The Cradle of Methodism

Kirke Smith

Kirke Smith
Kirke Smith (1865-1935)

Kirke Smith was born July 22, 1865 in Montgomery County, VA. He graduated from Boydton Institute in 1889, Berea College in 1891, and earned an M. A. from the University of Michigan.

In 1904, a bill was introduced into the Kentucky legislature “to prohibit white and colored persons from attending the same school.” Called the “Day Law” after its sponsor, the bill was aimed at Berea College, since separate public schools for blacks and whites had been the law in the state for some time. After a lawsuit to defend its interracial educational policy was defeated, Berea trustees hired Kirke Smith and James Bond, the grandfather of Julian Bond, to raise money for a new school.

When Lincoln Institute, located in Simpsonville, KY, opened its doors on October 1, 1912, Kirke Smith became the Dean of the Normal Department and the Dean of Men. Whitney Young, Sr. became the first black president.

In 1954, the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. the Board of Education removed the Day Law from the books. Lincoln Institute is now called the Whitney Young Manpower Institute.

[From An Online Guide to African American History by Quintard Taylor: Smith, Kirk (1865-1935) The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed]


Read about Mozella Jordan Price, another graduate of The Boydton Institute here.

Special thanks to Laurie Preston, Head of Reference at Randolph Macon College's McGraw-Page Library.

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