74 years ago: In a future Ali’s city, a starkly segregated workplace

The world was a very different place on Jan. 17, 1942 — the day Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. was born on Grand Avenue in Louisville’s West End. Employers were free to discriminate on the basis of sex and race, as these help-wanted ads make clear from that day’s Courier-Journal.

Classified ads

The first ad, for junior stenographers at Louisville City Hospital, was aimed at both white and “Negro” women — and at a good salary, too: $71.50 (a month, no doubt). Adjusted for inflation, that would be equivalent to $1,050 in 2016 dollars, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In 1942, Odessa Grady Clay was herself a 25-year-old household domestic, who might have sought work in one of these jobs-offered ads. Many years later, of course, she became famous, as the mother of one of the 20th century’s most celebrated sports figures: Muhammad Ali.

City Hospital was at 323 E. Chestnut St., and the building remains there today as part of the University of Louisville Medical School. This is how it looked in 1932, in a photograph from the U of L Photographic Archives.

Louisville City Hospital

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