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OH249 John Frierson Oral History

John Frierson Oral History

Collection Title: Jackson Purchase Oral History Project – Schools and Education

Series Number: OH249

Interviewee: Frierson, John Richard

Interviewer: Bates, Mary

Date interviewed: June 27, 1979

Processed by: O'Daniel, Hannah

Date processed: February 21, 2014

Description: 1 sound disc (27 minutes)

Abstract: John R. Frierson begins the interview with biographical information on his parents, William and Katie Frierson. He briefly mentions his elementary school, high school and the beginning of college before serving three years in the transportation corps of the United States Army during World War II. He named the teachers at Garfield Elementary School in Paducah, Kentucky, where he served as the principal during the early 1950s. He recalled the racial friction caused by integration of the public elementary schools in Paducah. He also discussed other changes in education that he experienced as a teacher and administrator in Western Kentucky, including low salaries for African American teachers, the adoption of lunch programs and the adding of special education classrooms, art education, music education and physical education. He states that his favorite teaching experiences were in the one-room schoolhouse where he first began his teaching career. He cited the lack of discipline problems and the ability of children to learn from the other grades' lessons as his reasons for enjoying the school.

Biographical / Historical note: John Richard Frierson was born on September 27, 1909 in Bowling Green, Kentucky. His parents were William and Katie Frierson. He attended a segregated elementary and high school in Bowling Green. He attended Tennessee State College in Nashville for three years. Before he graduated from college, he enlisted in the transportation corps of the United States Army during World War II on April 12, 1944 at Ft. Thomas in Newport, Kentucky. After serving for three years in the military, he moved to Louisville where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from the Municipal College of the University of Louisville. He began his Master's coursework at the University of Indiana and transferred to Murray State Teachers College in Murray, Kentucky where he completed his Master degree. He moved to Paducah to teach science at the segregated Lincoln High School in 1948. He was transferred to Garfield Elementary School as a teacher and principal in 1951. He was the first African American to work in the Board of Education Office in Paducah. Mr. Frierson died on February 8, 1994 at the age of 84.

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 (Title 17, United States Code). Permission for reproduction must be requested from Murray State University.

Subject Headings / Descriptors:

Frierson, John Richard, 1909-1994.

Kentucky – Race relations.

Education – Kentucky – Paducah – History.

Education – Kentucky – Bowling Green – History.

African Americans – Education – Kentucky.

Segregation in education – Kentucky.

Garfield Elementary School (Paducah, Ky.)