Interview with Howard W. Beers, September 5, 1997

Dr. Howard W. Beers is a retired (1974) Professor Emeritus of Rural Sociology at the University of Kentucky. He attended Cornell University, received his Ph.D. in Rural Sociology, and recalls coming to Lexington in 1939 after "various experiences at several universities" to fill a vacancy at U.K. Beers was a full professor in the College of Agriculture's Department of Farm Economics. The Department of Rural Sociology was not established until 1948, Beers states, where he would be the first professor of that department. At this point, Beers chooses to read to the interviewer from a journal manuscript. He reads from what he calls a 'long letter home', written to his family in 1979, when he was 75 years old. He was 92 at the time of this interview. Beers describes his reluctance to move South with his family to accept the position at U.K., citing the racial climate. Beers recalls experiences up North to explain this. He also discusses the racial climate in Lexington. Beers also relates his approach to racial issues while teaching, detailing a session where he presented results of WWI intelligence tests where, in some cases, black soldiers scored higher than whites. He described this tactic as 'low key', 'safe', and 'educational' rather than 'aggressive, demonstrative, and confrontational'. Beers also recalls an A.A.U.P. meeting in the late 1940's where a committee meeting was formed to study admission of "Negroes: to U.K. He also remembers a dinner at the "firmly and traditionally segregated" Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky at which Senator Alvin Barkley helped to smoothly desegregate. Beers also talks about his later years at U.K. where he involved in various overseas programs.

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