KFTC Blog

Final push for voting rights bill blocked again by Senate

Posted by: KFTC staff on April 16, 2014

Yesterday, April 15, was the final day of the 2014 regular session of the Kentucky General Assembly. Supporters of legislation to allow for the automatic restoration of voting rights for most former felons once they have completed their sentence (House Bill 70) gave the Kentucky Senate yet another chance to pass this meaningful legislation.

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Send us your ideas for this year's KFTC Annual Meeting!

Posted by: Carissa Lenfert on April 11, 2014

KFTC is beginning to plan our 2014 Annual Meeting (August 22-24 in Carrollton, KY). The theme is around building grassroots leaders. What workshop topics would make you want to come to this year's annual meeting? What speakers would you like to hear? Other ideas you have to make it a great overall weekend? We would love to hear all ideas so we can plan a great program! Just submit comments below or email your thoughts to carissa@kftc.org.  And we hope you'll mark your calendars and plan to join us!

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April Browning: Celebrating the life of a friend and activist

Posted by: Janet Tucker on April 11, 2014

Our community lost a strong leader the 7th of this month with the passing of April Browning. Her strong voice for justice and equality could be heard on many fronts.  In about every speech April gave it often started out with, "First and foremost, I'm a mom." She said in one interview, "My son Elijah . . . makes every day worth living and special . . . That's the first and most important thing you need to know about me."  She went on to explain, "But after that, it's really important to me to take initiative to make my community a better place - for Elijah and everyone else."

April was a board member of Central Kentucky Council for Peace and Justice.  She was the inspiration and one of the founders of Occupy Lexington in 2011.  Her voice was heard at the rallies organized by Kentuckians Against the War On Women.  She was a spokesperson around the restoration of voting rights for former felons in Kentucky and for Kentuckians For The Commonwealth. 

April was born in Flint, Michigan, but grew up in Central Kentucky.  She understood first hand the struggle of low-income parents in Kentucky.  She understood first hand being denied rights as a former felon for a mistake long past paid for. She understood the struggle of the 99% against the 1%.

In her words, "I am politically active and I feel that my voice as well as thousands of other Kentuckians' voices should be heard. ... I'm fighting for progress across the board and this fight is personal."

We mourn the loss of her leadership and activism, but her spirit will remain with us as the struggle continues.

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Renters' handbook brings new community resource for Southern Kentucky tenants

Posted by: Denney Breeding on April 3, 2014

Southern Kentucky Renters' Handbook Launch Party 3.24.14Last week, several Southern Kentucky members gathered on WKU’s campus to celebrate the long-awaited launch of an informational and educational handbook. The Homeless and Housing Coalition of South Central Kentucky hopes the Barren River Area Renters' handbook will help lower eviction rates and improve the experience of renting a home for the more than 67,000 renters in the Barren River Area.

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Witnessing Wednesdays: Citizens hold prayer vigils for HB 70

Posted by: Beth Howard on April 2, 2014

One of the most powerful ways our members spoke out this legislative session was in prayer. Pastor Anthony Everett from Nia Community of Faith in Lexington led three Witnessing Wednesday prayer vigils in the lobby of the Senate offices to lift up HB70 and the issue of restoring voting rights to former felons once they served their time. WWprayer3The vigils took place at 11:30 a.m. on March 12th, 19th, and 26th and included prayer, song, testimony, and information about the issue. More than 40 people gathered at the last vigil, including Senators Reggie Thomas, Alice Forgy-Kerr, and Gerald Neal, highlighting the bi-partisan support for this issue. The vigils brought together advocates from across the state, including members of KFTC, The Council of Churches, Fairness, Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition, faith leaders from various denominations and faith traditions, and more. People across the state and nation were invited to pray and could join the vigil on livestream.

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From Louisville to Appalachia: Celebrating Our Common Heritage

Posted by: Alicia Hurle on April 1, 2014

“From Louisville to Appalachia: Celebrating Our Common Heritage” was scheduled to be the first event of the Jefferson County Chapter’s Louisville Loves Mountains Week, a series of events leading up to the I Love Mountains Day march and rally at the State Capitol in Frankfort. Inclement weather led to the postponement of the event, but thankfully all of the performers and speakers were available to come out on March 17.  

“From Louisville to Appalachia” was a celebration of Kentucky’s African American heritage in Appalachia. Kentucky writers, musicians, and speakers were invited to share their work and personal stories in celebration of the unique natural beauty, ecological importance, and cultural heritage of Kentucky's Appalachian Mountains and mountain communities.


Cassia Herron, board president of Community Farm Alliance and Richmond, Kentucky native, emceed the event and also shared her family’s story of being tied to the land. Tarsha Semakula’s reading of her poem “I am Louisville” mesmerized the audience. Tarsha is a poet, writer, entrepreneur, and founder and executive director of The Buttafly Center, a community agency that is dedicated to the empowerment of women via education and training, communal resources, and personal development.

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Eastern Kentuckians work to guide Promise Zone process

Posted by: Tanya Turner on March 31, 2014

“The idea of the Promise Zone is encouraging,” said Elizabeth Sanders, Letcher County Steering Committee Rep., back in January. “We have a vision for a future for eastern Kentucky and know we have a lot of promise here in the mountains. If the resources from the federal government through the Promise Zone will coordinate with things like the SOAR Initiative and other existing and future programs, we may begin to see some steps toward the change the people of eastern Kentucky have been ready for and working toward.”


Since KFTC’s Appalachia’s Bright Future Conference in Harlan nearly a year ago, some big announcements and initiatives have surfaced to build wider support for a just economic transition in eastern Kentucky.

Governor Steve Brashear and 5th District Congressman Hal Rogers worked together to launch the SOAR initiative with a well-attended summit last December, and in January we welcomed the declaration of eight eastern Kentucky counties as federal ‘Promise Zones’. Since then, KFTC members have worked hard throughout the 2014 Kentucky General Assembly to lift up our best opportunities for statewide legislation and stay connected to all these efforts to guide the economic future of eastern Kentucky.

Last week KFTC members of the Harlan and Letcher chapters turned out for listening sessions to guide the regional plan of the federal Promise Zones. On Tuesday evening in Harlan, local members represented nearly a third of the 70 or so people who turned out at the Harlan Center. In the same room that hosted large group discussions at Appalachia’s Bright Future conference, Harlan countians shared a vision of hope and possibility.

Federal Promise Zone listening sessionVisions of parks, small businesses, trails and renewable energy made their way to large newsprint at the front of the room as a microphone was passed from table to table. Much of this spoken feedback was from young SKCTC students who traveled from the nearby community college campus with their entire evening class for the listening session.

Benham’s City Manager and longtime KFTC member Roy Silver shared the outline of an evolving "Benham Energy Project" collaboration between the city, Benham Power Board, COAP (Christian Outreach with Appalachian People) of Harlan, and KFTC. 

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KFTC members honored as Community Heroes

Posted by: KFTC Staff on March 31, 2014

KFTC members Tanya and Christian Torp are recognized among 50 Community Heroes in honor of Cesar Chavez Day, March 31. On the birthday of the late civil rights activist and labor leader, the Marguerite Casey Foundation’s Equal Voice for Families campaign is featuring on its website local leaders who are redefining poverty.

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Jefferson County Legislative Call-in Party

Posted by: Alicia Hurle on March 28, 2014

Earlier this month the Jefferson County Chapter of KFTC partnered with Network Center for Community Change (NC3) to host a Legislative Call-in Party focused on House Bill 70, the bill that seeks to restore voting rights to former felons who have paid their debt to society. KFTC members joined  NC3 members at their office to call the Legislative Message Line (1-800-372-7181) and leave messages for their senators and all senators asking them to recede to the House version of HB70. Members also took to social media to encourage their friends and family to do their part to support HB 70.

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$2,000 raised at Annual Pie Auction

Posted by: Cory Lowery on March 25, 2014

This past weekend, the Madison County chapter raised money in style. At the chapter’s annual Pie Auction, held in the basement of Union Church in Berea, chapter members brought pies to be auctioned off to raise money for KFTC’s citizen lobbying efforts. This year, KFTC split the proceeds with the West Virginia Water Project, an organization created to deliver water to the people whose drinking water was poisoned by the recent chemical spill around the state capital of Charleston.

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