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Livisay, Charles H., Sr.
Birth Year : 1913
Death Year : 1990
Charles Livisay was active in civil rights as both a civic leader and politician, and he is also remembered as an outstanding tennis and basketball player and an outstanding basketball coach at Douglass High School. Livisay, born in Lexington, KY, was a graduate of old Dunbar High School and a 1935 graduate of Kentucky State University. He taught for a year at Dunbar High School in Mayfield, KY, but left teaching due to the low pay and took a job with Mammoth Life Insurance. In 1943 he left that job to serve in the U.S. Army. Livisay returned to Lexington and was head basketball coach for 18 years at Douglass High. The team finished second to Louisville Central in the 1953 National Negro basketball tournament held in Nashville, TN, and the team took the Kentucky High School Athletic League (KHSAL) championship in 1954. Author Louis Stout credits Livisay as one of the first coaches to institute the "transition" game of basketball. The Douglass teams coached by Livisay had a record of 255 wins and 65 losses. His 1956 basketball team came in second in the KHSAL tournament and took second again in the National Negro basketball tournament. Following school integration, Livisay coached and taught at Bryan Station High School from 1966 until his retirement in 1974. Also while coaching basketball, in 1965, Livisay ran for the 54th District seat in the Kentucky House of Representatives; he lost to Foster Pettit. In 1979, he was appoint to the First District council seat in Lexington to complete the term of the late O. M. Travis. When the term ended, Livisay ran for the seat and was defeated by Edgar Wallace. Livisay also served as president of the Lexington Chapter of the NAACP. His tennis career coincided with his many other activities. Livisay was considered a star tennis player and participated in tournaments such as the one held in 1940 between African American tennis players from Louisville and Lexington. Team members were Albert "Happy" Ray, William Madden, Rice Stone, Leonard Mills, and Coach Ages Bryant. The matches took place in Lexington at Douglass Park. In 1975, Charles H. Livisay was inducted into the Kentucky State University Athletic Hall of Fame. In 1993, he was inducted into the Dawahares-Kentucky High School Athletic Association Sports Hall of Fame. For more see "Tennis stars clash," Lexington Leader, 07/12/1940, p. 7, col. 4; 1993 KHSAA Hall of Fame [.pdf]; Shadows of the Past, by Louis Stout; and S. Brown, "Charles Livisay; civic leader, ex-coach, dies; Black leader was role model in community," Lexington Herald-Leader, 10/01/1990, City/State section, p. C1.


Access InterviewRead about the Charles Livisay oral history interviews available at the University of Kentucky Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, item records in the SPOKE Database.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Basketball, Civic Leaders, Insurance Companies, Insurance Sales, Education and Educators, Military & Veterans, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Tennis, NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People)
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

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