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    Burton, 66, is executive director of the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage (1701 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd.).

    What song is stuck in your head?

    “‘The Creator Has a Master Plan,’ by Pharoah Sanders.”

    Earliest childhood memory?

    “When I was five, I broke away from my aunt’s clutched hand and was darting across the street when I tripped and fell in front of an oncoming beer truck. It literally rode over me, wheels straddling my body. I was miraculously unharmed.”

    When/where are you most creative?

    “My studio. I write, meditate, process my photography and produce multimedia productions about my journeys throughout the African diaspora over the past four decades.”

    How’d you make your first dollar?

    “When I was growing up in Philly, my grandfather gave my cousin and me a fully equipped wooden shoeshine box with a tilted footrest. We took it to the 30th Street train station.”

    If you could be mayor of Louisville for a day, what would you do?

    “Develop a plan to make housing affordable for all citizens.”

    Your most noticeable quirk?

    “Telling corny jokes. Question: Why don’t ferocious lions eat clowns? Answer: Because clowns taste funny.”

    Who’s doing big things in Louisville under the radar?

    “Little Hands Little Feet is a 13-week gun-safety program for children in the Park Hill neighborhood. It’s the brainchild of (gun-safety activist) Luther Brown.”

    Besides your current job, what’s the best job you’ve ever had?

    “Freelance photographer while living in Boston. My most memorable assignments were traveling to China in November 1977; covering Nelson Mandela’s visit to Boston on June 23, 1990; and going to South Africa in the early 2000s and documenting Mandela’s prison cell on Robben Island.”

    Favorite thing hanging on the walls of your home?

    “A photograph I took of Dizzy Gillespie performing at the Berklee College of Music in the 1980s.”

    What are your vices?

    “Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked, made with chocolate and vanilla ice cream and gobs of fudge brownies and chocolate-chip cookie dough.”

    What are you wearing right now?

    “A shirt that was made in South Africa and pants made in China.”

    What dish do you make at home most often?

    “My award-winning salmon dish with vegetables and rice.”

    The first thing on your bucket list?

    “Visit the Taj Mahal.”

    Favorite Kentucky Derby winner?

    “Jimmy Winkfield, the last African-American jockey to ride a winner in the Derby. He won in 1901 on His Eminence and in 1902 on Alan-a-Dale. He competed in his final Derby in 1903, finishing second on Early.”

    Best book you’ve read over the past year?

    North of Dixie: Civil Rights Photography Beyond the South, by historian Mark Speltz. His book focuses on the struggles of citizens and activists who fought against police brutality, racial segregation and job discrimination in Northern cities.”

    What’s something nobody knows about you?

    “I am an Eagle Scout.”

    Fill in the blank: “__________ Louisville” should be the next banner on the side of a building.

    “William H. Sheppard’s. He was born during the last weeks of the Civil War and achieved unprecedented feats as a Presbyterian missionary, ethnographer, art collector, minister, explorer and human-rights advocate. The Smoketown public-housing development Sheppard Square is named in his honor, as well as Sheppard Park in the Russell neighborhood. I am working on a documentary that will examine his life.”

    What three people (living or dead) would be on the guest list to your ideal dinner party?

    “Che Guevara, Maya Angelou and John Henrik Clarke, who was a seminal figure in creating the subjects of pan-African and Africana studies.”

    Favorite movie scene?

    “One of my favorites is ‘Da Butt’ scene from Spike Lee’s 1988 movie School Daze.”

    What’s something unexpected you love in Louisville?

    “Riding my bike around the Louisville Loop is a great way to experience the river, parks and neighborhoods.”

    When out-of-towners visit Louisville, what three things do they have to do?

    “Visit the Ali Center and the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage and eat sushi at Osaka.”


    What’s Louisville missing?
    “Rapid transit.”

    An unusual job perk?
    “Free parking.”

    Your drink?
    “Ginger beer.”

    What do you collect?
    “Medicinal herbs for my body, mind and spirit.”

    What makes you laugh?
    “The comedian Paul Mooney.”

    What’s on your nightstand?
    “A water bottle.”

    What brings you the greatest joy?
    “My four children and five grandsons.”

    What should every person try once?
    “Camping in the wilderness.”

    This originally appeared in the March 2018 issue of Louisville Magazine. Every story in our March issue is about west Louisville, and we’ve barely scratched the surface. Click here to read more from part four of our series on the West End.

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