Local African-American Heritage Trail dedicated, marker unveiled

A new trail aims to fill some of the gaps in the history of Clark County and its people.

Saturday, dozens gathered in Heritage Park to unveil the first of eight markers in Winchester’s African-American Heritage Trail.

“Today we are celebrating our first African-American history sign in Clark County,” Brenda Smith said. “It gave us the opportunity to tell the story.”

The story of accomplishments by African-Americans in Clark County has gone unrecorded or untold in some instances for decades.

Jane Burnam, a former teacher with a passion for African-American history, said the process of developing the trail was a spiritual journey.

“I can see change,” she said. “We’ve had nothing but good things today. Knowing your heritage is empowering.”

The project started several months ago between the Winchester Black History and Heritage Committee and local historian Harry Enoch.

“We’re dedicating this trail to tell part of Winchester and Clark County’s history that’s not been told,” Enoch said. “We felt it was time.”

“If we don’t tell them, they will never know,” said Roz Gay, a board member for The Greater Clark Foundation, which contributed to the project.

In all, eight markers will be installed at these locations:

— Heritage Park on West Washington Street, about the African-American business community.

— 43 N. Maple St, about people’s accomplishments before emancipation.

— 121 W. Broadway St., about the civil rights movement.

— Broadway and Highland streets, about early African-American churches.

— 30 Oliver St., about educational programs, near the former Oliver Street School.

— 102 N. Maple St., focusing on those who served in the military.

— Washington and First streets, focusing on communities after the Civil War.

— 30 Oliver St., about local athletics within the African-American community.

A sign with a map of all eight sites was placed behind the Clark County Courthouse on Wall Street.

Ron Davis, a Winchester native, said Clark County had a long history with slaves; in 1860, 40 percent of the county’s population were enslaved.

“Now we’re here dedicating Winchester’s African-American Heritage Trail in recognition of their presence and continuing contributions of enslaved people and their descendants,” Davis said. “This trail is part of our roots. The marker gives a point of how our roots emerge.”

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email fred.petke@bluegrassnewsmedia.com or call 859-759-0051.

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