6. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission, took up the topic of Juneteenth 2021 at its meeting in May 2021. Appointed by the Governor, the Commission members are associated with labor, industry, commerce, government, civil rights, education, youth organizations, sports, fine arts, and entertainment. Two MLK Commission members are from Frankfort: Jamaal Jackson, the Head Men's Basketball Coach at Kentucky State University, and; Katrisha Waldridge, Frankfort's Vice Mayor. MLK Commission meetings are open to the public; agenda is available at www.heritage.ky.gov prior to the meeting. For more, contact Tressa Brown, Kentucky African American Heritage Coordinator, 502-892-3607.
The Commission’s mission is to:
~ Promote the annual January 18 MLK holiday to reflect upon principles of racial equality & nonviolent social change.
~ Encourage appropriate ceremonies & activities relating to the MLK holiday.
~ Promote community service in honor of the principles taught by Dr. King.
~ Provide advice & assistance to local governments & private organizations with respect to observance of the holiday.
~ Promote the MLK holiday for interracial cooperation & youth antiviolence initiatives.
On MLK Day 2021, the Commission announced the statewide MLK Awards, including youth awards. Kentucky students had been challenged to answer the question, through essays, poetry & art, of how MLK would inspire the nation if he were still alive. The following Frankfort/Franklin County students received awards; click on each student's name to read the poem or essay or to see the art work. Read the poems or essays with your family or civic organization; print out one of the art pieces & share with your organization; conduct your own essay/poem contest!
High School - Poetry
What are some places that I can visit to celebrate Juneteenth in Frankfort?
Join us at 7 PM, Saturday, June 19, 2021, at Frankfort's Grand Theater! Josephine Sculpture Park, Focus On Race Relations: Frankfort (F.O.R.R.), For the People Coalition, Grand Theatre, Frankfort Plant Board, Together Frankfort and Beta Upsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Sponsored by Joe & Debbie Graviss
Ticket info: Limited seats available, call The Grand Theatre to reserve ASAP! (502) 352-7469 Click here to learn more!
Before or after the June 19 events, read, study, VISIT some local places to learn more! As part of this 2021 Frankfort Juneteenth coalition, Together Frankfort has assembled these webpages (both historical and current) about Juneteenth, as a resource to the Frankfort and Franklin County, Kentucky, community. We recognize it is only a first step and not nearly complete. If you have recommended additions, please share them with us through this link. You can also use the link to share your story about how you celebrate Juneteenth.
EVERYONE can study, learn, engage in dialogues, share, and take action to be more informed about the history of slavery, the Emancipation Proclamation & Kentucky's tortured relationship to emancipation, the 13th Amendment, and the work still needed to right the wrongs of racism.
2. Kentucky Black Legislative Caucus - Frankfort is home not just to the state's executive branch government, but also to the legislative and judicial branches. Made up of the People of Color and African-Americans elected to Kentucky's General Assembly, Kentucky's Black Legislative Caucus provides educational and networking opportunities for Frankfort/Franklin County's residence, beyond those in the state's Executive branch of government.
Members of Kentucky's
Black Legislative Caucus
KSU reaches out to the Frankfort and Franklin County community through course offerings, athletic events cooperative research and planning projects, student internships and making on-campus cultural, civic, and educational events. Much of this is handled through the Office of Regional Stewardship and Community Engagement, which promotes regional and statewide economic development, livable communities, social inclusion, creative governance, and civic participation through public engagement activities initiated by university faculty and staff. Its purpose is to link the resources and knowledge of the university to the needs and challenges of its service area.
The four themes of Regional Stewardship are:
~ Innovative Economy: Educational attainment, career readiness.
~ Engaged Learning: Service learning and community service.
~ Collaborative Governance: Build solutions by collaborating with business, government and non-profit agencies.
~ Social Inclusion/Livable Communities: Create partnerships with regional and local public and private non-profit agencies to improve quality of life for residents.
To learn more about these opportunities, contact Irma Johnson, Jackson Hall, Suite 103, 400 E. Main St., Frankfort, KY 40601; Mon. - Fri., 8 AM - 4:30 PM; Phone: (502) 597-6315 or contact Johnson directly at (502) 597-5845.
What are some places I can visit to learn more.
~ Frankfort & Franklin County, KY:
As home to Kentucky's state government and the Commonwealth's only public HBCU, Kentucky State University, the community provides untold resources about the history of slavery, emancipation, Jim Crow, voter suppression, and other related topics. Contact or stop by one of these many state agencies in Frankfort, with specific roles in African American history, emancipation, or related issues:
1. Kentucky African American Heritage Council (KAAHC) - mission is to identify & promote awareness of significant African American influences on the history & culture of Kentucky & to support & encourage the preservation of KY's African American heritage & historic sites. The commission's 19 members, appointed by the Governor, includes representatives from major state universities, state agencies, community preservation organizations and interested citizens. To be notified of upcoming meetings (open to the public) contact the African American Heritage Coordinator Tressa Brown (click name to email) or call 502-892-3607. The next regularly scheduled meeting is 10 a.m. EDT, Friday, July 9, via Zoom; call & ask to participate by Zoom.
3. Kentucky Heritage Council - contact or visit the offices for more info about the KY African American Heritage Council, the Kentucky Slavery & Emancipation History Tour, and the MLK Commission. Contact: KY Heritage Council, Barstow House, 410 High St., Frankfort, phone 502.564.7005. Open 8:30AM - 4:30 M- PM, M-F (based on current COVID 19 rules). Call first.
Visit Frankfort's two of the 43 sites on Kentucky's Slavery & Emancipation History Tour. (Did you know Kentucky has a history of slavery & emancipation trail?) After visiting these, read about or travel to 41 other sites around Kentucky.
~ Kentucky African American Civil War Memorial (shown at right) in the historic Green Hill Cemetery. Frankfort's historically black cemetery includes the only monument in Kentucky that honors the nearly 25,000 African American Kentuckians who served in the United States Colored Troops during the American Civil War.
~ The Frankfort Barracks. The Frankfort Barracks (built 1871) in south Frankfort on Shelby Street, were constructed by local master mason Alexander Brawner & leased to the US military from 1871 - 1876. The atrocities that were committed against freedmen & freedwomen of Kentucky during the reconstruction era were readily documented by the Freedmen’s Bureau. Incidents including the stabbing of former United States Colored Troops soldier George Mukes after he attended an African American political meeting in Frankfort in 1872 were all too common, especially after black men obtained the right to vote.
Kentucky's Legislative Black Caucus, (8 members - names above) from the House & Senate, have organized events for Black History Month (the YouTube video, above presents the 2021 Kentucky Black History celebration hosted by the Legislative Black Caucus). Other events include celebrations for Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday, related educational programs open to all, and policy statements on issues relevant to their mission. While following COVID-19 restrictions, citizens can attend all these events. *Rep. Reginald Meeks chairs KY's Legislative Black Caucus.
In 2003, the Caucus hosted its first Black History Month celebration, an event which has continued annually (click on the YouTube video to view the 2021 event). In February of each year the Legislative Black Caucus brings together leaders from around the Commonwealth to reflect on accomplishments made and challenges ahead. For info about these & other legisaltive activities, contact the Legislative Public Information Office, Robert.Weber@lrc.ky.gov, Capitol Annex Rm., 023, 702 Capital Ave., Frankfort, Ky. 40601; Ph. 502-564-8100 Ask to be placed on their notices of legislative events.
4. KentuckyHistorical Society- Located at the Kentucky History Center, the museum, offices, exhibits, and library are now open.
One can visit the in person at 100 W Broadway St., Frankfort, KY; phone (502) 564-1792 or VIRTUALLY, through their website exhibits and collections.
The Society seeks to educate and engage the public through Kentucky’s history in order to meet the challenges of the future. contact or visit the offices for more info about using their vast database of resources about African American life in Kentucky. The holdings contain photographs, manuscripts, letters, oral interviews, memorabilia, and numerous other items.
Among these are: The Kentucky Historical Society emphasises its dedication to providing historic perspective and context to current, especially looking to end racial injustice and systemic racism, according to its website.
Photographing Freetowns: African American Kentucky through the Lens of Helen Balfour Morrison, is an example of the types of related educational exhibits and special exhibits at the History Center. Join, or sign up for their mailing list, to make sure you receive notice of other similar events. This link provides an example of the resources available, online, related to African American community and Frankfort.
They have identified resources offered covering a range of related topics. Among those suggested about African American heritage include the following:
~ Publications and research (including films, oral histories, photographs, etc.)
5. Kentucky State University.
Kentucky State University, the only institution of higher education in Franklin County, KY, was chartered in 1886, as a small normal school for training of black teachers for Kentucky's black schools. KSU's doors opened on Oct. 11, 1887, with 3 teachers, 55 students, and John H. Jackson as president.
KSU became a land-grant college in 1890, and the departments of home economics, agriculture & mechanics were added to the school’s curriculum. These historically black institutions were established under the Second Morrill Act of 1890. KSU's first graduates were 5 students, graduating in the spring of 1890.
This expansion continued into the 20th century in both name and program. In 1902, the name was changed to Kentucky Normal and Industrial Institute for Colored Persons, later, Kentucky State College. The college became a university in 1972, and in 1973 the first graduate students enrolled in its School of Public Affairs.
What are some local places I can visit to learn more about African American heritage? Start with the Capital City Museum!
Frankfort is the county seat of Franklin County, Kentucky, owning and managing parks, a museum, and other resources related to the history of slavery, emancipation, Jim Crow, voter suppression, and other related topics. Contact or stop by one of these places in Frankfort - be sure to ask about their specific roles in African American history, emancipation, or related issues.
1. Capital City Museum - This museum showcases multiple exhibits chronicling 200 years of Kentucky's heritage, on the site of a historic hotel, (shown above) 325 Ann Street in Frankfort (click on the address for directions). Call 502.696.0607. Email: Russh1214@gmail.com
2. Green Hill Cemetery and the African American Civil War Memorial - Established in 1865, the cemetery provides a unique link to Frankfort’s African American Civil War heritage. One of its most prominent features is a simple but impressive ten-foot tall limestone pillar bearing the names of 142 veterans of Kentucky’s United States Colored Troops (USCT) from Frankfort and the surrounding counties of central Kentucky.