Kentucky Historical Society

Interview with Robert Coleman

Date of Interview: 

Fri, 08/18/2000




Call Number: 


Coleman came from a family of politically active people and even though the segregated climate of Paducah did not encourage him, he excelled. When he returned from military service he began taking classes while he was employed at the Illinois Central Railroad. He describes in some detail what jobs opportunities were like Blacks as compared to whites. When Coleman was elected as a City Commissioner and Pro Tem he was able to get African-Americans on to various city boards and was instrumental in Paducah's hiring it's first African-American Fire Chief, Police Chief and Director of Solid Waste. He tells of losing one election due to a smear campaign when he assisted the Commission on Human Rights Investigator looking into complaints of police brutality in Paducah. Coleman was one of four non-lawyers appointed by the Kentucky Bar Association to serve on a Public Inquire Commission dealing with lawyer discipline. Transcript available.

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