“If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile traditions, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world and it stands in danger of being exterminated.”
-Carter G. Woodson
The Center of Excellence for the Study of African Americans is devoted to the collection, preservation, interpretation and dissemination of materials about African Americans in Kentucky and those with Kentucky connections residing throughout the nation and around the globe.
CESKAA focuses on uncovering documents and rare books, public and private records, photographs and audio visuals and other historic items that enable us to restore to public memory the myriad contributions that African Americans made and continue to make to help develop the Commonwealth and improve the quality of life for African Americans. This information has largely remained unrecorded and therefore absent from textbooks and historical narratives.
The CESKAA staff believes that rigorous and sustained scholarly research will help move these unacknowledged people, stories and contributions to a central position within interpretations and narratives that cover the broad historical and educational, political and socio-cultural themes pertaining to the heritage of the Commonwealth and the nation.
Materials that are collected, both print and three-dimensional artifacts, are maintained in archival and museum collections. These items are used for research and scholarly study, documentaries, exhibits and public education programs. Our scope of coverage includes documents and artifacts, people and historic places that provide context and that are dispersed across the entire Commonwealth. The collections include materials from KSU alumni and former faculty members.
Kentucky State University, the only public historically black university in Kentucky, is the ideal site for an academic research program charged with the above stated mission. In keeping with the teaching, research and service missions of the university, CESKAA staff engages in extensive community-based outreach, educational and cultural services, including cemetery documentation and preservation, genealogical and family history studies, historical site investigations and public history programs and exhibits.
We serve as consultants to several local historical groups and routinely partner with other agencies, including the Kentucky African American Heritage Commission, the Kentucky Derby Museum, the Kentucky History Center, the Kentucky Heritage Council, the Kentucky Human Rights Commission, the Kentucky State University-affiliated K-Club and Office of Alumni Affairs and the University of Kentucky’s Graduate Program in Historical Preservation, to name a few.
Other Research Services
The expertise of CESKAA’s research staff has been acknowledged in numerous books by authors the staff has assisted and in newspaper articles and television documentaries at the state, national and international levels. CESKAA staff routinely assists researchers and scholars, as well as students, with inquiries about KSU alumni and the history of the university.
Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame
The Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame was established in 2000 by the Kentucky Commission on Civil Rights during its 40th anniversary celebration. This special recognition serves as a monument to brave men and women who emerged as leaders in the struggle for equality and justice in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Their contributions span areas of access, equality, and efforts to eliminate barriers of prejudice and discrimination. Currently photographs of 52 inductees are enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Additions are made in two year cycles.
Constructed of wood and steel and stretching 52 feet with photographs on both sides, this exhibit was designed by Garry Bibbs, associate professor of art studies, head of sculpture and director of graduate studies at the University of Kentucky. The Hall of Fame has found a permanent home on the Kentucky State University campus, is under the supervision of CESKAA and may be viewed daily between 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Carl Hill Student Center Ballroom. The artist, Garry Bibbs, is an alumnus of Kentucky State University.
The Civil Rights Hall of Fame is designed as an educational tool to raise public awareness about civil rights issues and to foster an environment that engenders discussions regarding the history of civil rights in Kentucky as well as the continuing challenges.