A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Billy Reed: I first met Mitch when we were the hapless Giants of the Pony League; what happened to him?

My relationship with Mitch McConnell began, oddly enough, on the baseball field at the Naval Ordnance Plant in South Louisville. It was the summer of 1956, and we were teammates on the hapless Giants of the Beechmont Pony League. Before Little League came along with its uniforms, equipment, and crazed parents, I learned to play the game on the empty lots and open spaces near my home in the cheap duplexes...

Kentucky by Heart: One man’s top 10 bucket list of books not to be missed — what are your favorites?

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist My love of reading Kentucky-related books, particularly non-fiction, started as a child. Inspired by my father’s interest in showing our small family the people and places of the state, I devoured the biographies in the tiny Grant’s Lick Elementary School library dealing with the Commonwealth. I read books about Daniel Boone, Abraham Lincoln, Henry Clay, Mary...

Kentucky by Heart: Mercer County native Matthew Jouett was prolific artist renowned for portraiture

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist In the realm of visual arts, Kentucky has a celebrated history of noted painters. Names like John James Audubon, Ray Harm, Paul Sawyier, and Frank Duveneck are ones that may quickly come to mind. But there is one individual, Matthew Jouett, who may surpass all mentioned if you agree with the opinion of folks at the Jack Jouett House Historic Site, in Woodford County. Matthew...

Kentucky by Heart: Kentucky Senator Richard Mentor Johnson led an interesting and controversial life

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist I have been reading The US Senate and the Commonwealth (University Press of Kentucky, 2019), by Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell and Roy Brownell II. It focuses on an overall study of senate leadership, along with a fascinating look at what the book calls “the colorful and vivid lives of fifteen Kentucky lawmakers, including Henry Clay, Alben Barkley, and John...

Bill Straub: Kentucky’s famous statesman Henry Clay preferred being right, Bevin just wants to be governor

It was one of Kentucky’s most celebrated statesmen, Henry Clay, who, way back in 1839, uttered the memorable phrase, “I’d rather be right than be president.” Perhaps Clay’s words have served as an inspiration for Gov. Matt Bevin, aka St. Matt the Divine of New Hampshire, who seems to be giving a new twist to the old phrase through his actions – I’d rather be a twit than be governor. St....

Ryan Quarles: Hemp History Week — take a moment to reflect on where we’ve been with this versatile crop

George Washington. Thomas Jefferson. Henry Clay. These great Americans grew hemp in the United States long before it became illegal over much of the 20th century. This year, Kentucky has around 1,000 licensed hemp growers and more than 130 licensed hemp processors who are joining the ranks of the great Americans who have grown hemp. This Hemp History Week, it’s important to remember where our state...

Stuart Sanders: Legislature reflects on history, changes, during session in Old State Capitol

The Kentucky General Assembly recently held a session in the Old State Capitol in Frankfort. It was a special occurrence for the legislature, which last met in the historic structure more than a decade ago. State Sen. Robert Stivers, R-Manchester (standing) speaks in a legislative session at the Old State Capitol building in Frankfort (Photo provided). This National Historic Landmark, completed in...

Al Cross: At 77, McConnell faces big decision about his legacy — a Trump enabler or a Senate leader?

Mitch McConnell turned 77 Wednesday. He’s at the point in life where you reflect, sometimes at length, on how you will be remembered. If the Senate majority leader had any such ruminations in the last week or so, they should have troubled him. He risks going down in history as the main enabler of an autocratic president’s challenge to our constitutional system of government. Mitch McConnell The...

Intrepid Urban Farmer: Cat lover-gardener requires tough love; (so far) Henry Clay can’t do zippers

By Ginger Dawson Special to KyForward I have always been a cat lover. From the first time that someone dumped off a load of sore-eyed kittens in front of our house when I was about three years old, I have been smitten. The minute I laid eyes on one of those little critters I knew that they were for me. The cute little stinker! Who could resist? (Photos provided) Naturally, I picked them up—all...

Kentucky by Heart: From Lincoln to Ali to Henry Clay, everyone has their favorite colorful Kentuckian

Editor’s Note: This column originally appeared at KyForward.com on July 4, 2017 By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Who is your favorite Kentuckian from the annals of history books? Consider a person you find particularly fascinating who was Kentucky-born or, if not, made their mark while living in the state. Your choice may be one of sterling reputation, as mine is…or one of questionable repute—or...

Kentucky by Heart: Books demonstrate history is best explained by good stories told well

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist It’s been said that the learning of history is most effectively done when taught in authentic context through the element of stories. Following are a sampling of books I’ve previously reviewed for Kentucky Monthly that demonstrate the telling of Kentucky history in such a way. One deals with the topic of Confederate fighters in the American Civil War, a book...

Kentucky by Heart: From Lincoln to Ali to Henry Clay, everyone has their favorite colorful Kentuckian

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Who is your favorite Kentuckian from the annals of history books? Consider a person you find particularly fascinating who was Kentucky-born or, if not, made their mark while living in the state. Your choice may be one of sterling reputation, as mine is…or one of questionable repute—or some other in-between person. If one uses the term “colorful” in describing...

Bourbon Barrel of Compromise: Henry Clay Center, Kentucky Distillers honor former leaders Daschle, Lott

Continuing a tradition revived in 2015, the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship (HCCS) in partnership with the Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA) will host the second Bourbon Barrel of Compromise on June 21 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel in Washington, D.C. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is the featured guest and will speak at the event. Former...

Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship adds three new members to board of directors

The Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship, an innovative non-profit dedicated to educating a new generation of leaders in the essential skills of negotiation, dialogue, and compromise, announced Tuesday that three new leaders, Dr. Merl Hackbart, Charlie Grizzle, and Bob Babbage, have joined its board of directors. “The Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship believes our mission is more relevant than ever,...

Henry Clay descendant kicks off tenure on Center for Statesmanship Board

Dr. Ian Ralby, a recognized expert in maritime security, private security, international law and transnational crime and 5x great grandson of Henry Clay, has joined the Board of Directors of the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship (HCCS). Nine years into its existence, the Center has over 500 alumni, many of whom are advancing in careers in public life and international affairs. By bringing together...

Transylvania forms partnership with Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship for diplomacy scholarships

Transylvania University has partnered with The Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship to create a scholarship for a new generation of leaders. Rising high school seniors from every region of the U.S. who are competitively selected and participate in the Henry Clay Center High School National Student Congress in 2017 will receive a $10,000 Diplomacy Scholarship each year for four years, should they decide...

Elizabeth Lawson says opportunity to portray former slave’s battle for freedom provided personal insights

Lexington actress and Maysville native Elizabeth Lawson will perform “Charlotte Dupuy: Suing for Freedom” on Sunday, May 15, at 2 p.m. at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea. Lawson says she didn’t know much about her own family history growing up in Maysville. She knew she was descended from slaves and was frustrated that her ancestry was always a closed topic. “Growing up,...

Old Time Kentucky: Bluegrass State was once renowned for boozing, brawling and balloting

By Berry Craig KyForward columnist When the polls are open in Kentucky, the bars are closed. That’s because the Bluegrass State was once famous for simultaneous boozing, brawling and balloting. “I turned away a confirmed believer in the doctrine of total depravity,” wrote Louisville Journal editor George D. Prentice after witnessing an 1830s election. A native New Englander, Prentice came to...

Henry Clay’s arts-and-humanities dance contest designed to challenge students to work as a team

Classes square off in the annual arts-and-humanities dance contest at Henry Clay (Photo provide) By Tammy Lane Special to KyForward Closer to “Soul Train” than “Dancing with the Stars,” the 12th annual arts-and-humanities dance contest at Henry Clay High School left students in high spirits as they pressed on toward winter break. The event, which teacher Kristian Junker took over eight years...

Kentucky by Heart: A bucket list that’s already been fulfilled, sharing a deep sense of gratitude

Bucket lists get a lot of media play these days, and I’d like to offer mine, created Kentucky-style. But rather than suggest things on a list that I hope to do before I die, let me do a switcheroo. Please allow this grateful fellow to share items that have already been fulfilled…Kentucky by Heart blessings that have, and are, riding high in the commonwealth. Let’s call it a “Kentucky Thanksgiving...