Segregation in KY

February 4, 2013 in 1920s-30s, 1940s-1950s, Social history

Segregation in the first half of the 20th century in Kentucky was a tricky concept because it was not the same picture as many people hold within their minds. Although there were plenty of instances of domestic servants or “help” as expressed in The Maid Narratives in this time frame, not all classism was so obvious. Porter Peeples of Lynch, Kentucky remembers, “[Segregation] wasn’t visibly noticable, [because] the town was small and even though we didn’t attend the same schools, all the kids played together,” (Fosl and K’Meyer,31). This certainly doesn’t make segregation in Kentucky seem as aggressive as it may have been in say, Mississippi, but does not imply equality by a long shot. For example, public transportation in Kentucky still had segregated public transportation, theaters and restaurants, even to those blacks that were biracial, meaning they had one white parent and one black parent.  In many cases, blacks were made to walk around to the backs of establishments in order to be served or, in the case of schools, be given second-rate materials and hand-me-downs from white schools. Mentioned further in Freedom the Border, some small, individualized ways people would battle this segregation would be not going to certain establishments to avoid the embarrassment of entering through back doors and quitting jobs in which they were being treated unjustly.

Although not exactly beginning in Kentucky due to the same size of the movements, this environment of segregation was the perfect catalyst of the start of many progressive equality movements, namely the NAACP. This organization worked towards the equality of blacks in schools, restaurants, etc, but also was key in encouraging women’s groups to work towards their own suffrage in later decades. The NAACP worked with the black vote, integrating schools, (who can forget the famous Brown v. Board Supreme court case) and in more modern times has worked to recognize black talent across the country. Because this time period was a hot bed for racial inequality, people like Mary McLeod Bethune, were trailblazers in creating black schools to not only educate black youth, but work towards a more equal education between black and white children. Overall, segregation in the early 20th century in Kentucky was a complex beast, transcending the common ideas of segregation while also creating the beginnings of civil rights movements in Kentucky and across the nation.

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Van, Wormer Katherine S., David W. Jackson, and Charletta Sudduth. The Maid Narratives: Black Domestics and White Families in the Jim Crow South. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 2012. Print.

Fosl, Catherine, and Tracy Elaine. K’Meyer. Freedom on the Border: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky, 2009. Print.
“LSU Press :: Books – The Maid Narratives.” LSU Press :: Books – The Maid Narratives. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2013.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Class_discrimination
“NAACP | National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.” NAACP | National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. NAACP, 2009. Web. 04 Feb. 2013.
“Brown v. Board of Education.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 27 Jan. 2013. Web. 04 Feb. 2013.

2 responses to Segregation in KY

  1. I think that you did an excellent job at explaining the inequality that was experienced in Kentucky and how this differed from segregation in other states. I also really like how you transitioned into how the segregation experienced in Kentucky gave rise to the organizations that helped fight against it. Great Job!!

  2. I really like how you pulled so many sources into this. It makes you sound very knowledgeable! Also, the quotes are great. They really add to your post.

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