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Panel to Discuss 'Kentucky African American Encyclopedia'

A panel discussion will be held this week at the Muhammad Ali Center to celebrate the release of "The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia."

The project, started in 2008 and published by the University Press of Kentucky, features more than 1,000 entries from about 150 contributors. They tell the story of black Kentuckians, from frontier days to the present.

University of Kentucky history professor Gerald Smith, one of the volume’s co-editors, said he hopes the work will generate new questions and further research on black life in Kentucky.

“Even though it’s what might be considered a massive volume, it’s really a beginning more so than an ending," Smith said.

Smith said some of the subjects were not only successful within the state but went on to do important things in other states. Those included George French Higdon from Winchester, who was a runaway slave.

"He left Kentucky and went on to become the first black to serve in the Illinois General Assembly during the 1880s," he said.

Smith will be joined on the panel by "Encyclopedia" co-editors Karen Cotton McDaniel, a professor emeritus at Kentucky State University, and John A. Hardin, a history professor at Western Kentucky University.

The panel discussion is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Wednesday at the Ali Center in downtown Louisville. Reservations for the free event can be made through the Filson Historical Society here.

Laura is LPM's Director of Podcasts & Special Projects. Email Laura at lellis@lpm.org.