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Celebrate Jessamine County Black History With These Books

Explore Black History Month by reading books about African Americans who lived right here in Jessamine County.

Lizzie’s Story: A Slave Family’s Journey to Freedom

by Dr. Clarice Boswell

Lizzie's Story book coverAuthor Clarice Boswell was born and raised in Jessamine County. Her book uses family archives and oral history to tell the fictionalized story of her ancestors’ struggle for freedom.

Some of the stories in the book came from her grandmother, Lizzie Brent Sheff Davis Cannon, who was born in Leesburg, Kentucky, in 1870 and died in Jessamine County, Kentucky, in 1965. Frank Cannon Jr. shared memories of his grandmother Lizzie Cannon in the Locust Grove Cemetery Audio Tour.

Harlem: The Vision of Morgan and Marvin Smith

by Morgan Smith

Harlem book coverTwins Morgan and Marvin Smith were born in Nicholasville, Kentucky, the children of sharecroppers. When they were 12 years old, they moved to Lexington, where they later attended Paul Laurence Dunbar High School and discovered their passion for art. After graduation, they attended art school in Cincinnati and eventually moved to Harlem to pursue their art.

The twins owned a Harlem photography studio, photographing such luminaries as Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and Joe Lewis as well as everyday people in Harlem. This book reproduces their photographs in a beautiful, large-format edition.

Embattled Freedom: Journeys Through the Civil War’s Slave Refugee Camps

by Dr. Amy Murrell Taylor

Embattled Freedom book coverUniversity of Kentucky history professor Amy Murrell Taylor documents slave refugee camps around the country, including Camp Nelson.

The chapter “Gabriel Burdett in Slavery” describes Burdett’s resistance to slavery as a Black preacher at the Forks Church in Garrard County. Burdett later “enlisted in the 114th U.S. Colored Infantry at Camp Nelson, Kentucky, and assisted in establishing the refugee camp at Camp Nelson” (Notable Kentucky African Americans Database).


Black History Month Celebration

Saturday, Feb. 26, 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Join us for our annual Black History Month celebration! Boxed lunches will be served from 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM. After lunch, enjoy a performance by StageOne Family Theatre from 12:00 PM – 12:45 PM, followed by a performance by this year’s honored church, Marble Creek Baptist. Lastly, there will be a presentation by the staff of Camp Nelson National Monument.