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Martin Luther King, Horse Racing Share Kentucky Derby Civil Rights History

Martin Luther King
Civil Rights Activist Hosea Williams Organized 1967 Kentucky Fair Housing Protests to Culminate at Churchill Downs

On the commemoration of civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday today, January 21, 2019, read this gripping account HERE of how the Kentucky Derby played a role in the ultimate passage of the Kentucky Fair Housing Act, and how the 1967 Derby almost didn’t happen . . . but when the race finally did go off, the ultimate winner, Proud Clarion, clearly felt none of the tension outside the gates of Churchill Downs.  His blue-collar race history belied his fancy pedigree. He had only one big-time stakes race under his collar, and not a single stakes win in his life.  He landed a jockey, Bobby Ussery, just two days before the race.  And he was heading in to the race at 30–1 odds.  Nobody believed in Proud Clarion.  Like the working-class citizens of Louisville’s black community, Proud Clarion had not a lot to lose, but a whole world to win . . .

Two Horses, Two Races: The Civil Rights Movement Goes To The Kentucky Derby