While working with the Kentucky Remembers! project I taught high school students how to conduct oral histories and helped to pair them with a community member that they interviewed about Kentucky’s Civil and Human Rights movements. Our research didn’t just focus on famous people like MLK or Rosa Parks, but instead on the everyday people working to bring greater equality to their towns and communities. Youth gained a different perspctive on their homes, which led many of them to an increased interest in working toward the future of their communities.
To read more about this work and see more photos and examples house on the portfolio, go here.
As a part of my work with the project I also created podcasts of some of the students interviews with community members, including this podcast from Selvin Butts. Selvin Butts served as the president of the Bowling Green Human Rights Commission for many years. Here he discusses the desegregation of Bowling Green schools and the anti-mass ordinance that was passed to prevent the KKK from regular marches in Bowling Green. Click here to hear the podcast.
Delegates (as we referred to the youth) also visited historic sites in town, learning about their role in the community’s history. Al Moses is the current owner of the Southern Queen, a former hotel for African-Americans during segregation. The Southern Queen housed musicians during the Chittlin’ Circuit and families travelling north and south to see relatives. Before Moses attended Fisk University he received a Harry Belefonte scholarship to attend Highlander Folk School which introduced him to the ideas behind nonviolent action. He then attended Fisk University where he was involved in sit-ins and protests. Today he is a civil-rights lawyer in California.
All of the podcasts were created from the student-conducted, full-length interviews. You can hear more by clicking here
In addition to my work with the delegates, I co-authored an article about the success of the program with program director, Caitlin Swain. The article was published in CARTS (Cultural Arts Resources for Teachers). You can read the article by clicking here.
The work of the Kentucky Remembers project lives on today throughout Kentucky. Thanks to the passion and brilliance of the youth and my fellow staff members, this work turned my life’s work in a new direction focusing not just on the lives of elders in the community but also on the visions of the youth.