Note: This original one-on-one interview, part of the Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky Oral History Project, was produced by the Kentucky Oral History Commission and Historical Society.
A native of Kansas, Abby Marlatt moved to Lexington to be a professor of nutrition at the University of Kentucky. While teaching at UK during the 1960s, she assisted students who wanted to protest injustices of the times.
She helped UK students organize and train for nonviolent direct action, joined them for sit-ins at lunch counters in downtown Lexington, and helped with negotiations to desegregate restaurants and movie theaters.
Marlatt also joined the effort to form the Lexington chapter of the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), which was dedicated to creating job opportunities for African-Americans. She worked with MicroCity Government, as well as with the Lexington Committee on Religion and Human Rights, helping to establish the Community Action Council in 1965.
Although Marlatt’s activism got her in trouble with UK administrators over the years, the school gave her the Sullivan Medallion, UK’s highest honor for community service, when she retired in 1985. Marlatt died in Lexington on March 3, 2010.