KENTUCKY (2/9/12) - The ninth annual Black History Month celebration held today in Frankfort highlighted the authors and Louisville history publication, “Two Centuries of Black Louisville.” The celebration also included the unveiling of the Kentucky Human Rights Commission Poster and a commemoration of the “Kentucky Black Encyclopedia.”
“Black History Month is a chance to reflect on the resilience and spirit of the African-American community and the unmatched influence leaders have had on the American fiber,” said Senator Joey Pendleton, D-Hopkinsville.
Dignitaries participating in the celebration were Governor Steve Beshear, members of the Kentucky Black Legislative Caucus, Senate Majority Floor Leader Robert Stivers, R-Manchester; House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, and Chief Justice John D. Minton.
A highlight of the program was the focus on “Two Centuries of Black Louisville,” led by Merv Aubespin, Ken Clay, and Dr. J. Blaine Hudson. Aubespin is a retired associate editor of The Courier-Journal; Clay is a retired vice president of the Kentucky Center for the Arts, and Hudson is dean of the University of Louisville College of Arts and Sciences.
The 304-page book documents in words and images the history of African Americans in Lousiville, KY – and gives a voice to all those who have left their mark on the city.
The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights inducted three people into the Gallery of Great Black Kentuckians – the commission’s educational program that recognizes the achievements of African Americans who may not be highlighted in traditional histories and who have made remarkable personal, professional or widely public achievements.
Inducted this year were:
• The late William Blakely devoted his life to the education of children and the promotion and support of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) across the country.
• The late Arthur Walters was a former Louisville Urban League director who spent a lifetime breaking down racial barriers.
• Senator Gerald A. Neal is only the second African American to serve in the Kentucky General Assembly. Representing the 33rd District in Louisville since 1989, he has been a strong voice for senior citizens, youth, the disadvantaged and minorities and a staunch supporter of education, healthcare and penal code reform.
Black History Month dates to 1926, when Dr. Carter G. Woodson, who worked in Kentucky coal mines as a child and was the son of former slaves, proposed and launched a weeklong celebration of the individuals and occasions having a significant impact on African American history in America. In 1976, the celebration was extended to the entire month of February.
Senator Neal, D-Louisville, organizer of the event and member of the Black Legislative Caucus, acknowledged the importance of celebrating Black History and remembering the sacrifices.
“This is not just an African American history celebration,” said Senator Neal. “This is an American history celebration. Black History Month presents us the opportunity to remember the important legacy of African Americans in Kentucky and the nation.”
Information provided by Leslie Caudill
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