Interview with Carl H. Smith, Patricia Griffith, November 17, 2021
Project: 1964 Civil Rights March on Frankfort (Kentucky) Oral History Project
Interview SummaryCarl H. Smith served as director of the Kentucky State University Choir, which performed at the 1964 March on Frankfort. Patricia Griffith taught piano and was a colleague of Dr. Smith's at Kentucky State University. Smith was born in Terrell, Texas in 1931 to a farm family. Smith describes his ancestors and family history. Smith's great-grandfather was the only land-owning Black person in the county. Smith tells the story of how his great-grandfather came to own the farm. Smith attended segregated schools in Terrell and moved to Tulsa when he was in the ninth grade to live with his grandmother. Smith attended Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa and began to develop an interest in music. After high school, Smith went on to pursue music in college and obtained a bachelor's degree from Lincoln University in Missouri. Smith also earned a master's degree from Tulsa University and a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to earning his master's degree, Smith completed his military service in the Army and was stationed in Hawaii. In 1958, Smith was hired as the choir director at Kentucky State University (KSU). Smith met his wife at KSU; she was a student at the university. Smith describes his experiences with segregation in Kentucky. Smith considers what KSU was like during the civil rights era. Smith directed the Kentucky State University Concert Choir in a performance at the March on Frankfort. Smith details his experiences at the March, including meeting Martin Luther King Jr. and Jackie Robinson. Smith provides his opinion on the significance of the U.S. Capitol Building and the Kentucky State Capitol Building. During the March, Smith talked with Mary Travers of Peter, Paul, and Mary. Smith describes Professor Helen Holmes, one of his colleagues at KSU. Smith explains that he viewed this choir performance at the March as an opportunity to give Kentucky a positive image in the media. Smith describes the connection between musicians and civil rights. Smith then shares his views on the Black Lives Matter movement protests and on several U.S. presidents. Smith briefly discusses several female leaders in the civil rights movement. Smith then talks of slavery and the Civil War. Smith illustrates the legacy of the civil rights movement. Smith recounts his experiences with race in the military. Smith concludes the interview by discussing his health and singing a few words of the songs performed by the KSU choir at the March.
Interview KeywordHistorically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) Martin Luther King, Jr. March on Frankfort Family Land ownership Booker T. Washington High School (Tulsa, Okla.) White people Wife Desegregation Mary Travers Jackie Robinson Helen Holmes Georgia Davis Powers Angela Davis Lyndon Johnson George Floyd
Interview LC SubjectKentucky State University Choirs (Music) Terrell (Tex.) Texas Childhood Early life Ancestors Great-grandfathers Tulsa (Okla.) Education Black people African Americans High schools Education, Higher Music Musicians Songs Singing Lincoln University (Jefferson City, Mo.) Civil rights Civil rights movement Civil rights demonstrations Tulsa University University of Pittsburgh Military United States. Army Frankfort (Ky.) Franklin County (Ky.) Kentucky Kentuckians Segregation Discrimination Race Racism Prejudice African American soldiers United States Capitol Complex (Washington, D.C.) Presidents Kentucky State Capitol (Frankfort, Ky.) Peter, Paul, and Mary (Musical group) Professors Students Protests (Negotiable instruments) Stereotypes (Social psychology) Black Lives Matter movement Slavery Civil war Spirituals
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Interview UsageInterviews may only be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Interviews may only be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, 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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Smith, Carl H. Interview by Le Datta Denise Grimes. 17 Nov. 2021. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Smith, C.H. (2021, November 17). Interview by L. D. D Grimes. 1964 Civil Rights March on Frankfort (Kentucky) Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.
Smith, Carl H., interview by Le Datta Denise Grimes. November 17, 2021, 1964 Civil Rights March on Frankfort (Kentucky) Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
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Persistent Link for this Record: https://kentuckyoralhistory.org/ark:/16417/xt7wp956651pj