Celebrate Black History in Louisville, Kentucky

Celebrate Black History in Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville is Kentucky’s largest city. It’s known for horse racing, distilleries, baseball, and a  history where cultures merged to create a booming metropolis. Visitors have a lot to see and do in Louisville. From an exceptional gastropub scene, to historical museums and numerous sporting events, there’s always something going on. Louisville is also filled with amazing stories about the lives of Black Americans. From expert bartenders to a forgotten baseball team, here are some excellent ways to explore Black history in Lousiville, Kentucky.


The Ideal Bartender Experience

The Ideal Bartender Experience (Photo via Heaven Hill Distilleries)

One of the numerous events that make up the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience is a historical homage to the famous bartender, Tom Bullock. Bullock was the first Black American to write and publish a cocktails book. His work, The Ideal Bartender, was first published in 1917 and remains available to purchase to this day. Visitors can embark on the 45-minute The Ideal Bartender Experience, in which they can learn about Bullock and his skills, and even taste fine whisky and cocktails along the way. Best of all, participants get a commemorative rocks glass and recipe to take home with them!


Locust Grove: Unfolding the Story

Locust Grove Mansion (Photo via Locust Grove)

The traditional tours of Locust Grove will focus on the beauty, the majesty, and the prestige of this Mansion from the 1700s. It was owned by the wealthy Croghan family, and many famous visitors passed through the house’s doors, including presidents James Monroe and Andrew Jackson, as well as explorers Lewis and Clark.

But there’s more to the story. The home was built using enslaved workers, and 30-45 slaves were forced to tend to the property’s farmland. During the Unfolding the Story – The Enslaved at Locust Grove tours, visitors can be transported back to the year 1816 and discover what life was truly like for the slave workers at Locust Grove. It’s an informative, heartbreaking, and powerful experience not to be missed.


African Americans in Thoroughbred Racing

Jimmy Winkfield riding Alan-a-Dale (Photo via Churchill Downs Racetrack)

At the Kentucky Derby Museum, visitors can embark on a tour of important Black jockeys throughout history. Many don’t know this, but there were Black men competing in major races since the 1800s. In fact, did you know that the first Kentucky Derby was won by the horse, Aristides, and his Black jockey, Oliver Lewis? That’s right…the very first Kentucky Derby was actually won by an African American. You can learn tons of facts you never know in the African Americans in Thoroughbred Racing Tour. Throughout the tour, you’ll learn about other prominent figures in the history of horse racing, including Jimmy Winkfield and Isaac Murphy.


Discover the Lousiville Unions

Louisville Unions (Photo via Louisville Slugger Museum Archives)

In 2018, two mysterious photos of a Louisville baseball team surfaced. The team, which had somehow been forgotten about throughout history, was all-Black and appeared to have been from the turn of the century. The Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory got to work uncovering the lost secrets of the Lousiville Unions. In the Lousiville Unions Rediscovered exhibition, visitors get to team up with the museum and be transported back to 1908 to learn about one of America’s best baseball teams. You’ll be able to uncover emerging facts, hear new stories, and examine historical artifacts.

To learn more, visit Louisville’s Black Heritage page to discover all there is to see and do in Kentucky’s largest city. 

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