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When Mitchell H. Payne speaks Saturday afternoon at Settle Gym at the second annual Community Tapestry in honor of Black History Month, he will be able to draw from a wealth of personal experience about desegregation.
Payne, interim vice president for business affairs at the University of Louisville, was one of the first African-Americans in Shelby County to begin school after desegregation and proceed all the way through to high school graduation.
Born in Shelbyville in 1950, Payne is a graduate of Shelbyville High School.
Payne’s distinguished professional career spans nearly 40 years, and he overseesa department of 700 employees with a $55 million operating budget, encompassing everything from workers compensation, property management and housing, to food services, public safety on campus, the university’s bookstore and many more areas.
He was Kentucky’s first African-American principal assistant to the Cabinet Secretary-Finance and Administration Cabinet as well as the first African-American commissioner for the Kentucky Department for Administration, serving during the successive governorships of Martha Layne Collins and Wallace G. Wilkerson.
Payne said that in addition to speaking Saturday, he will also be taking questions from the audience, which is expected to number in the hundreds, said organizers of the event.
“I’m very excited about being there,” he said. “African American Culture in Shelby County has contributed so much to the community and I am very proud of all that has encompassed.”
Mitchell earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Western Kentucky University in government and public administration, respectively, as well as a Juris Doctorate from the UofL Brandeis School of Law. He completed post-graduate study at Duke University, George Mason University in Colorado, and Harvard University.
Mitchell said that even though he now lives in Jefferson County, he still has strong ties to Shelby County. His parents live in Shelby County and he regularly attends church in the Martinsville area of Shelbyville.
“I’m in Shelbyville two or three times a week,” he said. “It’s still very much my community.”
Community Tapestry event
WHAT:Community Tapestry event, featuring Mitchell H. Payne
WHEN:1-5 p.m. Saturday
WHERE:Settles Gym, 1155 W. Main St. in Shelbyville