A group of citizens became aware that numerous graves of slaves exist in cemeteries within the Lake Cumberland area. Research revealed slavery grew substantially over the years reaching a peak in 1860 with 225,483 enslaved in Kentucky. Slavery was an integral part of the economic development of Kentucky but when they died they were buried without any marker, without the dignity and respect afforded every other person of means. The Lake Cumberland Slaves Memorial Association was formed to commission artwork to commemorate their lives, to honor their contribution to our communities, and to provide a place of reflection.
The Lake Cumberland Slaves Memorial intends to: - Recognize and honor those sold into slavery in our community. - Demonstrate to all that these lives are not forgotten, that these lives made a difference. - Bring dignity and respect to their final resting place. - Make every effort to learn the names of those buried. - Promote inclusiveness of everyone in the life of our community. - Develop an educational program that illustrates the daily life of a slave and the many contributions they made.
The Lake Cumberland Slaves Memorial Association is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Your donation is tax deductible. All funds donated go directly to the creation of the permanent artwork. Only through generous donations will we raise the funds necessary to complete the artwork. LCSM is actively working to obtain grants to help subsidize the cost of the piece.
Once the funds are in hand, a commissioned artist will create and erect the monument. Ayokunle Odeleye has been commissioned as the artist. Ayokunle Odeleye is a professional sculptor and arts educator with nearly 40 years of experience. He is currently a senior Professor of Art at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia. He is also the owner, primary designer, and fabricator of Odeleye Sculpture Studios in Stone Mountain, Georgia. He has created sculptures for cities across the United Sates from Atlanta to Alaska, many of which have historic significance.
The monument will be erected on Somerset Community College's campus. The piece will be prominently displayed for all to see. Education components are being created to share with all grade levels. By bringing attention and recognition to the unmarked graves, we are hoping to provide a single location (the artwork) that will allow families to unite, from all walks of life, to show respect and to remember our collective past.