Louisville, Kentucky enjoys a deep and rich African-American heritage that includes prominent people, places and events.
Louisville’s geographical location along the Ohio River, and its position as the largest city in a border state between north and south, have continually put it at the forefront of African-American activity. Before and during the Civil War, the city served as a gateway for slaves seeking freedom in the north via the Underground Railroad. By 1900, Louisville was one of six cities boasting the largest African-American population, making it an integral part of the urbanization of a culture, which, until that time, had been largely rural.
Louisville’s esteemed Thoroughbred racing records show that 15 of the first 28 runnings of the prestigious Kentucky Derby were won by African-American jockeys, including three won by noted horseman Isaac Burns Murphy. The city prides itself on being the birthplace of such diverse and notable African-Americans such as three-time heavyweight boxing champion of the world Muhammad Ali, and the first African-American to manage a radio station in the United States, William E. Summers III.
Louisville shares it African-American history through ongoing events designed to highlight and include the African-American experience. The Corn Island Storytelling Festival each fall provides a strong African-American influence, as does the annual West Louisville Appreciation Celebration and Family Reunion. Most of all, Louisville is committed to preserving and nurturing the memories, achievements and contributions of an important culture within American history.
The following is a list of historic markers in traditionally African-American communities and other sites of historical significance to African-Americans in Louisville.
- Arterburn brothers Slave Pens at First and Main Streets
- Berrytown Historic Community at Berrytown and LaGrange Roads
- Farmington Historic House Museum and Slave Medallion at 3033 Bardstown Road
- Forest Home Cemetery on Petersburg Road near Indian Trail
- Garrison Slave Pens at First and Jefferson Streets
- Griffytown Historic Community at 401 Old Harrods Creek Road
- Harrods Creek Historic Community at River Road and Shively Avenue
- Louisville Cemetery at 1339 Poplar Level Road
- Merriwether Historic Home in Harrods Creek
- Parkland Historic Community at 28th Street and Virginia Avenue
- Petersburg/Newburg History Community at Indian Trail and Petersburg Road
- Riverside, The Farnsley-Moreman Landing at 7410 Moorman Road
- Russell Historic Community at Hancock and Broadway
- Smoketown Historic Community at Hancock and Broadway
- Walnut Street Retrospective at Sixth Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard
- William Walker Memorial Marker at Louisville Cemetery, 1339 Poplar Level Road