Civil rights marker noting downtown sit-ins will be unveiled May 14


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The first of 12 markers planned to note downtown Louisville civil rights demonstration spots 50 years ago will be unveiled in a public ceremony May 14.

    The ceremony at the “Civil Rights Overview” marker will begin at 3:30 p.m. at Fourth and Guthrie streets. The University of Louisville’s College of Arts and Sciences, Louisville Metro Council, Downtown Development Corp. and Office of Mayor Greg Fischer are project partners, and the Downtown Development Corp. has incorporated the project into its master plan for work under way on Fourth Street. Fischer and university and community representatives will speak at the event.

    The orientation marker describes local demonstrations, when black students and adults marched and participated in sit-ins at downtown businesses that refused to serve African Americans. Activists organized a voter registration campaign that led to election of people responsive to their cause and, after more demonstrations, passage of the 1963 ordinance to end that practice.

    “Access to public accommodations finally opened to everyone after years of pressure by the black community and other concerned citizens,” said John Ferré, interim dean of UofL’s College of Arts and Sciences. “The Public Accommodations Ordinance was a first for a Southern city, and Louisville received national recognition for peaceful desegregation at a time when violence had erupted throughout the South.”

    The marker project began two years ago when then – dean Blaine Hudson convened a meeting of university and community leaders to consider ways to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the ordinance’s passage; Hudson, also a historian and civil rights activist, died earlier this year.

    An advisory committee of scholars, historians and sit-in participants suggested the marker sites. Installation of the other markers is expected through 2013 and 2014, mostly along South Fourth Street and West Broadway locations.

    Louisville artist Ed Hamilton designed the marker’s artwork and Eagle Sign made the aluminum marker, which is dedicated to Hudson’s memory.

    For more information, contact Clest Lanier at 502-852-3042 or

    Judy Hughes
    Judy Hughes is a senior communications and marketing coordinator for UofL’s Office of Communications and Marketing and associate editor of UofL Magazine. She previously worked in news as a writer and editor for a daily newspaper and The Associated Press.