Framed posters of Black men and women who have made historic contributions to Kentucky’s progress in the areas of civil and human rights are being shown during Black History Month at The Paul Sawyier Public Library, 319 Wapping Street, Frankfort, KY. They will also be available for viewing during the February Art Walk.
A video of the opening of the event is available at this link.
The framing and display have been made possible in great part as a result of a grant of $1,500 from The Kentucky Humanities Council, Inc., an independent, nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington, D.C. The Council is supported by the National Endowment and by private contributions. It is not a state agency, and receives no state funds, but is a proud partner with Kentucky's cultural, heritage, arts, and tourism agencies. "The Kentucky Humanities Council is proud to be a sponsor of the Gallery of Great Black Kentuckians. It furthers our mission of Telling Kentucky's Story. Celebrating the African Americans who have made significant contributions to Kentucky's progress in the areas of civil and human rights is an important story to be told,” said Ben Chandler, Executive Director.
Those exhibited at The Paul Sawyier Public Library include: Charles Anderson, Jr., Whitney Young, Mary Merritt, Rufus Atwood, William Childress, Lyman Johnson, Marnel Moorman, Georgia Davis Powers, Mae Street Kidd, Moneta Sleet, Jr., Alice Dunnigan, Anna Mac Clarke, Carl Brashear, Jonah Jones, Garrett Morgan, Gerald Neal, Helen LaFrance, and Darryl T. Owens.
“It is our pleasure and privilege to host this high quality display that recognizes and honors the remarkable accomplishments of women and men who through talent, hard work, and determination have contributed and continue to contribute so much to enrich our history, our lives and our society,” said Paul Sawyier Public Library Executive Director Donna Gibson.
“We’re pleased that Kentucky Public Advocate Ed Monahan and the Department of Public Advocacy are placing on exhibit our Gallery of Great Black Kentuckians in the Paul Sawyer Library,” said John J. Johnson, executive director of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights. “Kentucky African Americans have made exemplary accomplishments and play significant roles in history,” he said,” and through libraries, the public may share the opportunity to learn about the individuals featured in the Gallery, many of whom are outstanding role models
for young people.” The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights created the Gallery of Great Black Kentuckians poster series in 1970. The colorful, biographical pieces are used by teachers and libraries to introduce students and the public to the accomplishments of Kentucky African Americans whose stories have often been left out of traditional histories and text books. Their contributions cover a wide range of issues and eras from the Civil War period to activists of today. Their fights against discrimination are in the areas of race, sex, religion, disability, age and economic status, religion or other human rights arenas. The series is available electronically at this link.
“The ‘Gallery’ is a historical conceptualization designed to help identify, understand and eliminate remaining psychological and sociological vestiges of racial discrimination. ‘For racism wastes the human potential endangering the public tranquility and compromises the national integrity to the detriment of everyone.’ C. Eric Lincoln. Race, Religion and the Continuing American Dilemma (1998) p. 275. This visual production of great Black Kentuckians addresses the racial-ethnic dilemma in Kentucky and the nation implicating the basic assumption that knowledge is power - the ability to move others with or without their consent. Thus, ‘Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.’” Professor Alvin M. Seals, Retired Associate Professor of Sociology, Kentucky State University.
After display at the Library the posters will be permanently displayed at the Department of Public Advocacy’s main state office. Public Advocate Ed Monahan expressed appreciation to all those who have supported this effort to make visible these Kentucky heroes, “Being aware of the rich history of Black Kentucky heroes is an important way to understand the social and moral meaning of their sacrifice for freedom in a land that has promised it but too often fallen far short of assuring it. These leaders inspire public defenders and people of good will to work for a society that is more just.”
This Gallery of Great Black Kentuckians is not mere testament to the past but it is witness to the ability to shape a future that puts an end to the history of racial caste in America by joining “hands with people of all colors who are not content to wait for change to trickle down, and say to those who would stand in our way: Accept all of us or none.” Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (2010) p. 245.
Generous financial and other support for this Exhibit has been provided by:
§ The Paul Sawyier Public Library, 319 Wapping Street, Frankfort, KY
§ The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights which enforces the Kentucky Civil Rights Act and the U.S. Civil Rights Act. These laws make discrimination illegal. The Commission works to end discrimination and promote equality for everyone.
§ The Kentucky Humanities Council, Inc.
§ Alvin M. Seals, Retired Associate Professor of Sociology, Kentucky State University; BA, Philander Smith College; MA, University of Kentucky; Doctoral Studies, University of Kentucky; Visiting Faculty Program, Harvard University; A Specialist in Race Relations having lectured and directed seminars across Kentucky on the subject. Seals has been a Visiting Professor at Berea College, The University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky.
§ Scherer Boyd, SAKS Art Gallery, Lexington KY
§ Representative Derrick Graham, House District 57
§ Senator Julian M. Carroll, Senate District 7
§ Ed Monahan, Public Advocate, Department of Public Advocacy, Kentucky’s statewide public defender program which in Fiscal Year 2013 represented 161,000 indigent clients accused of or convicted of a crime in all 120 counties.
To provide each client with high quality services through an effective delivery system, which ensures a defender staff dedicated to the interests of their clients and the improvement of the criminal justice system. The Department of Public Advocacy is an independent agency attached for administrative purposes to the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet headed by J. Michael Brown, Secretary. DPA is the statewide public agency providing public defender service in all of Kentucky's 120 counties as will as Kentucky's appellate courts.
A half century ago the Kentucky Supreme Court held that "common justice demands" that an attorney must be appointed when a person charged with a felony is too poor to hire his own counsel. Gholson v. Commonwealth, 212 S.W.2d 537 (Ky. 1948). In the 1960s Kentucky attorneys began to request compensation when they were forced to represent indigents charged with a crime. In 1963, the United States Supreme Court determined that if a state wants to take away a person's liberty, it has to provide an attorney to those persons too poor to hire their own in order to comply with the Federal Constitution. Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963). While consistently unsuccessful in convincing Kentucky's highest Court that the judiciary could and should order payment, Kentucky's appointed attorneys did persuade the Kentucky Supreme Court to the point that the Court began to directly encourage the General Assembly to provide a systematic solution for paying the attorneys who were being made to represent the accused.
On September 22, 1972, Kentucky's highest Court characterized the forced representation of indigents as an "intolerable condition" and held it was an unconstitutional taking of an attorney's property - his service to the client - without compensation. From then on no Kentucky attorney could be required to represent an indigent absent compensation. Bradshaw v. Ball, 487 S.W.2d 294 (Ky. 1972).
While the appeal in Bradshaw was pending, the 1972 Legislature, at the request of Governor Wendell Ford, created the Office of Public Defender, now the Department of Public Advocacy (DPA), and gave it the responsibility to represent all persons in Kentucky charged with or convicted of a crime. House Bill 461 sponsored by Representatives Kenton, Graves and Swinford passed the House 60-18 on March 7, 1972 and the Senate 26-5 on March 14, 1972. It allocated $1,287,000 for FY 73 and FY 74.