LOUISVILLE, Ky. — This Friday will mark one year since the beginning of a movement for change started in Louisville, fueling some activists to use their protest in politics.
May 28, 2020 was the beginning of more than 100 days of demonstrations in the city in response to the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Louisville native Breonna Taylor.
Some protest leaders have already announced their candidacy in the upcoming mayoral race, and experts said it is already the most diverse group of contenders in Louisville with a growing field of candidates.
"A lot of people now have the sense that government is not there to serve them," said Dr. Dewey Clayton, political science professor at University of Louisville.
Some people who announced their candidacy include:
- Shameka Parrish-Wright, co-chair of the Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression and manager of Louisville Bail Project;
- Timothy Findley Jr., pastor of Kingdom and Christian Life Center and community organizer;
- Craig Greenberg, former CEO of 21c Museum Hotels; and
- David James, Louisville Metro Council president and former LMPD officer.
"I think that's a good thing, because it shows that they care about the city," Clayton said. "And it’s not necessarily about whether you’re conservative or whether you’re liberal, but it’s about what issues are you speaking to and are you addressing issues that the people want to see addressed?"
Despite being one year away from the mayoral primaries, Clayton believes there will be a long list of contenders — most of them being African Americans and many with a non-traditional background in politics.
"Many people are beginning to say 'I can be the change that I want to see' rather than simply saying 'who should my organization...who should we back," Clayton said.
Louisville historian Tom Owen made his run for mayor in 1998. He says 2022 has the potential to be a historical race.
"There is just energy abounding in American, and in our case, local politics," Owen said.
Owen said the next eight months will give the city a better idea on what could shape up to be the most diverse and competitive run for Louisville mayor.
"If you looked at 1964 to '70 the racial protest and intensity…and then project that 15 years forward into the people who actually served in the legislatures on local, state and national level John Lewis quickly comes to mind," Owen said. "[The protests] creates an energy and dynamism that no doubt inevitably translates into running to be more fundamentally involved in change."
Mayor Greg Fischer is in his third and final term in office. All current candidates have announced campaigns for the Democratic nomination.