Talking About the Black Experience in Kentucky: A Conversation with Historian Dr. George Wright

Talking About the Black Experience in Kentucky- Why is it urgent to have this conversation now? Dr. George Wright, noted author and incoming Visiting Professor of History at the University of Kentucky, hosted an interactive webinar exploring the Black experience in Kentucky in dialogue with Judi Jennings and Sharyn Mitchell.

This online webinar hosted by the University of Kentucky Appalachian Center took place Saturday, March 30, 2019 from 4:00-5:00 pm. It was also available through the University of Kentucky Appalachian Center Facebook Page and has been featured on the May 2019 issue of Balancing the Scales.


Participant Bios

Dr. George Wright is the author of three books written from his unique perspective as a native Kentuckian: “A History of Blacks in Kentucky: In Pursuit of Equality, 1890-1980, Volume II; Racial Violence in Kentucky, 1865-1940: Lynchings, Mob Rule and "Legal Lynchings," and Life Behind a Veil: Blacks in Louisville, Kentucky, 1865-1930.  He will be a Visiting Professor at the University of Kentucky in Fall 2019 and Spring 2020.

Dr. Judith Jennings, also a native Kentuckian, first met  George Wright when they were graduate students in history at UK. Jennings has written on the abolition of the British slave trade and co-edited Helen Matthews Lewis: Living Social Justice in Appalachia.

Sharyn Mitchell is from central Kentucky and is currently the Research Services Specialist at the Special Collections & Archives at Berea College. She is on the board of the Madison County Historical Society and President and Co-Founder of the ​African American Genealogy Group of Kentucky.

This webinar is partially funded by ARTWORKS, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts.


University of Kentucky Appalachian Center & Appalachian Studies Program

Berea College Special Collections & Archives

Saturday, March 30, 2019 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm
UK Appalachian Center & Online through Facebook Live & Zoom

Conversations with Gurney featuring Chris Holbrook

Appalachian author, Chris Holbrook, visited the University of Kentucky on Monday, April 8, 2019 5:00-6:30PM at the James F. Hardymon Theater in the Davis Marksbury Building. Chris joined Appalachian Center scholar-in-residence, Gurney Norman, as a part of the ongoing series "Conversations with Gurney" to discuss his book Upheaval among other topics related to Appalachia. 


Convo with Gurney from UK College of Arts & Sciences on Vimeo.

Monday, April 8, 2019 - 5:00pm to 6:30pm
James F. Hardymon Theater - Davis Marskbury Building
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Celebrating Gurney Coffee Hour


Join us Thursday, January 31st 10-11AM for a special coffee hour celebrating Gurney Norman's induction into the Kentucky Writer's Hall of Fame! Coffee, tea, light refreshments and cake will be served. This is a free event for UK students, faculty, staff and community. Help us celebrate our scholar-in-residence and this major accomplishment!!

Thursday, January 31, 2019 - 10:00am to 11:00am
UK Appalachian Center
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Wayne Riley - Director of the Laurel County African American Heritage Center

Wayne Riley, Founder and Director of the Laurel County African American Heritage Center, visited UK to share his experiences with non-profit work in Appalachia Tuesday, February 19th from 11-12:30 in the William T. Young Library UKAA Auditorium. Located in London, KY, LCAAHC partners with the community to research and preserve the African American heritage of Laurel County. It was a pleasure to host Wayne and hear his story. Shown below is a photo from the Appalachian Center's lunch at Mimi's Southern Style following Wayne's presentation. 


Tuesday, February 19, 2019 - 11:00am
William T. Young Library - UKAA Auditorium
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Drum and Banjo: African Roots/American Branches

Together with the Niles Center, the Department of African American & Africana Studies, and the Lexington Old Time Music Gathering, the Appalachian Center will host a musical event "Drum and Banjo: African Roots/American Branches" with Joan Brannon and Randy Wilson at the John Jacobs Niles Gallery in the UK Lucille Caudill Little Fine Arts Library on Friday, February 8, 2019 at 3:30PM.  Joan Brannon and Randy Wilson will perform on drum and banjo taking you on a journey from Africa to Appalachia with rhythm, songs and stories linking our past, tunes and beats that have bound us together on this continent, despite all the forces that would drive us apart.

As a percussionist and teacher, Joan Brannon founded the drumming collectives, Sisters of the Sacred Drum and the Sacred Drum Ensemble and has played percussion instruments for the past 20 years. She teaches drumming empowerment classes for youth, enrichment circles for women and facilitates workshops in a variety of settings to bring the power of percussion into community. Joan respects the drum as a sacred instrument that utilizes rhythms for celebration and as a tool for communication, empowerment and community building. She has performed and drummed throughout the US and in Guinea, West Africa.

Randy Wilson's remarkable Appalachian banjo performance marries the excitement of musical virtuosity with the informed perspective of cultural context. He traces the entire sweep of the banjo from the African grasslands to Southern plantations to the mountains of East Kentucky in a way that makes history sparkle with vitality. Jean Ritchie once called Randy "a mountain Pied Piper for kids one to ninety nine." Randy is a very special performer, whose warmth of personality reaches out to the very heart and soul of any audience. 

Friday, February 8, 2019 - 3:30pm to 5:30pm
John Jacobs Niles Gallery
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