Aurora, Ky. – More than 100 people turned out to Cherokee State Park in Aurora on Monday's Martin Luther King Holiday to observe the opening of the historic dining room building. Situated near Kenlake, Cherokee was a resort opened in 1951 to serve African-Americans during segregation. Several original park-goers attended the event, as well as national civil rights figure Colia Clark and Kentucky Representative Will Coursey.
"You know this park is for everybody. Red, yellow, black, white. All of God's children. They're all precious in the sight of the Lord. They're all welcome here at Cherokee Park," Coursey says.
Cherokee Park was the only state park in Kentucky built exclusively for African-Americans, and only one of three such state-run parks in the nation. In 2009 the Kentucky Parks Department allocated nearly $600,000 for the first phase of renovations. This week, park supporters will conduct a series of meetings in Benton, Hopkinsville, Paducah and Henderson to discuss future restoration efforts.