From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Sanctified Hill (Cumberland, KY)

In 1972, families of the African American community Sanctified Hill lost their homes and investments in a mudslide. Neighbors described how the homes started to come apart, basements sunk into the mud, and the entire community began to slide downhill toward a white neighborhood. The homeowners were ordered to evacuate the area.

Insurance companies called the incident an act of God, which meant the homeowners could not file claims. The homeowners said the incident was the result of neglect: with heavy rains, the abandoned underground coal mine tunnels had collapsed,  causing the slide. City officials determined that there was not enough destruction to warrant natural disaster assistance.

The homeowners formed the Sanctified Hill Disaster Committee and took their case to Washington, D.C. They spoke with the President of the United States and his aides, and federal funding was appropriated from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Thirty-two homes and 10 housing units [debt free] were built on land located in Cumberland that was leased from the University of Kentucky. The new community was named Pride Terrace.

In 2007, the Cumberland City Council reviewed a 2005 draft proposal asking that Sanctified Hill be used as a campground for ATVs and other recreational and all-terrain vehicles.

For more see A. Portelli, "Between Sanctified Hill and Pride Terrace: urban ideas and rural working-class experience in black communities in Harlan County, Kentucky," Storia Nordamericana, issue 7, no. 2 (1990), pp. 51-63; C. Hoffman, "Appalachian Scene: a voice for Appalachia," Appalachia Magazine, January-June 2003, p. 18 [available online at Google Books]; and D. Lee-Sherman, "Council rejects dispatching services – Special meeting planned to discuss allowing ATV traffic in Cumberland," Harlan Daily Enterprise, 2/15/2007, News section, p. 1. Also see the entry for Mattye Knight. See also Jillean McCommons, "Appalachian Hillsides as Black Ecologies: housing, memory, and the Sanctified Hill Disaster of 1972," Black Perspectives, 06/16/2020 (online).

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Harlan County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Sanctified Hill, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Cumberland, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Pride Terrace, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Knight, Mattye Breckinridge Guy
NKAA Source: Storia nordamericana (periodical)
NKAA Source: The Harlan daily enterprise (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Appalachia magazine: journal of the Applachian Regional Commission (periodical)
NKAA Source: Black perspectives (blog online)

Related Entries Citing this Entry

NKAA Entry:  Appalachian Counties in Kentucky

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Sanctified Hill (Cumberland, KY),” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed January 24, 2022,

Last modified: 2021-08-10 20:24:29