Russellville

Nancy Dawson/facebook

The ‘8th of August’ is a day that holds special meaning for some Kentucky communities. It’s a time to remember emancipation and celebrate freedom.

It’s considered the day African-Americans in western Kentucky heard about the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 as a presidential order, but it wasn't until December 1865 that Congress ratified the 13th Amendment that permanently abolished slavery in the United States. 

Nancy Dawson, who lives in Russellville and is a former professor and director of African-American studies at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tenn., said emancipation is a part of history that everyone in the United States should remember. 


Prometheus Foundry

A statue of Kentucky native Alice Dunnigan will be on display at the Newseum, the Washington, D.C museum that promotes an understanding of freedom of the press and the First Amendment. Dunnigan was the first African-American woman to get credentials to cover Congress and the White House.

Dunnigan was a sharecropper’s daughter from Logan County who became a teacher and then a journalist working for the American Negro press. In 1947 she was the first African-American woman to receive  Congressional press credentials. 

Her statue will be on display at the Newseum beginning September 21 and will remain there for several months. After that, the statue will become part of the West Kentucky African-American Heritage Center in her hometown of Russellville.

Michael Morrow is a volunteer historian in Russellville who serves as a guide at the African-American Heritage Center. Morrow said Dunnigan had to push hard to get access to the highest levels of government.


Prairie View A&M University

As the U.S. House and Senate consider legislation to finally make lynching a federal crime, a Kentucky historian who has written a book on racial violence said the shameful actions of the past have lessons for us today.

The anti-lynching legislation being considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee (S. 3178) and the House Judiciary Committee (H.R. 6086) is seen as a way to acknowledge the wrong done by the lynching of more than 4,000 people, mostly African-Americans, from the mid-1800s through the mid-1900s.

The legislation mentions the opening in April of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama that is dedicated to the legacy of African-Americans terrorized by lynching.

Kentucky native George C. Wright is president emeritus of Prairie View A&M University in Texas and author of the book Racial Violence in Kentucky 1865-to 1940: Lynchings, Mob Rule and "Legal Lynchings." He said understanding the reasons behind lynching has lessons for today.


Rhonda J. Miller

America’s shameful history of lynching blazed into the spotlight with the recent  opening of The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama.  Some call it the “lynching museum.”

Russellville, Kentucky opened its own small lynching museum 10 years ago, the vision of one man who made a promise to tell the truth.

Billie Holiday’s haunting song Strange Fruit about “black bodies swinging in the southern breeze” plays quietly in a one-room lynching-museum in Russellville, Kentucky. The room is nearly filled by a tree with four rope nooses hanging from it.


Creative Commons

The Kentucky attorney general's office says state police violated the state's open-records law by refusing to turn over a copy of body camera video from the fatal shooting of a suspect by municipal police.

In the opinion Monday, the AG's office sided with Kathy Harris, whose son Joseph Harris was fatally shot by police from the city of Russellville in March.

As is customary, state police investigated the shooting, but refused to turn over the bodycam video, saying it contained "extremely graphic images" that could "irreparably harm" Harris' family and survivors from the shooting spree.