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With Confederate Statues Gone, Activists Begin 'Reimagining' Cheapside Park

Karyn Czar

The group credited with launching the movement to relocate two controversial Confederate statues from the heart of downtown Lexington begins holding meetings this week to discuss future plans for the space.

Leaders of the Take Back Cheapside movement say removing the statues of Confederate General John Hunt Morgan and Former Vice President John C. Breckinridge was in some ways a “cosmetic fix” and now the community must begin the work of reimagining the one-time slave auction block located next to the city’s old courthouse.

The group has been planning and fundraising for the project since before the statues were removed last October. Group leader Russell Allen said the goal would be "looking into the space and trying to develop that as an includive space for everybody."

In an interview with WUKY, Allen said the twin meetings will provide an opportunity for community involvement in plans already in development, with the goal of foregrounding Lexington African-American history that's been "overshadowed or ignored." Those are likely to include art or storytelling projects.

"Some of these things that we're doing right now have never been done before... on a large scale in Lexington," he explains, adding the group is "open to everything that could possibly happen because this is new ground as far as the city goes."

The public Reimagining Cheapside meetings start Tuesday at Chocolate Holler, with an evening gathering running from 5:30 to 7. A second meeting is slated for Friday morning from 10:30 to 11 at Wild Fig Coffee and Books.

Note: In the interest of full disclosure, WUKY News notes that DeBraun Thomas is a founding member of the Take Back Cheapside movement.

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