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.
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.
Separate Sphere: 1954-1980
African Americans began attending UK in 1954, and many students were successful in a multitude of programs. But, minority students were still discriminated against in many campus activities. Undeterred by discrimination, African American wildcats formed their own organizations including a Black Student Union, Greek sororities and fraternities, and choirs, among many others. All while protesting UK's de facto segregation policy.
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.