Integrated: The Lincoln Institute, Basketball, and a Vanished Tradition
In Integrated, James W. Miller explores an often ignored aspect of America’s struggle for racial equality. He relates the story of the Lincoln Institute—an all-black high school in Shelby County, Kentucky, where students prospered both in the classroom and on the court. In 1960, the Lincoln Tigers men’s basketball team defeated three all-white schools to win the regional tournament and advance to one of Kentucky’s most popular events, the state high school basketball tournament. This proud tradition of African American schools—a celebration of their athletic achievements—was ironically destroyed by integration.
This evocative book is enriched by tales of individual courage from men who defied comfort and custom. Miller describes how one coach at a white high school convinced his administrators and fans that playing the black schools was not only the right thing to do, but that it was also necessary. He discusses John Norman “Slam Bam” Cunningham, the former Lincoln Institute standout who became an Armed Forces All-Star and later impressed University of Kentucky Coach Adolph Rupp on the Wildcats’ home floor. Miller also tells the story of a young tennis prodigy whose dreams were denied because he could not play at the white country club, but who became the first African American to start for an integrated Kentucky high school basketball championship team.
Featuring accounts from former Lincoln Institute players, students, and teachers, Integrated not only documents the story of a fractured sports tradition but also addresses the far-reaching impact of the civil rights movement in the South.
James W. Miller is the retired athletics director at the University of New Orleans. Prior to his tenure there, he spent eleven years as a newspaper reporter and twenty-one years in the NFL, where he held positions with the New Orleans Saints, Buffalo Bills, and Chicago Bears. He is the author of Where the Water Kept Rising.
The Lincoln Institute, to many Kentuckians and particularly to many African American Kentuckians, has extra special meaning because it was an extraordinary place for students. The Lincoln Institute not only provided opportunities for individuals to grow academically, mentally, and personally; it also offered opportunities for athletic achievements. If you are looking for some exciting reading with a historical basis on a school that touched the lives of many Kentuckians, then Integrated is for you. -- Raymond M. Burse, former president of Kentucky State University
This book successfully captures the spirit, resilience, and history of Lincoln Institute. Miller tells an important story using race and sports as a lens for understanding a forgotten piece of Kentucky history. -- Gerald L. Smith, Theodore A. Hallam Professor of History at the University of Kentucky and coauthor of The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia
Integrated is more than the story of the Lincoln Institute basketball teams’ triumphs and tragedies after the 1954 and 1955 Supreme Court decisions. It is more than the story of the survival of Lincoln Institute from 1912-1966, especially the last thirty-one years under the leadership of Dr. Whitney Young, Sr. It is more than the story of courageous black and white Americans using athletics to pave the way for the desegregation of the public schools in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. It is more than the story of an all-Black boarding high school that came into existence because of segregation and closed its doors because of desegregation. It is more than "A Whistle from mid-court" in 1960 that Lincolnities still talk about. It is much more! It is a story of hope, courage, perseverance and dignity. -- Andrew Baskin, Chair and Associate Professor of African and African-American Studies, Berea College