Interview with Ruth Million, Jackie Cruze, September 20, 1997

Project: University of Kentucky: The African American Experience Oral History Project

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Interview Summary

Jackie Cruze begins this interview by talking about her early childhood and her home life in Lexington, Kentucky with her younger sister, Ruth Million. They have two stepbrothers. Both sisters graduated from Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in 1953. She recalls her parents, Fosteen and Charles Plummer Cruze, finally divorced due to her father's infidelity, but they remained compatible until his death in 1985. Both discuss their father's inability to show the kind of love they needed and that he substituted material things to compensate for this. Both emphasize that he loved them very much and did the best he could. Her father worked for the police force for fifteen years, and was the first black policeman in Lexington.

Cruze says they were not cognizant of the racial climate since they lived in a black neighborhood, went to black schools, and all of the teachers were black. Million wanted to pursue a secretarial career, and became aware of the issue of segregation when she attempted to enroll at Fugazzi College, where she was denied admission because of her race. Black undergraduates were also not accepted to UK at this time, so they both enrolled at Kentucky State College, and then transferred to the University of Kentucky in 1954, when blacks were first admitted to the Graduate School. By this time, Fugazzi had also opened to blacks, so Ruth returned and received her secretarial certificate. In 1964, Million became the first black secretary employed at International Business Machines (I.B.M.) in Lexington, where she worked until her retirement in 1990. She also worked for the Veteran's Administration Hospital.

Cruze and Million both talk about their academic and social experiences at UK, and the racial climate on campus. Both joined Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. Greek organizations were not open to Asians, Jews, and blacks at this time. Cruze talks about her musical aspirations, that she wanted to be a concert pianist and majored in Applied Music, but finally changed her major to Musical Education to obtain a teacher's certificate. She played the organ at Club Hurricane for Duke Madison, a well-known Lexington saxophonist, and his ensemble while at UK, and continued to do so after college. Cruze regrets that racism still exists. Million has also worked in the Minority Affairs Office at UK. Cruze emphasizes she is forever grateful for a liberal arts education.

Interview Accession

2000oh082_af611

Interviewee Name

Ruth Million

Jackie Cruze

Interviewer Name

Sharon Childs

Interview Date

1997-09-20

Interview Rights

All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.

Interview Usage

Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Million, Ruth Interview by Sharon Childs. 20 Sep. 1997. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Million, R. (1997, September 20). Interview by S. Childs. University of Kentucky: The African American Experience Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.

Million, Ruth, interview by Sharon Childs. September 20, 1997, University of Kentucky: The African American Experience Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.





Persistent Link for this Record: https://kentuckyoralhistory.org/ark:/16417/xt7jh98zcr0c