HARLEM DERBY FESTIVAL 2019
African-American Jockeys once championed the Kentucky Derby. The first person to ever win the Kentucky Derby was an African-American male named Oliver Lewis in 1875. The youngest person to win was Alonzo Clayton in 1892 at the age of 15. Isaac Burns Murphy still holds the world record for lifetime percentage winnings in Thoroughbred Racing history, with 628 wins out of 1,412 starts for 44%. His winnings include three Kentucky Derby wins, four American Derby wins, and five Latonia Derby wins. This record remains unmatched to date. Black men continued to dominate the sport throughout the late 19th century until the constraints of Jim Crow permanently disbarred them from participation. James Winkfield was the last black jockey to win the Kentucky Derby. He won two consecutive races, in 1901 and 1902.
Through a historical expose’ we are able to revisit the past and resurrect derby racing as an authentic African-American sport. We pay homage to those southern athletes whose thoroughbred racing skills originated, and were developed in the West African Durbar. Their expertise and passion for the sport paved way and laid the very foundation for the celebrated Kentucky Derby race as we know it today.
Harlem Derby was created to spotlight the successful history and impact of African Americans in thoroughbred racing, including that legacy within the Kentucky Derby. Our mission is to celebrate Harlem’s iconic style, fashion, and food while showcasing the African American contribution to America’s oldest sport. We use fashion design and style to accomplish this goal and elevate the public profile of the Black Jockey. We aim to increase public awareness and ensure that this rich African American heritage is shared and permanently ensconced in our collective memories. The legendary stories of Black Jockeys need to be heard. Harlem Derby captures this essence and curates live events that allow us to integrate it into the smooth chic of Harlem now to carry the story forward and assure that it remains part of the Harlem community for generations to come.