Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects



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In the years surrounding the United States Supreme Court's ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson, many states passed Jim Crow laws to limit the rights of black citizens. Jim Crow laws and practices invaded nearly every facet of life in the South. Bowling Green, Kentucky, was no different. By the early twentieth century, it had a number of Jim Crow facilities and institutions, supported by custom and often times with the force of the law. At that time, Bowling Green was home to a thriving black community despite prejudice and inequality. Black children, for example, attended separate elementary schools in the city and county school systems, and they all attended one segregated high school. Middle-class black leaders joined together to fight the institution of segregation, with black doctors and ministers becoming school officials and community leaders. When industry discriminated against black men, and black women were ignored in public department stores, the African-American community depended on the local churches for hope and for guidance. As occurred throughout most of the South, the black churches in Bowling Green not only provided religious leadership but also social and moral examples. In the years since Brown v Board of Education, however, the predominant view held by the black community is that with the end of segregation they lost their rallying point. Before, they had placed their hopes and energies into the idea of being freed from discrimination. Today, their future is less clear. Many feel that they are unable to reach black children in an integrated system as well as they could in a segregated one.



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