50th Anniversary of the Signing of Kentucky’s Civil Rights Act

On January 27, 1966 Kentucky’s Governor Edward T. Breathitt signed into law the Kentucky Civil Rights Act, the first of its kind passed by a southern state.  Martin Luther King Jr. described Kentucky’s Civil Rights Act as “the strongest and most comprehensive civil rights bill passed by a southern state.”  Kentucky’s Civil Rights Act strengthened the federal Civil Rights Act with regard to prohibiting employment discrimination, as well as with regard to integrating public accommodations.


From 1994-1997, the Nunn Center conducted a series of interviews with Governor Breathitt.  The interviews were conducted by Terry L. Birdwhistell and James C. Klotter.  In the interview conducted February 24, 1997, Breathitt describes the passage of Kentucky’s Civil Rights Act in 1966.  Listen to an excerpt from the interview here.  Click here to listen to the full interview.