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Fifty Years of Segregation

Fifty Years of Segregation: Black Higher Education in Kentucky, 1904-1954

John A. Hardin
Copyright Date: 1997
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    Fifty Years of Segregation
    Book Description:

    Kentucky was the last state in the South to introduce racially segregated schools and one of the first to break down racial barriers in higher education. The passage of the infamous Day Law in 1904 forced Berea College to exclude 174 students because of their race. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s black faculty remained unable to attend in-state graduate and professional schools. Like black Americans everywhere who fought overseas during World War II, Kentucky's blacks were increasingly dissatisfied with their second-class educational opportunities. In 1948, they financed litigation to end segregation, and the following year Lyman Johnson sued the University of Kentucky for admission to its doctoral program in history. Civil racism indirectly defined the mission of black higher education through scarce fiscal appropriations from state government. It also promoted a dated 19th-century emphasis on agricultrual and vocational education for African Americans. John Hardin reveals how the history of segregated higher education was shaped by the state's inherent, though sometimes subtle, racism.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5897-6
    Subjects: Education, Sociology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    As the smoke of the Civil War battles cleared in 1865, Americans, in particular those of African descent, lived for the first time in a national culture without chattel slavery. The immediate concern for blacks was survival as emancipated men and women in a society where they did not enjoy the full rights, privileges, and immunities of citizenship. Aware of this conundrum, thoughtful blacks equipped themselves for their predicament by pursuing what they could not easily obtain before emancipation: an education. Organizations and individuals previously involved in the fight for abolition of American slavery now focused their efforts on the...

  5. 1 Hardening the Color Line, 1904-1910
    (pp. 11-20)

    The twentieth-century racial color line predicted by W.E.B. Du Bois materialized differently across the nation. From 1904 to 1910, Kentucky whites hardened racial barriers created after the Civil War. Kentucky whites also rationalized racial segregation as a moderate, morally sound policy to keep the peace. Although it was not a centrally managed campaign, Kentucky politicians recognized the need to control both poor whites who received substandard education and blacks who were insistent on fair treatment. In this context black and white educators were forced to accept legislative and political mandates to implement racial segregation in public and private schools and,...

  6. 2 Acceptance of Civil Racism, 1910-1930
    (pp. 21-46)

    Drawing the color line in Kentucky higher education appeared simple. But managing industrial education curricula at the various institutions proved far more complex for both white trustees and black administrators. Black educators had to convince their students that industrial education, with its emphasis on vocational education, provided employability but not necessarily equality with whites. Moreover, supporters of black institutions fought white skeptics who distrusted trained black workers. In this setting Kentucky informally supported civil or polite racism that maintained the social order in the finest southern tradition.

    This era in Kentucky education followed the incorporation in 1910 of the “new...

  7. 3 Hopes, Reforms, and Resistance, 1930-1939
    (pp. 47-66)

    As the nation reacted to the financial turmoil following the stock market collapse of October 1929, black educators and race leaders sorted out their cautious responses to white demands for efficiency and quality in the operation of black educational institutions. Since 1921 black educators in the state colleges had been attacked for inefficient management and poor quality of instruction under their separate but unequal status.

    Changing this arrangement took on quixotic dimensions. If black educators persuaded their governing boards to make reforms in curricula and management, any adjustments had to conform to educational theories acceptable to white educators usually unfamiliar...

  8. 4 Separate and Unequal, 1940-1948
    (pp. 67-84)

    The 1938 black college merger, the turmoil over it, the battle for black leadership, and theGainesSupreme Court ruling muddied the prospects of what all parties had hoped would be a stable education system, within the limits of Kentucky’s depressed economy. Kentucky blacks wanting higher education were left with dubious choices. They attended Kentucky State or Louisville Municipal, both of which lacked the resources of white teachers colleges, or, upon completing undergraduate programs at these or at out-of-state colleges, they enrolled at out-of-state desegregated universities for graduate or professional training. TheGainescommittee’s final report, issued on 7 March...

  9. 5 Desegregated but Still Separate, 1949-1954
    (pp. 85-112)

    Through 1947 the struggle of Kentucky blacks to achieve truly equal higher education had been stalemated by legal and legislative counter-measures. Litigation to remove race as a basis of admission to the University of Kentucky ended in defeat. Attempts by civil rights activists to repeal the Day Law itself failed as confusion among their ranks developed and unity among their opponents prevailed.

    In 1948 approaches to breaking this deadlock seemed to promise frustration again to blacks. If they did nothing, they appeared to support segregated education. If they again fought segregation laws through the courts, another volunteer test case would...

  10. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  11. Epilogue: After 1954
    (pp. 113-122)

    The post-1954 era of Kentucky black higher education is characterized both by old traditions and by blacks’ impatient demands for substantive change. Kentucky educators and politicians who formerly used higher education institutions to protect racial segregation strained to deconstruct the color line of 1904.

    With the arrival of wider college-level desegregation and student-initiated sit-ins in 1960, Kentucky State no longer promoted itself as having an all-black student body. Before 1960 Kentucky State students and staff had avoided direct participation in the broader campaigns for civil rights, but as the nonviolent protest tactics of black student movements in Nashville and North...

  12. Appendix
    (pp. 123-130)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 131-158)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 159-173)
  15. Index
    (pp. 175-183)