Civil Rights Resources at KHS
The expansion of civil rights has taken and continues to take many forms. For Black History Month, KHS compiled a list of some of its resources that document the issue as it relates to African Americans in Kentucky.
- James Speed to James F. Robinson, May 15, 1863. Lincoln’s attorney general requests the pardon of noted abolitionist Calvin Fairbank, who had been imprisoned for helping slaves escape.
- Brutus J. Clay to Thomas E. Bramlette, January 15, 1864. A Kentucky Congressman plots resistance to African American enlistment in the United States army, the first step towards freedom for many Kentuckians.
- James S. Brisbin to Thomas E. Bramlette, April 14, 1865. An army commander writes urging Governor Bramlette to extend economic protections to freed slaves seeking work.
- Unknown to Thomas E. Bramlette, September 18, 1865. Documents resistance to African Americans asserting new civil rights backed by the federal government after the Civil War.
- J. H. Glover to Unknown. At the end of the Civil War, one Kentuckian proposes extreme measures to force African Americans from the state rather than grant them legal equality.
Register of the Kentucky Historical Society
- Special Issue: Exploring Kentucky’s African American Past, vol. 109, no. 3/4 (Summer/Autumn 2011).
- Peter Wallenstein, “Pioneer Black Legislators from Kentucky, 1860s-1960s” vol. 110, no. 3/4 (Summer/Autumn 2012).
- Patrick A. Lewis, “‘All Men of Decency Ought to Quit the Army’: Benjamin F. Buckner, Manhood, and Proslavery Unionism in Kentucky” vol. 107, no. 4 (Autumn 2009).
- Tracy E. K’Meyer, “The Louisville Civil Rights Movement’s Response to the Southern Red Scare” vol. 104, no. 2 (Spring 2006).
- Betsy Brinson and Kenneth H. Williams, eds., “An Interview with Governor Ned Breathitt on Civil Rights: ‘The most significant thing that I have ever had a part in’” vol. 99, no. 1 (Winter 2001).
- Marker #2022 Desegregation of the University of Kentucky (Fayette County). In 1948, Lyman T. Johnson filed a federal lawsuit challenging the 1904 Day Law that barred African American and white students for attending the same school. Johnson’s lawsuit was successful and in 1949, Johnson entered graduate school at UK.
- Marker #2355 Campaign to End Segregation in Louisville (Jefferson County). The marker highlights the important role that non-violent demonstrations played in ending legal segregation in Louisville.
- Marker #2254 Civil Rights Struggle, 1954 (Jefferson County). The marker is placed at the site of the Wade Family home in the Shively neighborhood of Louisville. The Wade’s, an African American family, moved into the home in 1954 after the Bradens, a white family, helped purchase the house in the all-white neighborhood. The Wades were never able to live in the house because of threats and actual violence carried out to intimidate the family.
- Marker #1419 Whitney M. Young Jr. (Shelby County). This marker celebrates the life of Whitney M. Young, Jr., a leader of the National Urban League in the 1960s. Young promoted non-violent protest tactics and supported economic development and open housing initiatives.
- Marker #2158 Shake Rag (Warren County). This marker commemorates Shake Rag, an African American community in Bowling Green, founded in 1802. Originally a public square, the area grew into a vibrant community over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries.
- Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky Oral History Project In 1998, the Kentucky Oral History Commission launched this project to provide a more extensive base of primary resources from which to develop a deeper understanding of the history and legacy of the civil rights movement in Kentucky.
- KyMEdia Bank, 1964 March on Frankfort retrospective site.
- Political Buttons: We’re on the Move to End Slums; Memorial Button for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; We Shall Overcome
Items related to the American Party, a political party established by former Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace Sr. in 1968. The American Party opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act and fielded candidates for state-level offices in Kentucky.
- Louisville Free Press: Unite! Front page of a Louisville alternative newspaper, from 1970.
- The Year through Haynie’s Eyes: 1967 political cartoon in Louisville Courier-Journal.
- NAACP license plate
- Theodore Braun scrapbook 1953-1957 The collection consists of a scrapbook titled "A Henderson Log and Dialogue: Five Years in Henderson, Kentucky" documenting Theodore 'Ted' Braun's involvement in community matters and the Civil Rights Movement in Henderson, KY and the surrounding area in Western Kentucky.
- Gov. A.B. Chandler signing proclamation to open Kentucky State Police Force to Negroes before a group of NAACP representatives in 1959.
- Ceremony and posting of street sign at the renaming of Martin Luther King Drive, Frankfort, Kentucky.
- Cherokee State Park postcard, circa 1951-1963
The 2014 regular session of the Kentucky General Assembly included legislative moments around the theme “Civil War to Civil Rights.” The moments were produced by the Kentucky Historical Society, with support from the Legislative Research Commission.
Find databases with KHS collections at history.ky.gov/search-our-collections/