The Louisville Cardinal

Clifton Center celebrates African Americans in Kentucky history

By Lara Kinne– 

To recognize the contributions of black Kentuckians throughout history, the Clifton Center is hosting a series of unique events now through March 10.

The series, “African Americans in Kentucky History,” culminates a narrative of the African American traditions and accomplishments in music, sports and the arts. In this context, students get to spend time in a historical community center and enjoy an intimate experience rooted right at home.

Music is a huge piece of the story. Dom Flemons, formerly of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, kicked off the program on March 2 with a lecture and performance of traditional African American music.

The next event in the series takes place on March 5 at 1:30 p.m. Pearlie Johnson, assistant professor of Pan-African Studies and Art History at U of L, will be presenting “African American Women Quilters of Kentucky.” The presentation will give an oral and visual history lesson about African American women quilters and their influence on Appalchian art.

On March 7 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., the overlooked black jockeys of the Kentucky Derby get a turn during a panel discussion on African Americans in horse racing. The panel will include journalist and playwright Larry Muhammad and Chris Goodlett, curator of collections at the Kentucky Derby Museum. A question and answer session will follow the panel.

The story continues on March 9 starting at 6 p.m. with “The Secret History of Rock and Roll,” presented by author Michael Jones. The evening will trace the African origins of jug blowing, including a live demonstration by the Juggernat Jug Band.

Finally, on March 10 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., Kentuckians for the Commonwealth will cap off the series with their third-annual “We Are Kentuckians: Celebrating Our Common Heritage” day. This year the event will honor African American women in Kentucky with music from Cynthia Fletcher, poetry by Hannah Drake and storytelling by Kristen Williams, as well as many other guests. The evening will include food from Dasha Barbour’s Southern Bistro and Louisville Vegan Kitchen.

Admission to all of these events is free for students with I.D. A full schedule of events, including concerts live at the Clifton Center, can be found online at www.cliftoncenter.org.