University of Kentucky Women: Integration

Brooks Bridge School

The Brooks Bridge School, a segregated school in Kentucky.

Exclusion: 1903-1949

In 1903 the Kentucky State Legislature passed the Day Law. a law forbidding blacks and whites from attending school in the same building - an effort to support state-wide segregation.

Not denied access to higher education completely, Kentucky's African Americans attended the historically black college, Kentucky State University.  But African American Kentuckians were excluded from the rest of state's unniversity system, including the University of Kentucky.

Lyman Johnson

Lyman Johnson and Rufus Atwood

Protest: 1949-1954

In 1949, Lyman Johnson and the NAACP successfully sued the University of Kentucky and desegregated the university's graduate programs. In 1954, after Brown vs. Board of Education, Kentucky was also forced by federal law to desegregte their undergraduate programs. Despite the fact that UK was legally desegregated, UK remained 95% white until the 1980s.

Minority Presence and Protest at the University of Kentucky

Top left: Sharon Strong, explained working with UK's choir helped her forget "all the outside hassles" like racial discrimination. Top-middle and bottom-left: African American students protest outside of a UK basketball game in 1968 while students inside wave Confederate flags to protest desegregation in the SEC. Top Right: Charlene Himes and Jerome White were leaders of the university's black Greek community. Their organizations focused on community projects, 1975. Bottom right: an AKA girl - a historically black sorority - represents her organization letters.

Separate Sphere: 1954-1980

African Americans began attending UK in 1954 and many students were very successful in a multitude of programs. But, minority students were still discriminated against by many campus activities. Undeterred by discrimination, African American wildcats formed their own organizations including a Black Student Union, Greek Sororities and Fraternities, Choir groups, among many others. All while protesting UK's de facto segregation policy.

The Communicator

The Communicator, a UK publication by minorities, for minorities. 1986

Desegregation: 1980-Present

In 1980 the Commonwealth of Kentucky was sued by the federal government under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for failing to fully desegregate their programs and acceptance policies in higher education.  In 1982, UK submitted a plan to fully desegregate their programs which included actively recruiting more African American students and faculty members to the university.