Louisville Story Program - If You Write Me a Letter, Send It Here
Over two dozen Russell area residents—educators, community organizers, pastors, owners of restaurants and bars, a domestic worker, an urban farmer, a clothing designer, an engineer, a musician, a welder, a violence disrupter, a distillery worker, a “neighborhood momma,” and more—have written If You Write Me a Letter, Send it Here. Their book memorably documents some of the rich layers of history and culture in the neighborhood’s past and present, and their hopes and concerns for the future.
Louisville's Russell area was once dubbed "Louisville's Harlem" due to its heavy concentration of thriving Black businesses, cultural institutions, and prominent Black residents. For almost 100 years, Central High School was Louisville's only public high school for Black students and claims numerous notable alumni. The Western Library was the nation's first public library managed by and for African Americans. Prior to being razed, Old Walnut Street had the most vibrant, densest collection of successful Black-owned businesses our community has ever seen. Quinn Chapel was the epicenter of Civil Rights organizing for marches and sit-ins. Forces like redlining and urban renewal have transformed Russell into an area of concentrated poverty despite its close proximity to Louisville's central business district.In spite of this systemic historical and cultural violence, Russell remains central to Black life in Louisville. Although it has just 9,000 residents, it boasts clubs, restaurants, over 30 churches to which former residents return every Sunday, and a renewed sense of investment from residents committed to directing outside development to their collective will and benefit.Almost $1 billion in investment is transforming the neighborhood. With so much change underway in a place with such historical and cultural significance, it is vital that we document the ways Russell residents sustain community together and the ways that those systems of interaction connect to the past but remain relevant in the present. The massive investments in redevelopment are important, but we must also invest in documenting Russell's cultural heritage. In partnership with the Louisville Story Program, twenty-six Russell residents spent three and a half years writing this book to document some of the many rich layers of history and culture in the neighborhood past and present. The result is a remarkable impressionistic portrait of a historic neighborhood in a time of change.
« Less320 pages; 8x9; full color; soft cover