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Perspectives of Teachers on Integration in Kentucky

April 25, 2011 in 1950s-1960s, Political history, Social history

Perspectives of Teachers on Integration in Kentucky

The integration of the nation’s public school systems, as mandated by the U.S. Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, caused a furor among most Southern states.  The general strategy that was established early on was to comply with the decision as slowly as possible through delay after delay, and violent incidents were not uncommon.  One Southern state that escaped the resulting upheaval was Kentucky.

From the outset, the outlook for integration in Kentucky was one of cautious optimism.  According to A. Lee Coleman, even the governor of the state predicted that Kentucky’s schools would be the easiest to integrate in the South; this sentiment would have arguably been political suicide had it not been correct, especially in states such as Alabama or Mississippi.  In his article in the Journal of Negro Education, written in 1955 – and which also gives the impression of being written for the purpose of encouraging his fellow educators – Coleman echoes the governor’s optimism, stating a number of compelling reasons as to why he believes this to be the case, which include the blindingly fast integration of colleges in Kentucky and the general lack of strong feelings among the white population.

Even in the “easiest state to integrate,” however, integration would not be without its challenges.  The main worry that Coleman seemed to have was that progress, while more substantial than the rest of the South, would prove to be positively glacial.  Legal wrangling over several state laws and their interaction with the Supreme Court decision, along with an administrative decision to ease the state into integration slowly to allow the population a chance to adjust, promised to slow the process to a painful crawl.  All of this can likely be attributed to the normal operating speed of a governing body whose capitol building is not under threat of being razed by angry citizens, rather than a concerted effort to delay the process as in the other Southern states.

Twelve years after Coleman had published his hopeful piece in the Journal of Negro Education, Eddie W. Morris published his own article regarding integration in the same publication.  By then, the integration of the student body of the public schools in Kentucky had been achieved very smoothly, with no especially major incidents.  Unfortunately, a problem which had not been predicted by Coleman had arisen:  the integration of the teachers and faculty.

Those Black teachers that had not lost their jobs outright – which effectively included most of those without training or tenure – had almost all taken a demotion when they were integrated with White faculty at other facilities.  Additionally, new Black teachers had not been hired in a number of years.  While budgetary concerns may have been to blame for at least some of these incidents (due to an effective surplus of teaching staff), the fact that the Black faculty members were being treated in such a manner almost exclusively indicated that integration had not been fully completed for everyone involved in the public school system.

Morris blamed this lack of faculty integration on several factors.  He asserted that administrators believed that black teachers in positions of power over white students would cause an uproar amongst parents – even though he says that there was no indication whatsoever that this would be the case – as well as a belief that black teachers were less qualified than their White counterparts.  He also said that prejudice among leadership councils on a community level who influenced the people on the school board played a part.  His plea was to keep qualified teachers in the Bluegrass, as many Black teachers were leaving for other states and better opportunities due to this treatment.

While Kentucky was easily the most open and accepting of the Southern states of integration, it was most certainly not integrated without its share of problems, as indicated by the continuing discrimination against Black faculty members over a decade after the initial decision.  Even though the violence, chaos, and terror that marked the event in other Southern states did not surface in the Bluegrass, it is important not to allow the dramatic events elsewhere to overshadow the challenges and triumphs of integration in Kentucky.

References:

A. Lee Coleman, “Desegregation of Public Schools in Kentucky – One Year Afterward,” The Journal of Negro Education, Summer 1955: 248-257.

Eddie W. Morris, “Facts and Factors of Faculty Desegregation in Kentucky,” The Journal of Negro Education 36:1 (Winter, 1967) 75-77.

 

James Meredith and The Battle of Ole’ Miss

April 20, 2011 in 1960s-1970s, Social history

On September 30th, 1962, 127 U.S. Marshals stood guard in front of the central administrative building on the campus of the University of Mississippi.  Armed with hand guns and tear gas grenade launchers they looked across the campus greens to a growing crowd of threatening, aggravated and hostile students. Alongside the students stood members of the Mississippi Highway patrol with order of their own that contradicted that of the increasingly overwhelmed Marshals. What was the reason for these battle lines being drawn? September 30th was the registration day for a man named James Meredith, the first black student to attend Mississippi University and a major step toward the end of segregation.

That day will be forever remembered in the timeline of segregation history not only for the fact that James Meredith did in fact register but also the battle that ensued due to it. In an act of defiance against federal law, Ross Barrett the governor of Mississippi at the time had ordered his patrolmen to stop the registration of Meredith. The U.S. Marshalls had received their orders from President John F. Kennedy who had also given them the order not to fire their lethal weapons. The mod steadily intensified until around 7p.m. the tension broke a full on riot transpired. From bricks to birdshot the U.S. Marshalls were pummeled and by the end of the night 79 were seriously injured. It took the implementation of the teargas which the Marshals had to wait for permission to use as bricks smashed into their helmets and the arrival of reinforcements in the form of the newly federalized Mississippi National Guard before the rioters and students could be restrained. The Marshals had succeeded in integrating the University of Mississippi.

From the severity of the battle over James Meredith two U.S. Marshals were commissioned to escort Meredith everywhere he went, making sure that no harm came to him while attending the university. That night would be one of the most brutal nights of resistance towards integration and there are many significant points in the story. The most important being James Meredith himself with the perseverance to continue his fight for higher education, even against a force that nearly overwhelmed federal troops. The second is that of the U.S. Marshals who, had if not stayed true to their orders to not use deadly force, even when they were being fired upon themselves, could have been part of a truly devastating and bloody battle.

The story of James Meredith and the U.S. Marshals that defended him, along with the testimonies of Robert F. Kennedy and many other that were involved can be found in the U.S. Marshals history archive. It is a wonderful source for understanding the battle of “Ole Miss” and the surrounding factors.

 

Source

http://www.usmarshals.gov/history/miss/02.htm

 

 

 

by kirving

The Astounding Life of Ruby Bridges

April 19, 2011 in 1950s-1960s, 1960s-1970s

Ruby Bridges

            Ruby Bridges was born in Tylertown, Mississippi on September 8, 1954. Ruby moved with her parents to New Orleans when she was four years old and at the age of six a phone call was receive by Ruby’s parents. The phone call was from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People wanting Ruby to take part in the integration of public schools in New Orleans. Ruby’s father opposed the idea strongly. However, her mother agreed that Ruby should go and gain the new experience because she realized the impact that Ruby attending an all white school could have on the future of African Americans. Ruby took her entrance exam in the spring of 1960 and was chosen to participate along with five others. Two of the six dropped out of the program and the other three were sent to McDonough Elementary, but Ruby was sent to William Frantz Elementary and was the only black child to attend the school.

            It was decided that Ruby would began school at William Frantz on November 14, 1960. That morning four United States federal court marshals arrived to pick Ruby up and take her to school. Ruby arrived to William Frantz to a humungous crowd of people chanting and throwing things. However, Ruby did not realize they were being aimed toward her. I found this picture in an article written by Chris Rose. The picture below is one of the most famous pictures ever to deal with the Civil Rights Movement. It shows Ruby being escorted into the school by the four marshals.[i] They say a picture is worth a thousand words right? Well this one speaks volumes about the cruelty of whites toward blacks during the Civil Rights Movement as well as the bravery of such a young child.

                                                                                                 “The Problem We All Live With”
                                                                                                    by Norman Rockwell (1894-1978)

            Ruby was refused by all teachers except one, Mrs. Barbra Henry, and Mrs. Henry was excluded by the other teachers because she decided to have dealings with a black child. I cannot begin to imagine what courage it took for Mrs. Henry to stand up and take on the challenge of not only teaching Ruby, but knowing by taking on that challenge that she would be excluded and still took on helping Ruby develop her education.  Kaelin Ray, a student reporter for Current Events, interviewed Ruby on November 8, 2010 to remember the life changing event that Ruby’s first day of school had on her and many other African Americans. Below is the interview conducted in which Ruby Bridges speaks about her feelings, first day, and teacher, Mrs. Henry, which I found very interesting.

          “Kaelin Ray: How does it feel to know that youare a part of U.S. history?

          Ruby Bridges: I’m [very] proud of that fact. My

          mother was really happy about [my] being able

          to attend that school. My father was more concerned

          about my safety.

          KR: What was your first day at William Frantz

          Public School like?

          RB: My first day I spent sitting in the principal’s

          office, so it was very confusing.

          KR: What gave you the courage to go to school

          every day?

          RB: I wasn’t really afraid. … And I loved school.

          KR: How did your teacher, Barbara Henry, help

          you that year?

          RB: Mrs. Henry was one of the nicest teachers I

          ever had, and she made school fun for me.

          KR: What was it like to meet Mrs. Henry again,

          many years later?

          RB: I was really, really excited about meeting her

          again because she [was] a very important part of

          my life that had been missing for a long time.”[ii]

            The first year of Ruby’s integrated school year was over and many terrible things had happened. Her father lost his job, her grandparents, sharecroppers, who lived in Mississippi, was kicked off the land, and the Bridges family in general received death threats. However, the black community gave her father a job and helped the family through the harsh times.[iii] Robert Coles, Ruby’s psychiatrist at William Frantz, would meet with Ruby once a week and later on in his life he wrote a book called, The Story of Ruby Bridges.

            Ruby Bridges Hall still lives in New Orleans today and is the Chair of the Ruby Bridges Foundation. The purpose of this foundation is to try and erase all forms of racism. Ruby had four sons and took on the challenge of her two nieces as she adopted them in 1993 where they attended William Frantz as well and Ruby began to work at the school as a volunteer. Ruby also received the Presidential Citizens medal and in 2006 a new elementary school was erected in honor of Ruby in Alameda, California. Also, in 2007 the Indianapolis Children’s Museum opened an exhibit commemorating the life of Ruby Bridges along with a few others.[iv] The legacy of Ruby Bridges is one of tremendous bravery and courage of such a young child facing such a big challenge fearless with all odds stacked against not only her, but her family and many other African Americans during the time. I feel that Bridges is an outstanding role model for all of us, black or white, to stand up without fear and take on the world and make a difference.      


[i] Rose, Chris. “Ruby Bridges’ long walk; An icon of New Orleans integration will witness another milestone 50 years later.” The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, January 19, 2009, National, p. 1.

[ii] “Building Bridges.” Current Events 110, no. 9 (November 8, 2010): 6. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed April 19, 2011).

[iv] Ibid.

Omer Carmichael: Louisville Public Schools

April 18, 2011 in 1950s-1960s

            In the years following the 1954 Brown v. Education decision, public schools in Kentucky and across the nation were to become integrated. Written by George C. Wright of the Kentucky Historical Society, A History of Blacks in Kentucky: In Pursuit of Equality, 1890-1980 follows how blacks in Kentucky have pushed for equality since the beginning of the 20th century. In a chapter concerning the 1950s to the present, school integration interested me.

            The 1956-57 school year in witnessed two landmark events in Kentucky school integration. As has been mentioned before, the events that took place in Sturgis would draw national attention that required Governor Happy Chandler to send in the Kentucky National Guard to protect the black students involved. In the shadow of the events in Sturgis, the Louisville Board of Education began to enact its desegregation plan that same September.

            The superintendent at the time was Omer Carmichael. Carmichael and the school board ignored much criticism from the Louisville NAACP on their delayed start of integration, as well as criticism from much of the black population. Carmichael would state “it is very important for everything to be well in place before proceeding.” Carmichael also mentioned that immediate integration never garnered enough support and that “Louisville’s articulate Negro leadership showed helpful restraint and moderation in allowing the desegregation process to develop uncomplicated by impetuous or intemperate demands for speed.” Carmichael was also very voiced in refusing to work with the NAACP calling them “radical and often pushy.”

President Eisenhower(left) and Carmichael(right)

            Carmichaels plan included several parts, including redistricting of students to schools that were closest to their homes. However, within in his plan, “freedom of choice” was most important. Blacks could choose to attend mixed schools and whites could choose to attend segregated schools if they wished. Due to housing problems in Louisville, many whites found themselves living in close proximity to blacks. This “freedom of choice” allowed these students to attend all-white schools in all-white neighborhoods.

            Louisville’s desegregation would gain national attention and become a model of school integration across the nation. Superintendent Carmichael would receive an invitation to the White House by President Dwight Eisenhower in recognition of the peaceful integration of the Louisville public school system. However, very little integration actually occurred. There were only a few blacks enrolling in white schools and no whites going to the black schools.

            Furthermore, to those living in Louisville the few blacks that attended the white schools were seen to be chosen because of their certain attributes. The black students who enrolled at Male High School at the time had very high intelligent test scores. Also, many of the first black students at white schools were outstanding athletes, a pattern that became to be present across many schools in the nation.

            The moderate plan that Carmichael and the Louisville Board of Education implemented was praised by educators and politicians across the nation. Again showing how Kentucky was of utmost importance and a frontrunner during the American Civil Rights movement.

Sources

Wright, George C. “A History of Blacks In Kentucky: In Pursuit of Equality.” 1992 Kentucky Historical Society. 203-205.

http://books.google.com/books?id=8eFSK4o–M0C&pg=PA164&lpg=PA164&dq=omer+carmichael&source=bl&ots=2ObGFZr2KV&sig=LPSHCwBSOADdfoSo6J3vLhybML4&hl=en&ei=bLusTfbtMZKG0QGZtbysCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CB0Q6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=omer%20carmichael&f=false

by dawn

The Integration of The University of Kentucky

December 10, 2010 in 1950s-1960s, 1960s-1970s

In 1941, a teenager named Charles Eubanks volunteered to play a part in an attempt to integrate the University of Kentucky. He applied to the UK College of Engineering and was turned down because he was African American and the Kentucky Day Law did not allow African Americans and whites to attend the same school. The suit led to the creation of a “separate but equal” program at Kentucky State University. Though it did not lead to a huge change within the University of Kentucky, it is a notable instance of a step in the right direction.

A man named Lyman T. Johnson is considered one of Kentucky’s greatest fighters for integration. In 1948, he filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Day Law. The next year UK admitted the first black students to its graduate and professional schools. In 1954 the University of Kentucky finally opened admission to undergraduate studies to black students; University of Louisville followed in 1955.

While interviewing Mrs. Gaylord and Rev. & Mrs. Jones for our service learning project (“Lexington Women, African-American Churches and Civil Rights Activism” – see more at: www.kywcrh.org/voices/churches), I began to think about the University of Kentucky in the 1950s and ‘60s and what it would have been like to attend UK as one of the few African American students. Coming here as a freshman was scary enough for me; not knowing where to go or what to do. Coming here with fear and the isolation that both Mrs. Gaylord and Mrs. Jones expressed to me would be traumatizing. They both lived on campus and discussed the difficulties of eating at surrounding restaurants. Mrs. Jones was not allowed to eat at Jerry’s, a restaurant directly across from her dorm. While living on campus they would have lacked the community and support which one needs to be successful while getting an education. Luckily, Mrs. Jones was able to rely on Pleasant Green Baptist Church where she was an active member. She experienced many difficulties within her biology major at the university. I was shocked to hear that her genetics teacher told her that she was “genetically inferior”.

As a proud UK student, it saddens me to learn these things about a school which plays such a vital role in my life.

Resources:

Oral History Interview – Jones, Kay and La Mont. Interview by Dawn Bailey. Digital recording. November 29, 2010. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY.
Oral History Interview – Gaylord (not uploaded yet)

See also:
“Civil Rights Timeline” – http://www.ket.org/civilrights/timeline.htm
Hardin, John A. Fifty Years of Segregation: Black Higher Education in Kentucky, 1904-1954. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky, 1997. Print.

The Fight for Equality in Housing

November 18, 2010 in 1950s-1960s, Economic history, Oral history, Primary source, Social history

Ruth Booker Bryant of Louisville KY, 2003

Ruth Booker Bryant, KY Commission on Human Rights Hall of Fame 2003

The effects of segregation in Louisville, Kentucky led the city to be split into two major sections. On the Black side of the city, the living conditions were rough, harsh and dirty for most African Americans. The claim ‘separate but equal’ was clearly not equal here. Some neighborhoods could be compared to third world country living conditions. While working as a social worker, Ruth Booker Bryant saw with her own eyes the way that some people were living, due to the poverty and the lack of upkeep by the cities garbage companies and housing companies.

Mrs. Bryant quit her job after seeing first hand people sleeping in the dirt, eating out of cans, having no furniture, etc. Mrs. Bryant lived in “Little Africa” (a segregated section of the Parkland neighborhood) for some time when first arriving to Louisville in the late 1940’s. This part of town had outside toilets and pigs and chickens running around people’s yards. This style of living needed to be upgraded, and seeing the things she did while being a social worker and then after living in Little Africa, she started to get involved with political activism on a small scale.

Ruth Booker Bryant joined the Women’s Committee of the Louisville Urban Renewal League, which had both white and black members. It was designed for progressive thinkers from bothe races to meet and “break the ice.” This was the first step in stopping segregation and for raising the bar for women’s rights in Louisville. Soon there after in the early 1960’s she became the chairman for the Housing Committee and joined the Louisville League of Women Voters. Mrs. Bryant’s new goal was to drastically improve the housing aspect of poor African Americans living in Louisville. She worked with leaders from government funded agencies such as Head Start as well as non-government groups active in Louisville during the early 1960’s during the War on Poverty. Her goal was to make the entire city of Louisville a better place to live.

Through her constant vigilance, Mrs. Bryant was able to impact her community  and bring about positive change to the people of Louisville. She crossed over racial and gender lines by being a black female. Mrs. Ruth Booker Bryant always carried herself in a positive light and never had time for hate. Women like her have helped change Louisville and Kentucky as a whole.

Most of my information came from:

Mrs. Ruth B. Bryant. Interview by Kenneth L. Chumbley. Digital recording and transcript. July 24, 1977. Tapes No. 592 and 593, Oral History Series, University of Louisville Archives, Louisville, KY.

Ruth Booker Bryant, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington, KY.

See also the Lois Morris papers at the University of Louisville Special Collections: http://kdl.kyvl.org/cgi/f/findaid/findaid-idx?c=klgead;cc=klgead;view=text;rgn=main;didno=klgar57k

by Mary

Taking another look at influential women in Kentucky: Gloria Jean Watkins (bell hooks)

November 1, 2010 in 1960s-1970s, Economic history, Intellectual history, Political history, Social history

bell hooksGloria Jean Watkins better known as bell hooks (her pen name) is a very influential woman that has come from Kentucky.  She has written multiple books that bring light the injustice that women go through in our patriarchal society.  Some of her books are even used at the University of Kentucky in gender study classes.  Watkins is a social activist that ties in race and gender to get her message out about how women are treated as lesser individuals than men.  

Watkins was born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky in 1952 to a working class African American family.  Watkins grew up in segregated schools but in high school was exposed to the integration of black and white schools in her region.  She has written about her accounts and the difficulty of going from an all black school to an integrated school where most of the children and teachers were white.  This is where she first saw the role that gender and race played into our society.

Her book Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism explores the historical impact of sexism and racism on black women.  She has published 30 books that explore the ideas of feminism, race, class and gender.  She discusses how we learn our gender roles from an early age so we are accustomed to women being treated unfairly and not equal to men.  Watkins has taught at Yale, but she now works for Berea College in Kentucky as Distinguished Professor in residence, she has expressed that she wanted to return to her home of Kentucky.


She speaks of how loving communities (see for example her articles in Shambhala Sun) can help to overcome the inequalities that race and gender have put into our society.  I think that she should be considered an influential woman of Kentucky because she puts limelight on the unfair treatment of women in society and incorporates race with these injustices.  Although it does not really have to do with the history of Kentucky she has everything to do with the treatment of women in history and how it affects women today in our patriarchal society.

Desegregation: Who really benefited?

November 1, 2010 in 1960s-1970s, Economic history, Oral history, Social history

Who really benefited from desegregation? This may seem like a foolish question in light of what many suffered during the Civil Rights era to where we are today. This question arose after hearing from most people of color, especially women about their post segregation experiences.

Alice Monyette Wilson, interviewed for KET Living the Story

Alice Monyette Wilson (from Mayfield, KY) tells her story on the KET website - click on her picture

Many black students, like Alice Wilson, who went to integrated schools stated that their white teachers were not very interested in their educational well being. If students were sent to schools where they were not welcomed or cared about was this good for them.

Sit-ins were a popular form of civil disobedience to force the integration of public places. When she wanted to join in protesting a local restaurant, Joyce Hamilton, now Dr. Joyce Hamilton Berry, was told by her father, “why would you want to go into a place that did not want you?” It seemed like good advice to her, so she did not join the protest.  Marching to spend your money where you were not welcomed was ludicrous as far as her father was concerned. This may have led to closure of many “black” businesses after desegregation because many took their business to those places. 

Jackie Robinson’s entrance into the Majors, many believe, led to the downfall of the Negro League. Many blacks lost a lot of the money they invested in the league when that happened.

In Lexington Kentucky, most black owned businesses in the Martin Luther King, Jr. neighborhood closed after integration. Women and children suffered the most as result of the economic hardship that hit that community. It still has not recovered after all these years.

The place to showcase their artistic expression in the community was also closed after desegregation. The Lyric the only African American theater in Lexington would be closed for a generation.

 Was desegregation a good thing? Many would answer yes. The question remains, who really benefited?

Busing and school desegregation in Louisville

October 16, 2010 in 1960s-1970s, Political history, Primary source, Social history

All Aboard!!

In her book I Shared the Dream (pages 268-271) former Kentucky State Senator Georgia Davis Powers relates an anecdote about her legislative experience. She states that after Federal Judge James Gordon ordered the Jefferson County (Louisville, KY) to begin busing students to integrate schools she had a major argument with then governor Julian Carroll about it. The House members passed a bill prohibiting the use of state funds to purchase the necessary buses. Senator Davis secured enough votes to defeat the bill so the governor contacted her about supporting it. His reasoning, which she believed was not genuine, was to get the federal funds to pay for the added expenses associated with busing. She released those who had pledged to their support telling them to “just vote your conscience.” The bill was passed delaying integration of the district.

Senator Powers then wrote that one Helen Bland, speaking at a rally in support of integration, summed up the issue of busing as far as her experience was concerned. This is too good not to be stated in Bland’s own words:

     “Lord, what is it with this bus? When I was growing up in rural Alabama, we weren’t allowed to ride the bus. Rain or shine we had to walk five miles to school, and when the bus carrying the white children passed, we had to scramble up weed-filled banks to keep from having mud splashed all over us.
     “
Then, I moved to Montgomery and Blacks were boycotting the buses, so I still couldn’t ride. Finally, I moved to Louisville where I raised my children and they again walked to school in the neighborhood, even though it was more than a mile- a long walk bad weather. Then, along came the Court order, and they said my children had to ride the bus. They did, and they liked the bus, and got along well at the school they went to. Now, somebody’s trying to turn back the clock and put them off the bus again.
     “
I said, ‘Lord, what is it with this bus? When is it going to stop plaguing my life?’”

~~~
Other Resources

Tracy E. K’Meyer, Civil Rights in the Gateway to the South: Louisville, Kentucky 1945-1980. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2009.

YouTube logo
WLKY archive: Bob Whitlock reports on Louisville bus riots in 1975

See also the television coverage of 1975 street riots in Louisville including members of the Ku Klux Klan protesting the use of busing to facilitate the desegregation of the public schools in Jefferson County, Kentucky.

by kcjohn2

Kentucky’s Integration of Schools

October 3, 2010 in 1950s-1960s, Social history

In 1955, at the age of 16, Helen Case became the first black student to enroll in a historically all white school in Kentucky. Although she only enrolled in summer school at Lafayette High School, this was a huge step in furthering the civil rights movement in Kentucky. A Texas newspaper called the Victoria Advocate wrote, “No school in Kentucky has yet announced any intention of integrating schools by next autumn, but some have indicated they plan to do so by the fall of 1956.” It is ironic that a newspaper in Texas would document this event, but in all my research I cannot find anything in the Herald Leader (the Lexington newspaper) about this event.

Even though Brown v. Board of Education, which deemed segregation to be unconstitutional, was decided in 1954, it was not until 1956 that Kentucky schools became integrated. This was not without opposition, especially in Sturgis (Union County) and Clay (Webster County). The events, which took place in Sturgis and Clay were almost like Kentucky’s version of the Little Rock Nine. Just like in Little Rock, there were also nine in Sturgis. The black students did not end up attending school that day because of the loud, violent crowds that greeted them upon their arrival at school. As they did in Little Rock, the National Guard was called in the next day, September 5th, to ensure safety and stayed through September 22nd. The school boards of Union and Webster counties ultimately decided the African American students enrolled in the schools illegally. The governor’s proclamation on these events summed up this decision by saying, “Late on the afternoon of the 18th, however, he Union and Webster County Boards of Education rekindled the controversy by voting to officially bar black students from their schools.  This came on the strength of an opinion by Attorney General Jo M. Ferguson.  Ferguson ruled that the Negro students were enrolled illegally, since neither Webster nor the Union County school boards had implemented an integration program.” The two counties board of education’s interpreted the decision to integrate schools as their own even after the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional.

“1st Negro Enters Kentucky School.” The Victoria Advocate.7 June. 1955: A-4.

Trowbridge, John M. “Sturgis and Clay: Showdown for Desegregation in Kentucky Education.” Department of Military Affairs. 2006.

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