Thomas M. Law of the Voyageur Media Group is working with the Kentucky Archaeological Survey and Kentucky Heritage Council to publicize a significant civil rights rally held in Lexington on the Fourth of July in 1867.
To date, the rally is pretty unknown, but according to one published report, an “immense” crowd of six to 10 thousand people, mostly African Americans, participated in one of the largest civil rights gatherings held in Kentucky until the civil rights march in Frankfort on March 5, 1964. The importance of this gathering recently came to light with the rediscovery of a detailed article published in the Cincinnati Commercial newspaper on July 8, 1867, which provided a firsthand account of the event.
According to the newspaper, “fully 10,000 people were on the ground, not more than half of whom could hear, but the immense crowd stood for hours and were quite still, even where they could only catch now and then a word of what the speaker was saying.”
The rally was significant at this time because civil rights in the Kentucky area was increasingly dangerous. Many advocates were shunned and threatened with violence. The Fourth of July provided enough patriotic cover for African Americans to peacefully protest Jim Crow laws that were spread across southern states.
As you celebrate today, consider this peaceful protest that received national attention about the plight of African Americans post Civil War in Kentucky. Cheers!