Interview with Raoul Cunnigham, June 3, 2013

Raoul Cunningham talks about how he became involved in the NAACP, his family, and his upbringing. Cunningham discusses his role model Ralph Bunche, who was the Undersecretary of the United Nations, and the first African American to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Cunningham discusses sit-ins he participated in while in high school. He talks about the segregation of public accommodations in the 1960's, and how this led to the sit-ins. Cunningham tells how he was arrested for disorderly conduct, and talks about recruitment for demonstrations. Cunningham talks about the consequences of being arrested during the sit-ins, and the concerns the NAACP's adult branch had for its younger members. He also describes the consequences at school of participating in the protests. Cunningham talks about the young members of the NAACP in Louisville, and how they took a pledge to practice nonviolence during their demonstrations. He talks about an economic boycott of downtown Louisville. He states that women were involved in every aspect of the civil rights movement in Kentucky, and that this was very important in Louisville. Cunningham shares his views on the Jewish community's participation in the civil rights movement. He states that all of the clothing stores in Louisville that African Americans were allowed in during segregation were owned by Jewish families. Cunningham discusses organizing Howard University's first Young Democrats of America chapter, his experiences in that organization, and in SNCC. Cunningham describes his involvement with freedom riding and sit-ins while he was at Howard University. Cunningham talks about the massive amount of effort that it took to organize the March on Washington in 1963, and describes his own contribution as a college student at that time. He describes travel arrangements for the march and other details. Cunningham discusses the outcomes of the March on Washington, especially in Louisville. He also talks about the impact of the March from Selma to Montgomery. Cunningham describes the importance of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and points out that Kentucky is not covered under Section 5. Cunningham describes his first time voting in a presidential election, and also discusses his work for the Democratic National Committee. Cunningham describes working for the Education and Labor Committee, after working for the Inaugural Committee. Cunningham shares how he became Georgia Davis Powers' first campaign manager. He talks about her accomplishments as a candidate and senator, from his perspective. Cunningham describes how Mae Street Kidd and Hughes McGill were elected to Kentucky's House of Representatives. He states that they were the primary sponsors of the Open Housing Law in Kentucky's House, along with Senator Powers, who was the primary sponsor. Cunningham talks about the political climate of Kentucky, and how this has influenced politicians in how they vote on civil rights issues. Cunningham talks about the NAACP's commitment to education, specifically in Louisville. He describes some of the other major issues that the Louisville NAACP deals with, including voter registration, economic development, and discrimination of various forms. Cunningham tells how he became involved in work with both the Poor People's Campaign and the Kentucky Christian Leadership Conference.

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