Lincoln Institute Campus

Historical Marker #1930 in Shelby County notes the location of the Lincoln Institute, which was founded to educate African American students.

In the wake of the Supreme Court Decision of the 1904 Kentucky Day Law, which legally segregated public and private educational facilities in the state, a decision was made by the Berea College board to build a school for African American students. Berea was the only school in the state that had been racially integrated at the time and was therefore the only one affected by the decision.

The state legislature easily passed the Day Law, which was named for Kentucky state representative Carl Day of Breathitt County. The House approved the law 73 to 5, while the Senate voted 28 to 5. The law took effect in the summer of 1904, and Berea was soon charged with violating the law. The case proceeded to the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld it in 1908. Supreme Court justice and native Kentuckian John Marshall Harlan provided a dissenting vote. He was discouraged by the decision, which meant that United States citizens could not learn in an interracial environment if they so wished. The Day Law remained in effect until 1950, when it was amended to allow black Kentucky students to attend schools if the institution approved. Not surprisingly, Berea was the first college to open its doors to African American students.

The Lincoln Institute was established on Lincoln Ridge in Shelby County, between Frankfort and Louisville, on more than 400 acres. It formally opened in October 1912. The school specialized in training educators and offered vocational education programs. During the Great Depression, the school fell on difficult financial times. Although the school did not receive any state funds, the Institute was buoyed by the economic support of William Henry Hughes, a wealthy Lexington African American. Although the school began receiving state support in the 1940s, it was not enough to keep it open. In 1947, the school was deeded to the state and became a public high school. The 1954 Supreme Court decision "Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka" started the desegregation of all schools in the United States. Although the process was slow, it closed many of the traditional black schools. The last class graduated from the Lincoln Institute in 1966.

Today, the grounds serve at the Whitney M. Young, Jr. Job Corps Training Center. There, young people receive the valuable skills needed to succeed in life though a no-cost program provided by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Images

Lincoln Institute

Lincoln Institute

Lincoln Institute is shown in this early 20th century postcard. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Berea College

Berea College

Interracial since its founding, Berea College was legally segregated in 1904 by the Day Law. Lincoln Institute was established to help educate African Americans after this decision. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Whitney Young House

Whitney Young House

Whitney M. Young was born in this house in Shelby County, Kentucky, just outside of Simpsonville. The house is on the grounds of what was then the Lincoln Institute, and is now the Whitney M. Young Job Corps Training Center. Courtesy of the Library of Congress. View File Details Page

Whitney Young House

Whitney Young House

Whitney M. Young, Sr. taught at Lincoln Institute when his son, future Civil Rights leader Whitney M. Young, Jr., was born there in 1921. Young Sr. later became president of the institution. Young Jr.™s birthplace home is shown here. Courtesy of the Library of Congress. View File Details Page

Whitney M. Young, Jr.

Whitney M. Young, Jr.

Whitney M. Young, Jr. is shown here in 1963. Courtesy of the Library of Congress. View File Details Page

Whitney M. Young Statue

Whitney M. Young Statue

The Whitney M. Young, Jr. statue was sculpted by Kentuckian Ed Hamilton and is located on the campus of Kentucky State University in Frankfort. Photograph courtesy of Stuart Sanders. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Tim Talbott, “Lincoln Institute Campus,” ExploreKYHistory, accessed June 25, 2017, http://explorekyhistory.ky.gov/items/show/305.

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