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Meet the Women Writing African American Horse Stories

Update: As of November 2020, the website is live! Please visit

Post Date: October 21, 2020

Revised: March 29, 2021

Please help us welcome our newest team members! Thanks to an Art Meets Activism grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women, the museum has hired four writers who are Kentucky-based, African American women. One has been a team member with the Chronicle project since its inception and three are new to this endeavor. They bring unique perspectives and diverse writing backgrounds. 

These women have expressed a sensitivity and profound obligation to respectfully present the lives and times of African Americans in the horse industry. The writers are taking existing research and contributions to create biographical sketches, or profiles, of individuals. They are also researching and writing interpretive stories that delve deeper into the life experiences and cultural influences of equine work throughout the eras. 

Learn a little more about each writer.

Merlene Davis

Merlene Davis is a native Kentuckian and graduate of the University of Kentucky. She worked in journalism for nearly 34 years, the last 33 at the Lexington Herald-Leader. As a general assignment reporter and later as a columnist, Ms. Davis wrote about local, state and national issues; racism and inequities at all levels; and the need for all of us to unflinchingly look in the mirror. She retired in 2015 and vowed to observe from afar. But the allure of uncovering facts about often-overlooked Black men and women in the horse industry pulled her back into writing again.

Yvonne Giles

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Yvonne Giles passionately shares her research about African Americans in the Central Bluegrass Region. Her interest began with family genealogy and broadened after becoming a board member of African Cemetery No. 2 in 2000. She served as consultant to the museum’s exhibit, Black Horsemen of the Kentucky Turf. Dr. Giles continues as a Research Consultant and Lead Artist with the Chronicle’s Women Writers Project. She has authored “African American Horsemen in Kentucky, 1825-1950”, J.B. Speed Art Museum’s exhibit catalog; “Remembering African Americans of Kentucky Equine Industry”, Kentucky Humanities magazine; “Stilled Voices Yet Speak: A History of African Cemetery No. 2”, Lexington; and “African Americans in the Bluegrass”, Idea Guide, VisitLex. Read more from Dr. Giles in her blogs about uncovering her family’s history and the African Cemetery No. 2.

Emily Hudson

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Emily Jones Hudson is a native of Hazard, Kentucky. A local pastor for 17 years, she has also spent 32 years in health information management. But writing has always been her passion. The inspiration for her writing includes nature, cool jazz, and the hunt for "the story". Ms. Hudson has conducted oral history interviews and worked on several oral history projects. She has authored three books and conducted several poetry workshops. Ms. Hudson's love of history and her belief that everyone has a story to tell drew her to the Chronicle project. She is excited about telling the stories of African Americans in the horse industry for future generations to read.

Sharon McGee

Sharon McGee is a native of Harrodsburg, Kentucky. She is a graduate of Kentucky State University and the University of Kentucky. Sharon has worked in the field of education for over 25 years. She currently serves as a librarian in the position of Archives Records Manager at Kentucky State University. She has written for several publications, including Notable Black American Men, Book I and II, and the Kentucky African American Encyclopedia. In her spare time, she enjoys learning about history by reading and listening to biography books and watching film biographies. Her interest in history and her love for animals drew her to participate in the Chronicle project. She enjoys unfolding the history of African Americans in the horse industry to share to the world.

Over the next several months, this community of writers will support each other through peer review and feedback. They have already contributed to a shared understanding of the significance of this project through insightful conversations. We are grateful for their work, and look forward to sharing their writing with you as profiles and stories on the Chronicle website. To our new writers, welcome aboard!

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Kentucky Foundation for Women.

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