Dr. Horace Huntley

BCRI Oral History Collection
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00:00:01 - Introduction to Interview

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Partial Transcript: This is an interview with Dr. Horace Huntley for the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute's Oral History Project.

Segment Synopsis: Dr. Horace Huntley is introduced.

Keywords: Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (Birmingham, Ala.)

GPS: Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
Map Coordinates: 33.516200, -86.813870
Hyperlink: BCRI Homepage
00:00:28 - Family Background

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Partial Transcript: First, we're going to ask you a pretty general question. Where were you born?

Segment Synopsis: Huntley begins by detailing his family history. His father worked for US Steel, but was threatened by the Ku Klux Klan, which resulted in him leaving for Michigan. Afterwards, Huntley's father was not involved in the family.

Keywords: International Mine, Mill, and Smelter workers; Ku Klux Klan (1915- ); Tennessee Coal, Iron, and Railroad Company

Subjects: African American families; Working class African Americans

00:08:59 - Awareness of Race & Discrimination

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Partial Transcript: Okay, you've pretty much set the pace for my next question. What was your first contact with Blacks?

Segment Synopsis: Huntley recalls several instances in his childhood where he discovered the differences in treatment between people of different races, including segregation in entertainment, transportation, and derogatory treatment in shops.

Keywords: Alabama State Fair; Birmingham (Ala.). Police Department; Segregation in transportation--United States

Subjects: African Americans--Segregation; Racial analysis

00:20:40 - Educational Background

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Partial Transcript: What elementary school did you attend?

Segment Synopsis: Huntley states that he went to Riley Elementary and Wenonah Middle and High School. When he started high school in 1957, he notes that he did not have much exposure to the events of the Movement, and was not involved in them. After high school, he had planned to attend Tuskegee, though he was not able to due to family finances, so he instead joined the military.

Keywords: Riley Elementary School; Wenonah High School

Subjects: African American elementary schools; African American high school students

00:34:55 - Joining the Air Force

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Partial Transcript: I joined the Air Force to see the world, and they sent me to Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Segment Synopsis: Huntley describes his time in the Air Force, where he was stationed in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Although the military was desegregated at the time, other white members exerted social pressure to segregate themselves from other Black members in the same flight. He describes social acceptance being dependent on the area in which he was. He refers to a time where he rode at the front of a bus in Winnipeg, and a white woman sat next to him. He also relays how the bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church was a topic of conversation at the military base.

Keywords: 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing, Birmingham, Ala., 1963; Grand Forks (N.D.); Winnipeg (Man.)

Subjects: United States. Air Force--African Americans

00:53:03 - Early Career in Minnesota

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Partial Transcript: What did you do after you left the Air Force?

Segment Synopsis: Huntley recalls how he and his wife eventually moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he enrolled in the Computer Data Institute for computer technology, and afterwards worked at Honeywell. He and his wife became involved in their local community center.

Keywords: Careers in computer technology; Community centers--Minnesota; Control Data Institute; Honeywell Inc.

Subjects: Minneapolis (Minn.)

00:56:19 - Advocating for African American Studies & Programming at the University of Minnesota

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Partial Transcript: Okay, let's talk a little about your time at the University, to go back to the University of Minnesota.

Segment Synopsis: Huntley recalls how he and other African American students involved in the Afro American Action Committee petitioned the University of Minnesota to develop an African American studies program by facilitating a sit-in protest inside the main administration building. The President of the University eventually relented and the community held a student conference that invited prominent Black figures, and the Martin Luther King Scholarship Program was created for the University. Huntley then states that he was one of the first people in the country to graduate with a degree in African American Studies.

Keywords: Ali, Muhammad, 1942-; Diplomatic protests; Martin Luther King Scholarship Fund; Moos, Malcolm, 1916-1982; Turner, Emeritus J.

Subjects: Afro American Action Committee; University of Minnesota; University of Minnesota. Department of Afro-American and African Studies

01:15:11 - The Black Power Movement & Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Assassination

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Partial Transcript: You were very much a part of the Black Power movements that were going on in '65 directly.

Segment Synopsis: Huntley states that the Black Panther Party was involved in the community at the time and that he personally met Stokely Carmichael. He credits them for assisting the students at the University when they held the protest in the administration building. Huntley then discusses how the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. affected the Black community.

Keywords: Assassination--United States; Black Panther Party; Carmichael, Stokely; SNCC; Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (U.S.)

Subjects: Black power--United States--History--20th century; King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968

01:19:37 - Higher Education & Doctorate

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Partial Transcript: Okay, now you graduated from the University of Minnesota. You have one of the first degrees in African American Studies. Where did you go from there?

Segment Synopsis: Huntley shares the journey of his higher education, which included studying at Syracuse, teaching at State University of New York at Oswego and University of Maryland, Eastern shore, and then pursuing his doctorate at the University of Pittsburgh. His dissertation was on the International Union of Mine, Mill, and Smelter workers, and included gathering oral histories from labor workers.

Keywords: Labor unions, Black; Labor--History; Montgomery, Dave; State University of New York at Oswego; Syracuse University; University of Maryland, Eastern Shore; University of Pittsburgh

Subjects: African American doctoral students; International Union of Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers; Oral histories

01:24:19 - Teaching at UAB & the Difficulties of Starting an African American Studies Program

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Partial Transcript: Now you have your Ph.D. What do you do from there?

Segment Synopsis: Huntley describes how he taught African American History, American History, and Urban Studies at UAB, during which, he tried to advocate for the development of an African American Studies department. After the administration argued that there was no funding available, he spoke with Senator Fred Horn, who stated that he could provide funding; however, the administration instead opted to retain the same courses that were presently available. Huntley later testified in a case against institutions of higher education to reveal the inequality of education that was being developed.

Keywords: Clemon, U. W., 1943-; Horn, Fred, 1925-2018; Murphy, Harold Lloyd; University of Alabama in Birmingham. Center for Urban Studies

Subjects: Discrimination in education--United States; Studies in African American history and culture; University of Alabama in Birmingham

01:38:35 - Obtaining His FBI File

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Partial Transcript: I know you requested your FBI file through the Freedom of Information Act.

Segment Synopsis: Huntley details how he discovered that he was put under surveillance when he uncovered the existence of a nearly 300 page FBI file on him.

Keywords: United States. Freedom of Information Act

Subjects: Federal Bureau of Investigation surveillance files

01:41:40 - The Lack of Proportional Racial Representation in the Birmingham School System

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Partial Transcript: Okay, now let's go ahead and talk a little bit about the things that went on, not at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, but within the city itself.

Segment Synopsis: Huntley discusses how the predominately Black population of students in Birmingham could be traced back to UAB purchasing the land for its campus, displacing some African American communities who then moved into white neighborhoods; as a result, many white people moved out to the suburbs. Huntley then highlights how those in the Black community are not fully represented in the school board in proportion to the amount of Black students who are the Birmingham education system.

Keywords: Birmingham City Schools; University of Alabama in Birmingham

Subjects: African Americans--Education; Proportional representation--United States; School board members--United States

01:48:16 - Political Career

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Partial Transcript: I know you also got involved with the city government of Birmingham.

Segment Synopsis: Huntley describes his political involvement in the city of Birmingham when he ran for the city council. He states that his main platform was about the development of Black businesses He further discusses the inequality that Black businesses faced in comparisons to businesses own by people who are White.

Keywords: Birmingham Historical Commission; Birmingham Historical Society; Blankenship, Don; City council members; Million Man March (1995 : Washington, D.C.); Muhammad, William

Subjects: African Americans--Politics and government