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

Banks, William Venoid

(born: 1903  -  died: 1985) 

In 1975, William V. Banks was the first African American to own and operate a television station in the United States, WGPR-TV in Detroit, MI. He also became the owner, in 1964, of the first Black radio station in Detroit, WGPR-FM.

Born in Geneva, KY, Banks was a graduate of Lincoln Institute, Wayne State University (1926), and the Detroit College of Law (1929) [now Michigan State University College of Law]. He also became an ordained minister after completing his studies at the Detroit Baptist Seminary in 1949.

Banks founded the International Free and Accepted Modern Masons and Eastern Star, serving as its supreme president. He also founded the Universal Barber College and the International School of Cosmetology in 1957.

S. T. Gregory wrote A Legacy of Dreams, a Banks biography. For more see "Founder of 1st black-owned TV station dies," United Press International, 8/26/1985, Domestic News section.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Henderson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Geneva, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Lincoln Institute (Lincoln Ridge, KY)
NKAA Source: A Legacy of dreams: the life and contributions of Dr. William Venoid Banks
NKAA Source: United Press International (UPI)

Related Entries Citing this Entry

NKAA Entry:  African American Lawyers/Attorneys, Kentucky, 1880-1940

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Banks, William Venoid,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed February 2, 2023,

Last modified: 2021-01-19 17:34:35