UPK authors Gerald L. Smith, Karen Cotton McDaniel, and John A. Hardin have been named the recipients of a 2016 Kentucky History Award given by the Kentucky Historical Society for their book, “The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia.” The encyclopedia has also received the 2016 Living Legacy Award presented by the Kentucky Black Legislative Caucus, the Kentucky State Historical Records Advisory Board’s 2015 Kentucky Archives Month Certificate for Merit for Writing/Publication, and has been named a Thomas D. Clark Medallion Book. The Kentucky History Awards recognize outstanding achievements by historians, public history professionals, volunteers, business and civic leaders, communities, and historical organizations throughout the Commonwealth. The awards were presented on Friday, November 11 at the KHS Annual Meeting and Kentucky History Celebration at the Old State Capitol in downtown Frankfort.
Editors Smith, McDaniel, and Hardin have assembled a first-of-its-kind reference volume to create a foundational guide to the black experience in the Commonwealth. Capturing history from the earliest frontier years to the present, it chronicles the individuals, events, places, organizations, movements, and institutions that have shaped the state. Across the remarkable accounts painstakingly detailed by more than 150 contributing authors, what is perhaps most impressive, is the breadth and scope of the history that is revealed. As the over 1000 entries make clear, African American Kentuckians have played pivotal roles in every facet of our state’s community as athletes, builders, coal miners, doctors, entrepreneurs, educators, lawyers, nurses, organizers, religious leaders, and more. It reaches beyond the traditional narrative of Kentucky’s past to capture hidden and forgotten stories that deserve their place in Kentucky and American history. Even still, “The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia” makes clear that despite the rich history that has been documented, so much more remains to be told.
“The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia” is the fifth University Press of Kentucky publication in six years to win a KHS award, joining 2014 winner “Bloody Breathitt: Politics and Violence in the Appalachian South” by T.R.C. Hutton, 2013 winner “The Kentucky Derby: How the Run for the Roses Became America’s Premier Sporting Event” by James C. Nicholson, 2012 winner “A History of Education in Kentucky” by William E. Ellis, and 2011 winner “Lessons in Likeness: Portrait Painters in Kentucky and the Ohio River Valley, 1802-1920” by Estill Curtis Pennington.
Gerald L. Smith is Martin Luther King Center Scholar-Residence and the holder of the Theodore A. Hallam Professorship (2015–2017) in the department of history at the University of Kentucky. He is the author, editor, or coeditor of three books and other publications on history. He is also the pastor of Pilgrim Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky.
Karen Cotton McDaniel is professor emeritus at Kentucky State University, where she was a tenured full professor and director of libraries. She has more than twenty publications on black Kentuckians, including book chapters, articles, and encyclopedic essays. She has also taught at Eastern Kentucky University and Berea College.