Access Type

Online access to this book is only available to eligible users.



Download Full Text (6.9 MB)


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.

John A. Hardin is associate professor of history at Western Kentucky University.

"A story which demonstrates the range of human behavior—the good, the bad, and the ugly."—Bowling Green Daily News

"Of particular interest is the author's recounting of the conflict in the early years of the 20th century over the form and content of higher education for blacks."—Choice

"As the first book-length treatment of this topic, Hardin's work will prove a valuable resource to both scholars and the general reading public."—Filson Club Historical Quarterly

"This book contributes significantly to the history of black higher education in Kentucky and throughout the nation."—Florida Historical Quarterly

"Hardin achieved his objective, the explanation of the fall of Jim Crow higher education in Kentucky."—Journal of American History

"A well-researched volume documenting the progress of historically black colleges and universities in the state and the struggle to reintegrate Kentucky's colleges and universities."—Journal of Blacks in Higher Education

"Convincingly documents the ways in which Kentucky’s white politicians kept black colleges starved for cash, hoarded funds for black over white schools, refused to make any meaningful attempt to establish black graduate schools, and resisted black attempts to challenge either such inequities or the segregated educational system itself."—Journal of Southern History

"Chronicles ‘genteel or polite racism’ backed by the Day Law of 1904, which mandated only segregated education throughout the state."—Journal of the Jackson Purchase Historical Society

"The politics, policies, events and personalities are not presented in a vacuum, but are interpreted, with great effectiveness, in relation to larger state and national issues."—Lexington Herald Leader

"Hardin has presented a first-rate monograph on black higher education in Kentucky between 1904 and 1954."—North Carolina Historical Review

"Provides a fine case study that will interest anyone concerned with the historical relationship between racism and education or in the Bluegrass State."—Ohio Valley History

"A valuable contribution to the growing number of studies of the modern civil rights movement in the South."—Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

"Hardin places his work in the context of national and regional trends. . . . Kentucky provides an opportunity to study courses not taken and gives us a case study of a place where different options were possible."—Thaddeus Smith, Middle Tennessee State University

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Higher education, Segregation, African American universities, African American colleges, Kentucky


Higher Education

Fifty Years of Segregation: Black Higher Education in Kentucky, 1904-1954
Read Sample Off-campus Download

Non-UKY University Press users, please click the blue download button to access from a UPK consortium network