Unique Louisville experiences honor Black history and let visitors step back in time

(BPT) – Whether it’s a weekend road trip or fast flight for a longer vacation, a trip to Louisville, Kentucky, is memorable for people of all ages. Home of the legendary Muhammad Ali, the “Gateway to the South” is full of opportunity to explore, have fun and, most importantly, learn.

Steeped in history, there’s no place quite like Louisville, a city that owes much of its authentic culture to many African American men and women. Visitors can now experience a raw and authentic look at Louisville’s past through the Unfiltered Truth collection, with eight engaging and immersive experiences that will open your eyes, enrich your mind and forever imprint your heart.

Here are snapshots of each featured experience, brought to life by local actors, performers and historians passionate about the Black history in the “Bourbon City.” Learn more at GoToLouisville.com/Black-Heritage.

The Ideal Bartender Experience

Photo courtesy Louisville Tourism

Step back in time to the final days of Prohibition and into the secret Speakeasy at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience. Once inside, you will meet Louisville native and renowned bartender, Tom Bullock, the first Black American to write and publish a cocktail book. Sit down and learn about the life, legacy and love of spirits from the man himself in this special 45-minute presentation. Along the way, you will taste premium whiskeys and even get to enjoy one of Mr. Bullock’s most famous creations!

Songbird of the South

Photo courtesy Louisville Tourism

Songbird of the South tells the compelling story of Mary Ann Fisher’s journey in becoming one of the first African American women to have a career as a Rhythm and Blues singer, thus paving the way for future generations. This one-woman performance experience chronicles Fisher’s life from her tragic childhood beginning to her numerous musical successes. Her first taste of fame came in 1941 when she won a talent contest singing at the Lyric Theatre on Walnut Street, earning her the name Song Bird of the South. She then became a popular local talent around Louisville, and as her fame grew, she enjoyed opportunities to sing with Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, B.B. King, James Brown and more.

Black Americans in Bourbon

Photo courtesy Louisville Tourism

As the Official Starting Point of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail™, the Frazier History Museum has a unique and immersive cultural experience that will inform and entertain visitors by navigating the unheard stories of African Americans who have made one of the state’s greatest products, Bourbon, into America’s Native Spirit. Told from multiple points of view, “From Enslaved to Empowered” will take you on a journey from right after World War II to the present, giving visitors an idea of what it took for African Americans to come out of the shadows of the history of Bourbon and into today’s headlines.

Unfolding the Story of The Enslaved

Photo courtesy Louisville Tourism
With 55 rolling acres, Locust Grove is a sprawling estate that gives you a peek into the elegant upper class of the early 1800s. Participate in this experience, and you’ll see the other side of Locust Grove as you accompany the Croghan family’s enslaved laundress and enslaved distillery assistant throughout the house and outbuildings as they go about their daily routines. This 90-minute tour will immerse you in the year 1816 as you witness the sights, smells and sounds of a 19th-century farm all while learning about lives and stories of the enslaved individuals at Locust Grove. This program will cover the realities and truths of enslaved life in 19th-century Kentucky.
Proud of My Calling, An African American Experience in the Kentucky Derby

Photo courtesy Louisville Tourism
In a quiet urban cemetery in Kentucky lie many of the greatest horsemen of the 19th and early 20th century. They were the jockeys, the trainers, the farriers and the grooms that made the Kentucky Derby what it is today. And they were all Black. Their stories are longing to be told — the incredible victories, the crushing defeats, the transcendence that horse racing provided as they struggled for equality, on and off the racetrack. The Proud of My Calling Experience lets you meet these incredible horsemen through costumed actors, historic paintings and photos, and authentic artifacts from the past.
Roots 101 African American Museum, The Sankofa Experience

Photo courtesy Louisville Tourism
Roots 101 African American Museum located on historic Main Street in downtown Louisville is promoting understanding and inspiring appreciation of the achievements, contributions and experiences of African Americans using exhibits, programs and activities to illustrate Black history, culture and art. Roots 101 will showcase local and national artifacts as a museum dedicated to telling the story of the African American journey from Africa to all ports in between. The Sankofa Experience lets you go back and hear the stories of the first enslaved people from West Africa to help you better understand the past in hopes of giving new hope to the future.
Black Heritage in Racing Tour

Photo courtesy Louisville Tourism
African Americans have played an integral role in the history of Thoroughbred Racing. From slavery to the Civil War, and from the Jim Crow era to modern times, learn about the mark African Americans have made on horse racing from the beginning. This 90-minute tour takes you through historic Churchill Downs Racetrack while learning about some of the most important African American figures in horse racing, and other names that aren’t as well known but should be. Connect all the historic dots on this tour while making stops at significant places at Churchill Downs that illuminate these important stories.
The Best Black Baseball Team You’ve Never Heard Of

Photo courtesy Louisville Tourism
The curator of the Louisville Slugger Museum faced a mystery after acquiring two rare and precious photographs of a Black baseball team. What she saw in and on the photos did not match the description given. Who was this team? Join this tour for a hands-on journey of discovery as you search for clues and travel through time. After making headlines, why did the memory of this great Black team fade away? Louisville was home to the best Black baseball team you’ve never heard of — help restore their rightful place in baseball’s historic line-up.
Additional opportunities to explore Black history

Photo courtesy Louisville Tourism
Extraordinary Black Americans have worked hard throughout history to make Louisville the unique and thriving city it is today. Visit GoToLouisville.com/Black-Heritage for the many opportunities to learn about Black history, including the Muhammad Ali Center, the Kentucky Center for African-American Heritage and many more. The website also features suggested itineraries for 24-, 48- and 72-hour trips. Plus, you can access a directory for Black-owned businesses so you can support local jobs and help build stronger Louisville neighborhoods and communities.

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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