The Day Law Again Works An Injustice, The Courier Journal, October 8, 1948


The Day Law Again Works An Injustice, The Courier Journal, October 8, 1948

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The Day Law Again
Works An Injustice

TIME is catching up with Day Law, which forbids attendance of white and Negro students in the same school in Kentucky. It is back in the news because Centre College received entrance applications from two young men from, Nigeria, West Africa. As was inevitable, Assistant Attorney General Owen Keller has held that the Day Law excludes African Negroes as completely as it does American citizens who happen to be Negroes.
To raise a fine point, the statute doesn’t say anything about Negroes. It says: “No colored person shall attend any college, school or institution where
white persons are received as pupils or receive instruction.” On the basis of some dictionary definitions one might contend that this law applies not only
to Negroes, but to all persons except Caucasians. However this is splitting hairs to no purpose. The reason for the Day Law, as everybody knows, was to force Berea College to give up its practice of teaching both white and Negro pupils.
It is a clear discrimination, as the Kentucky Court of Appeals set forth in its opinion upholding it. However its discrimination becomes the more amazing
when we consider that Hawaiian, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Iranian, Greek, Ukrainian and Chinese pupils attend schools in Kentucky to which entry is denied our own Negro citizens. This certainly is a violation of the principle of equality of opportunity in education, which the U.S. Supreme Court has asserted more than once in recent months.
We are no less concerned, of course, by the longstanding discrimination against Kentucky Negroes than by that which denies Centre to the Nigerians. But here is an instance in which a Kentucky law reaches round the world to enforce a peculiar and
insular concept. And when we look back at the Court of Appeals opinion upholding the Day Law, we are shocked by what we find.
“The separation of the white and black races upon the globe is a fact equally apparent,” wrote Judge E. C. O’Rear in this opinion. “Why this is so,
it is not necessary to speculate, but the fact of distribution of men by race and color is as visible in the Providential arrangement of the earth as that of heat and cold. The natural separation of the races is therefore an undeniable fact, and all social organizations which lead to their amalgamation are repugnant to the law of nature.”
This extraordinary statement is what has justified retention of the Day Law in the Kentucky statutes since 1904! The court apparently held that as far as Providence was concerned, all the American Negroes were still in Africa. One wonders where it could have assumed to be the white Americans, for they are recent comers too. But since the court’s
ruling interprets the “law of nature” to prevent any evolvement of races or types or species, it is perhaps too much to wonder.
The State Board of Education, deferring both to the Day Law and the U.S. Supreme Court, has worked out its cumbersome shuttle system between the University of Kentucky at Lexington and Kentucky State College at Frankfort. It is intended to provide U. of
K. instructors for Negro students at. K.S.C., and use of U. of K. laboratories and libraries for K.S.C. students in Lexington. Although this technically does make available for Negroes the same courses which white students may study at K.U., it is scarcely
equality of facilities. It is a makeshift necessitated by the Day Law. Sooner or later Kentucky must repeal the Day Law- or build equal educational facilities for both white and Negro students. Realistic appraisal precludes the latter.

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The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY


“The Day Law Again Works An Injustice, The Courier Journal, October 8, 1948,” Paving the Way: The Work of Walter A. Groves at Centre College, accessed July 13, 2024,