Interview with Otis A. Singletary, November 19, 1987

Dr. Otis Singletary, former president of the University of Kentucky, discusses his early life. He talks about his experiences living on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and how this shaped his life. After his parents divorced, his grandfather, who worked for the Waterman Steamship Line, became a great influence. Singletary was not interested in academia from a young age, but his passion for learning grew while he was in high school. His father was more intrigued by nature than academia, but his mother had a great role in Singletary's decision to go to college. She introduced him to music and the piano and nurtured his ambitious spirit. Singletary recalls growing up during the Great Depression and his later experiences as a Navy officer during World War Two and the Korean War. He remembers the financial difficulties which forced him to withdraw from school after his first year of college to work at sea on an oil tanker. While living in the South, Singletary was constantly confronted with issues of race. His father was a strong supporter of segregation, though this ideology was not passed to Singletary. He tells the story of his biracial friend who he invited to Millsaps College, and jokes about being the first to integrate higher learning institutions in the South.

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