Civil rights marker trail to be dedicated downtown


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A trail of 11 markers noting downtown Louisville civil rights demonstration spots will be dedicated in a Sept. 21 ceremony.

    The ceremony at the “Civil Rights Overview” marker will begin at 5:45 p.m. at Fourth and Guthrie streets. The University of Louisville’s College of Arts and Sciences, Louisville Metro Council, Louisville Downtown Partnership and Office of Mayor Greg Fischer are project partners.

    Fischer, Louisville Metro Council President David Tandy and Arts and Sciences Dean Kimberly Kempf-Leonard will speak at the event, along with Rebecca Matheny, Louisville Downtown Partnership executive director; NAACP President Raoul Cunningham, who participated in the demonstrations; and student activist Ashley Belcher.

    Donna Hargens, Jefferson County Public Schools superintendent, and Mary Bowling, Archdiocese of Louisville assistant schools superintendent, will receive bound copies of the trail’s teacher resource guides that will be offered to each local school library.

    Marker trail guides also are available at the Louisville Visitors Center and online at

    The markers describe 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 public accommodations ordinance to end that practice. The ordinance was considered the first for a southern city, and Louisville received national recognition for peaceful desegregation at that time.

    The marker project began 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 in 2013.

    An advisory committee of scholars, historians and sit-in participants suggested the sites for the markers, which were installed since 2013 along South Fourth Street and Broadway locations. Louisville artist Ed Hamilton designed artwork for the markers.

    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.