Black History, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship in Louisville
Below is a selection of the many Black-led initiatives and institutions in Louisville, historic and new. We invite you to explore their digital spaces and, if possible, to donate.
Pocket Change, which opened in the Butchertown neighborhood in November 2020, provides a storefront for a variety of Black-owned businesses—art, apparel, food, jewelry, and more—and also offers free business workshops for emerging Black entrepreneurs. It is part of Change Today, Change Tomorrow, an organization “devoted to eradicating barriers that plague the Black community in Education, Food Justice and Public Health.” Visitors can support Pocket Change by purchasing items on their Amazon wishlist, which includes tables, price tags, and sign holders.
Roots 101 African American Museum
Founded by Lamont Collins and launched in spring 2020, Roots 101 seeks to “explore what it means to be an African American and share the story of resilience, optimism, and spirituality as reflected in our journey from the past to the present.” Its exhibits include Roots of Kentucky African American Music, the Green Book’s Allen Hotel, Project to Preserve African-American Turf History (PPAATH) Forgotten Black Jockeys, and 2020 Black Lives Matter Protest Art. As of this writing in late March 2021, only virtual tours are available; a 45-minute tour can be purchased with a $10 donation. You can also donate separately.
Taunt, a new alt-indie magazine in Louisville founded by Minda Honey, publishes stories and art by local writers from underrepresented communities. Sponsored by Queer Kentucky, it is committed to at least 20% LGBTQ+ representation in its contributors and providers. Taunt has raised $20K and is hoping to reach $30K by the end of the year. You can donate here.
The (Un)Known Project
The in-development (Un)Known Project promises to “create artistic spaces and experiences to support learning, healing, reflection, reconciliation, and action by telling the stories of both known and unknown Black men, women and children that were formerly enslaved and hidden figures in Louisville, Kentucky.” Led by Hannah Drake and Josh Miller of the artist-run nonprofit IDEAS xLab, the project will feature, among other installations and experiences, limestone reconciliation benches along the Ohio River and footprints sandblasted into the sidewalk along the benches. You can pre-order (Un)Known Project apparel or simply donate.
Western Branch Public Library
At its creation in 1905, Western Branch became the first library in the country to serve and be staffed entirely by Black Americans. It sustains that heritage today through the African American Reading Room, whose collection spans a century and houses the archives of the poet Joseph S. Cotter, Sr., and the librarian Rev. Thomas F. Blue. This spring, Western Branch will be renewing the Cotter Cup, an annual storytelling competition that Cotter began in 1913, with a poetry competition for K-12 youth. The 2021 Cotter Cup is a collaboration between the library; the UofL Writing Center, which will be providing writing consultations to entrants; and the Watson Conference, which will be sponsoring prizes. More about the history of the Western Branch, its archives, and the Cotter Cup can be found at A Separate Flame. You can donate at the Library Foundation’s “Donate” page; below the buttons that list different donation amounts, click on "+Add a message." In the text box that appears, indicate that your donation should go to Western Branch.