Interview with Harry N. Sykes, June 1, 1978

Project: Blacks in Lexington Oral History Project

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Interview Summary

The first African American city councilman and mayor pro tem of Lexington, Sykes attended and graduated from Kentucky State University in 1952 and received his master's degree from the University of Minnesota in 1959. He recounts his early life and education in Mississippi and Illinois, and recalls teaching mathematics at Dunbar High during the height of segregation in Fayette County; and, he discusses the impact of being a role model and his motivation of students. The effects of segregation in Lexington during the 1950s and the lack of involvement of African American teachers in the civil rights movement are mentioned. Sykes recalls church involvement in the civil rights marches in Lexington and discusses his chairmanship of the Commission on Religion and Human Rights in the early 1960s. Sykes was elected to the Lexington City Council in 1963, and in this capacity he recounts the issues to which he felt strongly. An open housing law, race relations and the foundation of the Lexington Urban League, as well as the fight for the Green Acres development are detailed. Sykes discusses the political battles he fought with Tom Underwood (1969-1971), his 1971 race for mayor against Foster Petit and his role as the first African American city manager in Lexington history.

Interview Accession

1978oh049_kh023

Interviewee Name

Harry N. Sykes

Interviewer Name

Edward Owens

Interview Date

1978-06-01

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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Sykes, Harry N. Interview by Edward Owens. 01 Jun. 1978. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Sykes, H.N. (1978, June 01). Interview by E. Owens. Blacks in Lexington Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.

Sykes, Harry N., interview by Edward Owens. June 01, 1978, Blacks in Lexington Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.





Persistent Link for this Record: https://kentuckyoralhistory.org/ark:/16417/xt7pk06x0k6g