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Visiting Kentucky?

Stories of Black Kentuckians that will intrigue and inspire you

Explore Rich African American History in Louisville, Lexington, Western Kentucky (Bowling Green), and Northern Kentucky (Cincinnati) 

Stories uncovered. Legends preserved. Heroes made. Kentucky’s diverse heritage celebrates them all. Trace the Bluegrass State’s rich history through in-depth tours of attractions highlighting the achievements and contributions of Kentucky’s African American culture.

  • African American History in Kentucky
  • African American History in Kentucky

Northern Kentucky (Near Cincinnati)

Start your journey in the Northern Kentucky town of Mays Lick. Visit the birthplace cabin of Charles Young, a man born into slavery who grew up to become America’s first Black U.S. National Park superintendent, military attaché, and the first Black man to achieve the rank of colonel in the US Army. Explore his humble beginnings on a guided tour (by appointment only.) Learn how he changed perceptions about what the African Americans of his time might hope to achieve.

Lexington Area

Plenty of stories can be discovered in Lexington at African Cemetery #2 and the Kentucky Horse Park, including the Black Horsemen of the Kentucky Turf and the final resting place of Isaac Murphy, the first jockey inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.

Downtown’s African American Heritage Trail and the East End Walking Tour focus on Lexington’s early Black community. The “Traces: Slavery at Ashland” tour tells the story of the enslaved at Ashland, The Henry Clay Estate.

A bit further south in Nicholasville, immerse yourself in stories from the Civil War to Civil Rights at Camp Nelson, one of the Civil War’s largest training camps for US Colored Troops.

Related Article: OTR Cincinnati and the recurring history of racial tensions and economic divide.

Louisville Area

Heading west, you can mix it up with Louisville’s Unfiltered Truth Collection, a series of eight immersive experiences celebrating African Americans who have shaped the city’s authentic culture. Hear little-known stories of Black Americans in Bourbon. Learn about The Songbird of the South. Discover The Best Black Baseball Team You’ve Never Heard Of and more.

Louisville is also home to Black entrepreneurs who have created a vibrant business scene throughout the city. Fans of authentic Southern and soul food won’t miss Lucretia’s Kitchen, Shirley Mae’s Cafe, and Dasha Barbour’s Southern Bistro.

For shopping, MELANnaire Marketplace is a pop-up shopping bazaar featuring 30 black-owned businesses. Using the Black Owned Louisville directory is a beautiful way to plan to put together a shopping and eating experience.

Continue your exploration at the Roots 101 Museum, Kentucky Center for African American Heritage, and Muhammad Ali Center, all in Louisville, and the nearby Oldham County History Center, a National Park Service Underground Railroad Network to Freedom site.

Related Article: Learn more about your heritage with these Cincinnati Black historic sites.

Western Kentucky (near Bowling Green)

From Louisville, head south to Mammoth Cave for stories of 19th-century African American guides who helped popularize the modern cave experience and first mapped large parts of the cave system.

A short drive west will take you to Russellville’s SEEK Museum, which features a campus of exhibits, cultural heritage programming, and events focused on slavery and Reconstruction, Jim Crow, and the Civil Rights era. Also, visit Paducah’s Hotel Metropolitan, one of the region’s first hotels to provide lodging for African Americans in the early 1900s.

At Cherokee State Park in Hardin, discover the story of a segregated “Blacks only” state park that existed during the 1950s and early 1960s.

Plan Your Trip

Kentucky’s Untold to the Unforgettable video series introduces you to several of these and other stories about great places to visit you may not know about.

Explore African American trailblazers from past and present on a journey through the Bluegrass State. Much more than a history lesson, these experiences invite you to create your own Kentucky stories.

This is Kentucky – See for yourself!

Learn More

Related Article: Learn about the Cincinnati Tigers Negro League Baseball Team and Chuck Harmon.

Written by: Crystal Kendrick

The Voice of Black Cincinnati is a media company designed to educate, recognize, and create opportunities for African Americans. Want to find local news, events, job postings, scholarships, and a database of local Black-owned businesses? Visit our homepage, explore other articles, subscribe to our newsletter, like our Facebook page, join our Facebook group, and text VOBC to 513-270-3880.

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