'Storytelling Walks' Provide A Window Into Lexington's Past

Aug 8, 2018

Lexington residents looking to make Cheapside and the old Fayette County Courthouse square more inclusive public spaces are holding a series of storytelling walks. The goal is to unearth "untold and undertold" stories about the city and its past.

Credit Alan Lytle / WUKY

A local leader retraces his steps up the fire esape of a formerly segregated movie theatre. A farmer develops a passion for "food justice" working in a collective urban garden.

These are the stories you aren't likely to find in textbook pages or city brochures. But they're what community activists say residents should hear.

The old courthouse block in the heart of downtown Lexington became the focal point for a conversation about race and history in 2017 when the city removed two Confederate statues. Now that the monuments have been rehomed in the Lexington Cemetery, a project dubbed Re(Imagining) Cheapside is inviting the public to learn more about the space and others around town.

"So many of us don't know the stories," says Blue Grass Community Foundation President Lisa Adkins. "We don't know the complete picture."

Cheapside once served as a major slave-trading hub before the Civil War.

This weekend, four public storytelling walks will touch on the contributions of African-Americans and topics like beauty and sustainability.

"Some will actually be storytellers in a more traditional sense. It'll be a person or a group of people telling a story. Other places you might be hearing a poet read a poem or you might see artists actually creating a piece of art at that stop as part of their story," she explains.

The 90-minute walks will cover a little over a mile. More than 40 storytellers are taking part in the events, which happen this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Below is a list of the locations and start-times. No RSVP is required.

African American Walk | Friday, August 10 | 7:00 pm-8:30 pm
Starting Point: Lyric Theatre & Cultural Arts Center — 300 E Third St, Lexington, KY 40508 

African American Walk | Saturday, August 11 | 11:00 am-12:30 pm
Starting Point: Henry Clay Public House — 112 N Upper St, Lexington, KY 40507

Beauty & Sustainability Walk | Saturday, August 11 | 2:00 pm-3:30 pm
Starting Point: The Living Arts & Science Center — 362 Martin Luther King Blvd, Lexington, KY 40508

Belonging Walk | Sunday, August 12 | 11:00 am-1:30 pm
Starting Point: Maria's Kitchen — 805 N Broadway, Lexington, KY 40508 

[Note: WUKY's DeBraun Thomas is a lead organizer with Take Back Cheapside, a partner in the Re(Imagining) Cheapside project. He did not contribute to this story.]