Interview with James Embry, July 12, 1987

Project: University of Kentucky Oral History Project

Interview Summary

James Gilbert Embry was born April 23, 1949 in Richmond, Kentucky. In this interview, he talks about the establishment of the Office of Minority Affairs at the University of Kentucky. He came to U.K. in 1967 and recalls a group active on campus called Orgena, which later led to the establishment of the Black Student Union (B.S.U.) in spring of 1968. He recalls this group was "very much concerned" with the life of black students on campus in terms of academic, social, and cultural experiences. The B.S.U. developed programs to assist students with classes and to get a better sense of their own black culture. A committee called Black Voices was formed to organize programs such as Black History Month, and to schedule activities and events which highlighted various black cultures. B.S.U. sponsored art exhibits at the Student Center, and also held dances and book discussion groups. He emphasizes that B.S.U. felt that black students needed the information and experiences to survive the four years on campus. He recalls that all the students knew one another because there were so few of them. B.S.U. submitted over twenty demands to UK's College of Administration which covered nearly every area of the black student's experience on campus and received $15,000 to utilize for their programs.

Embry remembers that B.S.U. recruited black students from the high schools and that members also met with graduate students touring the campus. He talks about other universities recruiting black athletes during this time, and the perception by the black community that the current basketball coach, Adolph Rupp, was seen as a racist. Embry recalls meeting with Rupp, and says Rupp stated that "he did not want any "nigra" athletes". He notes that black members of the Lexington community were hostile towards U.K., due to poor treatment by white students or white staff while on or near campus, and felt that UK should be in the "forefront of integration and positive changes" for the community as in other areas of the country. He remembers that black students often had to defend themselves for being a U.K. student not only on campus, but in the black community.

Interview Accession

1987oh110_af311

Interviewee Name

James Embry

Interviewer Name

Doris Weathers

Interview Date

1987-07-12

Interview Keyword

Jim Embry

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.

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.

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Embry, James Interview by Doris Weathers. 12 Jul. 1987. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Embry, J. (1987, July 12). Interview by D. Weathers. University of Kentucky Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.

Embry, James, interview by Doris Weathers. July 12, 1987, University of Kentucky Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.





Persistent Link for this Record: https://kentuckyoralhistory.org/ark:/16417/xt7n028pg44x