Keepers of the Dream - Freedom Award

The Kentucky Center ArtsReach in Collaboration with The Office of Mayor Greg Fischer and RiverCity DrumCorp Presents:

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Keepers of the Dream
A Community Arts Celebration of Dr. King’s Vision
Sunday January 19th 5PM
The Kentucky Center (Whitney Hall) 
501 W. Main Street
This event is free & open to all

The Celebration hosted by WKU student Jayla Ransom features:

  • Freedom Award presentation by Mayor Greg Fischer
  • Recitation of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech "Another America" by Keith McGill 
  • Featured visual artist Phoenixx Lee with the art of LaNia Roberts
  • ArtsReach Our Voices Dance Collective from Chestnut Street Family YMCA
  • River City Drum Corp
  • ArtsReach Living the Vision Award presentation
  • ArtsReach Violin & Percussion Studios from West End School, WESTEC & Portland Promise
  • Poets Writeous Soul and Brea Brea
  • ArtsReach Playwriting & Dance Studio from Every Known Mastermind, Made New Acapella & D.E.S.T.I.N.E.D. Dance. 


2020 Freedom Award Winner, Mattie Jones

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Nationally renowned civil rights and social justice activist Mattie Jones was born in Memphis, Tennessee. Her father, Tommy Johnson, was a construction worker and her mother, Mattie, was a domestic worker. Jones was in 2nd grade when her father was recruited to work on the Quartermaster Depot in Jeffersonville, Indiana and the family moved to Louisville, Kentucky.

After graduating from Central High School in 1951, Jones attended Indiana University but quickly realized it was not safe or welcoming for black students. She transferred to the University of Louisville which had recently desegregated its main campus, but when applying for a work study position she was told the white co-eds would not accept working alongside her. Having been denied the position, Jones left college and joined the Black Workers Coalition to fight for equality in employment.

In 1955 Mattie married Turner Harris Jones, a teacher and later a tax auditor. The couple had nine children and raised one hundred and twenty foster children. Jones worked as a cook at local hotels, and focused her energies raising her children and fighting for justice. In the 60’s she marched against segregation in public schools and for open housing. In 1973 Mattie became a founding member of the National Alliance against Racist and Political Repression. She responded to the organization’s dedication to direct action. On a local level with the Kentucky Alliance against Racist and Political Repression, and alongside Reverend Louis Coleman, Anne Braden and countless others, Jones drew attention to systemic racism and called for policy changes.

In addition to her local activism, Mattie Jones traveled the south during the 80’s as a staff member for the Southern Organizing Committee for Economic and Social Justice.

In 1991 Jones was offered a position as Coordinator of Racial and Economic Justice at the Fellowship of Reconciliation in New York. Her husband and family supported her to accept the position, and for eight years Jones worked in New York, with frequent trips back to Louisville. One of her most treasured accomplishment was organizing a Women of Color in the Workplace Conference which hosted women from around the country and the world.

Jones has been equally active with environmental justice and specifically fought against toxic smokestack emissions in Louisville’s Rubbertown. Through her activism state funding was allocated to monitor air quality exposing excessive and dangerous levels of chemicals in the air. In 2005, alongside others, she was instrumental in getting the Jefferson County Strategic Toxic Air Reduction Program passed which led to protection from unhealthy levels of chemical exposure.

Through the Louisville Black Chamber of Commerce Mattie Jones, alongside Reverend Louis Coleman, worked diligently to assure a high percentage of minority-owned construction companies were involved in the building of Papa John Cardinal Stadium and the YUM Center.

With over 6 decades of activism, Mattie organized countless demonstrations, public conversations, and boycotts focused on women’s and worker’s rights, environmental justice, police brutality and peace. To this day Mattie Jones remains active and works for justice for countless young men of color who have died at the hands of police throughout the country.

In 2018, in honor of Mattie Jones’ 85th birthday, Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton led the Honorary Street Sign Dedication renaming two blocks of River Park Drive as Mattie Jones Way which intersects Louis Coleman Jr. Drive, a meaningful reminder of all these two influential civil rights leaders accomplished together in Louisville and far beyond.



The 2020 Freedom Award is presented by:


Freedom Award Recipients: 

  • Lyman T. Johnson, 1988
  • Rev. W. J. Hodge, 1989
  • Former State Senator Georgia Davis Powers, 1990
  • Rev. William E. Summers III, 1991
  • Rev. Thomas F. Moffett, 1992
  • Father Patrick Delahanty, 1993
  • Art Walters, 1994
  • Sam Watkins, 1995
  • Willie Gray, 1996
  • Deborah Todd, 1997
  • Dr. Kevin Cosby, 1998
  • Rev. Charles E. Kirby, 2000
  • Dr. Samuel Robinson, 2001
  • Dr. J. Blaine Hudson, 2002
  • Ed Hamilton, 2004
  • Beverly Watts, 2005
  • Raoul Cunningham, 2006
  • Ben Richmond, 2007
  • James O. Chatham, 2008
  • Dr. Bernard Minnis, 2009
  • Mervin Aubespin, 2010
  • Charlie Johnson, 2011
  • Darryl T. Owens, 2012
  • Ishmon Burks, 2013
  • Suzanne "Suzy" Post, 2014
  • Ed White, 2015
  • George Burney, 2016
  • Manfred Reid, 2017
  • Rev. Charles Elliott, 2018
  • Diane Porter, 2019 
  • Mattie Jones, 2020 

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