Destinations are finding ways to tell the important (past and present) stories of the Black community. In the wake of a tumultuous 2020 in the U.S.—between COVID-19 and widely publicized racial injustices—professionals are moving forward to revive the industry as well as highlight Black heritage tourism in their own backyards. Here is one of those destinations, and you can read the full story here.
This river city is affluent in three things: bourbon, horses, and history. Louisville Tourism is launching new programming to highlight the African American influence in Kentucky by focusing on the bourbon and horse racing industries. Through leadership of the Black Tourism Advisory Council, the DMO’s COO, Cleo Battle, has involved the community and all major hospitality industry sectors to develop programming with inclusivity in mind.
“Although these leisure tourism experiences began two years ago as an effort to curate the rich cultural assets involving Louisville’s Black history and heritage, they are coming to fruition at a very timely moment—on the heels of a national social justice push, further increasing our urgency and sense of purpose,” says Battle.
Seven local attractions will come together as the Unfiltered Truth Collection to share many untold stories and perspectives of the city’s Black community. Here are three of those places:
- The Kentucky Center for African American Heritage: “Songbird of the South”
This performance tells the story of how Mary Ann Fisher became one of the first African American women to have a career as a rhythm and blues singer, covering her life from her harrowing childhood in Henderson, Kentucky, to her glorious rise to stardom.
- Kentucky Derby Museum: Two African American experiences
These experiences include “Proud of My Calling, An African American Experience in the Kentucky Derby,” which illuminates the accounts of Black horsemen through costumed actors, photos, and artifacts; and the “African Americans in Thoroughbred Racing Tour,” which takes visitors to Churchill Downs to learn about the most important Black figures in horse racing.
- Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory: “The Louisville Unions Rediscovered”
The museum recently acquired rare photographs of Black athletes who played for the Louisville Unions, a pre-Negro Leagues team that dominated the Southern baseball circuit in 1908. This exhibit explores why the team vanished after great success and its important contributions to the documented history of Black baseball before integration.
Top photo by Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory Archives