From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Rioting in Louisville, KY (1968)

In the 1960s, racial tensions had been growing in Louisville. On May 27, 1968 a rally took place at 28th and Greenwood streets to protest the arrest of Charles Thomas and Manfred G. Reid.

On May 8, Patrolmen James B. Minton and Edward J. Wegenast had stopped Thomas, a schoolteacher, because he was driving a car that was similar to one used in a burglary; the stop was made in an African American neighborhood. A crowd began to gather, and Patrolmen Clifford and Zehnder arrived as backup.

Manfred Reid, a real estate broker who was nearby, questioned the arrest. Patrolmen Clifford ordered Reid and others to get back, poking Reid in the chest with his finger. A scuffle occurred between Clifford and Reid. A crowd of 200 or so African Americans gathered and began yelling at the officers. Reid and Thomas were arrested.

Three weeks later, a rally was called in response to the arrests with 350-400 people attending. There were several speakers, and a rumor circulated that Stokely Carmichael would be speaking. At the end of the rally a confrontation occurred between some who had attended the rally and the police who were patrolling the intersection of 28th and Greenwood. The skirmish escalated, growing into a full-fledged riot in the West End, lasting for almost a week. Six units of the National Guard, over 2,000 guardsmen, were ordered to Louisville. Looting and shooting occurred, buildings were burned, two teens were killed, and 472 people were arrested.

For more see K. H. Williams, "'Oh Baby... It's Really Happening:' The Louisville Race Riot of 1968," Kentucky History Journal, vol. 3 (1988), pp. 48-64; "Troops and Negroes Clash in Louisville Disorder," New York Times, 5/29/1968, p. 17; and the many articles in the Louisville Times, Courier-Journal and other local papers beginning May 28, 1968. See also "Mother of teen slain during '68 riots recalls unrest 50 years later" at the WHAS11 website.

For a take on the  long-term impact, see Glowicki, "In Louisville's Parkland neighborhood, the scars of 1968 riots are still visible," Courier Journal, 5/26/2018.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Jefferson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Louisville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: Kentucky history journal (periodical)
NKAA Source: The New York times (newspaper)
NKAA Source: The Louisville times (newspaper) 1885-1987
NKAA Source: Courier-Journal [Louisville] (newspaper)

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“Rioting in Louisville, KY (1968),” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed April 14, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-08-02 17:09:11