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´╗┐DAVID WOLFORD: It is August the ninth, 2002. This is part of the School Segregation Project in Western Kentucky. Just go ahead and introduce yourself and tell us where you are from and where you went to school.

AL MOSES: Okay. My name is Al Moses. Uh, I'm from Bowling Green, KY and I first started school at State Street School, uh, located on the corner of Second and State, right across from our residence. And then moved to High Street School in 1955 when High Street School was built. And even though it was called High Street School, it was named for High Street. It wasn't a high school. It was a total one through twelve which is like State Street is one through twelve. Uh, and I graduated from High Street High School in 1960.


DW: And where did you go on after that?

MOSES: I went to undergrad at Fisk University in Nashville, TN, where I got a B.S. in Biology. And subsequent to that I went to the University of Kentucky grad school in Biological Sciences and got a Masters Degree in Zoology in 1966. And after that-- I'll just go through the education thing and come back.

DW: Sure.

MOSES: And after that I moved to, uh, CA, specifically Pasadena, CA to take a position with the City of Hope, which is a national medical, uh, center. And City of Hope is, uh, a center that deals with catastrophic diseases. Uh, it's a large private Jewish facility. And it has pretty extensive US and worldwide, uh, 2:00outreach in terms of grants and, uh, funds. It's still there today and it's in the avant-garde of a lot of the cancer research that's going on now. Particularly bone marrow transplants, etcetera, etcetera. When I was there, uh, my position was, uh, a pulmonary physiologist. And we dealt with the clinical studies of people with catastrophic lung diseases, lumps, CA, cancer, uh chronic bronchitis. Uh, any pulmonary diseases that were quite major because most of the patients there were in those stages of diseases. I did that for two years. Uh, and to be quite frank with you, I became familiar with the very extensive CA, 3:00uh, educational program. They had a lot of junior colleges, as well as colleges where you get masters degrees in things other than biology. And since I was a scientist, I thought I might broaden my horizons and try to do some business, uh, education type things and was looking for a school to do that. Uh, found Loyola Law School. Uh, which was really a grad school--I was looking for an MBA type thing to get my business thing together--but found the law school and liked it. And attended during the evening and got the law degree there. I should back up and tell you that, uh, between the time of the City of Hope and the time of Loyola, I took position with Minnesota Mines and Manufacturing, a 3M company, in the medical products division. That was roughly around 1970, 71. And I was recruited from the City of Hope by 3M. 3M was a vendor at the City of Hope at 4:00that time. And we bought a lot of medical products from 3M. And consequently was recruited there and spent twelve years with the 3M company in the Los Angeles area, in sales and marketing. And during that time I went to law school and kind of made the transition into the private practice of law.

DW: And that's what you do now?

MOSES: That's right, now.

DW: Private practice as an attorney?

MOSES: Correct.

DW: Okay. In Pasadena?

MOSES: In Pasadena.

DW: Uh. Let's, uh, if you could, tell me a little bit about just attending school in Bowling Green. You, you attended totally, uh, segregated schools through your education here, right?

MOSES: That is correct.

DW: Just tell me, start in the early days if you want, but, you know, give me some specific stories about you going to school.

MOSES: Okay. I started as I indicated before at State Street School and, uh, I 5:00started first grade and there were two first grade teachers there. One was the principal's wife, uh, Mrs. Buford. The principal's name was E.T. Buford, PhD out of Fisk in Nashville. Uh, and the other was my maternal grandmother, Mrs. A.P. Williams, who was teaching first grade and since it was deemed I shouldn't be in her class I was in Mrs. Buford's first grade class.

DW: Uhm, okay.

MOSES: Uh, I started early. I think I started about nine months early because of my graduation, I mean my age, my July birthday, But, living with two teachers -- my mother was also a teacher at State Street School and when I started there she was an English teacher and the librarian. And my grandmother was a first grade teacher. So I was pretty much up to par by the time I started.

DW: Um-hmm.

MOSES: I was reading and I was doing first grade level before I started first grade because of the fact I was getting it here. Uh, my father was a graduate of 6:00Kentucky State College. And, uh, he was an insurance, uh, salesman at the time. He later was a district manager here. Uh, so I can recall all of my teachers at that time. State Street was a, uh, brick building of about three stories, uh, upper class were on the higher floors, third and fourth floor. That would be grades twelve, junior high on down. But it was interesting, now, in that we had one through twelve housed in one building of just three stories. Uhm, so we had six year olds going to school with eighteen year olds and teachers for them all which was the norm at the time.

DW: Um-hmm.

MOSES: Uhm, clearly not now. Uhm, I did fairly well in school. Uhm, I was given toward uhm, English and uhm, history. Uhm, I guess my weakest subjects were 7:00math. Uh, I think I did okay in chemistry. But it was interesting. Class sizes were if I can recall around 25-30 students per class. Uh, so the class that I graduated in 1960, my class had 37 students.

DW: From High Street School?

MOSES: From High Street -- I'm just trying to give you- yeh, from High Street School. And that was the size the classes were maintained all the time. The most interesting thing I think about State Street was the caliber of the teachers. Uhm, all had degrees. Uhm, and were all very dedicated toward teaching the students. And so even though it was segregated there never was really a difference in the quality of teaching. There was a difference in, in, in the educational materials. Uh, early on we got the -- at State Street, much less at 8:00High Street-- we got the used books of the other students in the district. And if there wasn't enough used books then we had to go without. And so it was ( ) the state --- I mean going to a unified school district that clearly was separate but not equal because of the terms of, of the educational, uh, campus, materials and booklets, but not in the quality of the teachers. Uh, I got involved in sports at an early age. Uh, because one of my teachers, Dr., I mean J.S. Almby--- you've heard the name?

DW: Um-hmm.

MOSES: Okay. Who got us involved in the Little Leagues. Uh, he started a Little League program here in Bowling Green. And we played in a park right across the street from State Street School, which is still there. Uh, yea. Carver Center is now located at that park, but it wasn't then. And the baseball diamond was there 9:00and we had uh, two teams. And we had different names. I mean I grew up with Pee Wee Reese and the Brooklyn Dodgers, but ours was called the Birmingham, uh, Barons and the other team we played was the Kansas City Monarchs. And now we know, of course, those were two Negro League teams. The Kansas City Monarchs was where Jackie Robinson started. And the Birmingham Black Barons was one of the Negro League teams. There were about six or eight Negro League teams that you probably now know.

DW: Okay.

MOSES: Uh, but we were introduced to it at an early age although we didn't recognize the significance of what that was. Because I played with the Barons and, uh, I was pretty proficient in, in baseball. And Coach Alby was the coach in my junior high years at State Street. He coached uh, football, baseball and everything. And I played uh, basketball when I was three or four years younger than the rest of the basketball team. I played baseball. And I played football 10:00my senior year, all for J.S Alby. Later, uh, Dr. F.O. ( ) came on the scene as the basketball coach and in 1957, '58 had some very good years. Uh, in fact, the team went to the state championship. I didn't play, uh, at that time. Uh, some of the teachers that come to mind would be C.E. Nichols who was a professor for Wilberforce. His wife was also a teacher, Alroma Nichols. She taught English. She taught chemistry and French. Uh, probably a little bit more cerebral, the teachers there. And clearly she was. Uh, as I indicated Dr. E.T. Buford was the, was the principal. Uh, an interesting sort in that he was, uh, highly educated, 11:00but a strict disciplinarian. And I think both the teachers as well as the students were, had some kind of fear, trepidation of, of, of, of Dr. Buford. Uh, most of the teachers who he brought in came from TN in a strange way. And in my high school years most of the teachers came from Tennessee State or from Tennessee area. The Reverend Smiles and what have you. Our classes were, uh, we changed classes ever- about six classes per day. And we would change and go to different rooms with different people and we had a homeroom teacher like we do now. Uh, all the teachers made a great impression. And I can honestly say--- and I've said many times when I do some speaking engagements--- of all the degrees I have which is pretty, a Masters as well as a law degree, and the Bachelors at Fisk, the most important one was the one from State Street because it gave me 12:00the background and the confidence to do those other two. The most dedicated teachers I had, were the ones at State Street. Uh, not counting the ones at Fisk and UK and, uh, Loyola. As a unique background, here in Bowling Green, because, uh, many of the students who were in my class, for example, have gone on with graduate degrees and a number, I was Salutatorian.

DW: Um-hmm.

MOSES: Angela Alexander was the Valedictorian. She's a teacher here in the school system. Finney Hamm was the number three student, graduating student. He is now a professor at Kentucky State College in the history department. I think he is the head of the history department now, as a matter of fact. And I think about, of those thirty, about ten went on to college. There was some with 13:00football scholarships that went to Arkansas A & M, I know for sure. Went to Hampton, I went to Fisk. So about ten of the thirty approximately went on to college in 1960.

Let's see. Bowling Green at the time was centered around the school and the church. And we grew up in that setting. My parents were--there was Sageview Baptist Church--some of the founding members of it. So we spent a lot of time at church. A lot more time than I had hoped for at the time. Since I was so active in sports, I developed this mysterious illness that only seemed to become an affliction on Sunday.

DW: Right.

MOSES: True story. Hey, they took me to doctors and stuff to see what this was. I used to get severe headaches. Only on Sunday.

DW: Really?

MOSES: True story. And then it, worked out of it. I mean. And now they recognize it. They thought it was, but it was true. Maybe it was a socio-phenomena thing, but it was there. So that's pretty much life in Bowling Green. Well, around 14:00town, I can recall going to the, the State Theater. There were three theaters in town: the Capitol, the Princess, and the State. And the State was the first one that allowed black people to attend and that was in the balcony. And that was around, I would think, 1955, '56. Maybe.

DW: Want me to stop it?


DW: How did you, you went to both State Street and High Street Schools. So, tell me how did High Street come about?

MOSES: Okay, I was in the--'55, '56--seventh grade. And there was, there was, there was a lot of talk in the community, I now understand, about the condition 15:00of State Street School. It was built early on, early 1900s, maybe before that. And a brick building and actually the students, the student body just outgrew the actual physical capacity of the school. Plus the concern about the school. A couple of issues that happened at State Street when I was going there was the cafeteria, which still stands, and an old fire escape. Because it didn't have a fire escape and the state law at that time mandated that you have a fire escape if you had more than two floors, and we had four, I think it was. Three or four. So I think it was, it was a combination of the fact that the actual student body actually outgrew the physical capacity of the school and that the fact that the school was not in the best condition, at any rate. So and clearly segregation was the order of the day. If you have got so many black students and there was 16:00no chance of them going anywhere else, so you had to build a new facility that could accommodate them. I think that was the deciding point with regard to High Street.

DW: And this was built, High Street was built about the time the Supreme Court order segregation illegal.

MOSES: Correct.

DW: Can you remember if that was, if it was built before it actually happened or not? Or it was about, I know it was give or take a year.

MOSES: We act, I think we actually, it was finished in 1955.

DW: Okay.

MOSES: And Brown v. Board was 1954. Brown v. Board of Education, '54.

DW: Right.

MOSES: So I am certain it, the building process started in '54 if not '54, but the completion being in '55. We actually made the move down there in '55.

DW: Do you think if perhaps just a couple years had passed before this move to build a new school, here in Bowling Green. And let's say the Supreme Court had 17:00issued its ruling and its clarification it did about a year later, do you think that would have changed anything? Could, would, perhaps Bowling Green have become integrated sooner in that circumstance? Or do you think that that would have not increased the chances that it would have become integrated?

MOSES: Given, given what I know now, probably latter. I don't think it would have increased the chance of integration at that time. I just don't think integration as a social phenomenon was, was, I don't think Bowling Green was, was ready for that at that time with regards to Brown v. Board and Kansas. And it's interesting that you, that's an interesting question you pose because at that time I know there was some concern. There was some controversy about the new school for the black students. And, and, and the white kids going to basically older schools that didn't have the new modern facilities. So who knows 18:00what might have happened if, if they had got the juxtoposition of the time right.

DW: I see what you are saying.

MOSES: Yeah. But I don't know. I mean --

DW: Right.

MOSES: My sense is that it was not. And given the fact that there was a lawsuit in '63 to force it. You know, probably not. That would be my sense of it.

DW: Okay. When you were at High Street, let's say, because those were the later years, you were probably knowing more what's going on in the community anyway, did you, did you or your classmates really know what the inside of Bowling Green High School would have looked like?

MOSES: Not the high school. We certainly knew what the gym looked like because, and I just confirmed this with a friend of mine. High Street started playing Bowling Green High in 1957. Basketball. Not football, never did play football. 19:00And that phenomenon I can't explain to you, but basketball. I think it was probably because the district, basketball, basketball was the primary sport in Kentucky. And more emphasis on that and High Street had its own team. They were doing pretty well. And so we knew the junior high, but not the high school. There weren't any black teachers there. There weren't any black students there. And I would say likewise for High Street and the white school. Some of the friends I had, I played baseball with were white, mostly were white. I played Babe Ruth League. And they were curious, they were as curious about High Street as I was about Bowling Green High. And actually would come to attend some of the, some of the basketball games, when we had home basketball games at High Street and not playing Bowling Green High or not playing College High. Some of the basketball team and students would attend High Street. And we did the same 20:00at Bowling High, but it was all on a basketball and a sports level, not on an academic level.

DW: Right. Do you think there was a willingness or did black people that are about your age or let's just talk about the Bowling Green black community in the late fifties, early sixties, was there a desire to attend school with whites?

MOSES: Not really. As I, as I recall, not really. And of course I know the rationale for the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board. But given the fact that the students at that time, since '55, were so proud of High Street, the new school, and attending there. I can't even say that there was a consciousness to say we need to do the integration thing. We didn't.


DW: Very satisfied, the black students and black community was very satisfied with the High Street School --

MOSES: Right.

DW: They had a good thing a thing going.

MOSES: Right. Right.

DW: Okay.

MOSES: You're right.

DW: Why do you think that eventually happened then? Do you think, you know in '63, if the building was finished in '55, I can't imagine in '63 that it would be a poor building especially if the white students earlier had sort of looked at it as the gem --

MOSES: Right. Right.

DW: Of the system. Why do you suppose, and you know you were gone I realize by '63, but why do you suppose it finally happened then?

MOSES: I don't think it was so much at that time the building and the structure itself, but during that period of time between 1960, '59 really, and say '64, there were heightened social consciousness of black people in Bowling Green just because of what's happening in the nation. A national thing made that happen. 22:00Much more appreciation for Brown v. Board, for integration in terms of public facilities. Now if you keep in mind, public facilities were not integrated in 1960, nor in 1962, nor in 1963. It wasn't before the Public Accommodation Act in 1965 that Lyndon Johnson did that that became the law of the land. So these other pressures came to bear. To wit, the civil rights movement and the issue of sit-ins at, at lunch counters. Because here, at Woolworth, which was the largest store here, there was, you couldn't eat at the lunch counter at all. You could only buy items under close scrutiny. And it was a pressure of things other than the school, I think, that brought this to bear. So I think the, the, and in 23:00terms of restaurants, I can remember a restaurant called Hunt's One Stop on what's now the by-pass and Caval Lane. And the reason I remember it is because it had outstanding bar-be-que. And when we would come in from games or something, late at night, we'd want to go to Hunt's and there was a place around the back. And so all blacks went to the back, picked up food items and went on. That was just, that was just the way it was. So with pressures to integrate things like that and go to Woolworth's and sit at the lunch counter, and pay to go to hotels.

My house, where I live now, was in fact a hotel. It was called the Southern Queen Hotel and later Tourist Home. It was for blacks who would come through Bowling Green and not have accommodations in the white hotel establishments. And 24:00that went on from, I grew up in the hotel, from the time I was about five, I remember that.

DW: Here in this very building?

MOSES: This very, this was the fountain room we are in now. It served food, it was like a, it was like a large bed and breakfast. The way we have bed and breakfasts now. We had a number of rooms upstairs. I can remember chauffeurs brought a, tobacco people in town, ( ) there were black chauffeurs and they'd stay here. Ray Charles, most of the entertainers of the day who came through Bowling Green to do shows at the ( ) stayed here.

DW: Wow.

MOSES: So that, that gives you a picture of what it was like. So with accommodations still being segregated, I think all this came to play in terms of what was happening here at the schools, more so than the schools itself. Bowling Green became a little more exposed to what was happening around the country and 25:00it just kind built that pressure.

DW: Do you think there was a, ultimately what I am trying to figure out here is how much reluctance was there on the part of the white community in '63. And how much reluctance was there on the Board of Education to integrate. You know what, go back to the time you were here, so we're talking about 1960 or before, if, if that suit had been filed before or if there had been some stronger action to integrate before in the schools themselves, how do you think that would have played out based on what you know of how the city was and how the schools existed before you left?

MOSES: It probably would have been premature, the suit, in terms of the success of it. But, it, that's just speculation, in terms of both parties, blacks as well as whites. I don't see, I didn't see, in my own consciousness, for example, 26:00I didn't see that pressure to do that at that time. Which was pretty much what was happening around the country. It wasn't until that '59-'60 period of time that these things came in, came in to play. I can recall going in 1960 to a, a summer retreat and it was at a place called Highlander Folk School, which was in Mt. Eagle, TN. And it was sponsored by some liberal groups, which were on the advent of civil rights at the time. I remember Harry Belafonte was the sponsor of this program. And they took three students from here, myself, my classmate Charles Wilkin and a younger guy. And we were taken down to Mt. Eagle where we stayed for two weeks. Mt. Eagle is right outside Chattanooga, and if you think 27:00it was bad in Kentucky, it was worse there in terms of segregation and enforcement. And it was kind of like a secret thing. And there were students my age from around the country. I remember a Latino from San, San Antonio. First time I had ever seen a Latino in my life.

DW: Hm-hmm.

MOSES: Mexican.

DW: Right.

MOSES: And Native Americans from South Dakota. I don't recall, I think there were two or three Asians. But about sixty students from all around the country had come in together; so we could get a chance to cross cultures, interact with each other. I can remember some civil rights activists', their son and daughter was there. Fred Shuttlesworth, Jr.. Shuttlesworth was a big civil rights activist right before Dr. Martin Luther King. He's from Birmingham, Alabama. His 28:00kids were there. And one of my Fisk, later to be Fisk professors, named, a fellow named Julius Lester was a teacher there. He's back at City College of New York and a very left wing liberal at the time. But we got the chance to come together with different people. And this was like an experiment to see how this would work. To see if you can put people together and they can, a, and it was very, it was an eye-opening event for me. And I think it was for most of the students there. We were there for a period of, it was two, two-and-half weeks. And we got such a bond at the time, and I'm sixteen at the time. Everybody was crying when it was time to leave and they had to get the bus out, scurry it out before the local people around found out what's going on up here.

DW: Uh-huh.

MOSES: I can recall that. So that was interesting. It was only at that time that I think we were starting to get a social conscious about integration, 29:00segregation and that whole thing. And then I knew it would work. I mean I, this was the same thing we did all the time. I knew because my friends here, we played baseball and stuff together. But that's why I think that's what I think happened. So I think it still would have been premature before that time here for both parties. And if it was brought by some enlightened black, he probably, he or she, might not have had the support of the entire black community and I think it took that, that social conscious to work on the side of the whites also. The school board and, they saw it happening. So I think that was the time it all came together. But I really am hazy on that myself, so I will try to find somebody who can give us, give us both some enlightenment about the '63 suit. I need to know more about it myself.

DW: All right. No problem.

MOSES: Yeah.

DW: Let me ask you a couple more questions here.

MOSES: Sure.

DW: Your mother taught for years at State Street and High Street. Is that correct?


MOSES: Right. Forty-four years.

DW: Forty-four years?

MOSES: Correct.

DW: She was obviously teaching, I am sure in '63 when this happened.


DW: What happened to her position?

MOSES: Oh, okay. She, she was the, at the time of High Street, all the time at High Street, she was the librarian at the time. Between the time she was teaching here and High Street. Actually about 1948 or '49, she went back to the University of Illinois in Champagne, and got a Masters in Library Science. I can recall going to the train station. She was doing it during the summers when she wasn't teaching. So she was one of the first teachers, black or white, in the system to have a Master's Degree. And so she left the library here and went directly to be the librarian at Bowling Green High School when High Street was no more and stayed there a number of years.

DW: But she, so she was librarian at High Street until it closed?


MOSES: Correct.

DW: And then went to Bowling Green, a Bowling Green High School?

MOSES: Right.

DW: Probably like with Mr. Oldham.

MOSES: ( )

DW: You said there were six black teachers that went.

MOSES: That's right. And Herb, I think was a teacher at the time. I have a picture that brother. I can't remember where it is on my desk.

DW: And how would you, what would you maybe say in wrapping up here, what are the race relations in Bowling Green, perhaps, since that time? How would you, again you've been gone, but I know you've come back. So how would you class the race relations over the last thirty years or so?

MOSES: Oh, I think they have drastically changed. When I say drastically changed, let me put that in some context. Far more different now than then, everything is integrated in terms of schools, public accommodations, exetera. Still have a ways to go with regard to representation in governmental bodies. There's one black commissioner on the city. The commission is like the city 32:00council here.

DW: Right.

MOSES: A one out of five. He's been there. He's the oldest serving person on the city commission. My father was part of the model of cities program here in town. He retired from the insurance company and started that program. So different, in some ways different, in some ways not. I would think that even though there has been a strong effort with regard to the churches in terms of coming together. That old saying about the most segregated place in the country in say in 1963, '64, '65, were the churches, both black and white, is to some degree that is still the case now. But Western is, Western Kentucky University is a model of diversity. I would think any time I'm here that the majority of population at--