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Raoul Cunningham

Raoul Cunningham

As a teenager, Cunningham was one of the student leaders who organized protests at segregated downtown Louisville theaters, lunch counters, restaurants, and businesses, including the "Nothing New for Easter" boycott of stores that would not allow African-American customers to try on clothes.
S1 E11 Length 57:49 Rating: TV-PG

Raoul Cunningham

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.

Raoul Cunningham was born in 1943 and began working for civil rights at age 14. He helped register voters as a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Youth Council. His first protest action was picketing Louisville’s Brown Theater, which would not honor the tickets of young black students who wanted to see the opera “Porgy and Bess.”

Cunningham recruited other young people to the cause and, after careful planning, they began picketing numerous downtown Louisville lunch counters and restaurants that refused to serve African-Americans. Their “Nothing New for Easter” shopping boycott paved the way for black customers to be able to try on clothes in downtown Louisville stores.

Cunningham moved to Washington, D.C., to attend Howard University. As a student there, he continued in civil rights work by organizing a Young Democrats chapter. He was also president of the District of Columbia Federation of College Young Democrats, and vice president of the Young Democrats Club of America.

When he returned to Louisville, Cunningham managed the successful campaign to elect Georgia Davis Powers to the Kentucky Senate. He has been involved in government and politics ever since, weaving civil rights, nonviolence, and better-government issues into his efforts to get more people who are committed to racial justice into the electoral process.

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

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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