman family first get here then? We went all the way back as far as to say your grandparents were born and raised here. What about your great-grandparents on the Newman side?

MR. NEWMAN: Let's see. My great-grandmother was an Indian. I forget their last name just like that, but my mother had all that down, but I can't remember the last name. They came from Louisiana.

MR. NETHER: Kenny, do you know why they came, for what reason? This is for your great-grandparents. Why Douglas County?

MR. NEWMAN: He was a farmer. He was a slave, just ending the slavery period and he got here and married this Indian and they farmed this little black town out here. What was the name of it?

MR. NETHER: Bloomington?


MR. NETHER: Why did he stop here?

MR. NEWMAN: I have no idea.

MR. NETHER: That would be something in history. Do you know if your great-grandparents now had any acquaintances here when they came?


MR. NETHER: They didn't know anyone?

MR. NEWMAN: I don't know.

MR. NETHER: Kenneth, how old are you?

MR. NEWMAN: Thirty-three.

MR. NETHER: Did you attend schools here in Lawrence, Kansas all your life?

MR. NEWMAN: All my life.

MR. NETHER: Kenneth, I want you to think back now as far as you can, as far as you can remember. Can you give me a visual history, a visual picture, of what Lawrence looked like when you were a small child growing up? What were the houses like, streets?

MR. NEWMAN: The only streets around here were brick, and of course, they are talking about old West Lawrence now, and that was the main focal point of Lawrence besides West Hills, and of course no expansion, only about 13,000 people here then. And as far—I could remember when this out here was all country.

MR. NETHER: Right here?

MR. NEWMAN: Yes. This was all country because right up here on Naismith, down here by Oliver Hall, my cousins lived down there, and they owned all that land in there. They were called the Mitchells. I can't remember their folks' names, but it was Kenneth and Bobby Mitchell. And there used to be a guy who lived down there by this lake, Green's lake, by the name of Taylor, and he used to farm out here, and he used to bring us out here and we would play when we were about two and three years old, me and my brother.

MR. NETHER: What was the most-developed side of Lawrence?

MR. NEWMAN: Up there by the stadium, which is West Hills. That was the rich part of town.

MR. NETHER: Really?


MR. NETHER: What about east Lawrence? What was it like?

MR. NEWMAN: Undeveloped, of course, but I can remember the Green Gables and the Shamrock. That was over in north Lawrence, and Blue Moon down there by the library, used to be a black joint where they used to gamble.

MR. NETHER: Really?


MR. NETHER: Who owned the Blue Moon?

MR. NEWMAN: I don't know. I have no idea.

MR. NETHER: Really?

MR. NEWMAN: But I can remember sitting outside and watching those people, dressing the way they do. I still think about that every now and then. I remember a guy got shot down there, stabbed down there, and my mother wouldn't let me go down there any more. My father used to work at Rapid Transit, changed tires, and he would go down there and have a beer or two, and we would meet him, nothing to walk across Lawrence because you couldn't get lost. He used to walk in there and get a beer and buy us pop and we would sit outside. I can definitely remember all those old people down there.

MR. NETHER: Were they all black people?

MR. NEWMAN: All black. Yeah. There's a Standard station on the corner there now where it used to be.

MR. NETHER: Can you remember now still thinking back as far as you can, can you remember any other black businesses?

MR. NEWMAN: Yeah. There was a black barber shop over there by the Shamrock, and that was owned by my cousin, Mr. Emory, they called him Land.

MR. NETHER: What was his full name?

MR. NEWMAN: Land Emory. Of course there was nothing electrical in the shop. They still cut your hair with those clippers. I hated to go over there. Uncle Land, he could quote from "Genesis" to "Revelation," drinking his gin.

MR. NETHER: Was there a lot of older people that would come and sit around?

MR. NEWMAN: Just sit around and had a pot-belly stove off in the one corner.

MR. NETHER: Was it kind of a hangout on Saturday?

MR. NEWMAN: Yes, it was, and there was a grocery store down the street where the people would congregate and I can't remember the name of that grocery store.

MR. NETHER: Just a black grocery store?

MR. NEWMAN: No, this was a white-owned grocery store.

MR. NETHER: But many black people would go there?

MR. NEWMAN: Yeah, and just hang outside because there was a little beer tavern on the west side of it, but the blacks had theirs on the west side in the back, and they would come up there in their old cars. I remember one of them used to ride a horse. Quite a few farmers had horses, and they would ride them in.

MR. NETHER: Kenny, I want to go back here a minute back to your uncle. Do you know how he acquired his barber shop? Was he just a self-made man?

MR. NEWMAN: I really don't know because I was only five or six years old when we started going over there and the only thing I knew is I just hated it. Those were painful experiences to get your hair cut with clippers. You just don't check into people's background when they are pulling your hair out.

MR. NETHER: Those clippers you are talking about could cut your skin?

MR. NEWMAN: That's right.

MR. NETHER: Any other black businesses that you can remember?

MR. NEWMAN: This was later on, but there was a lawyer around here. Can't remember his name. He got shot down town and made the front-page papers.

MR. NETHER: Was he a black lawyer?

MR. NEWMAN: Yeah. Lawrence's only black lawyer that I can remember that had a business here.

MR. NETHER: Approximately what year was this, Kenny?

MR. NEWMAN: That would have been 1951. It was in the summer when he got shot.

MR. NETHER: Did they ever find out who shot him or why he was shot? Was it personal reasons?

MR. NEWMAN: I vaguely remember that some guy from Kansas City come down and shot him because he prosecuted his brother or something, and he took revenge out on him, shot him.

MR. NETHER: And you say that this lawyer at one time owned a business here?

MR. NEWMAN: Yeah. His business was located where Haas Imports is. You know where that is now?


MR. NEWMAN: He was about three buildings north and upstairs.

MR. NETHER: Do you know what kind of business it was?

MR. NEWMAN: Yeah, just law practice.

MR. NETHER: You get a little older. You start school here. What school did you attend? What was grammar school?

MR. NEWMAN: Pinckney.

MR. NETHER: Pinckney Elementary School?

MR. NEWMAN: Right.

MR. NETHER: Okay. How many black teachers did they have at Pinckney?

MR. NEWMAN: Not a one.

MR. NETHER: What about principals, administrators?

MR. NEWMAN: Not a one. The only black school that they had that incorporated a black teacher was Lincoln School in north Lawrence where Mrs. Webster was teacher and principal.

MR. NETHER: Did they have just one teacher?

MR. NEWMAN: I don't know, I never did attend the school but I used to hear about Mrs. Webster.

MR. NETHER: How many black students went to Pinckney, approximately?

MR. NEWMAN: Oh, the Vanns and the Statons, the Newmans, the Dowdells, I guess there was about—and the Atchisons. I guess there was about, oh, thirty of us out of maybe five hundred or so.

MR. NETHER: Did they ever teach you anything about black heroes, black contributors to history?

MR. NEWMAN: Just George Washington Carver, and that was it.

MR. NETHER: Sounds like me too. That's all I learned. The school that you went to, were you confronted with any racism or discrimination that you can remember, being this young, and in an elementary school?

MR. NEWMAN: I was a fighter in my day and nobody called me nothing except my brother that's bigger than I am now. But I used to take up for him and all the white kids or blacks kids walking down the street. If I told them not to come up the street, they wouldn't.

MR. NETHER: They wouldn't?

MR. NEWMAN: They wouldn't. That's right.

MR. NETHER: What about here in town, you are going to school where you can protect yourself, you don't really have to worry about nobody ganging up on you or taking advantage of you, when you went out on the town downtown, could you go anywhere you wanted to?

MR. NEWMAN: When I was that age?

MR. NETHER: That age.

MR. NEWMAN: Like about the only place we could ever go, we could always play baseball and we got along with all the kids but as far as discrimination was concerned, the Patti Theater would discriminate. It wasn't such a thing as saying—we didn't know what discrimination was, being that young. We figured just a place to go upstairs. Besides, upstairs had the better seats.

MR. NETHER: You didn't mind?

MR. NEWMAN: It really didn't bother me. They said sit upstairs, so we went upstairs.

MR. NETHER: Back to the schools a little bit. Did you have many white friends that you would play with and so on?

MR. NEWMAN: Our neighborhood was all black on the north side of Sixth Street and white on the other side of Sixth Street, which is more or less your blue-collar workers, and a few professors, but yeah we all played together down in Clinton Park.

MR. NETHER: Did the parents seem to mind any time that you were playing?


MR. NETHER: Were these white kids lower-middle-class or lower-class income?

MR. NEWMAN: It is hard to distinguish now because then you didn't know what the economic structure was of the family, but there were a few that we considered rich that weren't rich.

MR. NETHER: The one maybe that would get a bicycle or something.

MR. NEWMAN: Yeah, right. And football gear. The blacks were definitely poor, because they were all domestics or janitors or something like that.

MR. NETHER: Were there any all black neighborhoods during this time that you were in elementary school?

MR. NEWMAN: There was one black section and that's over there where the hospital is now, but on either side of a black or two there was Caucasians or fields.

MR. NETHER: What was your reaction to KU? Did you have dreams being this young of going to KU one day?

MR. NEWMAN: No, I didn't. Ever since I have heard of a college or knew about the states, I always wanted to go to Texas, University of Texas.

MR. NETHER: Was there any reason why?

MR. NEWMAN: I don't know. The name just fascinates me for some reason. I wanted to go down there and play football. Not knowing that I couldn't. I always wanted to go to Texas for some reason.

MR. NETHER: Sounds like me. I wanted to go to Michigan. I wanted to play for Michigan State so bad. Never did go. What junior high school did you go to?

MR. NEWMAN: It's Central now, but then it was just junior high down on Massachusetts Street.

MR. NETHER: Just called junior high school?


MR. NETHER: Okay. How did you get to school?

MR. NEWMAN: Bicycle.

MR. NETHER: Did they bus? This was kind of a ways from Massachusetts Street where Central is now and you are living up on Sixth Street.

MR. NEWMAN: Yeah. I was living on Fourth over there by the hospital, but the funny thing about it was we got forty-five minutes for lunch and I could make it home in fifteen.

MR. NETHER: Really?

MR. NEWMAN: Yeah, because there used to be a Coke truck that used to make this same run every day. I used to hitch on. I would go up Fourteenth Street, I would hit the one- way street and grab on the side of it, me and my brother, and catch that thing all the way down to Sixth Street.

MR. NETHER: Did many of the black kids go home for lunch?

MR. NEWMAN: No. Most of them stayed out there and hung around, brought their sack lunches, but me and my brother rode and were able to make it.

MR. NETHER: In junior high school did you run into your first black teacher?

MR. NEWMAN: There was none there.

MR. NETHER: No principal?

MR. NEWMAN: No principals, no nothing.

MR. NETHER: Here did they ever teach you about black contributors to society?

MR. NEWMAN: No. Just George Washington Carver.

MR. NETHER: Now, did any new businesses start evolving at this time?

MR. NEWMAN: Black businesses?


MR. NEWMAN: I did have my first racial incident at junior high school.

MR. NETHER: Can you tell me a little bit about it?

MR. NEWMAN: There was a school play and I can't remember the name of the title of it and the production manager wanted me to be something in there and I said I wasn't, and she says, "Well, a nigger like you should," and me being in the seventh grade and knew by that time what a nigger was, I walked out of class, walked out of school, went home, and told my mother and mother called up the principal. The principal in turn got hold of the production manager and we had a meeting. I was there and she says, "Well, I didn't mean anything about it but we can't have white boys playing a black part," and come out why did she call me a nigger, and she said, "Well, that's what you are supposed to be called," and the principal also concurred.

MR. NETHER: Really?

MR. NEWMAN: Right. And so my mother just said, "Well, if that's the way you feel, and my boy does not have to take this class," which I didn't, so she put me in woodworking, which I think about that every now and then. I say, "Oh, wow."

MR. NETHER: Did your teachers—seeing how you didn't have any black teachers, no black administrators—were they compassionate when it came to issues on race or anything like you say about nigger, were they so conservative, they felt these were blacks we are teaching, but they are still niggers?

MR. NEWMAN: No. surprisingly enough, the education was really good around here and the teachers didn't tolerate it, at least the ones I had. Even when I was in the sixth grade we started to learn about Africa and things about the continent and resources, and that's about it. Mrs. Mallott wrote for the country of Nigeria and this chick didn't know how to pronounce it. She pronounced it Nigger and she got a lecture about that.

MR. NETHER: Really?

MR. NEWMAN: Yes. To me, the ones I had were excellent.

MR. NETHER: So just a few then?

MR. NEWMAN: Just one or two that didn't care, but I never had too many run-ins with any of them.

MR. NETHER: Anything else about your junior high school life that you remember that you may want to add or what were your anticipations going to high school, you are in the eighth and ninth grade and here you were getting ready to go to big Lawrence High. How did you feel? Were you excited? Happy? Kind of reluctant to go?

MR. NEWMAN: Didn't phase me one bit. Just another grade.

MR. NETHER: What was it like when you first went to Lawrence High School?

MR. NEWMAN: Just like going to college, confusing, of course. They were teaching us at the time passing grade or room to room, rather. You get over that in a day or two.

MR. NETHER: How many blacks accompanied you going up to Lawrence High School, approximately?

MR. NEWMAN: About ten or twelve.

MR. NETHER: How many whites?

MR. NEWMAN: Oh, hundreds.

MR. NETHER: A whole lot?


MR. NETHER: Were you encouraged to go out for athletics?

MR. NEWMAN: I was asked out by seventh grade. My father wouldn't let me go out because he figured I might get hurt. In the eighth grade I was asked out also. Same thing. In the ninth grade, same thing, but in high school I went out on my own, just to see what I could do. Surprisingly enough, I made the team.

MR. NETHER: How many other blacks were on the team with you?

MR. NEWMAN: Oh, about 20.

MR. NETHER: Kenneth, there's a thing now where it says that most of your outstanding athletes are black, for some reason or another, you can find many, many different reasons why, but with this in mind, were your coaches, did they encourage some of the black students to go out for athletics?

MR. NEWMAN: Okay. Junior high, he wanted us, Coach Duver wanted us, Coach Edmondson wanted us. I didn't know Coach Edmondson too well, but I understood he was difficult toward blacks. Coach Duver, he didn't care. When you got to high school he encouraged it, but you couldn't make the team. You would never start. Such as for example, Bobby Kimball and Charley Bowen, Kimball black, Bowen white. Kimball would carry the ball one time and get thirty-six if not a touchdown. And rack up eight or ten, carry something like 200 yards, 275 yards. Bowen would carry the ball incessantly, and he was the one that was getting the notoriety.

MR. NETHER: Was Coach Duver a fair man?

MR. NEWMAN: Yeah, very fair. He would swat anybody that would foul.

MR. NETHER: No matter what color?

MR. NEWMAN: No matter what color, that's right.

MR. NETHER: What about Coach Woolard, when you got to high school?

MR. NEWMAN: Coach Woolard was prejudiced. Even though he has the longest winning streak in the nation as far as football is concerned, he was definitely prejudiced.

MR. NETHER: Can you remember any incidences that kind of illustrate the fact that he was prejudiced?

MR. NEWMAN: Just the fact that he told Bobby Kimball when he was coming out of junior high that he would never make the team and despite that, Kimball made All American two years in a row.

MR. NETHER: In high school?

MR. NEWMAN: In high school. He couldn't stop that. When he needed some yardage, like third and four, he would give the ball to Kimball and Kimball would go for a touchdown. He would give the ball to Bowen. Bowen was a head cruncher. He would go up the center and he could get it. But Kimball is the one that had the notoriety. He told him not to go to college, and I think that what discouraged him, because he ended up going down to Grambling on track but you couldn't make the team because he could only run the hundred in something like 10.2. Got them niggers down there coming from Pan Am. He just couldn't compete.

MR. NETHER: So he never did play any more football after high school?

MR. NEWMAN: Never did.

MR. NETHER: That's a shame.

MR. NEWMAN: Another guy was my cousin, Larry Coleman. Do you know him? Have you talked to him?

MR. NETHER: Larry Coleman. No.

MR. NEWMAN: He's a fireman now. And he was really skinny, but when he got that ball, he ran back. There was a clip on three plays on the kickoff, he ran a touchdown on three consecutive plays, and the fourth time they were finally allowed. And he talked to Coach Woolard and Coach Woolard told him he would never make it in college, so he didn't go.

MR. NETHER: What years did your cousin play?

MR. NEWMAN: Which one, Kimball or—

MR. NETHER: Coleman.

MR. NEWMAN: Coleman. He played in 1959 to '62.

MR. NETHER: What years did Bobby Kimball play?

MR. NEWMAN: 1958 to '61 for Coleman and '59 to '62 for Kimball, I think that's right.

MR. NETHER: When you were young, going back again or after even you graduated, can you think back and think of some of the better football players at Lawrence High School that were black?

MR. NEWMAN: As I say, those two and Kimball. They had this one guy who they made quit school, my cousin who was just here awhile ago, Marion Waters, and he was an all-around athlete. Nothing he couldn't do. But the team just kept getting on his back for no reason at all, and finally he just quit school.

MR. NETHER: Seeing as how today most of your super basketball payers are black, you know, did Lawrence High ever have any great basketball players?

MR. NEWMAN: They had one, but he was lazy. His name was Frankie Dowdell, who could have been in the NBA right now as old as he is, and would have been starring, but he was lazy. But when he got up to the state championships, there's this guy selling real estate now by the name of Sam Shipstead, they were behind playing Topeka. They sent Frankie in, one quarter Frankie scored 39 points, right? He was good.

MR. NETHER: Dowdell. Okay. Let's go to track. Can you remember now, this is the sport that—

MR. NEWMAN: That I don't like.

MR. NETHER: That blacks generally excel in also.

MR. NEWMAN: Yeah. As I said, Kimball. They tried to push this other guy, Chuck Lanning, and there was a tremendous rivalry between Kimball and Lanning. If Kimball didn't win it, Lanning would.

MR. NETHER: Was this the hundred-yard dash?

MR. NEWMAN: Yes, hundred, 220, 880, medley.

MR. NETHER: Did any of these athletes that you mentioned to me, did any of them get scholarships to a college?

MR. NEWMAN: Bobby got one as I said to Grambling and I think, yes, as I remember, he's the only one.

MR. NETHER: Did Woolard ever go out and try to encourage colleges to recruit any of these players

MR. NEWMAN: Not that I can remember or recall.

MR. NETHER: Did it ever seem like the white players that maybe that weren't as good as Bobby and your cousin Larry, did they get scholarships?

MR. NEWMAN: Sure, they did. Sure, they did. And it used to be funny, because especially in basketball, there's guys around here like Ronald Mumford who were too short to make the team. He was an excellent basketball player. We would meet out here at the community building on Saturday afternoon or something and play the high school team, and they never did beat us, yet there was only one or two blacks on the team all through school.

MR. NETHER: Who is the basketball coach when you were there?

MR. NEWMAN: Oh, good night, I can't remember his name now.

MR. NETHER: Was it Max Rife?

MR. NEWMAN: Yeah, that's it.

MR. NETHER: Can you compare Max Rife with Al Woolard?

MR. NEWMAN: I don't know. I never had Max Rife for a teacher. Never did.

MR. NETHER: Did he seem, did he seem now like he was a fair man when he came to putting blacks on the basketball team?

MR. NEWMAN: No, of course not. He wanted his few and that was it, and the best ones, like I said, Ronald Mumford, he was short, but you couldn't stop him, right? Still can't stop him. As old as he is, he's about thirty-five years old, you still can't stop him, but they wouldn't let him play because they said he was too short. Then we would get down there on Saturday afternoon and it would be a slaughter, tremendous slaughter.

MR. NETHER: Move from there. In high school, what did you do for fun? How did you socialize?

MR. NEWMAN: I didn't. I had to be home right after school. So there was no socializing.

MR. NETHER: What about on the weekends? What did you do? Basketball, that's one thing you did.

MR. NEWMAN: That's what they did. I would play basketball with them if they didn't have enough and we would still win even though I wasn't that good, but I didn't do anything. I just read a lot.

MR. NETHER: When there was a social or dance that blacks did attend, were they all black or were they sponsored by the school?

MR. NEWMAN: There was no all-black band, but there were quite a few all-white bands. Not many blacks could rent a tuxedo to go out to their proms, so the same night of the proms, the junior-senior proms, the junior-senior blacks, all the relatives, whatever, they would just throw a party—just go down there in one of your suits, something like that.

MR. NETHER: Did you feel alienated in high school, that you weren't a part of the high school because you were black?

MR. NEWMAN: Oh no.

MR. NETHER: You still managed to relate and get along despite what was happening?

MR. NEWMAN: Yeah, because it wasn't that obvious, and the people that did have that problem, the teachers, I wouldn't have associated with them because most of the blacks were in just high school and I was in the college prep course, so the teachers were completely different.

MR. NETHER: How did you get in your college prep courses? Were you encouraged or did you go over and say, "I want—

MR. NEWMAN: No. My mother told me I was going to college so that's what I had to get into.

MR. NETHER: Did you counselors encourage blacks to go to college?

MR. NEWMAN: I think it was fairly well cut who was going to college, by our senior year and there was no counseling, because the parents who could afford it, they knew their kids were going. The parents who couldn't, I mean there were no scholarships available at that time like they have now.

MR. NETHER: Who were you encouraged by to take college classes?

MR. NEWMAN: My mother.

MR. NETHER: Were many other black students in college prep classes?

MR. NEWMAN: As I remember now, there's a few that went that took it but could have been in just general high school curriculum but went anyhow. I think there was only about eight or ten of us out of a class of thirty-six blacks out of 365 that graduated in our class that went to college. Of course, after high school, you don't see much of them. They move away. So I don't know. Some I never seen in years so I don't know what they done.

MR. NETHER: What was a prestigious job that black students wanted to have after high school? Did you ever hear anybody daydream and say, "Man, when I get out I'm going to get this, I'm going to do that," or maybe yourself, what did you want to do? What did you feel would have been a good job?

MR. NEWMAN: My mother told me I was going to school, going to KU, and I wanted to go to the Marine Corps, so I wanted to go to service right after high school. I wasn't thinking about no job, nothing like that, I was just thinking about the Marine Corps, but when I got out of high school I had to go into summer school, so I didn't know what I wanted to be.

MR. NETHER: When you had dreams and wanted to go to the Marine Corps, was there any reason why, or did it just seem glamorous to you?

MR. NEWMAN: It just seemed glamorous. I have always been one to climb around in caves down there by Green Lake and old houses and things like that, walk under the streets of Lawrence in the sewer system, so it was just a natural thing for me to go in the Marine Corps.

MR. NETHER: Can you think of anything about Lawrence High that maybe I forgot to ask you that you wanted to say?

MR. NEWMAN: No, because I didn't do that much and I didn't participate that much in the extracurricular activities, so, you know, just get there by 8:15 and be home by a quarter to 4:00; that was it.

MR. NETHER: When did you enlist in the service?

MR. NEWMAN: I didn't enlist in the service. Now, let's get the right from the start. I was drafted.

MR. NETHER: When were you drafted?

MR. NEWMAN: I was drafted April 1, 1967.


MR. NEWMAN: Two months before I was supposed to graduate from college.

MR. NETHER: How long was this after you had graduated?

MR. NEWMAN: When I got drafted? Oh, four years.

MR. NETHER: How did you feel when you got drafted? Were you anxious to go?

MR. NEWMAN: I was angry because I only lacked just a few weeks of graduating, but I only needed eleven hours to graduate but for deferment you needed twelve hours, and there's no way I could have taken another hour. But if I had know that then, then I would have took twelve and I had eleven, so they took me out of school and said you don't need the requirements. Uncle Sam wants you, so therefore I ended up in Vietnam.

MR. NETHER: Where did you first go when you left here?

MR. NEWMAN: From the induction station I went to Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri. Stayed there for eight weeks, in infantry training, then from there with no pause, no break, I got on the bus, went down to Ft. Polk, Louisiana, for eight weeks. Then I had eighteen days when most guys got thirty to report to Vietnam from Ft. Lewis, Washington.

MR. NETHER: Were you in the infantry?

MR. NEWMAN: I was in demolitions and recoilless weapons. That is infantry also.

MR. NETHER: When did you finally go to Vietnam?

MR. NEWMAN: I was in Vietnam October 7, 1967.

MR. NETHER: Did you ever think about Lawrence when you were gone and, if so, what did you do?

MR. NEWMAN: The Gas Light was going strong then and they made pretty good hamburgers, and I was thinking about Gas Light hamburgers and Campus Hideaway had a black by the name of Leonard Rayton that cooked pizzas down there, and I thought about pizzas. That was about it.

MR. NETHER: When you thought of getting out of the service, leaving Vietnam, did you plan on living anywhere else besides Lawrence when you came back?

MR. NEWMAN: I didn't plan on leaving Vietnam. I didn't plan on leaving Southeast Asia.

MR. NETHER: Right.

MR. NEWMAN: That wasn't because of my demise either, because I wanted to stay over there, some part of that world, that I had a job over there with WPA&E Engineers. They were out of Brownsville, Texas, and they sent me back to the states and when I got back to the states, I came home, proceeded to get drunk, of course, and then when that guy called me back up, I had to go down to Brownsville, Texas, and then after I got down there, the position was already filled, so I just migrated back up to Lawrence.

MR. NETHER: What intrigued you about Southeast Asia?

MR. NEWMAN: I don't know. Something about—I had been around, never left this town, whole time I was here, just partied in this town, Kansas City, Topeka, Manhattan, of course. Once I stepped off that plane in Hawaii there was something I liked, just the smell of the air. Then when I got to the Philippines the air was smelling a little bit better, and when I got to Vietnam, the air was beautiful, and just got into me. I will never forget the smell, that tropical, I just loved it, and once I stepped off the plane I said, I will never leave here. Not that I was going to be killed, but I just wanted to stay there. Still would like to go back over there.


MR. NETHER: How did you feel about fighting Vietnamese, shooting, and killing going on around you?

MR. NEWMAN: I looked at it like this: I said that I wasn't going to fire my rifle over there because I didn't want to hurt anybody, didn't want to kill anybody. I said these people haven't done nothing to me and vice versa yet. And I didn't fire my rifle for three months, and then after that third month period, never ceased; for eighteen months it never ceased.

MR. NETHER: I am not going to ask you, were you afraid. But can you just kind of describe the fear that or inhibitions or—that you felt while being there with the idea that you may be killed in any minute?

MR. NEWMAN: The thought never really occurred to me that I was going to be killed, wounded, shot, or anything over there, because once I got on the train to leave Ft. Lewis, Washington, I told my parents I was coming back the way I was stepping on this train, because I had tremendous survival instincts, even before I went to the army, and, no, I mean fear over there, you didn't have any fear if you were on the line, but once you got into a fire fight, you weren't afraid of anything. Only thing you were afraid of is you couldn't see them and that was the main fear. You never saw where the shots were coming from.

MR. NETHER: How did you feel fighting for a country that you knew at that time practiced bigotry here?

MR. NEWMAN: As I said, that didn't enter into it in my way of thinking. They needed bodies over there and I wasn't following the war, but I had a buddy over there by the name of Everett Estell. I was watching on television and thought it was neat and I didn't think about the political implications of anything and eventually I said to myself, I was resigning, I said I wouldn't mind going over there not knowing that I would be over there. It didn't phase me one way or the other that we were in this war illegally or anything like that until after I got out and the demonstrations were going on. Then I started reflecting. I was mad at first because the people didn't know what was going on. I mean the government knew but the individuals didn't, and of course they brought it up about the change in the war.

MR. NETHER: Kenny, were you here in July of 1970?

MR. NEWMAN: Yes, I was.

MR. NETHER: Do you remember the racial unrest that took place in Lawrence?

MR. NEWMAN: Yes, I do.

MR. NETHER: Do you know what helped to bring about this racial unrest? What were blacks now wanting?

MR. NEWMAN: I can put it to you this way: I got back here just as the riots started because when Black Power got started I was unaware of the situation because all of our newspapers and things like that were clipped, and Newsweek especially edited for us. We had no idea what they were. We just thought they couldn't get a haircut, and then we got back in the states and, it really blew my mind, because I didn't have no idea what they were.

MR. NETHER: Do you see any major changes that have taken place in Douglas County in your lifetime?

MR. NEWMAN: I see changes, but they are all superficial, because we got token blacks on the school board, sorry about that, but we do, and we have in real estate, but where it counts we don't have any, even though there are people qualified, they are just leaving this town and getting the same jobs elsewhere because this town doesn't want them. The people think they are satisfied. They think we are satisfied, which we are not, but nobody's afraid to speak up and say this. And if they have a little meeting it's infiltrated by the whites and they come over and they argue the point and then they appease us and they think we are happy again and we are complacent. They give you token—

MR. NETHER: Just like give you a few and get you happy or give you some money and shut you up?

MR. NEWMAN: That's right.

MR. NETHER: Do you attend church here?

MR. NEWMAN: Yes, Ninth Street Baptist Church.

MR. NETHER: Do you see any major changes that have taken place in the church?

MR. NEWMAN: In the policy part, no, but in the human aspect of it, you are always going to find changes with individuals, but as far as the church is concerned, no, because there's only one aspect of church and it never changes, but your programs are going to change and the way they affect other people, of course, they are going to change, but as far as the encompassing factor, no, I don't.

MR. NETHER: When you were young, when you were a child, did the church provide social activities for its members?

MR. NEWMAN: More so then than now, but I don't know why. Of course, it seems to me that there is a recurrence of religion in people now, but for some reason the programs aren't there for the black youths, anyhow.

MR. NETHER: Kenny, you have one child. Would you want your child to live and grow up in and perhaps even have her children here in Lawrence or Douglas County?

MR. NEWMAN: You give me a theoretical question, of course—a hypothetical question, I am going to give you a hypothetical answer. I want her to be raised in this town; possibly if I can find a better job someplace else, that would be the town to go to, But as far as I'm concerned, educational value of this town is the only thing about this town, and what she does have kids or not, I don't think that's important just as long as she's happy, she's treated right.

MR. NETHER: Do you think she can have opportunity and be treated right here in Lawrence?

MR. NEWMAN: I think by the time she starts school, yes, because the teachers that they are getting in here now are of a new generation. They are very open minded, and in this town they come from the Hill to student teach and some of them decide to stay here and I think that the programs they present to these other kids, even though mine's not at that level yet, I think they are very good, considering what the rest of the cities around us have and what they teach you.

MR. NETHER: Do you think black people here in Douglas County have more to look forward to than what they have had?

MR. NEWMAN: No, because the black people in Douglas County even though they do come from out of town and try and promote their little programs and promote enthusiasm, they get complacent. When they are complacent, you are comfortable: when you are comfortable, you are lazy. So I don't know, somebody's going to have to come in here and do something, but that should be an individual thing.

MR. NETHER: Once they pay enough money—

MR. NEWMAN: That's right. That's all they want and it don't have to be ask for, that's it. That's all they need.

MR. NETHER: Kenneth, I have asked you a lot of questions. Is there anything now—oh, one more question while we are on tape here. Can you remember any celebrities, entertainers or anybody that made achievements in science, education, religion, that has made contributions that are right here from Douglas County?

MR. NEWMAN: Now, that is a question. Let me see here. There are a lot that have made contributions, but I don't think they are known for the fact celebrity-wise. There's one, her name is Rosie Vann, and most people are unaware that she starred in the original cast of Hair, not the one on Broadway, understand, but I think it's the one traveling through California. She was a year ahead of me in school. But as far as anybody else making it big, I can't think of any.

MR. NETHER: That one is good. I like that question because I seem to be able to dig one person out every time I do that. This would be the last question I have to ask you and that is now is there anything about Douglas County that related to black history of it that you would like to relate for the record or maybe you want to ask me a question or maybe there's a question that you want to answer that I haven't asked you.

MR. NEWMAN: I think the black history of Douglas County has been suppressed and I think that I don't know what it is because I am not like you. I am not a searcher for facts. I don't have the patience for that. But I think there is a history for blacks in Douglas County and I think it is relevant, but like when I was going to school no one was willing to bring it out, then it's going to remain dormant, but I would like to read something one of these days, something like you are trying to do, what blacks have accomplished, from time of inception of Lawrence right now, but I don't know. I hope your compilations are accurate and detailed so it will be worth while. Regardless of how small it is, every community has a history, a very interesting history, and like now I am going out taking pictures and I am trying to find gravestones that match different cemeteries and around here I found one name that's in all the cemeteries and that's Mears.

MR. NETHER: What's that name?

MR. NEWMAN: Mears, M-e-a-r-s. And I have gone as far south as Ottawa and still seen that name, so that is a history within itself right there. The blacks I know even more.

MR. NETHER: Do you know if Mears was black or white?

MR. NEWMAN: I have no idea. I have no idea.

MR. NETHER: You are a searcher.

MR. NEWMAN: I am just doing it for the film. I am not going to go into it any farther. I want to see what the earliest gravestone is and I think it's prewar, and it's 1855. I think it was about the settlement of Lawrence.

MR. NETHER: 1854, that was one of the first.

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