UK Happenings

Uncovering Kentucky’s Black history with Sharyn Mitchell's ‘We, Too, Were Here!’

Sharyn Mitchell pictured standing between stacks at Berea College Library
Sharyn Mitchell pays tribute to unknown contributions of Black Kentuckians. Photo courtesy Berea College Magazine.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 9, 2023) — The University of Kentucky community and the public are invited to join Sharyn Mitchell for her presentation of “We, Too, Were Here!” The event will be held at the William T. Young Library’s UK Athletics Auditorium 3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15.

Mitchell is a former research services specialist at Berea College Special Collections and Archives.

"I got paid to play,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell's presentation will explore the often-hidden contributions that Black Americans have made to Kentucky history. During the conversation, Mitchell will discuss how archives and historical repositories have been silent or silenced by omission or commission and fail to speak of the presence, accomplishments and contributions Black Americans have made to Kentucky history.

A native of Berea, Kentucky, Mitchell’s passion for genealogy led her to co-found the African-American Genealogy Group of Kentucky, a nationally recognized nonprofit organization and the first of its kind in Kentucky. 

The public is also invited to a lunch reception with Mitchell at noon at the Appalachian Center, preceding the event from noon-2 p.m. More information here.

“We are so excited to welcome Sharyn Mitchell to campus. Her work and expertise is such a valuable asset to better understanding the contributions of African Americans to Kentucky’s history, and her dedication to this cause should be celebrated and shared,” said Matthew Strandmark, an education archivist for Appalachian studies at UK's Special Collections Research Center.

This event is co-sponsored by UK Libraries, the Appalachian Center and Appalachian Studies Program, the Commonwealth Institute for Black Studies and the African American and Africana Studies Program.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.