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Discover African American Heritage and History in Kentucky

SPONSORED CONTENT -- (StatePoint) A trip to Kentucky is an opportunity to explore African American heritage and history, and learn how the stories of the past resonate with the present.

This Black History Month, let your journey be guided by the Brigadier General Charles Young Memorial Historical Corridor. Unveiled in June 2023, the corridor is a testament to resilience, achievement, and the unwavering pursuit of equality. Winding through scenic landscapes, it pays homage to the extraordinary life and legacy of a true American hero, Charles Young.

Born in 1864 to formerly enslaved parents, Young defied the odds with a remarkable journey. Overcoming racial barriers, he became the third Black graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1889. He rose through the ranks to lead Buffalo Soldiers with distinction, serve as Superintendent of Sequoia National Park (becoming the first African American to hold such a position), serve as the military attaché to Liberia (the first African American to do so) and advocate for racial equality within the armed forces.

The corridor begins at Camp Nelson National Monument in Jessamine County. It is the first part of a tangible thread, stitching together the significant sites essential to Young becoming the trailblazer he is remembered as today.

Established in 1863, Camp Nelson served as a crucial recruitment center and training ground for Black soldiers, and a refuge for their families, many of whom had escaped slavery. Today, this historical park protects the rich history of the Black experience in Kentucky during and after the Civil War. The facility’s Visitor Center and Museum features interactive exhibits and historical artifacts that illustrate the vital role the Camp played in the Union’s victory in 1865.


Not far from the museum is Camp Nelson National Cemetery, the final resting place for some 2,400 soldiers who died during the war. Other sites not to be missed include the Oliver Perry House, which served as officer quarters, as well as reconstructed barracks, which help illustrate what life was like for soldiers in the United States Colored Troops.

Camp Nelson is also home to more than five miles of trails, offering hikers a deeper understanding of the site’s significant role during the Civil War. The trail system allows the public to discover interpretive markers, explore the earthworks and fortifications that protected Camp Nelson, and walk in the footsteps of soldiers.

Traveling northeast, the corridor extends almost 70 miles to Mays Lick. There, visitors can find the cabin where Young was born, and the Second Baptist Church, where he and his family attended services. First opened in 1855, the church is still active today, serving as a beacon for the community.


The final Kentucky stop on the corridor is the Rosenwald Negro School, which operated from 1921 to 1961. It is one of more than 5000 Rosenwald schools built between 1920 and 1948 across the country, and one of the few remaining in Kentucky.

The Brigadier General Charles Young Memorial Historical Corridor serves as a powerful reminder of the struggles and triumphs of African Americans, highlighting the crucial role Black soldiers played in shaping the nation and celebrating the contributions of pioneers who paved the way for progress.

Visit to learn more about the Brigadier General Charles Young Memorial Historical Corridor. But let this just be a starting point in your journey.

From the soul food scene and Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, to the Hotel Metropolitan, a Green Book-listed hotel in Paducah, there are many ways to discover African American heritage in Kentucky during Black History Month and beyond.

Photo 1 Credit: Camp Nelson

Photo 2 Credit: Charles Young's birthplace

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