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Mervin Aubespin

The first African-American news artist hired by the Louisville Courier-Journal, Aubespin got a baptism by fire as a reporter during two days of rioting in Louisville in 1968. He has built a national reputation as an expert on racism and the media and is president of the National Association of Black Journalists.
Season 1 Episode 5 Length 57:41 Rating: TV-PG

Mervin Aubespin

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.

Mervin Aubespin, a former associate editor for The Louisville Courier-Journal, began his distinguished career at that newspaper in 1967. He started as an artist, creating charts and other graphic illustrations for news stories, and was the first African-American to hold that position at the paper.

In 1968, Aubespin learned that a demonstration was being planned in Louisville’s West End. He suggested that a reporter be assigned to the event. Since the newspaper had no black journalists at the time, the editors sent a white reporter and asked Aubespin to accompany him. The demonstration turned into a riot as anger over police mistreatment of a black citizen and the recent assassination of the Martin Luther King, Jr., boiled into rage. To protect his white colleague from danger, Aubespin sent the journalist back to the newspaper office and then spent the next 48 hours reporting on the disturbances himself. Afterward, the Courier-Journal editors decided Aubespin would be more valuable to the paper as a reporter and asked him to join the newsroom staff.

After that baptism by fire, Aubespin continued his reporting duties and his journalistic education, attending the Minority Journalism Program at Columbia University in 1971. As president of the National Association of Black Journalists, he was involved in numerous international media activities and built a reputation as an expert on racism and the media. Among his many awards, he has been honored for “exemplary leadership in providing minorities employment opportunities in journalism.”

Aubespin was born in 1937 in Opelousas, Louisiana, and is a graduate of Tuskegee University. He credits a visit to Montgomery, Alabama, during college as the inspiration for his life-long involvement in the civil rights movement.

Aubespin is co-editor of the book “Two Centuries of Black Louisville: A Photographic History,” published by Butler Books in 2011.

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Program Details

Living the Story: The Rest of the Story

About Living the Story: The Rest of the Story

These 10 one-hour programs contain extended interviews with Kentuckians featured in the documentary Living the Story: The Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky. In unedited one-on-one conversations taped for a Kentucky Oral History Commission project, these eyewitnesses to history tell their own moving stories of life under segregation and of the struggle for racial equality in Kentucky and in America.

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Season 1 Episodes

Grace Lewis

S1 E14 Length 28:16

Anne Braden

S1 E13 Length 58:24

Audrey Grevious

S1 E12 Length 57:31

Raoul Cunningham

S1 E11 Length 57:49

Jennie and Alice Wilson

S1 E10 Length 56:42

James Howard

S1 E9 Length 34:37

J. Blaine Hudson

S1 E8 Length 56:56

Abby Marlatt

S1 E7 Length 57:49

P.G. Peeples

S1 E6 Length 57:16

Mervin Aubespin

S1 E5 Length 57:41

John Jay Johnson

S1 E4 Length 57:01

Sen. Georgia Davis Powers

S1 E3 Length 57:38

Gov. Edward Breathitt

S1 E2 Length 58:43

Julian Bond

S1 E1 Length 56:26

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