Oral Histories: Introduction

Title: Rochester Black Freedom Struggle Oral History Project 
Date range: 2008 - present 
Location: D.383
Size: 4 boxes

The University's Department of Rare Books and Special Collections is developing a collection repository and online access point for audio files and transcripts of interviews with Rochester citizens who were actively involved in the fight against racial discrimination in the 1960s and '70s. Complementary video clips are forthcoming, and links to other related Rare Books and Special Collections materials can be found at the "Collections" above.

This set of oral history interviews was conducted beginning in 2008, by historian Laura Warren Hill in conjunction with her research project, " 'Strike the Hammer While the Iron is Hot:' The Black Freedom Struggle in Rochester, NY, 1945-1975." Statements in these interviews are those of the interviewees alone, and in no way speak for the University of Rochester as a whole, or for individual members of the University community.   The University accepts no responsibility for the content of these interviews.

To date, twenty interviews have been completed, and transcriptions are in progress. As the project continues and a Web site is developed over the next several months, visitors to this site will be able to read and listen to the stories of community activists such as Dr. Walter Cooper, Constance Mitchell and Loma Allen, businessmen Horace Becker and Clarence Ingram, and ministers Raymond Scott, Herb White, and Robert Kreckel. Charles Price, the first African-American police officer in Rochester, describes his arrest by state police during riot patrol as a plainclothes officer. Darryl Porter, currently Assistant to Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy, recalls his former leadership of a local youth gang, the Matadors. 

This project serves as a permanent resource for continuing conversation, learning and research around Rochester's role in this critical chapter of civil rights history. Librarians hope the site will identify other participants. In addition to interviews, the Department seeks collections of personal or organizational papers, images, and ephemera related to Rochester's black freedom experience in the 1960s and '70s – especially materials related to the riots and the city's recovery.

For further information about the Rochester Black Freedom Struggle Oral History Project, contact rarebks@library.rochester.edu or phone (585) 275-4477.