"UK at the Half" interview with UK history Professor Gerald Smith about the Kentucky African American Encyclopedia.
Now celebrated in several nations around the world, Black History Month began humbly when noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other African American leaders urged the nation to recognize a “Negro History Week” in February 1926. Fifty years later, President Gerald Ford officially designated February as Black History Month, defining it as an annual celebration of the achievements of African Americans and their roles in U.S. history. At the time, he urged the nation to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
Decades later, University of Kentucky’s history professor and Martin Luther King Jr. Scholar in Residence Gerald L. Smith with colleagues, professor emeritus at Kentucky State University Karen Cotton McDaniel and professor of history at Western Kentucky University John A. Hardin took that challenge to heart. They began searching for the lost stories of African Americans who had an impact on the history of the Bluegrass State.
They published their 550-page tome of historical treasures, The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia, in 2015. The accolades and awards began flowing almost immediately – the 2015 Kentucky Archives Month Certificate for Merit for Writing/Publication from the Kentucky State Historical Records Advisory Board, the 2016 Living Legacy Award from the Kentucky Black Legislative Caucus, and the Thomas D. Clark Medallion Book Award from the University of Kentucky.
Read more here.