Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office
Kentucky National Guard, State Police to be recognized for role in school desegregation
WHAT: Proclamation of the 50th Anniversary of Sturgis and Clay
WHO: Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Office, Kentucky Army National Guard, Kentucky
State Police and former students of the Sturgis and Clay, Ky. public school
WHEN: Friday Sept. 22, 2006, 12 p.m.
WHERE: Kentucky State Capitol Rotunda
FRANKFORT, Ky. – For 18 days in the early autumn of 1956, the communities of Sturgis and Clay, Ky. captured the nation’s interest as the two towns moved towards desegregation. To commemorate this momentous occasion, a reading of the 50th Anniversary of Sturgis and Clay Proclamation will take place in the rotunda of the State Capitol this Friday, Sept. 22 at noon.
The Supreme Court case of Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 ruled segregation unconstitutional, desegregating public schools nationwide. Due to resistance, desegregation in Kentucky’s schools took many years.
In the first days of school in 1956 at Sturgis, 10 black students who were turned back by a jeering mob appealed to Gov. A.B. “Happy” Chandler who called upon the Kentucky National Guard and Kentucky State Police to keep the order outside the school. The Guard held back the crowd the next morning as nine black students entered the school.
At the same time, a similar confrontation at a Clay, Ky. grade school occurred when two black students enrolled. The Kentucky National Guard was called to maintain the order outside the school.
Beginning Sept. 5, 1956 and lasting until Sept. 22, the two communities made national headlines as units of the Kentucky Army National Guard and Kentucky State Police restored order and maintained the law, removing the peril to life and property. The presence of the Guard and State Police guaranteed the right of all pupils to attend public schools in the communities of Sturgis and Clay, Ky.
A handful of Kentucky State Police, National Guard troops, state officials and students will be present when the 50th Anniversary of Sturgis and Clay Proclamation will be read at the Capitol.