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Lyman T. Johnson Exercise: UK Board of Trustees Meeting Minutes

This guide contains the materials and activities used for a class exercise on Lyman T. Johnson, the first African American to attend the University of Kentucky.

Background

Each set of documents represents a different group or individual, each with varying levels of power. The Board of Trustees had the most power at the university, but of course, they were still subject to the authority of the Federal Court. These minutes from the Board of Trustees meeting take place after the court’s decision, which ruled that UK must provide access to their facilities to African American students if separate, comparable facilities did not exist. The minutes show how the individuals in charge at UK approached integration and the court case. In addition, the minutes indicate the board’s thought process, both in making decisions to respond to the court case and in what they thought of their own conduct.

Questions

  1. Brainstorm. List 10-20 words or phrases about the documents/items. (Start with the details of the document, like topic, names, publication, etc. What do you find interesting? Strange? Do you find anything appealing or disturbing? Things you don’t understand or are unfamiliar with?)
  2. Articulating Problems. Formulate 2-4 possible problems that could be developed from the above list of words and description of materials. (Problems can be found by looking for tensions between ideas, conflicts between your own experience and what the text/image presents, assumptions underlying the arguments of the text/item, or if you notice any gaps or missing information overlooked by the source).
  3. Posing Fruitful Questions. List 2-4 open-ended questions for one problem that could lead to more in-depth research.
  4. What is at Stake? Thinking about the description, brainstorming list, problems, and questions, write 2-5 sentences answering the following: So what? Why does this matter? Why would someone care about this document and why?

Board of Trustees Meeting Minutes

April 1949 Meeting Minutes, Table of Contents

This is the table of contents for the 1949 volume of the Board of Trustees Meeting Minutes, specifically for the meeting on April 5 of that year. In this module, we will look specifically at part C, “Considerations of the Decision in the Lyman T. Johnson Case.”

April 1949 Meeting Minutes, Page 2

This page and the one following summarize the Board's discussion of Lyman T. Johnson's court case, which asserted that UK discriminated against African Americans. This page addresses the subject of the case and the university’s defense against the charges of discrimination. What was the case about, and what was the university's defense?

April 1949 Meeting Minutes, Page 3

This page and the one previous summarize the Board's discussion of Lyman T. Johnson's court case, which asserted that UK discriminated against African Americans. This page addresses the decision and the response to the case. What did the Board of Trustees decide to do regarding the case?