It is like night and day once you cross over Ninth Street – you can see the difference in wealth, you can see the difference in investment than in other parts of the city, and you know that it literally stops at Ninth Street.”
—Haven Harrington III
Nearly every city in America has in some way grappled with the legacy of segregation. Often times, these battles would unfold in the public sphere, in areas where non-whites were not allowed in movie theaters, department stores, and—as was the case for a young Muhammad Ali—restaurants.
In Louisville, that legacy exists in many areas, but none as noticeable today as Ninth Street, which was constructed in the 1950s and ’60s as a high-traffic expressway that served to expedite car travel across the city—and to separate black and white Louisville with a wide thoroughfare. In the process, we demolished a large African-American business district and created a physical scar that continues to divide Louisville between East and West, rich and poor, black and white.
The origins of this divide are both structural and complex, but the urban design element began in 1932 when series of racist policies were rolled out that were designed to “contain the Negro Housing Problem in Louisville.” Such policies have left the city with a set of deepening issues, both physical and social.
In the third installment of KY Place, four panelists unpack the topic and break it down in new, thought-provoking ways. From the legal effort to prevent African Americans from purchasing certain properties to the media’s treatment of West Louisville, “Ninth Street Divide” is a history lesson as much as it is a social analysis. The conversation between Attica, Dana, Haven, and Joe circles around a common goal: to acknowledge our broken history and identify solutions to the problems that grew out of segregation.
Featuring: Dana Duncan (Instructor, Jefferson Community & Technical College); Haven Harrington III (President, Russell Neighborhood Association); Joe Dunman (Civil rights attorney); and Attica Scott (Representative-elect, Kentucky House of Representatives, District 41).
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