Dunnigan to be honored with bronze statue


By OJ Stapleton -

Historic Russellville has undertaken a project that will create a lasting monument to one of the most influential people ever born in Logan County.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Carpenter Foundation, a life size bronze statue to commemorate the life and accomplishments of Alice Allison Dunnigan has been commissioned by Historic Russellville and plans were set in motion this week following a community meeting.

“This statue is going to be something nice and unique,” said Joe Gran Clark of Historic Russellville. “This is going to be something that any city would be proud of, especially for a small town like Russellville. This will be something that looks as if it would be someplace like New York City.”

Dunnigan was an African-American journalist, civil rights activist and author. She was the first African-American female correspondent to receive White House credentials, and the first black female member of the Senate and House of Representatives press galleries.

Several members of the community were invited to a meeting Wednesday, Sept. 28 at the KP Hall to discuss what the statue should look like and where it will be located once it is finished.

“We want this to represent her life’s work in social justice journalism,” Clark said. “But we don’t want these decisions to be made in a vacuum. We want the community to have a voice in what this should look like.”

There was a consensus among those gathered that the statue and memorial should be modeled after the famous photograph of Dunnigan standing on the steps of the United States Capitol Building in Washington D.C.  A large backdrop showing the Capitol Building was also discussed and the viability of that is being looked into.

“Showing the national aspect and work of Ms. Dunnigan from that iconic photo would be the first preference,” Clark said. “Whether that will fit at the site and be able to be created is still to be determined.”

It was also decided that the statue would be erected at the corner of 6th and Morgan streets on the grounds of the West Kentucky African American Heritage Center.

Ideally, the statue will be placed on a small set of limestone steps and the backdrop will allow students and other community members a chance to take photos with Dunnigan as if they were with her at the U.S. capitol.

“I don’t think this should be a statue that doesn’t do anything else,” Clark said.

The statue will be created by Prometheus Art in Lexington. It is the only bronze foundry in the state of Kentucky.

Amanda Matthews, the CEO of Prometheus Art, said that once all plans are finished for the statue, it will take at least a year to complete construction.

The initial budget for the project is $90,000 – $60,000 of which comes from the Carpenter Grant. Historic Russellville raised the remaining $30,000, which was a requirement of the grant.

“The Carpenter Foundation is so supportive of our group and so many other groups here,” Clark said. “We certainly appreciate them and their willingness to help in this endeavor.”

Plans for the statue are still in the initial stages and Historic Russellville is welcome to any ideas members of the community has for the exhibit.

To contact OJ Stapleton, email or call 270-726-8394.

Initial plans for the statue of Alice Allison Dunnigan will be based on this iconic photograph of Dunnigan standing on the steps of the United States Capitol Building.

OJ Stapleton|NDL Amanda Matthews of Prometheus Art talks with members of Historic Russellville at the site for the planned life size bronze statue of Alice Allison Dunnigan. The statue is planned to be erected at the corner of 6th and Morgan streets on the grounds of the West Kentucky African American Heritage Center.

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