Louisville Magazine

APR 2019

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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62 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 4.19 Photo by Jon Webb, Courier-Journal This page: Joining President Richard Nixon and his wife Pat (to his left) at the 1969 Derby were several governors, including then California Gov. Ronald Reagan (second from right) and his wife Nancy (third from right). U of L's president at the time, Woodrow Strickler, mentioned the BSU protest in his desk calendar. Opposite page: U of L football players joined the BSU protest, which made its way to Churchill Downs on Derby Day. funding university outreach centers in the city's poverty zones and appointing five African-Americans to the board of trustees. e estimated cost: some $250,000 (about $1.75 million today). U of L president Woodrow Strickler, a liberal former economics professor, said he accepted the students' aspirations "in principle." e library promised to bulk up its collection, and the university said it would establish 20 Martin Luther King Jr. scholarships for local students, though the BSU called for 200. Discussions ran aground on who should run the black-af- fairs office, and union members, in a press release, accused the university of "chica- nery and equivocation." e BSU went to Strickler with an ultimatum. In an interview for this story, Andrew Williams Sr., a former U of L football player from Gainesville, Florida, who in 1969 was pursuing a master's degree in education, recalled how few black students he saw on campus. "Support programs were needed to create a significant com- munity of black students," Williams said. "(U of L officials) were not like, 'Good idea! We'll do that tomorrow.' "It was more, 'We'll listen, but we're not sure we'll do anything.' Like, 'We'll see what the children are talking about.'" e parade floats made their way to Broadway while about a dozen BSU mem- bers gave a press conference on campus accusing the administration of "blatant fallacies." en the students entered Strickler's office. "is is a takeover," one of them told a C-J reporter, as he closed the oak door. "We're going to be here un- til Strickler comes and gives us authority to implement our program." e confrontation reflected late-1960s Black Power ideology. A younger genera- tion of activists was impatient with merely being tolerated in white institutions and alienated by ongoing urban pover- ty and distress. Since the Derby Week demonstrations of 1967, King had been assassinated. White flight to the suburbs continued — encouraged by a real-estate industry that frightened homeowners into thinking integration would ruin real estate values, and by redlining banking prac- tices that discouraged lending and sales in black neighborhoods. In May 1968, police misconduct had sparked demon- strations followed by a multi-day riot that left two African-American residents dead and damaged swaths of west Louisville. Former President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society anti-poverty programs had changed little in urban areas, and Black Power, not integrationist incremental- ism, became the watchword for younger activists like U of L students J. Blaine Hudson, Gerald Neal (now a longtime state senator) and Williams.

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