LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – In the early 1800s, Lexington was the site of one of the largest slave markets in this part of the country. But it has not always been easy to access the records of those who were bought and sold here.

That’s about to change. A new online project means those researching the history of enslaved people will no longer have to make a trip to the Fayette County Clerk’s Office. The historical records will now be at your fingertips.

Organizers are calling it a historic moment, that will be around for generations. People can now learn the history of the city and just how real slavery was in Lexington and maybe trace their own roots.

“A significant part of our legacy as African Americans is memory-keeping,” Dr. Vanessa Holden, UK Commonwealth Institute of Black Studies said.

The head of UK’s Institute of Black Studies said Juneteenth is more than a day to grieve the injustice of slavery. Holden said it also fortifies hope for a more just future.

“Our work together honors those enslaved people, bought and sold right here, those who were torn away from kith and kin and their decedents who after emancipation who kept searching and kept looking for them,” Holden said.

The digital access project will make Fayette County’s property records visible and accessible to everyone. The digitized historical records of enslaved people dating back to the late 1700s will include documents of wills, deeds, and bills of sale.

“Court clerk records will show that during the late 1700s to the end of 1865, Kentucky was known for some of the most inhumane and cruel dark moments ever recorded in any given time period,” Shea Brown, deputy Fayette County clerk said.

After years of planning and collaboration, leaders behind the project said they hope this will educate and enlighten the public on the growing concerns with racial injustice and the inequality African Americans endured.

“Over 80 years blacks were classified as personal property, in the same category as if the human was actually a house a car, a piece of furniture, clothing, horse cattle, or some other type of animal,” Brown said.

The records will provide an opportunity for the public to explore the racial barriers historically tied to Lexington.

“While Lexington has not always gotten it right every step of the way, we have an opportunity right now as a community to help right the wrongs of the past,” Take Back Cheapside Co-founder DeBraun Thomas said.

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