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OH119 William C. Payton Oral History

William C. Peyton Oral History

Collection Title: Jackson Purchase Oral History Project - Lifestyles

Series Number: OH119

Interviewee: Peyton, William Carl

Interviewer: Bates, Mary

Date interviewed: November 29, 1979

Processed by: Tara Marcum

Date processed: July 8, 2011

Description: 1 sound disc (43 minutes)

Abstract: William Carl Peyton discusses his childhood and early adulthood as an African American living in Paducah, Kentucky. He recalls attending the Washington Street Baptist Church and Burks' Chapel. He describes his teaching career and involvement in the city public school system. He describes segregation in Paducah during the 1930s and 1940s and that blacks were directed to sit in the balcony of the movie theater and had to enter via the loading dock at most restaurants. He also recalls the local bus terminal having different waiting rooms for both whites and blacks. He spoke of the Great Depression and how it affected his plans for higher education. He mentions his involvement with the Black Oral History Program, which began June 1, 1979 and his later involvement in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He reflects upon the Emancipation Project Celebration also know as the 8th of August Celebration, in which he organized committees in the black community to develop programs and events for nation’s bicentennial.

Biographical / Historical note: William Carl Peyton was born in Murray, Kentucky on December 10, 1910. His parents were Luther William; an employee of the Illinois Central Railroad Company and Loyola Pearl Ford, a retired school teacher. Peyton attended Dunbar Elementary School in Murray until the third grade when his family moved to Paducah. He attended Lincoln High School, an all black school, in the city. After high school, he attended Western Kentucky Industrial College and later Kentucky State University. At Kentucky State, he was head cheerleader and was in the drama and dance club. He also participated in the school chorus and was a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. After college, he moved back to Paducah where he served as substitute teacher for the black city schools. He received his first teaching position at West Paducah High School in 1934, and continued to live in Paducah until 1953. He then moved to Pontiac, Michigan and worked in the Recreational Department. In 1958, he moved to Chicago, Illinois to teach. He retired and returned to Paducah in 1976.

General information: No user access to original recordings. Use audio user copies, digital derivatives, transcripts, and/or tape indexes. This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code). Permission for reproduction must be requested from Murray State University.

Subject Headings / Descriptors:

Peyton, William Carl, 1910-

Paducah (Ky.) – History.

African Americans – Kentucky – Paducah.

Segregation in education – Kentucky.

Dunbar Elementary School (Mayfield, Ky.)

Lincoln High School (Paducah, Ky.)

Western Kentucky Industrial College (Paducah, Ky.)

Kentucky State University – History.

Washington Street Baptist Church (Paducah, Ky.)

Burks’ Chapel (Paducah, Ky.)