Due to hard work and dedication to preserving the historic backdrop Logan County played during a pivotal moment in American history, Alice Allison Dunnigan and the SEEK Museums, are set to take center stage by appearing on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail.

J. Gran Clark, president of the Historic Russellville Inc., an organization that oversees the SEEK, along with local historian Michael Morrow attended Tuesday’s fiscal court meeting requesting funding from the body to pay a one-time fee of $3,500 to secure Logan County’s presence on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail.
The U.S. Civil Rights Trail is a project created in 2018 by the National Park Service who put together 100 sites across 14 states they felt like are important places of history dealing with the Civil Rights Movement. The honor is represented by a website that allows you to explore the destinations important to the Civil Rights Movement, as well as plan your journey to cities along the trail. On this site, you’ll find places to see and things to do at each destination.
“I think most of you all are aware of the statue that we were able to have created and placed on East Sixth Street of Alice Allison Dunnigan, who is a Logan County native who went on to become the first female African American to be admitted to the White House Press Corps, Congressional Supreme Court, and State Department. She was a remarkable woman and what I like to call a teachable hero,” said Clark.
Clark added that with the recent creation of her statue, it was most appropriate to share her legacy and what she meant to Logan County. “Dunnigan,” said Clark, “has been referred by some people as one of the mothers of the Civil Rights Movement.”
Dunnigan was born in Russellville in 1906, the daughter of a tenant farmer and a laundress. After graduating from the segregated Knob City High School in Russellville, she completed a teacher’s course at what is now known as Kentucky State University and began an 18-year career as a teacher in Logan and Todd counties. During World War II, Dunnigan moved to Washington, D.C., and began working for the Associated Negro Press. She became head of its Washington Bureau on Jan 1, 1947. In August of that year, after she had successfully lobbied for a change in the rules of the U.S. Senate to allow African American journalists to attend presidential press conferences, Dunnigan began her career reporting on all branches of the federal government.
In 1948 Dunnigan again made history by being the first African American woman to travel with and report on a Presidential tour when she went on the whistle-stop tour with President Truman. She personally paid the expenses for this trip after her boss told her “Women don’t make trips like that.” Her statue went on its own whistle-stop tour, being displayed at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., the University of Kentucky, the Truman Presidential Library and Museum, and Kentucky State University before coming home to Russellville. The statue was created by Amanda Matthews and Brad Connell, owners of Prometheus Art of Lexington.
“Our goal is to take her life story and how she worked within and through the system to make positive change, not just just for herself but for a lot other people,” said Clark. “Another goal is to try and get her into the curriculum of state history in Kentucky. She really is a unique figure that was probably at least 15 to 20 years ahead of her time as far as trying to achieve human rights and equality for African Americans. We have been fortunate enough to have been approved to become a part of the U.S. Civil Rights Trail.”
Clark says he and others have been working with the state tourism office who have been to Russellville shooting videos, photography and bringing in actors to portray tourists and students going through the museums.
“To use their (state tourism) words, they said ‘they are going to blow us up’ because they feel like what we have been able to put together here is something unique,” Clark said. “I have always felt that way about Logan County and Russellville. I think we have a really special opportunity to talk about history because we had divergent things. For example, there were slaveholders but there were emancipationists. We had people who coexisted with opposite feelings but were able to work through them in different ways. That’s my goal, that we can talk about this history, let people learn its past, and hopefully look for a better future.”