KFTC Blog

Talking About The Black Experience in Kentucky with Dr. George Wright

Posted by: Judi Jennings, Jefferson County Chapter on April 17, 2019

On Saturday, March 30, Dr. George Wright, noted author and incoming Visiting Professor of History at the University of Kentucky, sat down for an online conversation with Sharyn Mitchell, Research Services Specialist at Berea College Library, Dr. Kathryn Engle, sociologist & sister KFTCer, and myself.


The interactive webinar was partially funded by ARTWORKS, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts, and hosted by the University of Kentucky Appalachian Center & Appalachian Studies Program with support from Berea College Special Collections & Archives. The conversation explored Black History and the Black experience in Kentucky.  


Dr. Wright pointed out that race relations across Kentucky and across our country are constantly evolving. In Kentucky, there have been both positive changes – like the increased number of Black college professors in recent decades – and work still to do in areas ranging from homeownership to representation on juries.


Sharyn Mitchell agreed that it is a mixed record, and worried that Black History in Kentucky is being lost.  After public school integration, Black teachers were not hired to teach in the mostly-white schools. Now teachers aren’t often taught Black History, so many students of all backgrounds never have the opportunity to learn it. And there are very few Black librarians and archivists in our state.

Dr. Wright agreed that it is important for all Kentuckians to learn about Black History, including the painful parts. He discussed how communities all over the state are grappling with that history, specifically the legacy of Confederate statues or sites of lynchings. Mitchell noted lynchings that occurred in Russellville, Frankfort, and Nicholasville.

Dr. Wright noted that it is difficult for communities to talk about these things, and that learning and discussing Black History in our state is absolutely needed to move forward. When asked about the main barriers to having these discussions, he pointed out that some media narratives paint white and Black people as completely different from each other, making it hard to start a conversation. Social media exchanges can sometimes make it even more difficult to recognize our common concerns as Kentuckians.

Dr. Wright believes it’s important to enter these conversations with good intentions to both hear and be heard. He also suggested that we not wait for moments of heightened division when it is difficult to build trust, but rather incorporate Black culture and history into community events and daily life. This can put us in a better position to have meaningful conversations when difficult issues come up.

Mitchell added that it’s important for everyone in the community to have a voice in these discussions.


Dr. Wright reminded participants that it’s important to connect the past and the present, look at challenging information and the complexity of history, and to think about what you can learn and bring to the discussion.

You can watch the webinar recording here.

Many KFTC members are leaning into these conversations, and I’d like to encourage every reader to make a plan to learn more about Black History in your own community and create an intentional conversation about race in your neighborhood or town. There is a great resource to get you started at https://nkaa.uky.edu/nkaa/, and you can reach out to your local organizer if you have ideas or questions.





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KFTC Members Speak Out About Louisville Metro Budget Crisis

Posted by: Connor Allen, Judi Jennings, Anastasia Kaufmann, K.A. Owens, Steven Schweinhart on April 17, 2019

  No More Business As Usual

Voter Registration deadline in less than ONE WEEK (April 22)

Posted by: KFTC Staff on April 16, 2019

Rolling Bluegrass Voter Reg Picture

KFTC chapters have a collective goal of registering 575 voters for the primary and there's still time to help out or get yourself registered! 

The voter registration deadline for the May 21 Primary Election is less than week from now on Monday, April 22.  On this year's ballot is the Governor's election and elections for 5 other statewide offices - Secretary of State, Attorney General, Treasurer, Auditor, and Agricultural Commissioner.

If you're not registered,or need to update your voter address, get down to your local County Clerk's office or register online.

If you want to check your voter registration status just to be safe, or to register online start by visiting KFTC's own www.KentuckyElection.org

Note that students who are away from home going to school have the right to either use a permanent home address or temporary local address as their voting address. If you're a student, consider being registered where you'll actually be living on May 21.

ORSANCO hearing in Erlanger

Posted by: Robin Gee on April 10, 2019

The Ohio River

Address health issues, help us create a bright future, Carl Shoupe tells Congress

Posted by: KFTC staff on April 10, 2019

A Congressional subcommittee on Tuesday heard testimony on ways to help Appalachian communities recover from more than a century of coal mining as they build a new and more diverse economy.

“We can build a bright future,” Carl Shoupe told committee members.

Shoupe, a third generation coal miner from Harlan County, described how residents in the small towns of Benham and Lynch planned and built for their future by creating the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum, the School House Inn and an underground mine tour.

“Our mountains are mostly intact and covered by some of the most diverse hardwood forests in North America. Our communities have developed some excellent tourist attractions,” Shoupe said. “But all of that is now at risk. Destruction is knocking on our door.”

Despite grassroots power, utility money sways legislators in the solar fight

A home with solar panels on its roof
Posted by: KFTC Staff on April 10, 2019

Anyone who has followed the progress of Senate Bill 100, which attacked ordinary Kentuckians’ access to rooftop solar during the 2019 General Assembly, knows that this legislative session, monopoly

ORSANCO work continues, hearings in early April

Posted by: Joe Gallenstein on March 29, 2019

For more than a year, KFTC has worked with allies to protect the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission’s (ORSANCO) mission to clean and protect the Ohio River through monitoring and enforcement. This commission, made up of representatives of the federal government and 8 members states (New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois) of ORSANCO maintains pollution control standards that are higher than the EPA or state enforcement agencies.

While these standards have not solved the Ohio River’s pollution issues, it has made considerable progress since the founding in 1948. Yet some political appointees in ORSANCO want to make these essential standards optional for states to enforce, giving states the ability to ignore damage to our water systems that disproportionately impacts lower income people and people of color across the region.

Primary voter registration deadline April 22

Posted by: KFTC Staff on March 27, 2019

The voter registration deadline for the May 21 Primary Election is Monday, April 22.  On this year's ballot is the Governor's electionVoter Registration at Roller Derby and elections for 5 other statewide offices - Secretary of State, Attorney General, Treasurer, Auditor, and Agricultural Commissioner.

If you're not registered, or need to update your voter address, get down to your local County Clerk's office or register online.

If you want to check your voter registration status just to be safe, or to register online start by visiting KFTC's own www.KentuckyElection.org

Note that students who are away from home going to school have the right to either use a permanent home address or temporary local address as their voting address. If you're a student, consider being registered where you'll actually be living on May 21.

Voices of people fighting to restore Voting Rights

Posted by: KFTC Staff on March 27, 2019

Quotes from the Rally For Voting Rights from some of the people who have lost the right to vote fighting to have their voices heard

“I’m a Kentuckian, I’m a citizen of the United States. How are you going to tell me that somebody who does all that doesn’t have the right to vote? How are you going to tell me that 312,000 should be weighed by these men and women to see if they have their god given right to vote?”
— Michael Hiser (Louisville)

Video - Rally for Voting Rights Makes an Impact

Posted by: KFTC Staff on March 27, 2019

Powerful video from our Rally for Voting Rights sharing the voices of people who have lost the right to vote.

NKY students register voters

Juli Russ helps orient other students for their canvass that day.
Posted by: Joe Gallenstein on March 18, 2019

This weekend northern Kentucky members helped support students in Fort Thomas do voter registration as part of the March For Our Lives movement.

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