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UK honors Adamstown Community in final exhibition game

The young Wildcats got an “awesome history” lesson on the neighborhood.

The symbolism of Friday night’s pregame ceremony to honor the former African-American Community of Adamstown was certainly not lost on incoming freshman Johnny Juzang.

Juzang and his teammates proudly wore “Adamstown” shooting shirts during warmups of Kentucky’s final exhibition game against Kentucky State University to remember the legacy of the notable African-American Community that was in existence from 1887 to 1943 and was home to Pierre Whiting, the first African-American to work at UK.

Whiting worked as a janitor at the university for 57 years and passed away in 1949, just a month after Lyman T. Johnson enrolled as UK’s first black student. The Adamstown Community would ultimately disappear with university expansion and the construction of Memorial Coliseum that opened on December 1, 1950.

UK athletics honored the Adamstown legacy with a pre-game ceremony that included a video and the singing of the National Anthem by a combined choir that included students from both UK and Kentucky State, a public historical black university founded in 1886.

“It’s crazy,” said Juzang, who recognizes the irony that comes from practicing each day in the Joe Craft Center that sits in the heart of the old Adamstown neighborhood. “I didn’t even know that it was where Memorial was so I think it was some really awesome history and kind of symbolic too. You’ve got the athletic teams right where that town was being built and developing.”

The Adamstown Community included approximately 65 families over 22 acres between E. Winslow (Avenue of Champions) and Adams Streets (located behind Memorial Coliseum) and bordered by Rose Street and Lexington Avenue. The city of Lexington erected a historical marker just outside of the Joe Craft Center to recognize the Adamstown Community and the impact of Whiting’s contributions on May 14, 2019.

“It was just amazing honoring Adamstown and the Adamstown community,” said freshman Kahlil Whitney after Kentucky’s 83-51 win over the Thorobreds. “Just knowing that Adamstown was there before Memorial Coliseum know just paying our respect to it. They (also) made some very dope t-shirts to wear in the pre-game so much respect to them.”

Friday night’s recognition was part of the University of Kentucky’s year-long celebration of “70 Years of Integration” that also shines a light on 50 years of black studies at UK. You can learn more at the University of Kentucky Office for Institutional Diversity website.