Danville Black History exhibit opens at the library

Published 6:37 pm Thursday, February 8, 2024

For Black History Month, the Boyle County Public Library and the Danville-Boyle County African American Historical Society have partnered to create a display that celebrates the history of the Black community in Danville and Boyle County, which extends to the earliest days of Kentucky.

The content on display is similar to the “We Were Here” exhibit that was at the Norton Center for the Arts last year, but on a smaller scale.

“The Norton Center display was an amazing accomplishment, and we are very proud to have had the opportunity to share on such a grand scale,” said D.B.C.A.A.H.S. president Michael Hughes. “We are constantly looking and planning for endeavors to share our story and history. We hope to secure a larger space than what we have in our History Center, that will enable us to share much of our photos, memorabilia, and artifacts with the general public year-round.”

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The display provides information on many important people in the Black history of Danville. One person featured in the display is Amelia Sleet Burton, a teacher in Boyle County who passed away in 2013.

She began her teaching career at the age of 16 in 1935 in Perryville’s school. She would go on to earn a master’s degree from Indiana University in 1959. In 1967, she was the first Black teacher at the old Jennie Rogers School, where she was an integral part of the integration process. She retired from teaching in 1982. The next year, she would be the first-ever recipient of Kentucky’s Distinguished Teacher Award.

The project was spearheaded by the D.B.C.A.A.H.S. secretary and publicity chair Mike Denis. Denis is also hosting an African American film festival at the library during February. Every Saturday this month at 3 p.m., there will be showings of popular films by Black filmmakers.

A list and description of the upcoming movie showings from the library’s website is as follows: 

Feb. 10: “Selma” — A chronicle of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965. (Rated PG-13; 2h 8m)

Feb. 17: “Glory” — Robert Gould Shaw leads the U.S. Civil War’s first all-black volunteer company, fighting prejudices from both his own Union Army, and the Confederates. (Rated R; 2h 2m)

Feb. 24: “Loving” — The story of Richard and Mildred Loving, a couple whose arrest for interracial marriage in 1960s Virginia began a legal battle that would end with the Supreme Court’s historic 1967 decision. (Rated PG-13; 2h 3m)

The D.B.C.A.A.H.S. is planning to open a History Center on Second Street in the near future. The center will feature memorabilia, photos, oral interviews, and a complete ancestry section.

“We want to continue to offer resources to anyone interested in knowing the African American History of Danville and Boyle County,” Hughes said.