“The history of the 9th Street Divide starts with urban renewal. Around that time period, cities around the country decided they were going to remove African Americans from the urban core and put them in their own neat little neighborhoods. Louisville was very progressive on that front—we built the 9th Street Divide as an exit off the expressway. As you can tell from driving around the city, it pretty much removed all the African American communities from downtown Louisville.”
—Haven Harrington, President of the Russell Neighborhood Association
KY Place will premiere its third episode tackling the Ninth Street Divide and segregation in Louisville tonight, June 3, 2016 at the Tim Faulkner Gallery, 1512 Portland Avenue, in the Portland neighborhood. The event is free and open to the public. Doors open at 7:30p.m. with music by Kendall Elijah Dynamite and the screening begins at 8:30p.m. with a panel discussion following.
“Ninth Street is widely regarded as the physical manifestation of the barrier between the East and West ends of Louisville,” Elijah McKenzie, KY Place producer and Broken Sidewalk writer, wrote of the new KY Place episode, “where urban renewal in the 1960s led to the rise of expressways and the demolition of African American–owned businesses. Today, the people of Louisville are finding new ways to reconnect long-divided communities.”
“I’m not from Louisville, but when I first saw pictures of the Russell neighborhood before urban renewal, it was a revelation. Here was a business district, here was a thriving urban neighborhood. Pedestrians, businesses—I mean, it was a the classic cityscape.”
—Dana Duncan, Instructor at Jefferson Community and Technical College
It’s no secret that Ninth Street, more highway than urban street, was built in the 1950s and ’60s as a surface-level, high-traffic expressway meant to divide the community. Urban renewal leveled a once-thriving African American business district along Old Walnut Street, leaving a swath of low-quality development and surface parking lots that continues to scar Downtown Louisville today.
The documentary explores how we might fix this outdated system that continues to promote segregation and how Louisville can bridge the persistent Ninth Street Divide.
Folks are realizing that they cannot depend on mainstream media to tell their stories, so they’re using social media. Which means that people who are East of Ninth Street are hearing stories about West of Ninth Street that they otherwise wouldn’t have heard before. —Attica Scott, Representative-Elect (District 41)
Panelists for Ninth Street Divide episode include Dana Duncan, an instructor at Jefferson Community & Technical College; Haven Harrington III, president of the Russell Neighborhood Association; Joe Dunman, a civil rights attorney; and Attica Scott, the representative-elect for District 41.
KY Place is an independently-produced documentary series telling the stories the people, places, and cultures that make Kentucky unique. The first four episodes in the series focus on issues in Louisville—episode one, Keep Louisville Weird, looked at Louisville’s independent culture, and episode two, ReSurfaced, looked at how Louisville is using tactical urbanism to reshape civic life.
“One of the biggest forms of inequality we have in Louisville is not just income, but property value. You cross Ninth Street and the house values drop dramatically.”
—Joe Dunman, Civil Rights Attorney
The KY Place documentary pilot series came together on a zero-dollar budget, staffed by volunteers, and using borrowed equipment from University of Louisville. Each roughly 14-minute episode is carefully crafted by Elijah McKenzie to tell a story in a discussion-provoking way that carries over into a panel discussion.
Broken Sidewalk is proud to be a sponsor of the KY Place series and we will be hosting the online premiere of the film next Friday right here, so check back for more.