Efforts continue in the ongoing fight to preserve Lexington’s historic Black hamlets

Efforts continue in the ongoing fight to preserve Lexington’s historic Black hamlets
Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 10:04 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Those with Lexington’s ‘A Sense of Place’ Initiative continue their work in the Uttingertown Community Tuesday.

The City’s ‘A Sense of Place’ initiative, a campaign to recognize and preserve historic Black hamlets in Fayette County, has been fundraising to finish the restoration of Cadentown School and cemetery. And those involved have been working with people in each community to document the hamlet’s history as best they can.

“Empowering. This is an empowering project,” said Yvonne Giles, a historical consultant on the project.

For the past twenty years, Yvonne Giles has fought to preserve Lexington’s 20 historic Black hamlets. The work leading her here, to the Uttingertown community.

“A story of jubilation, a story of achievement, a story of who we are. This is what we accomplished. This is how we overcame adversity. It’s always about that. Always.”

These African American communities have been on the county’s landscape for over 100 years. But for many, the original schools, houses, churches and even cemeteries have fallen victim to development, or forgotten by younger generations.

The Uttingertown community nearly faced the same fate.

“To know, that right now, this hamlet will be protected for at least the next five years, my congregation is a little bit older, and this gives them a sense of relief,” said Michael Jackson, the Pastor of Uttingertown Missionary Baptist Church.

In the latest plans, Royster Road, where this hamlet sits, was set to be included in the newest Urban Services Boundary expansion. But Councilmember Kathy Plomin said Tuesday, the advisory committee changed the drawing. It will keep these acres of land out of the expansion.

And still in the hands of Pastor Michael Jackson’s community for now.

“It’s a little bit of both, not only to have a sense of place, but to share the history we have here.”

As Giles said, these are stories of success that just need to be told.

“To celebrate the achievement of those who live, and still live, in our Black communities.”

You can learn more about the city’s work in the Cadentown community here.