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Kentucky African American Heritage Commission


The mission of the Kentucky African American Heritage Commission (KAAHC) is to identify and promote awareness of significant African American influences on the history and culture of Kentucky and to support and encourage the preservation of Kentucky African American heritage and historic sites. The commission has 19 members appointed by the Governor and includes representatives from the state’s major universities, state agencies, community preservation organizations and interested citizens. The commission is administratively attached to the Kentucky Heritage  Council, with the council providing staff assistance and program oversight.

Some of the commission’s ongoing programs include educational forums and a Rosenwald School survey and inventory project.

KAAHC was formally established February 10, 1994 by Executive Order 94-145a to “promote awareness of significant African-American influences within the historical and cultural experiences of Kentucky” (enabling legislation KRS. 171.800).

African American history in Kentucky has roots in the Commonwealth’s earliest history, as African Americans accompanied and assisted Daniel Boone on his arrival to the new frontier in 1769. Later, as a border state during the Civil War, Kentucky’s unique condition did not lessen the cruelty and pain of slavery. However through hard work, strength and perseverance, African Americans prevailed, and today these experiences have left a lasting legacy of places that Kentuckians take pride in preserving.

The Kentucky Heritage Council and Kentucky African American Heritage Commission are dedicated to preserving buildings and places important to the history of African Americans. Kentucky has an array of sites that tell the story of slavery, the Underground Railroad, Civil War, education and civil rights, and a historically Black college is leading research efforts. Many architecturally significant buildings and museums preserve and promote local African American heritage. KHC has also worked in partnership with organizations across the state to identify remaining Rosenwald Schools in an effort to preserve and rehabilitate them.

2023 Grant Program Application 

The Kentucky African American Heritage Commission (KAAHC) was established by Governor Paul Patton in 1995 for the purpose of preserving and interpreting important Kentucky African American heritage sites. At the time of its origination, the KAAHC was only the second state supported African American Heritage Commission in the nation. Since its inception and establishment of a brick-and-mortar preservation grant fund, the Commission has funded over 100 African American heritage sites throughout Kentucky. In keeping with our mission to preserve important elements of Kentucky African American history and heritage, all those who apply must agree to meet the following funding criteria:           

  • Be an established 501c3 or non-profit organization;
  • Submit, with the application, a copy of your 501c3 Award Letter;
  • Submit, with the application, a completed W-9;
  • Acknowledge and agree to submit timely project progress reports; 
  • Complete funded projects within the grant time frame (September 1 – June 1);
  • Approved and completed projects must acknowledge the financial support of the
    Kentucky African American Heritage Commission and the Kentucky Heritage Council; and 
  • Download and submit a completed application.

 The 2023 submission period is currently closed. Applicants will be notified of their grant status in September 2023. ​

In the News

The Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce (NKY Chamber) presented the Rev. Richard B.L. Fowler with the NKY Community Award, given to individuals, businesses, or organizations throughout the Northern Kentucky Metro region in recognition of their positive impact on the community.



Commission Members

Preservation Community

Betty Dobson, Paducah

​Arts Community

Willard Lamont Collins, Louisville

Institute of Higher Education

Tyler D. Fleming, Louisville
Samuel R. Coleman, Jr., Middlesboro​


Betty Baker-Clayton, Cadiz​
Richard Fowler, Wilder  
​Natalie Gibson, Lexington  
​Charisse Gillett, Versailles
​Karen E. Morehead, Smithfield
​Lacy L. Rice, Jr., Radcliff
Diana W. Woods, Lexington
Mary C. Woolridge, Louisville

Ex Officio by Position

Lindy Casebier, Secretary
Tourism Arts and Heritage Cabinet
Koffi C. Akakpo, President
Kentucky State University

​Craig Potts, Executive Director & State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO)
Kentucky Heritage Council​