Lexington Parks set Black History Month events, recognitions 

Events, activities celebrate the community's role, contributions

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Lexington’s division of Parks & Recreation is highlighting important parks and community centers throughout Black History Month to celebrate their namesakes, importance, and impact on the community. Each week of February a park or community center will be featured with history, quotes, and historic photos shared on social media

There are events scheduled throughout the month celebrating Black culture and history within the city.

“We are fortunate to have incredible parks and facilities that are woven into the black history of our city,” said Adrienne Thakur, Deputy Director of Recreation for Parks & Recreation. “We’re excited to bring attention to their significant contributions, their namesakes, and to highlight the people and Parks employees, past and present, who have been instrumental and often underrepresented in the telling of our shared history.”

Kicking off the month, Dunbar Community Center, named after poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, will be featured Jan. 30 – Feb. 5. The center, which was formerly Dunbar High School from 1922 to 1967, became the first Black high school in Kentucky to be admitted to the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.

Legendary coach S. T. Roach built a basketball dynasty at the school, winning 512 games and capturing 6 Regional titles and 2 Kentucky High School Athletic League State Championships. On Feb. 5 (current) Paul Laurence Dunbar High School will take on Louisville Central as part of the Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame’s Heritage Game Series and “Glory Road” project, recognizing gymnasiums for their historic significance in the development of basketball in Kentucky.

Dunbar Community Center continues to serve the neighborhood as a host to youth basketball and partnership programs, and has become a generational gathering place for those connected through all eras of its history.

For the second week, Feb. 6-12, Martin Luther King Park, named after civil rights activist and minister Martin Luther King Jr., will be featured. Opening in 1986, MLK Park, located in the Winburn neighborhood, is one of the larger parks in the city at 37.6 acres, and offers football and baseball fields, basketball courts, and a recently finished futsal court. It has hosted youth football games under Parks & Recreation for since the park’s opening over 35 years ago.

Douglass Park, named after abolitionist Frederick Douglass, will be the featured location for week three, Feb. 13-19. Douglass Park, which opened in 1916, serves as the host to Lexington’s legendary “Dirt Bowl” summer basketball league. The league, which has been active since the 1970s, has seen countless talented players and was known for drawing the best athletes from the region each summer. It was featured as one of the premiere summer leagues in Sports Illustrated in 1983. Today Douglass Park is a hub of activity for sports, swimming, music, and other entertainment that serves the neighborhood, nearby Booker T. Washington Elementary, and greater Lexington.

The fourth week, Feb. 20-26, features Artworks at the Carver School. Now a Parks & Recreation community and arts center, Carver School, named after scientist George Washington Carver, was an all-black elementary school from 1934 to 1972 seated in the historic Davis Bottom neighborhood. The center will host a free Black History Screen Printing Workshop on Feb. 26, where the public are invited to make prints featuring quotes from prominent black Kentucky authors. Neighborhoods kids around community centers will have transportation provided to participate in a private workshop the day before.

For the final week, William Wells Brown Community Center, named after author and Lexingtonian William Wells Brown, will be featured Feb. 27 – Mar. 5. This community center, in partnership with Fayette County Public Schools, resides in the historic East End neighborhood near downtown. The center hosts numerous programs for students and have a Black History Month event planned for students paying tribute to the neighborhood and featuring various performances.

Additionally, throughout February Lexingtonians are encouraged to go view the “Exposure” art exhibit at the Pam Miller Downtown Arts Center. The exhibit is a celebration of a diverse group of photographers of color in and around The Bluegrass. Admission to the exhibit is free.

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