LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – After years of complaints about discrimination, there was an answer finally from the owners of Fourth Street Live. Half a dozen social justice groups came together to form a coalition. Their goal was to represent people who felt like they’d been discriminated against at events at the venue.
Accusations of discrimination have been swirling for years. “You just don’t feel welcome at all the places,” says Mary Irvin. She lives downtown and has stopped visiting Fourth Street Live, “Even the places where they have signs saying, well, we welcome everybody. Well, why do you have to have a sign like that? Do that in action, not in words.”
Some say the dress code, banning baggy pants and bandannas among other things, was a way to keep African Americans out of their businesses. Owners of Fourth Street Live, the Cordish company spoke out. “Fourth Street Live does not discriminate, nor have we engaged in discriminatory practices,” said Zed Smith, Cordish’s Director of Operations.
But, they’ve been meeting with groups like the ACLU of Kentucky and the Fairness Campaign to come up with a way to ensure everyone feels welcome. "It's an ongoing challenge,” Smith said, “We have to continue to train, we have to continue to engage people, we have to continue to listen to folks in the community, and we've set up a structure to do that."
They’ll be adding diversity training for employees and posting a 1-800 number for questions and complaints. But, the dress code stays. “It’s not about discrimination, it’s not about racial profiling. It’s about setting a standard. A standard of behavior and a standard of attire, and that’s what we’re trying to accomplish here at Fourth Street Live,” Smith explained.
That coalition of social justice groups says, that’s progress. “We’re going to keep on doing what we said we’re going to do for the people of the community, monitoring the situation.” Spokesman Christopher 2X said.
Some people say part of the problem is the kind of establishments on Fourth Street. Saying they don’t really create a diverse environment. They’d like to see more community input welcomed when it comes time to decide what new businesses open at Fourth Street Live.