Kentucky Colored People's Convention(start date: 1866) In March of 1866 a group of African American men formed the Kentucky Colored People's Convention that gently asked for education and the opportunity to gain wealth and prosperity, and assured that all were good citizens. The convention was held in Lexington, KY. The organization's declaration and resolutions were printed in African American newspapers with one such article in the Colored Tennessean newspaper in Nashville, TN, "Kentucky Colored People's Convention," 03/31/1866, p. 2.
The convention was not unique to Kentucky: there was a national Colored Convention Movement taking place in the United States. During the Reconstruction Period and with the advancement of Jim Crow Laws, there were colored conventions being assembled in more southern states as a unified voice of African American males demanding rights as citizens of a given state and as citizens of the United States. The men assumed the role of speaking for all African Americans in their jurisdiction. Colored conventions had been held by African American men as early as the 1840s. See "The Colored Convention: report of the Committee on a National Press," Frederick Douglass' Paper, 01/14/1848, p. 4.
Among the many colored conventions being held in the south after the U.S. Civil War, there were the Colored Convention in New Orleans in 1865; the Southern State Colored Convention in South Carolina in 1871; the National Colored Convention in Nashville, TN, in 1879; the colored convention in Atlanta, GA in 1892; and the Colored Convention in Kansas City, KS in 1895. See "Colored Convention," New Orleans Tribune, 09/27/1865, p. 3; "The Black Convention," Tri-Weekly Kentucky Yeoman, 06/24/1871, p. 2; "The National Colored Convention..." The South Kentuckian, 05/13/1879, p. 2; "Jim Crow cars," Daily Public Ledger, 11/19/1892, p. 3; and "Colored Convention," Topics, 06/29/1895, p. 1.
The forming of colored conventions proved to be newspaper-worthy stories, and articles about the meetings were printed in newspapers promoted to whites and those promoted to African Americans. The articles were printed from the mid-1860s up to the turn of the century and can be found in a number of newspapers. Sometimes the articles were printed as announcements, sometimes as the harbinger of things to come.
In 1868, the Kentucky Colored Convention was held in Louisville, KY, and the members were addressed by Rev. Butler, who professed that African Americans and whites did not need to mix and that the present version of what was labeled "equality" in Kentucky was no longer wanted. See "A colored minister on social equality," Elevator, 02/14/1868, p. 1. The following year, the Executive Committee of the Kentucky Colored Convention adopted an address to be presented to the Kentucky Legislature concerning the repeated complaints about the state's lack of financial support toward the education of African American children in Kentucky. See "Kentucky: Education for all-Address of the Colored People to the Legislature," New York Times, 07/27/1869, p. 2.
In Kentucky, the convention was morphing from a genteel organization asking for rights and assuring peace to an organization that was outlining what they felt was needed for the welfare of African Americans and seeking their legal civil rights.
The Kentucky Colored Convention was still operating in 1885 when its Executive Committee called for a state convention in Lexington, KY, to demand civil rights under the laws to address discrimination; ill treatment in public conveyances; lynchings; unjust legal sentencing; and exclusion from fire, police, and other public employment. See "Doings of the race," Cleveland Gazette, 10/24/1885, p. 2.