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Encyclopedia Tells The Story Of African-Americans In Kentucky

Josh James

A new, first-of-its-kind encyclopedia tracing the experience and contributions of African-Americans in Kentucky is set to be published this month. The nearly 600-page collection includes the work of more than 150 authors.

Flipping through the weighty reference book, readers catch glimpses of familiar names like boxer Muhammad Ali and Bowling Green’s Southern rap group Nappy Roots alongside lesser known figures such as Jack Hart, a slave who helped guide or “pilot” Daniel Boone through the woods of Kentucky.

University of Kentucky history professor and leader for the five-year-long encyclopedia project Gerald Smith tells UKNow the book seeks to flesh out stories that are often omitted from the textbooks.

"Sometimes the truth is painful, but it must be told," he says.

The Kentucky African-American Encyclopedia, which comes out August 28, will also be the subject of a panel discussion at Louisville’s Muhammad Ali Center on Wednesday.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.