LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – The I Am Ali festival kicked off on June 3, 2017. That is the date of the one-year anniversary of the passing of Muhammad Ali.
The festival highlights Ali’s Six Core Principles and his life. Those weeks and corresponding principles are planned as follows:
Spirituality: June 3-10
Giving: June 11-17
Respect: June 18-24
Conviction: June 25-July 1
Dedication: July 2-8
Confidence: July 9-15
The week of July 2-8 focused on dedication.
One highlight from the week of dedication, a Civil Rights Leaders Tour.
“Of course dedication being really a dedication to a certain level of service,” Cave Hill Foundation Manager Michael Higgs and tour leader said. “A certain attitude of making a difference, making a statement.”
Higgs has been with the cemetery for 16 years and personally worked with many of the families featured in the I Am Ali Festival Civil Rights Leaders Tour. He has been personally affected by their dedication to making WAVE Country a better place to live for us all.
“This is the first time in our history that we’ve had a civil rights leaders of Louisville tour,” Higgs said. “We are dedicated here at Cave Hill Cemetery to preserving our history within the community but also sharing that.”
The lives of these great civil rights leaders may have ended, but the lessons in their lives never will. Individuals featured on the tour included, Justice Benjamin Shobe, Senator Georgia Powers, Reverend W.J. Hodge, Woodford Porter, Sr., Justice William McAnulty and The Greatest – Muhammad Ali.
The first stop on the inaugural tour was to visit the gravesite of Senator Georgia Davis Powers. Powers was an American politician, who served for 21 years as a member of the state Senate in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. When elected in 1967, she became the first person of color and the first woman elected to the Kentucky State Senate.
“I’m just very, very proud of my sister,” Lawrence Montgomery, one of Powers’ eight brothers, said.
As the tour continued, the next stop was to learn about the life of Woodford Porter, Senior. Mr. Woodford Porter Sr. was the owner of A.D. Porter and Sons Funeral Home which still operates today. Porter was also the first African-American elected to the Louisville Board of Education and the first African-American member of the YMCA Metropolitan Board.
As each of the tourists slowly gathered at the next stop, Higgs pointed out a fact about the next African-American leader.
“Many of us drive down 21st Street, and we see the sign that says W.J. Hodge and we keep driving,” Higgs said. “We don’t think anything about all there is to learn about Rev. Hodge.”
Rev. Dr. W. J. Hodge became a Civil Rights Activist after he was denied a cup of coffee in a restaurant in 1957, the year he arrived in the city. He went on to lead the movement to open more housing to African-Americans and to become the first black President of the Louisville Board of Aldermen.
The next quick drive through the scenic cemetery stopped at the gravesite of Judge Benjamin Shobe. Judge Shobe was a pioneering civil rights lawyer and later became one of the first African Americans in Kentucky to serve on a circuit court bench. Shobe’s daughter and great-grandchildren were proud to be part the historic tour as they not only listened about his life, but shared details of his great achievements.
The road led next to the gravesite of Justice William McAnulty. In the crowd was Brenda Hart, wife of the late Justice McAnulty. She nodded her head as Higgs shared the late Justice’s accomplishments. Judge McAnulty became the first African-American justice on the Kentucky Supreme Court. He served on every level court in Kentucky.
As the special tour ended, the tourists found themselves at the gravesite of the great Muhammad Ali. Each person shared stories of the man who even in death was still calling people together to understand their own higher purpose in life. Many quietly stood by the gravesite just to take it in while others on the tour laughed and reminisced about the great Louisvillian and the festival to honor his life.
As Felicia Miller slowly walked back to her car, she smiled as she said, “It’s very educational, sort of spiritual.”
The Cave Hill Foundation is devoted to the restoration of the monumental art within the cemetery, and provision of educational opportunities to further educate the community on the significance of people interred within the grounds of Cave Hill Cemetery.
“Hopefully someone will be inspired by those stories, and they can live their life to make a difference,” he stressed as the very first Civil Rights Leaders of Cave Hill Cemetery came to a close.
The “I Am Ali” Festival’s final week begins activities July 9. For a list of exhibits, events and activities click here.
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