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'I Was Here' digital experience creates virtual memorials to ancestors who suffered enslavement

I Was Here project

A local project aims to bring Lexington's past to life through your smartphone, by exploring the intersection of memory, history, and ancestry.

For many, the reality of Lexington's status as a one-time slave-trading hub remains abstract — a fact, but not a feeling.

The app is part of a broader project known as I Was Here, a years-long effort to bring ancestors whose lives were forever changed in what's now known as Henry A Tandy Park into consciousness — first through ancestor portraits created in 2016, then written and spoken presentations by historians, citizens and scholars, and now through an app.

The I Was Here Digital Experience integrates image, history, narrative, and soundscape through what's known as geofencing, like a virtual perimeter, meant to guide visitors through 11 stops downtown.

The projects "transforms sites significant to enslavement into on-the-street museums, to educate and unify communities while simultaneously creating memorials in public space," a narrator explains on an introductory video.

More information about the project is available through VisitLex.

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.