New push to preserve historic Black communities in Lexington
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - In Lexington, there is a new push to preserve historic Black communities to keep the city’s history of diversity alive.
There are more than 20 historic hamlets across Fayette County, and organizers are making sure they aren’t forgotten.
“I finished the 6th grade. I graduated, with no cap and gown, along with my twin brother. In the sixth grade, we had only six students. That’s the way it was,” said Cadentown Rosenwald School graduate Dr. Alvin Seals.
There were only 38 students at the Cadentown Rosenwald School when Dr. Alvin Seals was there in 1946.
On Tuesday, the old school house is full of first-time visitors and one former student.
“We were able to preserve the building. We did that. The neighborhood community,” Seals said.
The Cadentown community is one of 20 known Hamlets in Lexington. These are settlements where Black people built churches, schools, grocery stores and their homes in the 1800s through the 1920s.
The Cadentown Rosenwald School is the last of the schools still standing. With a church and a graveyard with 100 unmarked graves on the property, if it weren’t for neighbors like Jojuana Leavell-Greene, this history may have been lost forever.
“Bracktown, Maddoxtown, Jonestown, you do know these places. You just didn’t know they were hamlets,” Leavell-Greene said.
The city bought this hamlet. District 12 Councilmember Kathy Plomin says they hope to build upon the preservation work here and, through fundraiser efforts, want to turn Cadentown into a museum for all of the other hamlets whose structures have weathered and fallen over time.
“I think this needs to be a community center of stories, artifacts, pictures, so that families apart of these hamlets can come back here, celebrate and rejoice. Just let others know what these hamlets meant to them, their family, and the community,” Councilmember Plomin said.
The Hamlet Steering Committee is asking for help to learn more about the hamlets.
You can email Lexingtonhamletsproject@gmail.com to learn more or share your own stories and artifacts!
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