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Rachel Grimes’ 2019 folk-opera “The Way Forth” tells the story of Kentucky’s founding mothers through spoken word and song. Premiered by the Louisville Orchestra in that same year, Grimes explored the lives of women from the early days of our commonwealth: her own great-great-grandmother Pauline Grimes, Sara Katherine Simpson Jones, Patsy Treadway, and Dolly, a slave owned by Richard Callaway at Fort Boonesborough. Dolly, the first woman slave in Kentucky, was enslaved 80 years by Callaway, of whom Grimes is a direct descendent.

In “Finding a Founding Mother,” documentary filmmaker Catharine Axley and Grimes focus specifically on Dolly’s story. Excerpts from “The Way Forth” frame scenes from present-day Fort Boonesborough and spoken word of an imagined monologue from Dolly, who reflects on the “…dreadful nights he [Callaway] would come to me…,” and the birth of her son Frederick, whose father was likely Callaway. The documentary also examines the genealogical work descendants of slavery embark on to learn about their ancestors, who are often unnamed in official records. “Finding a Founding Mother” is available on YouTube.

Daniel Gilliam is weekday afternoon host (1-5pm) and program director at 90.5 WUOL, and director of radio for Louisville Public Media. Daniel Gilliam, program director, afternoon host 1-5p (director of radio, Louisville Public Media) has a multi-faceted role at Louisville Public Media, overseeing 90.5 WUOL Classical Louisville, audience metrics, and behind-the-scenes production work at Louisville Public Media. From 2010-2012 he was program director of Classical Minnesota Public Radio. He hosted and produced the award-winning series African American Voices, he’s the host for Louisville Orchestra concert talks, and a composer.