Phoenix Rising Lex preserves, promotes and honors the vast contributions of African American horsemen in establishing the Bluegrass as the Horse Capital of the World through educational, public and social activities.
BLACK LIVES MATTER
Phoenix Rising Lex was born out of an effort to recognize and bring to the forefront of daily conversation, the lives of Black Horsemen whose contributions have formed the backbone of the horse industry both in Kentucky and beyond. This industry was quite literally built upon the backs of the enslaved labor of these men. Later, those Black horsemen who experienced some level of fortune, and even fame, were driven from the industry by Jim Crow racism, their accomplishments quickly forgotten.
All of these men and their stories matter. No matter whether it is the life of an enslaved groom, or the life of a successful Black jockey, their’s are all stories of racism and inequality, infections in a country and its culture historically defined but the color of one’s skin.
Our group decided to call ourselves Phoenix Rising because we saw the need to tell these men’s stories and raise them up out of the ashes of a whitewashed history — because Black Lives Matter. And our shared history matters even though it can be hard to discuss and difficult to understand. We all need to know this history and understand the impact it has on our lives, on our culture, and on our future.
The events happening all around us matter because they are based on so many terrible things that have happened in the past. Phoenix Rising Lex was created around the fact that Black Lives Matter and the Board of Directors and members of this organization stand in solidarity with any movement that strives for a better, more equal and just world each and every day. Because Black Lives Matter.
WHAT WE’VE DONE
- We participated in our first ever Good Giving Challenge in 2020 and will again in 2021!
- Co-hosted “A Life with the Horses” event at the African Cemetery #2 on September 19th, 2020, when we honored five Black horsemen as well as awarded the second Dr. Anne Butler History Award to Reinette Jones.
- Hosted our 3rd annual Phoenix Festival in 2019 at the Isaac Murphy Memorial Art Garden. Themed Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future, honorees were the late Thoroughbred owner and trainer, and civil rights activist Oscar Dishman, Jr., and entrepreneur and educator Jeremy Reese, founder and operator of Frankie’s Corner, a program to teach inner city youth the basics of working in the horse industry. We also highlighted the historic 1891 Kentucky Derby, the first and only to be captured by an African American jockey, trainer and owner. Past recipients include the successful Black jockey, James Long, Gene Carter, and Man o’ War’s last two grooms, Will Harbut and Cunningham Graves.
- Attained our 501(c)(3), non-profit IRS status in January 2017
- Sponsored a week-long visit to Lexington, including a free lecture at the Lyric Theater, by Dr. Katherine Mooney, professor of history at Florida State University, and author of the award-winning book, Race Horse Men: How Slavery and Freedom were Made at the Racetrack.
- Reprinted 300 copies of “Racing Heritage; African American Trainers, Jockeys and the Kentucky Association Track,” Lexington’s only brochure exploring the history of the Kentucky Association track and the significance of its Black horsemen in the growth of the Bluegrass horse industry and Lexington’s historic East End neighborhood.
- Supported the Charles Young Community Center, and sponsored ornaments for the community Christmas tree in Charles Young Park.
- Supported and promoted the efforts of the International Museum of the Horse in their production of Central Kentucky’s only permanent African American museum exhibit, “Black Horsemen of the Kentucky Turf” at the Kentucky Horse Park
- With the generous support of Hall Media, developed our logo, established a new email address, and social media presence, and our new Phoenix Rising Lex website. Hall Media also arranged for TV and radio interviews related to all functions mentioned.
- Participated in Lexington’s “Roots and Heritage Festival.”