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Willis, Edward D. (horse trainer & newspaper man)
Birth Year : 1870
Death Year : 1930
Willis was one of the most noted trainers in the history of harness racing and one of few African Americans to drive trotters on the Grand Circuit. He set a new world record of 2:19 1/4 for yearling trotters with Miss Stokes, and later lowered the record another quarter of a second with Peter Volo. Willis was employed at the Patchen Wilkes Farm on Winchester Pike in Lexington, KY, owned by millionaire Mrs. W. E. D. Stokes from New York. Willis had previously worked for horse breeder Robert P. Pepper in Frankfort, KY. He resigned from his job at Patchen Wilkes Farm in 1914. Willis' second career was editor and publisher of the Lexington Weekly News, a newspaper in Lexington KY that succeeded the Lexington Standard. He began as editor of the newspaper in 1912. Willis was also an activist and led a protest against the 1916 movie, Birth of a Nation, by D. W. Griffith. He was on the committee that created Douglass Park in Lexington. For more see the following articles from The Lexington Leader, "Willis was famous Negro horse trainer," 12/06/1930, p. 1; "Ed Willis quits Patchen Wilkes," 03/10/1914, p. 8; "Good advice from Colored editor," 10/25/1912, p.4; and "Lexington news," 12/22/1912, sec. 1, p.5; and see Who's Who in Colored America, 1927; and The Daily Aesthetic.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Jockeys, Horsemen, Horse Breeders, Trainers, Betting, & The Derby, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky