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1960's

1960


The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights is established by the Kentucky General Assembly on March 16, 1960. Governor Bert T. Combs signs the bill creating the commission on March 21. He appoints the first Kentucky Human Rights Commissioners on September 12.

   

50th Governor of Kentucky, Bert T. Combs
 Served December 8, 1959 – December 10, 1963
Born August 13, 1911, Died December 3, 1991

The first Board of Commissioners of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights. Seated at center is the chair, Rev. Robert Estill.

1961

 

Governor Bert T. Combs appoints Galen Martin as the first Executive Director of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights on February 1, 1961. Martin was previously the Executive Director of the Kentucky Council on Human Relations and worked as staff secretary for the Knoxville Area Human Relations Council in Tennessee. Martin pushes for an end to segregation with both a federal and state civil rights law. He ultimately becomes one of the writers of the draft of the Kentucky Civil Rights Act. He later spearheads the passage of the Kentucky Fair Housing Act in 1968.

The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights on November 17, 1961, issues a Welcome Statement for businesses to post in their establishments and urges them to be “open to all people of the state without discrimination based on race, creed and national origin."


 

Galen Martin (1927-2006)
Was first and longest serving Commission Executive Director
(from 1963 to 1989)
 

1964

 

Led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and baseball great Jackie Robinson, over 10,000 people march to the Capitol in Frankfort, Ky., on March 5, 1964. On the Capitol steps, King and others demand a law to end segregation in theatres, restaurants, stores, offices and public facilities. No such law is passed during that session, but the public outcry serves as the momentum for the future passage of the Kentucky Civil Rights Act in 1966.

  

 

1965

 

In July 1965, the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights issues “A Guide to Equal Employment Opportunity” to over 15,000 employers, labor unions and employment agencies. The guide covers Title VII of the United States Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination.


 

1966

 

The Kentucky General Assembly passes the Kentucky Civil Rights Act and Governor Edward T. Breahitt signs it into law on January 27, 1966. The Act prohibits discrimination in employment and public accommodations based on race, national origin, color, and religion. Kentucky becomes the first state in the South pass a civil rights law. It becomes the first in the south to establish enforcement powers over civil rights violations on a state level. The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights becomes the state enforcement authority of the Act.   

The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights publishes "Negro Employment in Kentucky State Agencies" in February 1966, tracking for the first time African American employment statistics of the state government workforce.

On August 26, 1966, the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights opens an office in Louisville, Ky., to “increase field service activities in the western half of the state, where some 70 percent of Kentucky’s Negroes live,” say state officials.

Governor Edward (Ned) T. Breathitt signs the Kentucky Civil Rights Act on January 27, 1966. Standing at far left is Kentucky Human Rights Commission Chair Rev. Robert Estill.

1967

 

The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights hold its first public accommodations hearing based on a discrimination complaint on May 26, 1967. The case of Bennett vs. Don’s Trip Inn Tavern results in an order to the Tavern to serve all customers regardless of race, color, religion or national origin.

 

1968

 

On March 15, 1968, Kentucky becomes the first state in the South to enact a fair housing law that prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin. The Kentucky Fair Housing Act grants for the first time all Kentuckians the legal right to live in the neighborhood of their choice, free from discrimination.

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