425 Ann Street
Frankfort, KY 40601
Hours: Monday – Saturday 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
The Singing Bridge: A Photographic Memorial to Lynching Victims
in the Capital of Kentucky
Dates: Fall 2019
2019 marks the 400 year anniversary of the first slave ship landing on the shores of what is now the United States of America. Across the nation, and in other places around the world, events and ceremonies have been taking place to remember and honor millions of human beings who were victimized by the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Besides this global anniversary, 2019 is also the 125th anniversary of the lynching of Mr. Marshall Boston and the 110th of Mr. John Maxey in Frankfort. Focus On Race Relations: Frankfort (FORR: Frankfort) is working with the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) to commemorate these two gentlemen, and Franklin County’s other lynching victims and the African American members of the community which these acts were meant to terrorize. In Kentucky, we know of at least 169 African Americans who were lynched by white mobs.
This exhibit takes a look at the known lynching sites and asks both photographers and viewers to think about the attrocities that took place at these locations. Remembering is a way of honoring. Because we were not present during these attacks, remembering cannot be done without imagining what happened. The very act of visiting the sites is an undertaking in learning about the history and beginning to do the hard work of coming to terms with the past. We cannot expect old wounds to heal if we refuse to acknowledge them, or if we refuse to listen to the people who are still most hurt by them.
Mr. Boston and Mr. Maxey were both lynched on the Singing Bridge in the center of town, and because of these lynchings many people in the African American community know it as the Swinging Bridge. A few hundred feet from the bridge is an elementary school playground where there used to be a hanging tree. A 10 minute walk from the tree is another area along the railroad tracks where lynchings took place. All of these sites are within a 10 minute walk from the Capital City Museum.
The work of facing our painful past is ongoing. We invite Kentuckians to make space in their hearts and minds and lives to learn more about this part of our history and to think about how it might still affect people and places and communities today.