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Americans Who Tell The Truth

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History of AWTT

Robert Shetterly, the founder and artist for the Americans Who Tell the Truth project began his journey after our country's experience with 9-11. He was in despair about the direction the country was headed, repeating mistakes of our recent past, and escalating others never addressed. He began by painting Walt Whitman and continued to paint a few more. Friends who would visit asked to see what he was working on as he had been an abstract painter up till that time. He had never painted a portrait.


As you will read in his essay about the project's 20 year anniversary, much has evolved and happened over the years. Included in those years is a long standing relationship with the Louisville community and parts of Kentucky. You can view Kentuckians he painted in that section of this guide. He is beloved by many here in our city and has been to JCTC campuses in the past along with the portraits. We are proud to offer this project in this new way in schools as it has grown and can be found in some way in all 50 states! 

The stories in these portraits have always belonged to all of us. The portraits will never be sold. They belong to the people as does this legacy. There is now a generation of students in adulthood who grew up learning through these narratives of courage. They are now parents of children who are seeking the "America" that is enlivened in these portraits and the lives of the truthtellers. We are growing a family where the truth is seen as a gift, guiding us to what we always knew: It turns out , we are supposed to take care of each other and all beings. Please join us. 

Podcast Episode

Robert Shetterly sat down for an interview with Bill Ayers on Under the Tree: A Seminar on Freedom. Through this podcast episode, Robert discusses the Americans Who Tell the Truth project and activism. Listen to it for yourself on Apple Podcasts


On the following pages, you will find the portraits and information about the individuals that Jefferson Community and Technical College chose to feature.

Each of these individuals has done something amazing, through working in their own way, to support and bolster humanity. The individuals represented cover a wide variety of causes and areas of interest. Please take the time to explore the person and the resources at Jefferson regarding them or their cause. 

Books by Robert Shetterly

Truth Tellers Documentary

Truth Tellers is a documentary film chronicling the lives of courageous Americans fighting for peace, racial equality, environmental justice and indigenous rights through the eyes of Robert Shetterly, a long time activist and artist. The film explores the intersection of these issues stressing the urgency of coming together to confront them and galvanizing our resolve to uphold our country’s founding ideals.


Truth Tellers


Request Prints from Americans Who Tell the Truth

Did you know we have prints available from Robert Shetterly’s American’s Who Tell The Truth series at the Downtown Library? These prints include:

  • Muhammad Ali
  • Emma Tenayuca
  • Bree Newsome
  • Tarana Burke
  • Maulian Dana
  • Rev. Lennox Yearwood
  • Ai-Jen Poo
  • Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha
  • Becci Ingram
  • Gladys Vega
  • Lily Yeh
  • Bayard Rustin
  • Deqa Dhalac
  • Nicole & Jonas Maines
  • Leah Penniman
  • Carlos Muñoz, Jr.
  • V, formerly Eve Ensler
  • Zyahna Bryant
  • John Lewis
  • Sojourner Truth
  • W.E.B. Du Bois
  • Harry Hay
  • Wendell Berry

Request these prints for use in your classroom.

Request a Print