A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Constance Alexander: Vigils attract mourners of all ages, nationwide, determined to prevail

But for the whisper of new moon and random dots of starlight, the night sky was soft as a bolt of black satin on Saturday night. All over America, people congregated at courthouses to honor Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In Murray, about forty people met in front of the Calloway County Judicial Building to celebrate the life and mourn the death of Justice Ginsburg. Her passing, of course,...

Constance Alexander: Always prepared, Girl Scouts embrace fashion update, seek ‘something cooler’

Today, when a Girl Scout opens the door to her closet, she is not greeted by a sea of green. As a result of a recent fashion update, official Scouts-branded apparel now includes blue denim, black leggings, and a khaki utility vest with a notch collar, epaulet shoulders, and a gently cinched waist. With input from dozens of Scouts, a 3-person team of Fashion Institute of Technology students learned...

Constance Alexander: With so much division in our society today, can poetry really unite America?

Probably not but it gives you something to think about. Just a day ago I asked Facebook friends to name their favorite poems. They swarmed in like horseflies — agile, biting, high on sweet nectar of the madness we call poetry Poetry Unites America, an unscripted documentary film series, is based on the premise that sharing the poetry we love most can bring us together in these days of political,...

Constance Alexander: COVID ‘artifacts’ document collective uncertainty during pandemic

All over the world, museums ache with emptiness. Curators long to hear the echoes of visitor footsteps and yearn for the bustle and chatter of gallery guides and tour groups. The Smithsonian, the Getty, the Museum of Fine Art in Boston are shuttered, while those that are welcoming guests operate within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, according to Christine Anagnos,...

Constance Alexander: Murray H.S. sophomore’s award-winning video explores Suffrage fight

Years from now, when Ella Bryant’s professional resume lists her accomplishments, note should be made of the videos she created from the time she was in middle school. Winner of the West Kentucky chapter of National Organization for Women video competition in honor of the hundredth anniversary of Women’s Suffrage — and a tenth grader at Murray High School — Ella describes those early...

Constance Alexander: Waiting for Godot is no substitute for visionary leadership

For some, the presence of the monument itself offends. Others are vexed with the likeness of Robert E. Lee. Another affront is the water fountain beneath the General, conjuring up the specter of a “Whites Only” sign. The location also raises a fundamental question: If the courthouse is a symbol of liberty and justice for all, how can a memorial of racial oppression continue to hold a place of honor...

Constance Alexander: Denied their humanity, these women of history must be remembered

The preface to DaMaris B. Hill’s new book of poems, “A Woman Bound is a Dangerous Thing,” confronts readers with a startling statistic: “Between 1980 and 2015 the number of incarcerated women increased by more than 700%.” As indicated in the book’s sub-title – The Incarceration of African American Women from Harriet Tubman to Sandra Bland – DaMaris Hill stands in solidarity with the...

Constance Alexander: Join in 30th anniversary celebration of Americans with Disabilities Act

If you need a diversion from the pandemic, talk to Carrissa Johnson. She runs the local office of the Center for Accessible Living (CAL), and wants everyone to join in the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Enacted on Aug. 26, 1990, and inspired by the legal concepts of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the ADA protects people with disabilities against discrimination,...

Constance Alexander: The ups and downs of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton make your heart scream

Days and nights on the Coronacoaster are filled with ups and downs. According to one definition, “One day you’re loving your bubble, doing workouts and baking sourdough; the next you’re crying, drinking wine for breakfast and missing people you don’t even like.” In these turbulent times, the rules keep changing. Mask or no mask? To test or not to test? Social distancing: Fact or fiction?...

Constance Alexander: Author Roberta George’s debut novel ‘The Day’s Heat’ is hot stuff

Best birthday present this year was discovering that a friend from long ago, Roberta George, had her first novel published at eighty. “There’s still time,” I said to myself, nervously measuring the years to four score and naught, wondering if I can make the leap the way Roberta did. We’d met in the early 1980s at the Bread Loaf Writers Conference in Middlebury, Vermont. Described in the current...

Constance Alexander: What we are actually talking about when we talk about race

The other night, the City Council of Murray unanimously passed a resolution recommending to the Calloway County judge-executive that the statue of a Confederate soldier – in the likeness of General Robert E. Lee – be removed from the courthouse property and relocated to an appropriate venue. In the discussion leading up to the vote, council member Alice Rouse emphasized the difference between removing...

Constance Alexander: WKy NOW invites grades 6–12 to celebrate 100 years of women’s suffrage

Except for smudges of white clouds that blur the glare of afternoon sun, the sky is blue as the eye of eternity. Along with a few slender evergreens discreetly pointing to heaven, sturdy clapboard houses claim the distant background. In the foreground, the courthouse square is thronged with a raucous crowd. A few stovepipe hats blend with other old-fashioned details, but the vitality of this small-town...

Constance Alexander: Kentucky writer Karen McElmurray ups the ante in ‘Wanting Radiance’

Instead of a stream of literary yada-yada-yada about Karen McElmurray’s, “Wanting Radiance,” what could be better than letting the vibrant language and compelling situations in this magical novel speak for themselves? Take page one, for instance. Main character Miracelle Loving lets on how her mother, Ruby, refuses to reveal the identity of the girl’s father. Rather than answer her daughter’s...

Constance Alexander: Murray’s WKMS Celebrates 50 years with voices from Between the Rivers

Unlike a character in the movie “The Sixth Sense,” I do not see dead people but I do hear their voices, because of Connecting People & Place, a documentary series first broadcast in 1997-98, on WKMS-FM, the National Public Radio affiliate in Murray. What began as a cooperative oral history project between WKMS and Land Between The Lakes Association, ended up as a 13-part series, with support...

Constance Alexander: Calloway County Collective makes lists, solves problems in lockdown era

Grocery list, bucket list, hit list. Doesn’t matter. Any list is an attempt to still the beating heart of chance. Mary Scott Buck, founder of the Calloway County Collective, can tell you all about it. Every day she makes a list and checks it more than twice, to mobilize a band of volunteers in a battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. “We got started because on my Facebook newsfeed I kept seeing...

Constance Alexander: Here’s to the incredible Class of 2020, may your memories live as long as you do

All over the country, teenagers are missing the pomp and circumstance associated with graduation. When schools closed in March, it was uncertain how long lockdown would last. Soon after, it became clear that staying home and social distancing were essential to prevent further onslaught of COVID-19. For the Class of 2020, school was out forever. No more homeroom, lockers, or lunch periods. Forget the...

Constance Alexander: As social distancing drags on, book club thrives in the company of busy women

Sex, religion, race, money, men, marriage, kids, murder, politics, abuse, abandonment, addiction, romance, and real-life are just some of the topics my book group tackles each month. If the reading selection does not address those issues, no problem. Fueled by words, wine, an array of sweet snacks and some chocolate, we manage to discuss the book at hand, while also touching on current events at home,...

Constance Alexander: Nickole Brown’s The Donkey Elegies offers praise to the unsung beasts of burden

The other morning at 6:15, I finally plucked The Donkey Elegies from my bedside table. I’d waited to indulge my passion for poetry until I could no longer tolerate “social distancing.” Fluffing up the pillows and yearning to be transported to a world away from COVID-19, I sank back in the covers to read Nickole Brown’s amazing chapbook. From page 1, the poet’s metaphors made the beasts come...

Constance Alexander: Despite our inability to be together, you can go home again, if you write a poem

One of the best of all four-letter words, HOME is where most of us have taken shelter for a couple of weeks, trying to stay healthy in seclusion from the COVID-19 Virus. For some, it feels like detention, a Ground Hog Day version of “The Breakfast Club.” Others have seized the opportunity for spring cleaning, bringing seasonal order to confined chaos. Parents have been busy, struggling to homeschool...

Constance Alexander: Celebrating Paducah’s Hotel Metropolitan, and the indomitable Maggie Steed

After Betty Dobson welcomed the Jackson Purchase Historical Society (JPHS) to Paducah’s Hotel Metropolitan for the organization’s March meeting, she stepped aside to let her alter-ego, Maggie Steed, talk about the landmark’s history. The original owner of The Metropolitan, Mrs. Steed landed in Paducah in the late 1800s. Before that, she’d worked in hotels in Indiana and Kentucky and understood...