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OH267 Charles E. Polk Oral History

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Murray State University
200 Pogue Library
Murray, Kentucky 42071

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Charles E. Polk Oral History

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

Series Number: OH267

Interviewee: Polk, Charles E.

Interviewer: Bates, Mary Sled

Date interviewed: August 8, 1979

Processed by: O'Daniel, Hannah

Date processed: April 10, 2014

Description: 1 sound disc (23:10 minutes)

Abstract: Charles Polk named his elementary teachers at the all-black Garfield School in Paducah, Kentucky. He acknowledged his principal, Mrs. Ross, as instilling a respect for women in the young boys and having a positive impact on his life. He also named his teachers at Lincoln High School in Paducah during the early 1940s and discussed their efforts to help him and others to achieve in all aspects of life. He named the Lincoln graduating class of 1944 and their locations and occupations at the time of the interview. He chronicled his jobs and college education in Decatur, Illinois after he left Paducah in the late 1940s. He described his involvement with the Masonic Lodge in Kentucky and Illinois. He mentioned his role in the creation of numerous businesses. He recounted the honors of receiving the Duke of Paducah Award in 1974. Polk reflected that living conditions in Paducah had improved since his youth. He concluded the interview with biographical information about his wife, only son, sisters, and parents.

Biographical / Historical note: Charles E. Polk was born in Paducah, Kentucky on May 19, 1927 to Charles and Mable Matchem Polk. He attended elementary school at the Garfield School on the north side of Paducah. From 1941 to 1944 he attended Paducah's Lincoln High School. By 1949, he had moved to Illinois and took a civil service job. He attended college in Decatur, Illinois and lived there until 1961. During the 1950s, he was appointed to the housing authority of Decatur and later the National Urban Renewal Commission. He was a member of the Masonic Lodge since the 1940s and served as an Illinois State Grand Lodge Officer. After 1961, he worked in the management of various communication agencies. In 1965, he organized a consulting firm and five years later created a construction company that his only son managed at the time of the interview. He also helped to organize a bank, named Jersey Shore Bank, in New Jersey. In 1974, he received the Duke of Paducah Award. At the time of the interview, he operated a real estate management firm in addition to his management position in the United States Army Satellite Communication Agency.

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.

Subject Headings / Descriptors:

Polk, Charles E., 1927-

Segregation in education – Kentucky.

Education – Kentucky – McCracken County – History.

African Americans – Kentucky – History.

Kentucky – Race relations.

Garfield School (Paducah, Ky.)

Lincoln High School (Paducah, Ky.)

Decatur (Ill.)