Downtown Louisville
Downtown Louisville

A trail of 11 markers noting downtown Louisville civil rights demonstration spots was dedicated in a Sept. 21 ceremony.

The ceremony at the “Civil Rights Overview” marker began at Fourth and Guthrie streets. The University of Louisville’s College of Arts and Sciences, Louisville Metro Council, Louisville Downtown Partnership and Office of Mayor Greg Fischer are project partners.

Fischer, Louisville Metro Council President David Tandy and Arts and Sciences Dean Kimberly Kempf-Leonard spoke at the event, along with Rebecca Matheny, Louisville Downtown Partnership executive director; NAACP President Raoul Cunningham, who participated in the demonstrations; and student activist Ashley Belcher.

Jefferson County Public Schools and Archdiocese of Louisville schools received bound copies of the trail’s teacher resource guides that will be offered to each local school library.

Marker trail guides also are available at the Louisville Visitors Center and online at www.louisville.edu/artsandsciences/idop/outreach-programs/civil-rights-markers-project

The markers describe local demonstrations, when black students and adults marched and participated in sit-ins at downtown businesses that refused to serve African Americans. Activists organized a voter registration campaign that led to election of people responsive to their cause and, after more demonstrations, passage of the 1963 public accommodations ordinance to end that practice. The ordinance was considered the first for a southern city, and Louisville received national recognition for peaceful desegregation at that time.

The marker project began when then-dean Blaine Hudson convened a meeting of university and community leaders to consider ways to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the ordinance’s passage; Hudson, also a historian and civil rights activist, died in 2013.

An advisory committee of scholars, historians and sit-in participants suggested the sites for the markers, which were installed since 2013 along South Fourth Street and Broadway locations. Louisville artist Ed Hamilton designed artwork for the markers.

For more information, contact Clest Lanier at 502-852-3042 or cvlani01@louisville.edu

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Judy Hughes
Judy Hughes is a communications and marketing specialist for UofL’s Office of Communications and Marketing, where she works in media relations and contributes to news about the university’s College of Arts and Sciences and Kent School of Social Work. She previously worked in news as a writer and editor for a daily newspaper and The Associated Press.