Interview with John Yarmuth, May 10, 2017

Project: Jewish Kentucky Oral History Project

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Interview Summary

Yarmuth describes his family coming to America from Russia in the early 1900s. Immigration officials who greeted his family when they entered instructed them to change their name from Yarmuck to Yarmuth. They settled, initially, in New York in the early 1910s. Some of his family later moved to New Jersey in 1933, and then his father moved down to Fort Knox, bringing his family to Kentucky in 1943. Growing up, he lived in a primarily Jewish neighborhood in Louisville, Kentucky. While he celebrated his bar mitzvah and went to Sunday school, he was raised more culturally than religiously Jewish. In high school at Atheron during the budding civil rights movement, he was involved in student government along with several other Jewish kids. He attended Yale for 4 years, graduating in 1969 and majoring in American Studies. He spent a year as a stockbroker before becoming a legislative assistant to Republican Marlow Cook in D.C at the recommendation of Mitch McConnell. After Cook lost his reelection, Yarmuth decided to return to Louisville and get involved in publishing. He published the Louisville Times, City Paper, and after those publications went out of print, he created the Louisville Eccentric Observer (LEO), an alternative weekly that is still published today. In 2006, he ran for 3rd Congressional District against Ann Northup. He won the Democratic primary and, even though it was a tight race, eventually won the seat against Northup. While in office, Yarmuth has championed universal healthcare, campaign finance reform, and gun law reform. Yarmuth is also involved with the Jewish Caucus in Congress, where the topic of discussion is usually Israel. Yarmuth discusses his stance on Israel, including his distaste for Netanyahu and the direction he's leading Israel. Yarmuth, lastly, talks briefly about the resurgence of antisemitism and xenophobia as a side effect of the 2016 election and current political climate, and concludes with a statement about the strength of friendships built between people in the Jewish community.

Interview Accession

2017oh355_jk054

Interviewee Name

John Yarmuth

Interviewer Name

Carol Ely

Interview Date

2017-05-10

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.

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

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Yarmuth, John Interview by Carol Ely. 10 May. 2017. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Yarmuth, J. (2017, May 10). Interview by C. Ely. Jewish Kentucky Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.

Yarmuth, John, interview by Carol Ely. May 10, 2017, Jewish 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/xt7v154drh5r