One America - Kentucky Commission On Human Rights -

Program: Kentucky Commission On Human Rights - "A Conversation on Race", Louisville, KY
Contact(s): Beverly L. Watts, Executive Director, KCHR: (502) 595-4024
Purpose: To enhance race relations and cooperation on race-related matters throughout Kentucky

Background Program Operations Outcomes


The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights (KCHR) enforces the Kentucky Civil Rights Act and provides education and outreach on civil rights matters throughout the state. Because of rising concern about the level of racial incivility, the KCHR arranged with the Kentucky Educational Television (KET) to conduct a statewide live broadcast of conversations on race relations. Additional educational activities have been generated throughout the state as a result of the broadcast.

Program Operations

KCHR began a year-long planning effort in 1996 to produce "A Conversation on Race" by developing a one-hour program, including identifying panelists and six local community pre-broadcast discussion groups that would focus on issues of race relations in their communities. Six sites were selected, including Louisville, Lexington, Ashland, Paducah, Bowling Green and Northern Kentucky. Approximately 300 residents, including whites Hispanics, African Americans and Asian Americans, attended the six pre-broadcast sites. The one-hour program included comments from the Governor and the Chair of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, followed by a panel of civil rights and political leaders offering their insights on race relations in Kentucky. A 1-800 number received roughly 100 telephone calls from individuals across the state. Citizens requested a number of actions, including encouraging more dialogue, offering more diversity training opportunities, sponsoring more multiracial community events and fully enforcing the Kentucky Civil Rights Act.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

The initial broadcast has resulted in a number of ongoing conversations across the state, with ten locations requesting or initiating conversations specific to their own needs. One local community, for example, is writing letters to encourage passage of a state hate crimes bill because of local cross burnings. Other groups have focused on starting their own local human rights commissions to explore education, improve strained community and police relations and other race-related issues. KCHR intends to work with elementary and secondary school districts that wish to pursue racial dialogue with youth. KET has tentatively agreed to collaborate with KCHR on another broadcast around this issue. The KCHR is also planning an effort to do a one-year follow up of the initial conversation on race.

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