2018 Sallie Bingham Award Winner: Betty Dobson

Sallie Bingham Award winner Betty Dobson was selected for her tireless work as a community activist and performance artist, preserving and interpreting African American history at the Hotel Metropolitan in Paducah. Betty co-founded and leads the Upper Town Heritage Foundation (UTHF) to restore and preserve the hotel and the legacy of its owner Maggie Steed. Steed welcomed and nurtured African American travelers, musicians and athletes at the hotel during segregation. Betty offers tours, which she leads in the persona of Maggie Steed. Photos from Betty Dobson at KFW are featured below!

To watch an interview about Betty’s work, click here. 

2018 Sallie Bingham Award Winner: Betty Dobson

We are pleased to announce Betty Dobson as the recipient of the 2018 Sallie Bingham Award.

Betty Dobson was selected for her tireless work as a community activist and performance artist, preserving and interpreting African American history at the Hotel Metropolitan in Paducah. Betty co-founded and leads the Upper Town Heritage Foundation (UTHF) to restore and preserve the hotel and the legacy of its owner Maggie Steed. Steed welcomed and nurtured African American travelers, musicians and athletes at the hotel during segregation. Betty offers tours, which she leads in the persona of Maggie Steed.

Betty has been a community activist from a young age. She redeveloped Hotel Metropolitan to create a “comfortable space in which to address the many questions people have regarding race.”

Her work as a community builder is ongoing. She has fostered partnerships with multiple organizations over the years, mentored young girls, made connections among women in the hotel space during salon-style evening gatherings, and operated as a gallery to display the work of local artists.

Betty received one of this year’s Girls of Color: Voice and Vision grants to lead the Bronzeville Artistic Divas, a group of young African American girls in discussing issues of the day and developing skits and raps that allow the girls to express their feelings and concerns. The program will culminate in a public performance of the pieces.

Betty Dobson is a passionate educator and mentor working to ensure that younger generations know about the hotel and its historic significance in our area and in the country. She has provided a central space for the community, the arts, and academic community that facilitates research and reflection on the role that the African American community has played in the past and will play in the future history of the area. This is a legacy that will last for generations to come.

The award will be given at annual celebration and gathering of community, KFW Day, on Sunday, September 23th at Hopscotch House.