Frankfort, KY (January 31, 2005) Black History Month originated as Negro History Week, which was promoted in 1926 by a graduate of Berea College in Kentucky in 1903. In 1960 it officially became Black History Month.
The founder of Negro History Week, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, was born in New Canton, Virginia and worked in the coal mines of West Virginia and Kentucky. He put himself through high school, graduated from Berea College and went on to earn a PhD in history from Harvard University. Dr. Woodson chose of the second week of February due to the fact that activists Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass both celebrated birthdays in that week.
Realizing the value of the heritage of all Kentuckians, the Commonwealth has made continuous efforts to preserve sites and events of the African-Americans Cultural Heritage.
Mason County Kentucky, located along the Ohio River was an essential link in the Underground Railroad. Through museums and historical landmarks you can retrace the footsteps of slaves searching for freedom. The “railroad” was made up of conductors, safe houses and stations, all of which led to freedom across the Ohio River.
Paducah, along the Ohio River in far Western Kentucky, will soon showcase African-American heritage at the Hotel Metropolitan. The Metropolitan was the first hotel owned and operated by and for African-Americans in Paducah. It was built by a young black widow, Maggie Steed, in 1909. Over the years well-know musicians and traveling performers such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Chick Webb's orchestra, B.B. King, Bobby "Blue" Bland and Ike and Tina Turner were guests of Maggie Steed's Hotel Metropolitan, one of the only accommodations for African Americans in the area.
African-Americans in South Central Kentucky, specifically Bowling Green/Warren County in the late 1800s and early 1900s are currently featured in the Kentucky Museum’s award-winning exhibition, “Growing Up Victorian: A Kentucky Childhood.” The State Street Baptist Church, Taylor’s Chapel A.M.E. Church, Zachariah K. Jones House and more are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, all of which are linked to the original black community of Warren County.
For more information on cultural events and historic locations, contact the Department of Tourism Travel Consultants at 800-225-8747 or check our website at www.kentuckyunbridledspirit.com.
The Kentucky Department of Tourism, an agency of the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet, exists to promote The Commonwealth as a travel destination, to generate revenue and create jobs for Kentucky's economy. Tourism is a $9.3 billion business for Kentucky. It's the state's third largest industry and second leading employer.