African American Contributions to Derby Recognized
Submitted by Heather Smith
Wednesday, March 30th, 4:09 pm
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The Kentucky Center for African American History will host the Isaac Murphy Derby Experience and Image Awards, to be held Saturday May 7, 2011 at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage located in west Louisville.
The Project to Preserve African American Turf History (PPAATH), Too Black Too Fast LLP and the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage have joined forces to plan an event centered around Derby fashion, local and national musical entertainment, art and history.
In addition, invited celebrities and noted sports figures will round out the festivities. Before Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali and Jackie Robinson, there was Isaac Murphy. Murphy, the son of a former slave, was the first jockey to win the Kentucky Derby three times (1884 “Buchanan”, 1890 “Riley” and 1891 “King-man”), the first jockey inducted into horse-racing’s Hall of Fame and the only jockey to have won the Kentucky Derby, the Kentucky Oaks, and the Clark Handicap in the same year (1884).
Murphy is widely considered one of the greatest American jockeys in the sport’s history. His 44% win rate remains an all-time record. An industry award with his namesake is given each year to the jockey with the highest wining percentage.
“Too few know that black jockeys dominated the thoroughbred racing industry as far back as the 1600s,” explains Calvin Davis, founding member of PPAATH. In fact, “13 of the 15 jockeys in the first Kentucky Derby were African American. Black jockeys won 15 of the first 28 races of the Derby. We, as a community - as Americans - have a duty to celebrate their achievements.”
Leon Nichols, a founding member of PPAATH explains, “We feel there is a need to establish a signature Derby event in the heart of west Louisville that illuminates the history and impacts the community economically for local businesses and area residents. The Kentucky Center for African American Heritage provides the perfect backdrop and venue to do just that.”
The activities will include the presentation of the Isaac Murphy Image Award, offering recognition to a person who has made significant contributions to history in their own right. All events on May 7 will serve as a fundraiser for both the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage (KCAAH) and the Project to Preserve African American Turf History (PPAATH). PPAATH has hired New York based RL Gant Group, Inc. as the marketing firm for the event.
“The legacy of Isaac Murphy, African American jockeys and the Kentucky Derby is an extraordinary American story,” Richard L. Gant, President & CEO of RL Gant said. “We are very excited to be providing marketing services for an event of this magnitude, and we have developed a comprehensive marketing platform for event partners to communicate with an influential and important Kentucky Derby demographic, not only on the night of the event, but beginning immediately and lasting long after the night of May 7, 2011.”
In addition, Uptown Magazine will be involved. “UPTOWN is excited to be a media partner with the Isaac Murphy Derby Experience and Image Awards. This partnership provides an excellent tent-pole platform for advertisers to reach Affluent African Americans at one of America’s greatest sports traditions, laced with a rich and storied history of African-American culture,” said Len Burnett, Co-CEO of Uptown Magazine & Group Publisher of VIBE.
This multiplatform partnership includes extensive editorial coverage in UPTOWN magazine and on www.uptownmagazine.com, which includes digital photo gallery recaps and a highly integrated social media campaign through Uptown Social.
The Center is proud to host an event that will garner national acclaim in coordination with the city’s biggest event. Christie McCravy, chairman of the KCAAH board says, "This is an exciting opportunity for the Center to be home base for a quality event that brings the Derby experience to the West End. We look forward to being the site for the Isaac Murphy Derby Experience for many years to come."
PPAATH’s first exhibit at area Galas attracted enough local attention to follow-up in 2008 with a major art exhibition from the Too Black Too Fast project at several of Louisville’s premiere Derby events. In February 2009 PPAATH was the featured sponsor of a national promotional campaign and sweepstakes from Kentucky’s own KFC®, for an all-expense paid trip to the 2009 Kentucky Derby and Grand Gala, which was attended by Michael Jordan.
“I think the Grand Gala proved that if you build it, stars will come,” Nichols said.
The Kentucky Center For African American Heritage is located at 1701 West Muhammad Ali Boulevard, Louisville, KY 40203 in west Louisville.
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