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Program 1321

1. Berea College
2. Chef Camp
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Madison County

For more information:
Berea College, Berea, KY 40404, (859) 985-3000


A Tradition of Inclusion

Berea College

By any measure, John Fee was a radical and a subversive. A Southern minister who supported the abolition of slavery, he actually championed the notion that women and blacks should have the same educational choices as white males—and be taught in the same classrooms. In 1859, he and a group of followers who had settled in Madison County drew up a charter for a school that would carry out those ideas. That school has become Berea College, a highly regarded private institution that still holds fast to Fee’s commitment to equal opportunity.

Not that the beginning was without its bumps. As Fee was preparing to open his school, John Brown’s raid at Harper’s Ferry further agitated the national crisis over slavery, and soon a group of about 60 prominent neighbors visited Fee to strongly suggest that he and his friends might be better off if they left Kentucky altogether.

Fee did move to Ohio for a while, but he was hardly a man to give up the fight. By the end of the Civil War, he was back in the Commonwealth, at the settlement he had named Berea after a Biblical town, to pursue the idea of the school. Elementary classes began in 1866, and a college level was added three years later. Fee had worked as a missionary at Camp Nelson, where African-American soldiers were trained for the Union Army, and he recruited students from among their ranks as well as their families. As the school grew, its student body remained about half black and half white for decades.

All of that changed in 1904, when the passage of the Day Law outlawed integrated education in Kentucky. After unsuccessfully challenging the law in court, the trustees of Berea College divided its endowment to found a separate school for African-American students, the Lincoln Institute in Shelby County, and refocused Berea’s mission on serving the poor of Appalachia.

When the Day Law was repealed in 1950, Berea was quick to re-integrate. But regional emphasis and affordability remain cornerstones of the college’s approach. Berea College students do not pay tuition. Instead, they are required to work 10-15 hours per week in jobs ranging from landscape maintenance to academic research. One particularly well-known aspect of the student labor program is the college crafts industry, which produces handmade baskets, woodcraft and wrought-iron items, brooms, textiles, and ceramics.

The work program at Berea is not just about economics, though. It is part of a larger commitment to impart the values of work and service to the community along with a deep love of learning—principles passed down by founding father Fee.

Founded by a preacher, Berea also remains a Christian school, though it has never been affiliated with a particular denomination. The college motto is “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth” (Acts 17:26), and its interpretation of Christian principles is rooted in inclusiveness, justice, humility, and love of neighbor. The school welcomes people of all religions, or no religion, and seeks to model its conduct on the precepts not just of John Fee but of Christ Himself ... who, after all, was a radical and a subversive, too.

This Kentucky Life look at the history of Berea College is an edited version of a video produced by the school. But we’ve made two visits of our own, to listen to the Berea College carillon (Program 711) and to witness a ceremony by Tibetan monks honoring former Berea College President John Stephenson (Program 406). For more about the early days of the college, see our segment about actor Hasan Davis’ portrayal of black Union soldier and early Berea College graduate Angus Augustus Burleigh (Program 807).

Watch This Story (19:36)




Warren County

For more information:

Bowling Green Technical College, 1845 Loop Dr., Bowling Green, KY 42101, (270) 901-1000

Producer: Andrea Hummel
Videographers: Cheryl Beckley, Will Foster


Lessons in Good Eating

Chef Camp

What did you do on your summer vacation? In Warren County, some kids spend part of it chopping, stirring, measuring, seasoning, and sauteing at Chef Camp.

The one-week camp, held on the campus of Bowling Green Technical College, teaches basic cooking techniques as well as nutrition. It’s run by executive chef Michael Riggs and associate professor Lisa Hunt, who also operate a well-regarded culinary arts program at the college year-round. Their gleaming classroom/kitchen, with separate areas for instruction in hot and cold food preparation, features ceiling-mounted flat-panel monitors so students can watch the instructor, search for recipes or advice on the Internet, or follow along with an instructional DVD while cooking.

BGTC’s culinary arts program has also been spotlighted on Home & Garden Television, which taped a segment on “egg molds” for its I Want That series at the college.

Watch This Story (4:24)



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