The Reckoning: Facing the Legacy of Slavery in America (Episode Four: Facing the Past)

During 2020, Louisville, Kentucky emerged as what the Washington Post called “the epicenter of the national movement for racial justice.” The killing of Breonna Taylor by Louisville police set off months of nightly protests that put the city, and the state of Kentucky, into the spotlight worldwide.

In a four-hour series for public radio, The Reckoning traces the history and lasting impact of slavery and Jim Crow oppression in Kentucky. This history is the genesis of the issues that have exploded into public consciousness throughout the country in the past year. Kentucky stayed in the Union during the Civil War, seemingly on the right side of the battle over slavery, but the truth is more far more complex. Many Kentuckians fought to hang onto slavery and the wealth their slaves provided. In the years that followed, white citizens campaigned to downplay slavery’s role in the state’s economy and culture while working to deny black citizens a seat at the table.

As part of this story, we will meet members of two families who were deeply affected by the institution of slavery. One is a prominent white family descended from both a major slave trader and one of Kentucky’s largest slave owners, the other an African American family who descend from two of the people enslaved by the white family. These two families reflect how slavery touched nearly every person, place and institution in America, and how the country still needs to reconcile this painful past with the present — to recognize and reconcile the impact slavery has had on the health, wealth and safety of African Americans.

More information about the series can be found at  This special will air on Friday February 26th at 10 AM and 8 PM here on 88.3FM KCPW.