Remembering the Black Six: Confronting Louisville’s Historical Scars


In a somber yet poignant conclusion to Black History Month 2024, ‘Russell on the Move!’ dedicated an episode to the solemn commemoration of the Black Six, titled ‘Remembering the Black Six.’ This episode, hosted by Herbert Johnson and Alexis Jones, featured special guests Sam Hawkins, his wife Patricia Hawkins, and Walter Cosby, Jr. (Petie). Together, they delved into the remarkable courage and enduring legacy of Sam Hawkins, Walter ‘Pete’ Cosby, Sr., Manfred Ried, Sr, Ruth Bryant, James Cortez, and Robert Kuyu Sims, who during the height of Louisville’s civil rights movement in 1968, were wrongfully charged for crimes that they had nothing to do with.

Education as a Battleground:

The program sternly undertook the task of underlining the persistent strife against racial prejudice and the fight forjustice that is as relevant today as it was in 1968. Through the episode’s narrative, the past was not merely recollected but invoked as an edifying specter to inform the present and sculpt the future of Louisville’s community. In an exchange that delved deep into the fabric of education and parenting, Walter ‘Petie’ Cosby provided a rigorous examination of the role community members must play in nurturing academic prowess and life success beyond the allure of athletics and entertainment. Education, suggested Cosby and other voices of the episode, was and is a crucial battlefield in the ongoing contest against systemic oppression.

Confronting Uncomfortable Truths:

The show was relentless in its pursuit of exposing uncomfortable truths. Sam Hawkins’ remarks on the increasing violence among the youth were a chastening reflection of what has been lost despite past endeavors to foster citywide stability. The undercurrent of the dialogue was a potent reminder of the heavy toll that discrimination and inequality have inflicted upon the Black Six and, by extension, the black community at large. These discussions were not anecdotal asides; they were serious indictments of an incomplete journey towards equity and justice.

Advocating for Change:

As guests shared raw memories and uncompromising perspectives, the episode accentuated the importance of historical insight and collective acknowledgment of the struggles faced by the Black Six and their descendants. The spirited conversations advocated for change—a change birthed from thorough understanding, revised curricula, reparations, and a renewed pledge to community and personal engagement. The message echoed by Patricia Hawkins underscored an urgent need to foster genuine human connections, eschewing overreliance on digital communication for more substantive interaction.

Moving Forward with Resolve:

As the episode unfolded, the hosts and guests collectively implored the listeners to recognize Louisville’s duty to repair damages of the past through substantial reparation efforts for the Black Six. Their suffering represents a broader narrative of racial injustice—a narrative that Louisville must address with resolve and unwavering commitment toward healing and reconciliation. ‘Russell on the Move!’ thus transitioned from an echo of the past to a stark reminder of the work that remains. It asserted the necessity of continuing to mobilize communities, harnessing the powerful legacy of the Black Six to educate, inspire, and drive meaningful action in the fight for equity and empowerment in Russell and beyond.

Click below to listen to the entire podcast: