Aurora, Ky. – More than 100 people turned out to Cherokee State Park in Aurora on Monday's Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 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. Attendees included original park-goers, several local officials and state representative Will Coursey. The keynote speaker was civil rights-era activist Colia LaFayette Clark.
"And it's very important that we use this hour of American diversity to build the kind of a model that can be used to make change all over the world. At Cherokee you have that opportunity," Clark 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.