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Lyman T. Johnson (1906 - 1997) - Mr. Johnson was best known for breaking the “color barrier” at the University of Kentucky. In 1949, he became the first African-American to attend classes there. As a teacher at Central High School in Louisville, Kentucky for thirty-three years, he quickly became the most vocal public school teacher in denouncing discrimination and being involved in issues concerning minorities. Mr. Johnson fought to end unequal pay for black teachers. He also served for nearly ten years as assistant principal and school board member in the Jefferson County Public Schools. During the civil right movement, Mr. Johnson piloted the struggle to integrate Jefferson County neighborhoods, swimming pools, schools and restaurants. Always a catalyst for change, he was a grassroots leader who commanded a lifelong fight for equality in educational opportunities. Also, he strongly defended the belief that all men and women were created equal. Mr. Johnson was awarded an honorary doctor’s degree from the University of Kentucky, the Governor’s Distinguished Service Medallion for Volunteerism and the City of Louisville’s first Freedom Award. Because of commitment to his ideals, his courage and pioneering spirit, Mr. Johnson made an indelible mark on the lives of all Kentuckians.
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