Fifty two years after they were acquitted of conspiracy charges, members of Louisville’s Black Six received an apology from the city’s top official: Mayor Greg Fischer.
The Black Six were a group of Black business people and activists who’d been accused of plotting to destroy buildings in the West End during a week-long rebellion in 1968.
Their court case stretched on for two years before going to trial, where Judge Rush Nicholson ruled prosecutors hadn’t presented enough evidence to warrant the charges. He directed the jury to issue a verdict of not guilty.
Learn about the case:How a trial over the 1968 uprising in the West End stained Louisville history
At a recent event discussing the case, Fischer rose from the audience to ask if anyone from the city had ever apologized.
“No,” said Manfred Reid, one of two Black Six members present.
“Until we acknowledge the harm that’s happened in the past, it’s hard to move on,” Fischer responded. “I wasn’t there then, but I’m here now. I represent an institution. So I apologize.”
The moment was one of several at the event — hosted by the Frazier Kentucky History Museum, Lean Into Louisville and The Courier Journal — where members of the panel and audience spoke about the need for city leaders to take ownership of injustices done to the Black community, including the 2020 police killing of Breonna Taylor.
“There are good people in all races here. We’ve worked together in the past, and we can work together in the future,” said Ken Clay, a former business owner who witnessed the rebellion. “But there has to be that effort to bring us together, to really work collectively to rid this community of the hatred and of the injustice.
“We’ve got to stand up and admit that we’ve been wrong. And we need to hear the apology like the mayor got up and apologized. We need that apology to the Black community as a whole and particularly to the victims. Justice for Breonna has got to be the answer.”
Watch a recording of the event below.
Reach reporter Bailey Loosemore at firstname.lastname@example.org, 502-582-4646 or on Twitter @bloosemore. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: https://www.courier-journal.com/baileyl.