Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name




Degree Program

History, MA

Committee Chair

Kelland, Lara

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

K'Meyer, Tracy

Committee Member

K'Meyer, Tracy

Committee Member

Morrin, Peter

Author's Keywords

African; American; Black; Art; Louisville; Kentucky


This thesis examines the role that three predominantly black art organizations – Gallery Enterprises, the Louisville Arts Workshop, and the West Side Players – played in Louisville, Kentucky’s black community during the mid-twentieth century. Working from the integrated and cooperative nature of the long Black Freedom Struggle in Louisville, Kentucky, local black artists formed integrated organizations around the arts and promoted black identity, inclusivity and creativity through community-building and consciousness-raising. Furthermore, by defining the varying uses of the term “political” in reference to black art, this work shows that the politicization of artwork can best be understood using a spectrum rather than a broad, generalizing definition. The introduction outlines the central arguments of the paper and the existing scholarship it draws from. The second section outlines national movements around black arts. The third section gives a brief history of Louisville’s race relations. The fourth section provides a brief history of the separate organizations in Louisville’s black arts scene. The fifth and sixth offer a sketch of those organizations’ role in community-building and provides examples of their consciousness-raising respectively. With the alternative thesis, there are two podcast episodes that present this information with the use of narration, oral history excerpts and dramatic readings in a way that is meant to appeal to a broad audience.