Celebrating the Legacy of Black Louisville

Jan 31st, 2014 - 6:00pm

Mervin Aubespin and Ken Clay, co-authors of the book Two Centuries of Black Louisville: A Photographic History, will join with Legacies Unlimited Inc., the University of Louisville Archives and Special Collections, and the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage, to host a weekend of events that will kick off African American History Month in Louisville by encouraging the general public to help preserve the history of Louisville’s African American Community.

The weekend of events, called Celebrating the Legacy of Black Louisville, will take place from January 31 through February 2 at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage at 1701 West Muhammad Ali Boulevard. It will feature exhibits, workshops, a documentary, a live stage show and a gospel celebration.

The co-authors and archivists from U of L will also be encouraging the public to help document the history of Louisville’s African American community by bringing family photos, papers and documents to the Center on February 1 and 2. Representatives from U of L’s Archives and Special Collections will be on hand to discuss how families can preserve historical items for future generations. They will also provide advice on ways the public can contribute photos and papers to U of L’s special collections of Louisville’s African American History, so they can be preserved permanently and professionally while remaining readily accessible to families, historians and the general public.

Featured exhibits that will be unveiled on January 31 and remain up at the Center throughout the month of February will include photos from the book Two Centuries of Black Louisville, as well as the Walnut Street Collection, photos from the historic Walnut Street era. A collage of photos and awards from a private collection that pays homage to Louisville’s renowned jazz vocalist, Helen Humes, will also be showcased, as well as a display of urban plastic hats created by Zephyr Mae Miller, often referred to as the “Bag Lady.”

Workshops on Louisville’s involvement in the Underground Railroad (9:00 – 10:15 AM) and on old Walnut Street (10:30 – 11:45 AM) will take place on Saturday morning, February 1, along with an instructional workshop conducted by U of L archivists (12 Noon – 1:15 PM) on how families and individuals can preserve historical photos, papers and documents.

A documentary film entitled The Dirt Bowl – The Tradition, The Journey – It Lives in Me, will also be presented on Saturday from 1:30 – 3:30 PM. This locally produced film achieved award recognition in the Louisville International Film Festival held in Louisville this past fall. The film is a documentary about the Summer League Basketball Tournament that started in Algonquin Park and later moved to Shawnee Park that has been a sports tradition in Louisville since 1969. Players featured in the film include David Cosby, Phil Bond, Artis Gilmore, Darryl Griffith, and others.

The Walnut Street Revue will highlight the Saturday evening activities on February 1, from 7:30 – 10 PM. The live stage show, reminiscent of the “chitlin circuit” performances presented at Walnut Streets’ Lyric Theater in the 1940s & ’50s, features Comedian Ray “Moms Mabley” Belt, the young “Motown” group- Second Chance, vocalists Freda Holt, Greg Figgs, Casey Crooks-Davis and Rick Bartlett, and soul jazz/soul guitarist Billy Clements, with the Jerry Tolson Band.

The Celebration weekend will conclude on Sunday with a Great Gospel Shout-Out from 4:30 – 6 PM, featuring the music of Messengers of Christ, One Purpose and Totally Dedicated, three Louisville-based gospel groups.

Tickets for the Walnut Street Revue and the Great Gospel Shout Out are available at both locations of Better Days Records, in Lyles Mall and on Bardstown Road. They will also be available at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage on the day of the shows. All other events are free and open to the public.