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0:00 - Introduction/Initial Question

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Partial Transcript: The interviewer asks Robb about the origin of her name and about her family.

Segment Synopsis: Robb discusses how she was named after her mother and her father's mother. Robb states her siblings names by order of birth.

Keywords: Franklin (Ky.); Hopkinsville (Ky.); Russellville (Ky.)

2:53 - Moving to and growing up in Hopkinsville, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: "Tell me about the communities you grew up in."

Segment Synopsis: Robb was born in Russellville, Kentucky. She explains the geographic locations of Russellville and Hopkinsville. Robb's father was in the military and always wanted to be a pilot, but never was able to accomplish that dream. She begins to speak about the concrete products company that her father and grandfather started, which is known as Russellville Concrete Products. This company began in 1943, after Hal Hart Thurmond returned from World War II. Robb explains there was a law at the time, which mandated that the proper burial custom was to be buried in a concrete vault. Her grandfather, who created the business with her father, Hal Hart Thurmond was previously a mortician or "undertaker." Robb describes some of the other products the company manufactured. Robb explains that she and her family moved to Hopkinsville in the year 1950, after her father opened up another concrete manufacturing plant in Hopkinsville due to the opening of Camp Campbell, which eventually became Fort Campbell. Robb was in the third-grade at the time. Robb explains that Camp Campbell was originally constructed with wooden barracks. Her father knew of the plans to create Fort Campbell, and moved his construction business to Hopkinsville in hopes of good business generated by the military base.

Robb describes the Thurmond family's move from Russellville, Kentucky, to Hopkinsville, Kentucky.Segment Synopsis:Robb explains that her family moved to Hopkinsville, Kentucky, on Janurary 1st, 1950. She describes the snowstorm that occurred during their move. Robb and her siblings started school at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School. Robb comments that Hopkinsville, Kentucky, was a much larger community than their previous home. She states that the Trail of Tears traveled through the city and that the Ku Klux Klan was an active organization during her childhood. Robb describes the various denominations of Christianity and the Jewish community that existed in her small town.

Robb states that she decided she was not going to live in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, upon graduation from high school. Segment Synopsis:Robb explains why she did not want to spend her life in Hopkinsville. She states that her family faced a lot of adversity because of their beliefs and public actions. Robb shares a story about a death threat her family once received.

Robb's mother, Bettye Hite was a very intelligent woman. Bettye Hite was born in Russellville, Kentucky. Bettye was a "genteel southern woman." Robb discusses the African-American women who kept the house and helped take care of the children of the family. Robb states that her mother was responsible for the management of Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School's library.

Robb briefly discusses the segregation of her 8th grade class at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School. She then goes on to discuss her transition from middle school to high school. Robb states that the principal of her new high school was not incredibly receptive to the incoming Catholic school students.

Robb describes the Thurmonds' first home in the country-side when they moved to Hopkinsville from Russellville. The address was 908 East 7th Street. She states that the family had live-in help at the time; the housekeeper's name was Roxy. Roxy moved from Russellville to be with the family. Robb describes the new home in town that the Thurmonds owned. She states it was a Victorian-style home, and it was only a few blocks away from the family's church, school, and her father's manufacturing plant. Robb also comments that the home was close to the African-American population of Hopkinsville. Robb continues to speak of the help that worked for the family.

Keywords: Camp Campbell; Fort Campbell; Hopkinsville (Ky.); Russellville (Ky.); Russellville Concrete Products; Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School, Hopkinsville

Subjects: Ku Klux Klan; Trail of Tears; World War II

GPS: Link to map
Map Coordinates: 36.8628676,-87.4814091

25:35 - The Thurmond Family, Community Activism, and the Concrete Products Business

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Partial Transcript: "Let's talk about your dad."

Segment Synopsis: Robb explains that her mother and father married once her mother graduated high school. Her parents moved to Detroit, Michigan, for a few years. Her father attended pharmacy school during their time in Detroit. The first of the Thurmond children was born in Detroit, and once Hal Hart Thurmond enlisted in the military, Bettye Thurmond moved back to Russellville, Kentucky, so her mother could help with the new baby. Robb describes living right next door to her mother's parents while the Thurmond family lived in Russellville.

Robb states that her father struggled with a weight problem his entire life, and was bullied for that. Robb believes that Hal Hart Thurmond wanted to prove himself. Robb briefly discusses Hal Hart Thurmond's mother and step-mother. Robb discusses Bettye Hite's mother Ellen Hite. Robb describes Ellen Hite as a feminist.

Robb explains that her father was a convert to Catholicism. Her father believed in giving back to community. Robb lays out the ways in which her father was involved in Hopkinsville: Hal Hart Thurmond rejuvenated the Logan County Fair. He was instrumental in creating the Christian County Fair. Upon moving to Hopkinsville, Thurmond became president of the Chamber of Commerce. This organization developed an industrial park. Thurmond was involved in both civic and professional organizations. Thurmond suffered a massive heart attack in his early 40s, and Robb believes his activism partly derived from this health scare. Thurmond was the Kentucky representative for the Civil Rights Commission, appointed by Governor Breathitt.

Robb states that her parents were the power couple of Western Kentucky's Civil Rights Movement. The Thurmonds, along with another couple, helped to integrate many of the restaurants and schools in Western Kentucky. After Hal Hart Thurmond passed away, Bettye Thurmond became the executive director of the Hopkinsville Human Relations Commission. Both Hal and Bettye Thurmond worked on the fair housing initiative.

Robb details the daily operations of her father's concrete products manufacturing company.

Hal Hart Thurmond passed away at the age of either 52 or 53. Robb continues to explain how Hal Thurmond's health scare and business acumen lead to his spirituality and activism. Robb states that she is fortunate, because she has many documents from both her mother and father that detail their lives and their accomplishments. She encourages others whose parents are still living, to ask their parents questions, and get to know their past before they are no longer able to do so. Elizabeth describes her brother, William "Bill" Thurmond.

Keywords: Breathitt, Edward Thompson Jr.; Christian County (Ky.); Hopkinsville (Ky.); Hopkinsville Chamber of Commerce; Hopkinsville Human Relations Commission; Logan County (Ky.); National Precast Concrete Association

Subjects: Civil Rights Commission (Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights (U.S.))

54:50 - Moving to Missouri

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Partial Transcript: "Let's talk about you and how you came to St. Louis."

Segment Synopsis: Robb states that she came to St. Louis because of her brother Bill Thurmond. She explains that her brother Bill was very intelligent, but she also describes him as a "hellion" and a very obstinate young man. Hal Thurmond decided to send Bill Thurmond to a Catholic boarding school in St. Louis, Missouri. Robb was looking for colleges, and many colleges did not have dormitories for women at the time. Robb attended Webster College, a Catholic school for women, in St. Louis, Missouri. Bill Thurmond enlisted in the military during the Vietnam War. This made the Thurmond household very interesting, because one of her brothers was opposed to the war along with both of her parents, and another one of her brothers was a draft counselor. Bill Thurmond met his wife in Taiwan, and developed Multiple sclerosis as an outcome of the war. Both Bill Thurmond and his wife died from smoke inhalation from a house fire. Robb adopted Monica, one of Bill Thurmond's children after his passing.

Robb describes her husband, Richard Gail Robb and how they met. In the summer of 1965, Elizabeth and Richard Robb took a trip to Hopkinsville to meet her family, and on the way back from the trip, Richard asked Elizabeth to marry him. The two were married in August of the same year. A cross was burned in the Thurmond's front yard, because of Elizabeth and Richard's marriage. Robb also describes an instance when the Thurmond house was fire-bombed.

Keywords: St. Louis, Missouri; Webster College, Missouri

Subjects: Multiple sclerosis; Vietnam War

72:13 - Race Relations in Hopkinsville and the Thurmond Family Legacy

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Partial Transcript: "You talked about how the Klan was active in your town. How did you know that?"

Segment Synopsis: Robb states that while she was growing up, the Klan was active and was not a secretive organization. Robb continues to discuss the fire-bombing incident.

Robb tells the story of her father running for a membership position on the Hopkinsville School Board, because he wanted to further integration of the school system. Hal Hart Thurmond lost this election. Robb stated that Hal Thurmond did not often accept failure, and continued to push for integration. Robb tells another story about one of the African-American women who worked for the Thurmonds.

Robb states that her mother appreciated the help because it allowed her to care for each of her children equally and independently, and it allowed her to be active in her community. Robb describes the relationships between the family and the household help.

Robb discusses the all black Crispus-Attucks High School in Hopkinsville, which was the first high school to serve people of color in the area. Robb discusses the various clubs and organizations that were white-only in the community of Hopkinsville throughout her childhood.

Robb discusses how she was very active in pursuing women's rights during the feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Robb states that she spoke on a platform with Gloria Steinem during this movement in St. Louis, Missouri.

Robbs states that her dad taught her to always give back to community. Because of her father's teachings, Robb ran for alderman in the city of Clayton. While in office, Robb assisted in the betterment of housing and attempted to legislate a public smoking ban.

Subjects: Clayton, Missouri; Crispus-Attucks High School; Hopkinsville (Ky.); Ku Klux Klan; Steinem, Gloria

92:06 - Real Estate and Race Relations in Clayton and University City, Missouri

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Partial Transcript: "There has been recent discussion of lingering inequality in this country and community. What sort of lessons from your parents do you believe we need to bring to this community?"

Segment Synopsis: Robb states that no one should be a passive participant in their communities. She explains that it is important to mentor the younger generation. Robb tells a story of a young Indian woman who was refused service during her college years in St. Louis, Missouri. Robb applauds the student leaders of the present day, and says that they are the future.

Robb discusses the unjust housing predicament of the greater St. Louis Missouri area known as the "Delmar Divide."

Robb states that she did not join the real estate industry until it was illegal to discriminate in the housing market. Robb experienced "white-flight" out of University City, Missouri. A fair housing bill was passed in the university city before the schools were integrated.

Robb discusses her brief teaching career.

Robb states that she did not like what was happening in certain communities throughout St. Louis. She accidentally went into the real estate business, because she would always advertise homes that were for sale before she became an agent to sell the homes to people of color.

Keywords: Clayton, Missouri; Delmar Divide; St. Louis, Missouri; University City, Missouri

107:24 - Final Thoughts/Closing Remarks

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Segment Synopsis: Robb discusses the burial of her father. She states that she does not know much about the Hopkinsville area today, because none of her siblings live there. Her father asked her husband, Richard Robb to be the president of the concrete company, but the Robbs decided to remain in St. Louis.

Robb states that her parents are "turning over in their graves" due to the issues of today, and goes on to discuss a variety of those issues.