We believe that Russellville is one of the best places in Kentucky to tell the stories of our African-American heritage, and the West Kentucky African American Museum and Research Center is completing a decade of developing historic sites and programming.
However, this is only part of our story, Logan County had the 2nd largest number of freed slaves in 1860 (behind only Jefferson County), and the lengthy list of emancipations are spread throughout the county record books. The most notable emancipator was Revolutionary War Major Richard Bibb, whose home is a public museum. His involvement in the Kentucky Colonization Society led him to send several of his freed slaves to Liberia in the 1830s and many others settled in two areas known as Upper Bibbtown and Lower Bibbtown. The Black Bottom National Register Historic District has just been approved by the federal government and boasts hundreds of historic buildings that were constructed after the Civil War.
Included in the Black Bottom Historic District are six buildings that have been restored by Historic Russellville, Inc. for use as the West Kentucky African American Heritage Center. The current exhibits feature Alice Allison Dunnigan (a civil rights pioneer and the first black female reporter in the White House foreign press corps); the 1908 lynching of 4 innocent men from an oak tree; segregated schools; African American soldiers in the Civil War; and former Russellville resident and blues singer, Mary Ann Fisher, Ray Charles' first female vocalist.
These exhibits are displayed in a group of historic homes including the oldest brick building (1810) still standing in Russellville, post-Civil War homes built by men who had fought for their freedom as Union soldiers, to a 1940 shotgun house. In addition to the exhibits, ongoing research activities focus on genealogy of African Americans in Kentucky and our extensive collection of African American artifacts are being catalogued and archived. Cultural heritage programming includes outdoor blues concerts honoring Mary Ann Fisher, along with other musical performances in the restored KP Hall, part of the "chittlin circuit" of the Jim Crow years. A summer youth program, Roots Revisted, focuses on heritage education and character development.