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Notable Kentucky African Americans Database

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U. S. Congressional Hearings on Northern Emigration
Start Year : 1879
End Year : 1880
So many African Americans [Exodusters] were moving to Nicodemus, Kansas, that the U. S. Congress held hearings to find out why. A Select Committee was appointed by the Senate on December 15, 1879, charged with finding out why African Americans were emigrating north, especially those going to Nicodemus. The committee interviewed 153 African Americans (none from Kentucky) from January 19, 1880 to February 23, 1880. The investigation had ten summary points, the first being that the exodus was not the work of Republican leaders from the North. For more see "Report and Testimony of Select Committee to Investigate the Causes of the Removal of the Negroes From the Southern States," U.S Senate, Executive Document no. 693, 46th Congress 2nd Session, GPO 1880. Available at the University of Kentucky Libraries, Storage.
Subjects: Migration North, Nicodemus, Exodusters [African Americans migrating West around Reconstruction Era]
Geographic Region: Nicodemus, Kansas

Underground Railroad Research Institute (UGRRI) at Georgetown College (KY)
Start Year : 2001
Established in 2001 at Georgetown College in Georgetown, KY. "The UGRRI makes national and international efforts to preserve, interpret and commemorate Underground Railroad sites in the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. The resulting research highlighted the centrality and far-reaching effect of Kentucky's involvement in the American slave trade as well as creation of national and international Underground Railroad story. The Institute will join forces with individuals, public agencies and organizations conducting research locally, nationally and internationally, to broaden understanding of American diversity through creation of a more inclusive American history with a focus on the Colonial through the Progressive Era."
Subjects: Freedom, Genealogy, History, Underground Railroad: Conductors, Escapes, Organizations, Research
Geographic Region: Georgetown, Scott County, Kentucky

Underwood, Edward Ellsworth
Birth Year : 1864
Death Year : 1942
A physician, Underwood moved to Kentucky to become Assistant City Physician in Frankfort. He organized and was the first president of the Frankfort NAACP Chapter. He was the first African American to sit on the Board of Trustees at Kentucky State University. In 1898 he formed the State League of Republican Clubs in Kentucky and was its first president. He was also a Kentucky delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1904. Underwood is author of A brief history of the colored churches of Frankfort, Kentucky (1906) [full-text available in the Kentucky Digital Library], as well as several poems; and he was editor of the Blue Grass Bugle for 10 years. He was born in Ohio, the son of Harriet and Reverend Johnson P. Underwood, and the husband of Sarah Walker Underwood, according to his death certificate. For more see Who's Who in Colored America 1927.

  

See photo image of Dr. Edward E. Underwood at Kentucky Historical Society Digital Collections.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Authors, Education and Educators, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Poets, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Migration South, NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People)
Geographic Region: Ohio / Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky

Unidentified
An unidentified slave in Kentucky is said to have invented the hemp-brake machine. For more see African American Inventors, by O. R. Sullivan.
Subjects: Inventors
Geographic Region: Kentucky

Union Benevolent Society No.1 (Versailles, KY)
Start Year : 1876
The Union Benevolent Society No.1 in Versailles, KY, had existed for several years before it was approved by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky on March 3, 1876. It was described as a society for Colored persons. The organization provided charity and and mutual relief for its members. The board members were Henry C. Brown, President; Henry Jackson, Vice President; H. P. Mason, Recording Secretary; and Nelson Hicks, Treasurer. The official name of the organization became "The Benevolent Society, No.1, of Versailles, Kentucky." For more see chapter 336 in Acts of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Passed, Regular Session of the General Assembly, December 1875.
Subjects: Benevolent Societies
Geographic Region: Versailles, Woodford County, Kentucky

Union County (KY) Slaves, Free Blacks, Free Mulattoes, 1850-1870
Start Year : 1850
End Year : 1870
Union County, in western Kentucky, was formed in 1811 from a portion of Henderson County. It is bordered by three counties and the Ohio River. Morganfield, the county seat, was established in 1812 on land acquired from the heirs of Revolutionary War veteran Daniel Morgan. The 1820 Union County population was 383 [heads of households], according to the U.S. Federal Census, and the population increased to 9,686 by 1860, excluding the slaves. Below are the number of slave owners, slaves, free Blacks, and free Mulattoes for 1850-1870.

1850 Slave Schedule

  • 484 slave owners
  • 1,915 Black slaves
  • 377 Mulatto slaves
  • 13 free Blacks [5 with no last name, 5 Dickson, 1 Acliff, 2 Waller]
  • 4 free Mulattoes [last names Acliff, Henson, Kirkendall, and Roberts]

1860 Slave Schedule

  • 539 slave owners
  • 2,893 Black slaves
  • 180 Mulatto slaves
  • 20 free Blacks
  • 0 free Mulattoes

1870 U.S. Federal Census

  • 2,001 Blacks
  • 462 Mulattoes
  • About 177 U.S. Colored Troops listed Union County, KY, as their birth location.

For more information, see Union County in The Kentucky Encyclopedia, edited by J. E. Kleber; Slavery On the Edge of Freedom, by J. M. Crate (thesis); Sturgis and Clay: showdown for desegregation in Kentucky education, by J. M. Trowbridge and J. Lemay; and Freedom on the Border, by C. Fosl and T. E. K'Meyer.
Subjects: Slave Owners, Slaves, Free Blacks, Free Mulattoes in Kentucky, 1850-1870 [by county N-Z]
Geographic Region: Union County, Kentucky

United Brothers of Friendship and Sisters of the Mysterious Ten
Start Year : 1861
The United Brothers of Friendship, originally a benevolent order established in 1861 in Louisville, KY, had both freemen and slave members. The organization later became a secret society with more than 60,000 members in various U.S. states, Liberia, Canada, and the West Indies. This membership included females referred to as the Sisters of the Mysterious Ten. For more see History of the United Brothers of Friendship and Sisters of the Mysterious Ten, by W. H. Gibson, Sr. (1897).
Subjects: Fraternal Organizations, Women's Groups and Organizations, Benevolent Societies
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Liberia, Africa / Canada / West Indies

United States v. Reese, et al, 92 U.S. 214
Start Year : 1875
This case was the first big test of voting rights under the 15th Amendment of 1870 that gave African American men the right to vote. In Kentucky, an African American man named William Garver had been denied voting rights in a municipal election, and the voting official was indicted. The indictment was based on the Enforcement Act of 1870, but the U.S. Supreme Court declared the Enforcement Act unconstitutional: Congress did not have the power to seek punishment for the denial of voting rights on any grounds and could only legislate against discrimination based on race. The decision allowed southern states to deny voting rights to African Americans due to poll taxes, literacy and other tests. The indictment of election officials and others was considered an error of the Circuit Courts of the United States (Kentucky). For more see United States v. Reese, 92 U.S. 214 (1875) [full text online at Justia.com].
Subjects: Voting Rights, Court Cases
Geographic Region: Kentucky

University of Louisville Basketball Team
Start Year : 1979
End Year : 1980
According to Billy Reed, former Executive Director for Communications at the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet, the 1979-1980 University of Louisville (U of L) men's basketball team was the first team to win a national basketball championship with an all-African American starting lineup since Texas Western defeated the University of Kentucky in 1966. The U of L starters were Darrell Griffith, Rodney McCray, Derek Smith, Wiley Brown, and Jerry Eaves. For more see the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet [renamed June 2008 to Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet] Press release dated 02/21/05, "Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch Represents Pinnacle of Proud African-American Athletic Tradition at U of L: Cards a Leader in Integrating Southern Sports."
Subjects: Basketball
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

University of Louisville Libraries: Documenting African American Life in Louisville
A library guide to manuscripts and other collections that focus on the African American experience in Louisville, KY. Available at the University of Louisville Libraries' University Archives and Records Center.
Subjects: Genealogy, History
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

University of Louisville Libraries' Special Collections
Special Collections in the Ekstrom Library at the University of Louisville (U of L) contains the departments of Photographic Archives and Rare Books. Included within the 1.5 million images and 75,000 rare books are considerable materials concerning African-American issues. See the Electronic Finding Aids to the University Archives and Records Center. Submitted by James Manasco, U of L Librarian.
Subjects: Genealogy, History, Librarians, Library Collections, Libraries
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Unnatural Causes: is inequality making us sick?
Start Year : 2008
Unnatural Causes is a PBS documentary that looks at socio-economics and racial inequalities in health. The four hour series has seven segments set in different racial/ethnic communities. The first hour-long segment focuses on Louisville, KY, with Dr. Adewale Troutman, Director of Louisville Metro Public Health and Wellness. Dr. Troutman is also the founder of the Center for Health Equity in Louisville, the first center of its kind in the United States. The remaining six segments of the documentary run 30 minutes each. The documentary is available at the UK Libraries Audiovisual Services Department (call number AV-D6980) and at several other academic libraries in Kentucky. After the broadcast of the documentary, a town hall meeting was held in Louisville, KY, March 20, 2008, to discuss issues that the documentary raised. The Kentucky Educational Television (KET) produced a recording of the meeting, Unnatural Causes: a Louisville town hall meeting; it is available online. A discussion of the issues on a PBS local companion program, a special edition of Connections With Renee Shaw, Program #313, is also available online; it focuses on Louisville, Hazard and Perry County, and eastern and western Kentucky. For more see the KET website, Unnatural Causes.
Subjects: Medical Field, Health Care
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Hazard, Perry County, Kentucky / Eastern Kentucky / Western Kentucky

Unseld, Westley S. "Wes"
Birth Year : 1946
Wes Unseld was born in Louisville, KY, and attended Seneca High School, where he played on the basketball team that won two state tournaments. Unseld was also the 6' 7" center for the University of Louisville basketball team, for which he was a three year letter winner, two time All American, and three time All Conference player. He scored 1,686 points, had 1,551 rebounds and led the conference in rebounds for three years. He played 13 years in the NBA with the Baltimore Bullets [later the Washington Bullets, now the Washington Wizards] and retired as the NBA's 7th all time leading rebounder. From 1987-1994, Unseld was the head coach of the Washington Bullets, the second African American from Kentucky to become an NBA head coach [Bernie Bickerstaff was first and Dwane Casey was third]. In 1988, Wes Unseld was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. For more see Who's Who Among African Americans, 1977-2008; Basketball Biographies. 434 U.S. players, coaches and contributors to the game, 1891-1990, by M. Taragano; and "The 2004 Racial and gender report card: National Basketball Association" 05/02/2005, by Richard Lapchick [available online .pdf].

See photo image and video of Wes Unseld, and additional information by Chimsima Zuhri at the "Today in African American History" website.
Subjects: Basketball
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Baltimore, Maryland / Washington, D.C.

U.S. Census: Slave Schedules, Black or Mulatto, Colored
Start Year : 1850
End Year : 1890
African American slaves were first enumerated in the U.S. Federal Census in 1850 in a separate census called Slave Schedules. The 1850 Census was also the first in which all members of a household were listed by name; prior to 1850, only the heads of households were listed by name. As for slaves listed in the 1850 Slave Schedules, the vast majority are not listed by name but rather are numbered by age, sex, and color [Black or Mulatto] from the oldest to the youngest, all under the name of the slave owner. Also listed were the reported fugitive and manumitted (freed) slaves and the deaf, blind, insane, and idiotic slaves. A second slave census was taken in 1860. Kentucky was one of the 18 states included in the 1850 Slave Schedules and one of the 17 states in the 1860 Slave Schedules. African American slaves had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 or by the ratification of the 13th Amendment in 1865. Because Kentucky did not secede from the Union, Kentucky slaves were freed by the ratification of the 13th Amendment. In the 1870 and 1880 U.S. Federal Censuses, African Americans are included as Black or Mulatto. When the 1890 Census was taken, the term "Colored" was also used as a race descriptor for some African Americans, as well as for Chinese, Hawaiians, Japanese, Puerto Ricans, Swiss, Native Americans, and many others. As early as 1850, the term "Colored" had been used in the U.S. Federal Census and in the census of some individual states to describe free persons who were not White. Well beyond the year 1900, in the United States, the terms Black, Mulatto, and Colored were all used on birth, death, and military records, and on ship passenger lists. For more information about the race descriptors used in the early U.S. Census data, contact the U.S. Census Bureau; see Shades of Citizenship, by M. Nobles; Census and Identity, by D. I. Kertzer and D. Arel; and Encyclopedia of the U.S. Census, by M. J. Anderson.
Subjects: Slave Owners, Slaves, Free Blacks, Free Mulattoes in Kentucky, 1850-1870 [by county A-C], Slave Owners, Slaves, Free Blacks, Free Mulattoes in Kentucky, 1850-1870 [by county D-J], Slave Owners, Slaves, Free Blacks, Free Mulattoes in Kentucky, 1850-1870 [by county K-M], Slave Owners, Slaves, Free Blacks, Free Mulattoes in Kentucky, 1850-1870 [by county N-Z], Race Categories
Geographic Region: Kentucky / United States

Utterback, Everett Emory
Birth Year : 1906
Death Year : 1992
Everett Utterback was a social worker, an athlete, and an attorney in Pittsburgh, PA. He prepared legal contracts for Gus Greenlee, owner of the Pittsburgh Crawfords baseball team (Negro League). Utterback prepared contracts with players such as Leroy Satchell Paige, and boxers such as John Henry Lewis, world light heavy weight champion 1935-1939. Everett Utterback was born in Mayfield, KY, the son of Monima and Eldridge Utterback. According to the 1910 U.S. Federal Census, the family of five lived on Second Street, and was supported by Eldridge who was brick mason. The family was still in Mayfield, KY in 1930, but without Everette who was attending the University of Pittsburgh on a track scholarship. In 1931, he was the first African American captain of the track team at the University of Pittsburgh. Utterback had competed in a 1929 Decathlon and came in second behind Barney Berlinger. In 1930 and 1931, he won the national championship in broad jump, and the ICA [Intercollegiate Athletics] broad jump championship. Also in 1931, Utterback won the Penn Relays Championship in the hop, skip, and jump. During his career, he won nine championships in the Penn Relays. He was a member of the IC4A indoor championship mile relay team. He set a number of track records. Utterback was also a graduate of Duquesne Law School [now Duquesne University School of Law] and retired as general counsel of the Pittsburgh Housing Authority. He had served as director of management of the housing authority with 5,900 units and 20,000 residents, and he was a social worker. He was a senior partner of Utterback, Brown and Harper, and was one of the lawyers working with the Pittsburgh NAACP to desegregate public facilities. Utterback was inducted into the Western Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, and was the first African American Lettermen of Distinction at the University of Pittsburgh. In 2006, he was recognized posthumously with a proclamation from the Allegheny County Council, and the Spirit of King Award from the Port Authority. For more see P. Jayes, "Memento recalls a different world," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 11/17/1983, p.14; see Everett Utterback in "Barney Berlinger leads Decathlon," The Bismarck Tribune, 04/26/1929, p.9; "Agency board institute is planned here," Altoona Mirror, 02/17/1950, p.1&4; see Everett Utterback in Urban Renewal in Selected Cities, Nov.4-Dec.31, 1957, U.S. GPO; see Everett Utterback in "Pitt to honor Olympic Champion John Woodruff, " The Courier [Pennsylvania], 05/11/1972, p.6; Who's Who Among Black Americans, 1977-1995; and contact the Allegheny County Council for the Proclamation to Everett Utterback dated January 12, 2006, Rich Fitzgerald, President.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Athletes, Athletics, Housing Authority, The Projects, Lawyers, Migration North, Track & Field, NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People)
Geographic Region: Mayfield, Graves County, Kentucky / Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Uttingertown-Columbus (Lexington, KY)
Both towns were developed for African Americans after the Civil War. Uttingertown was created in 1869 when Samuel Uttinger divided his land to sell it in lots. In May 2005 the Union Benevolent Society (UBS) Lodge #28, located on Uttingertown Lane, was restored by the UK's Center for Historic Architecture and Preservation with a grant from the Kentucky African American Heritage Commission. Columbus was developed when Clarence H. Crimm divided his land and sold it in lots in 1893. The towns are located off Royster Road in Lexington. For more see Project Completed in Uttingertown, by the University of Kentucky Public Relations; and Historical Communities Near Lexington.
Subjects: Communities, Benevolent Societies
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

 

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