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Ashford, Mary B.
Birth Year : 1898
Death Year : 1997
Ashford, born in Kentucky, was a poet, teacher, and advocate for equality. The Mary B. Ashford Senior Citizens Daycare Center in New Haven, CT, was named in recognition of Ashford's more than 40 years of community service and volunteerism. Ashford also compiled a scrapbook containing the history of her family; the book was donated to a Kentucky archive. The Mary B. Ashford Outreach Support Project was established at the Christian Tabernacle Baptist Church. For more see S. A. Zavadsky, "Community remembers Mary B. Ashford," New Haven Register, 05/14/1997, Local News section, p. a3.
Subjects: Civic Leaders, Education and Educators, Migration North, Poets, Care of the Elderly
Geographic Region: Kentucky / New Haven, Connecticut

Baker, Houston A., Jr.
Birth Year : 1943
Houston Baker, born in Louisville, KY, is a distinguished essayist, poet, and activist-scholar. Baker is a graduate of Howard University and the University of California-Los Angeles. He has received numerous awards, including the 2003 J. B. Hubell Award for lifetime achievement in the study and teaching of American Literature. Author of more than 20 books and many, many more articles, he has been editor of Black Literature in America and editor of the journal American Literature. For more see Houston Baker in the video Roots and First Fruit; The African American Almanac, and Directory of American Scholars.

  See Houston A. Baker, Jr. webpage at Vanderbilt Univeristy.
Subjects: Authors, Education and Educators, Poets
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Benjamin, R. C. O.
Birth Year : 1855
Death Year : 1900
Robert Charles O'Hara Benjamin was shot in the back and died in Lexington, KY, in 1900. He was killed at the Irishtown Precinct by Michael Moynahan, a Democrat precinct worker. The shooting occurred after Benjamin objected to African Americans being harassed while attempting to register to vote. When the case went to court, Moynahan claimed self-defense, and the case was dismissed. Benjamin had become a U.S. citizen in the 1870s; he was born in St. Kitts and had come to New York in 1869. He had lived in a number of locations in the U.S., and he came to be considered wealthy. For a brief period, Benjamin taught school in Kentucky and studied law. He was a journalist, author, lawyer (the first African American lawyer in Los Angeles), educator, civil rights activist, public speaker, and poet, and he had been a postal worker in New York City. In addition to being a journalist, Benjamin also edited and owned some of the newspapers where he was employed. Between 1855-1894, he authored at least six books and a number of other publications, including Benjamin's Pocket History of the American Negro, The Zion Methodist, Poetic Gems, Don't: a Book for Girls; and the public address The Negro Problem, and the Method of its Solution. In 1897, Benjamin returned to Kentucky with his wife, Lula M. Robinson, and their two children. Benjamin was editor of the Lexington Standard newspaper. The first bust that Isaac S. Hathaway sculpted was that of R. C. O. Benjamin. For more information see Robert Charles O'Hara Benjamin, by G. C. Wright in the American National Biography Online (subscription database); and "R. C. O. Benjamin," Negro History Bulletin, vol. 5, issue 4 (January 1942), pp. 92-93.

See sketch of R. C. O. Benjamin in the New York Public LIbrary Digital Gallery online.

See photo image of R. C. O. Benjamin and family in Explore UK.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Authors, Education and Educators, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Voting Rights, Lawyers, Poets, Postal Service
Geographic Region: St. Kitts, West Indies / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Boyd, Francis A.
Birth Year : 1844
Death Year : 1872
Francis A. Boyd was born in Lexington, KY, to Nancy and Samuel Boyd, free African Americans. Reverend Francis Boyd was author of Columbiana: or, The North Star, Complete in One Volume (Chicago: Steam Job and Book Printing House of G. Hand, 1870). His biography and criticism can be found in Early Black American Poets, pp. 76-77. For more see Black American Writers Past and Present: a biographical and bibliographical dictionary, by Rush, Myers, & Arta.
Subjects: Authors, Freedom, Poets
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Bradley-Morton, Dhana
Dhana Bradley-Morton, from Louisville, KY, earned her Speech/Oral Interpretive Arts degree from Western Kentucky University. She was WLOU-AM News Director prior to teaming up with Priscilla Hancock Cooper for a number of creative collaborations. Their first production was a poetic concert in 1981, I Have Been Hungry All of My Years, followed by Four Women and God's Trombones. They also performed in Amazing Grace in 1993. Bradley-Morton and Cooper are featured in the KET Production, Words Like Freedom/Sturdy Black Bridges, a poetic concert featuring African-American writing and music. Together they founded the Theater Workshop of Louisville. In 1994 Bradley-Morton was named executive director of the Cincinnati Arts Consortium; she left the position in January 2002. [She now goes by the name Dhana Donaldson.] For more see B. Brady, "Architecturally Sound," CityBeat, vol. 6, issue 33 (2000); and "Prize Possessions," Cincinnati.com The Enquirer, 22 April 2001.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Poets
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Cincinnati, Ohio

Brooks, Jonathan H.
Birth Year : 1904
Death Year : 1945
Johnathan H. Brooks was born in Lexington, KY. He attended Jackson College [now Jackson State University] in Mississippi, Lincoln University, and Tougaloo College, also in Mississippi. In addition to being a poet, he was also a postal clerk, minister, and teacher. In a local contest, he won first prize for his first short story, "The Bible in the Cornfield." He was author of The Resurrection and Other Poems, published posthumously. His work has appeared in anthologies and other publications. For more see Black American Writers Past and Present: a biographical and bibliographical dictionary, by Rush, Myers, & Arta.
Subjects: Authors, Education and Educators, Poets, Postal Service, Religion & Church Work
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Carter, Leon J., III
Birth Year : 1944
Death Year : 1984
Leon John Carter, III was born in Bowling Green, KY. His poems were published in several magazines, and his first book of poems was titled Black Windsongs. He is the son of Lillie Mae Bland Carter. For more see Who's Who Among Black Americans, 1st-3rd ed.
Subjects: Authors, Migration North, Poets
Geographic Region: Bowling Green, Warren County, Kentucky

Carter, Lillie Mae Bland
Birth Year : 1919
Death Year : 1982
Lillie Mae Carter was born in Bowling Green, KY, the daughter of John and Maude W. Husky Bland. She was a graduate of Tennessee State university and was employed in the Toledo, Ohio, school system. Carter is the author of a number of books, including a book of poems, Black Thoughts, and the anthology, Doing It Our Way. She is the mother of Leon J. Carter, III. For more see The Fascinating Story of Black Kentuckians, by A. A. Dunnigan.
Subjects: Authors, Education and Educators, Migration North, Poets
Geographic Region: Bowling Green, Warren County, Kentucky / Toledo, Ohio

Chenault, John
Birth Year : 1952
John Chenault is an author, freelance writer, poet, playwright, and musician. He is author of Blue Blackness and The Invisible Man Returns. He has been a member of the New Theater/Free Theater of Cincinnati since its inception in 1967. Chenault's work has appeared in a number of publications, and he has a number of playwright credits, including the television drama, Young Men Grow Older. Chenault's musical credits are also quite extensive, including The Fools of Time, a collaboration by Chenault and composer/bassist Frank Proto that premiered in February 2000. John Chenault was born in Cincinnati, OH, the son of Mary L. Stonom Chenault and John Walter Chenault. He is a reference librarian at the University of Louisville Library. For more see John Chenault, at liben.com; a more extensive biography, John Chenault, at Answers.com; the John Chenault entry in Contemporary Black Biography, vol. 40 (2004); and Who's Who Among African Americans, 2003-2009.

See photo image and additional information about John Chenault at "Medical librarian pens opera about boxing legend Joe Louis," by UofL Today, 11/12/2009.
Subjects: Authors, Librarians, Library Collections, Libraries, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Poets, Television, Migration South
Geographic Region: Cincinnati, Ohio / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Cooper, Priscilla Hancock
Birth Year : 1952
Born in Louisville, KY, Priscilla Cooper became a poet/performer, author, and teacher. As a teenager, she worked for the Louisville Defender newspaper. She is a graduate of Lincoln University of Missouri and American University Washington, D. C. Her first volume of poetry, Call Me Black Woman, was published in 1993. Cooper has numerous publications and productions and has edited three anthologies. She also teaches writing. She and Dhana Bradley-Morton founded the Theater Workshop of Louisville. They have also presented creative collaborations, the first of which was a poetic concert in 1981, I Have Been Hungry All of My Years. This was followed by Four Women and God's Trombones, and they also performed in Amazing Grace in 1993. Both are featured in the KET Production, Words Like Freedom/Sturdy Black Bridges, a poetic concert featuring African-American writing and music. Since 1998, Cooper has been the teacher of the Anti-violence Creative Writing Program, "Writing Our Stories," sponsored by the Alabama Department of Youth Services and the Alabama Writers Forum. In 2005, Cooper was awarded the Individual Artist Fellowship in Literature by the Alabama State Council. In 2006, she received the Coming Up Taller Award by the U.S. President's Committee in the Arts and Humanities. Cooper is the vice president of Institutional Programs at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. For more see B. Brady, "Architecturally Sound," CityBeat, vol. 6, issue no. 33, 2000; and Meet Priscilla Hancock, a Red Mountain Theatre Company website.

See photo image of Priscilla Hancock Cooper at Red Mountain Theatre Company website.
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Authors, Education and Educators, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Poets, Migration South, Theater: Companies, Education, Exhibitions, Performers, and Performances in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Birmingham, Alabama

Cotter, Joseph S., Jr.
Birth Year : 1895
Death Year : 1919
Joseph S. Cotter, Jr. was born in Louisville, KY, to Maria F. and Joseph S. Cotter, Sr. A graduate of Louisville Central High School, he was enrolled at Fisk University when he became sick and was sent home, where he later died of tuberculosis. His sister, Florence Olivia Cotter, was also enrolled in Fisk when she came down with tuberculosis; she died in 1914. Cotter, Jr. was a gifted poet and playwright; he wrote The Band of Gideon and other Lyrics, published in 1918; a book of one act plays; and a number of unfinished sonnets. For more see Lost Plays of the Harlem Renaissance, 1920-1940, by J. V. Hatch and L. Hamalian; and Negro Poets and Their Poems, by R. T. Kerlin.

See photo image of Joseph S. Cotter, Jr. at New York Public Library Digital Gallery.
Subjects: Authors, Poets, Tuberculosis: Care and Deaths
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Nashville, Tennessee

Cotter, Joseph S., Sr.
Birth Year : 1861
Death Year : 1949
Joseph Seaman Cotter, Sr. was born in Bardstown, KY, the son of Michael Cotter (Scottish Irishman) and Martha Vaughn Cotter. He founded the Paul Laurence Dunbar School in Louisville, KY, and was principal at several Louisville schools. Cotter published five volumes of poetry and a collection of plays, composed music, and was known for his storytelling. He was the father of poet Joseph S. Cotter, Jr. (1895-1919). The Joseph S. Cotter, Sr. Papers are located at Kentucky State University. For more see Southern Black Creative Writers, 1829-1953, by M. B. Foster; Dictionary of American Negro Biography, ed. by R. W. Logan and M. R. Winston; and Early Black American Poets, by W. H. Robinson, Jr.

See photo image and additional information about Joseph S. Cotter, Sr. at the Louisville Free Public Library website.
Subjects: Authors, Education and Educators, Fathers, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Poets, Grade Schools & High Schools in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Bardstown, Nelson County, Kentucky / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Cullen, Countee LeRoy
Birth Year : 1903
Death Year : 1946
Countee L. Cullen was probably born in Louisville, KY, but his birthplace is also given as New York. Cullen was unofficially adopted by Rev. Frederick and Carolyn Cullen; his last name was Porter prior to the adoption. Cullen earned his bachelor's degree from New York University, his master's from Harvard University. During his prime he was the most popular African American poet and literary figure of his time. He won more literary prizes than all other African American poets in the 1920s. Cullen had won his first contest in high school with the poem, "I Have a Rendezvous With Life." His first wife, Yolande DuBois, was the daughter of W. E. B. DuBois. His most famous student (he taught high school) was James Baldwin. For more see the Countee Cullen Papers at Dillard University's Will W. Alexander Archives, and Countee Cullen and the Negro Renaissance, by B. E. Ferguson.

See photo image and additional information about Countee L. Cullen at Poetry Foundation website.
 
Subjects: Authors, Education and Educators, Migration North, Poets
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Danner, Margaret E.
Birth Year : 1915
Death Year : 1984
Born in Pryorsburg, KY, Danner moved to Chicago when she was young and later attended Loyola University and Northwestern University. She received the John Hay Whitney Fellowship for "Far From Africa: four poems," published in Poetry: a Magazine of Verse in 1951. In 1956 she became the first African American to be named assistant editor of Poetry: A Magazine of Verse. Her first collections of poems were published in 1960. She founded Boone House in Detroit for poetry gatherings and readings by African American poets. In 1966 she was a presenter at the World Exposition of Negro Arts in Dakar, Senegal. Her work was praised as an "Africa-based voice of Blackness." For more see the Oxford Companion to African American Literature, edited by W. L. Andrews, et al.
Subjects: Migration North, Poets
Geographic Region: Pryorsburg, Graves County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois / Detroit, Michigan

Dawson, Carlos
Birth Year : 1977
Dawson, born in Clifton Forge, VA, became the first African American editor of the University of Kentucky yearbook, The Kentuckian, in 1998. A graduate of Alleghany High School in Covington, VA, he earned his B.A. in Journalism with minors in Music Theory and History from the University of Kentucky; he is also a graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, KY, with a M.A. in Pastoral Counseling. Dawson is a freelance poet, writer, and graphic designer. He is also a fitness trainer at Jefferson Fitness Club and a men's mentor at CrossOver Inc. For more see Kentucky Kernel, 02/18/98. Additional information provided by Carlos Dawson.
Subjects: Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Poets
Geographic Region: Clifton Forge and Covington, Virginia / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Wilmore, Jessamine County, Kentucky

Dickinson, Blanch T.
Birth Year : 1896
Death Year : 1972
Born in Franklin, KY, Blanch Taylor Dickinson attended Bowling Green Academy and Simmons University (KY) and was later a school teacher. She was the daughter of Thomas and Laura Dickinson, according to the 1910 U.S. Federal Census. She would become a Harlem Renaissance poet. Her poetry appeared in anthologies and periodicals such as The Crisis, Chicago Defender and Louisville Leader. Her biography appeared in Opportunity, vol. 5 (July 1927), p. 213. Also in 1927, Dickinson won the Buckner Award for ""conspicuous promise"; she was living in Sewickley, PA at that time. Blanch Dickinson was the wife of Verdell Dickinson (1898-1978), he was a truck driver who was born in Trenton, KY. The couple lived on Centennial Avenue in Sewickley, PA in 1930, according to the U.S. Federal Census. By 1940, Blanch Taylor (Dickinson) was listed in the census as a widow and she was back in Simpson County, KY, living with her father Tom Taylor and her widowed aunt Carol Lockhart; Blanch Taylor (Dickinson) is listed in the 1940 Census as a school teacher. For more see Black American Writers Past and Present: a biographical and bibliographical dictionary, by Rush, Myers, & Arta; Harlem Renaissance and Beyond. Literary biographies of 100 black women writers, 1900-1945, by L. E. Roses and R. E. Randolph; and "Negroes get prizes for literary work" in the New York Times, 05/08/1927, p. 19.

Additional information provided by Gayla Coates, Archives Librarian at the Simpson County Kentucky Arhcives: Blanche Taylor Dickinson died in 1972 and is buried at Pleasant View Cemetery in Simpson County, KY.
Subjects: Authors, Education and Educators, Migration North, Poets
Geographic Region: Franklin, Simpson County, Kentucky / Bowling Green, Warren County, Kentucky / Sewickley, Pennsylvania / Trenton, Todd County, Kentucky

Finney, Nikky
Birth Year : 1957
Born in Conway, South Carolina, Nikky Finney is an associate professor of creative writing and a former director of the African American Studies and Research Program at the University of Kentucky. She is a graduate of Talladega College in Alabama. She is a nationally recognized poet and author of books of poetry including On Wings Made of Gauze, Rice, and The World is Round. Her work has also been published in anthologies. She was a screenwriter on the documentary, M & M. Smith: for posterity's sake. In 2011, Nikky Finney received the National Book Award in Poetry. In 2012, Nikky Finney left the University of Kentucky and returned to South Carolina. For more see "BIBR talks to Nikky Finney," Black Issues Book Review, March/April 2003, vol. 5, issue 2, pp. 28-29; K. Hamilton, "You are only as writerly as the last thing you've written," in Monty, a supplement to the print magazine, Montpelier at James Madison University; and D. Shafa, "Stepping up," Kentucky Kernel, 09/27/06, Campus News section. UKnow article, "UK Professor Nikky Finney wins National Book Award for Poetry," available online, a University of Kentucky publication website.



  See photo and additional information about Nikky Finney at "The Beauty and Difficulty of Poet Nikky Finney" by N. Adams, 04/08/2012, 6:39 AM, a NPR website.

Access Interview Read about the Nikky Finney oral history interviews available at the University of Kentucky Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, item records in the SPOKE Database.

 

  See the Nikky Finney interview with Renee Shaw, program #843, "Connections with Renee Shaw" at the KET (Kentucky Educational Television) website.

 
Subjects: Authors, Education and Educators, Migration West, Poets
Geographic Region: Conway, South Carolina / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Fletcher, Theodore Thomas Fortune, Sr.
Birth Year : 1906
Death Year : 1988
T. Thomas Fortune Fletcher, Sr. was an educator and a poet. He lived for ten years in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he established and was principal of Medane Alem Secondary School for boys. He was also a professor of English at the Haile Selassie First University. Fletcher was born in Nicholasville, KY, the son of Robert and Mattie B. Spillman Fletcher. T. T. F. Fletcher, Sr. earned his English and journalism graduate degree from Columbia University, and his Ph. D. from New York University. His 1945 dissertation is titled Robert Bage, a Representative Revolutionary Novelist. When Fletcher was an undergraduate at Fisk University, several of his poems, including "Night" and "White God," were published in 1927 in Ebony and Topaz: a collectanea, edited by Charles S. Johnson. His other poems were published in a number of sources including three poems in The Crisis in July of 1935: "To one who died in the spring," "Request," and "I have found beauty infinitely sad" [poems online in Google Book Search]. Fletcher was also an international traveler, he was living in New York when he arrived from France in 1928, from Italy in 1934, from Scotland in 1936, and from Egypt in 1947 [source: New York Passenger List]. Fletcher was an associate professor of English at Lincoln University in Missouri prior to his taking a special leave and sailing to Ethiopia in July of 1946, at the invitation of the Imperial Ethiopian Government. When Fletcher returned to the U.S. in 1956, he was hired as an English Professor, and would become a dean, at Cheyney State University. He retired from the school in 1974. One of his former students was newsman Ed Bradley (1941-2006). Theodore Thomas Fortune Fletcher, Sr. was the husband of Jeane Simon (1908-1997), from New York, and the father of Theodore Jr. For more see p.704 in The American Negro Reference Book by J. P. Davis; "Only sense of humor keeps Harlem Poet living, he says," Baltimore Afro-American, 01/25/1930, p.2; "Party given for principal," Baltimore Afro-American, 04/14/1951, p.10; "Sigma Gamma Rho ships to Addis Ababa," Baltimore Afro-American, 07/25/1953, p.6; and J. Nicholoson, "Theodore Fletcher, Cheyney Scholar," Philadelphia Daily News, 04/13/1988, Local section, p.71.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Migration North, Poets, Migration Outside the U.S. and Canada
Geographic Region: Nicholasville, Jessamine County, Kentucky / New York / Missouri / Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Africa / Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Fortson, Bettiola Heloise
Birth Year : 1890
Death Year : 1917
Bettiola Fortson was a poet, essayist, and suffragist. She was born in Hopkinsville, KY, the daughter of James Fortson. At the age of nine, she was a boarder with the William Evans family on E. 13th Street in Hopkinsville, KY, according to the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. When she turned 12, she went to live with her aunt, Toreada Mallory, on Armour Avenue in Chicago, IL. When her aunt went abroad, Fortson lived with her mother, Mattie Arnold, in Evansville, IN, where she attended Clark High School. The family of four lived on Oak Street (Mattie, who was a widow, and her children Robert, Bettie, and James Jr.) [source: 1910 U.S. Federal Census]. Bettiola Fortson would become a poet and was poet laureate of her high school class, she graduated in 1910, and returned to Chicago where she worked in the feather industry and owned her own millinery business. She was a journalist and president of the University Society Club, 2nd vice president of the Alpha Suffrage Club, and city organizer of the Chicago Federation of Colored Women's Clubs. She was the author of the 1915 title Mental Pearls: original poems and essays. For more see Toward a Tenderer Humanity and a Nobler Womanhood by A. M. Knupfer; Six Poets of Racial Uplift by E. T. Battle et. al.; Black American Writers Past and Present by T. G. Rush; and "Miss Bettiola Fortson," Broad Axe, 08/01/1914, p.2 [picture with article].
Subjects: Authors, Businesses, Migration North, Poets, Women's Groups and Organizations, Association of Colored Women's Clubs
Geographic Region: Hopkinsville, Christian County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois / Evansville, Indiana

Goss, William Thompson
Birth Year : 1894
Death Year : 1960
Born in Barren Fork, KY, William T. Goss was a poet, commercial artist and letterer, and a portrait artist. He had had no formal education in art when he attend the Haines Institute in Augusta and studied six months in France. His work was shown beginning in 1931 at various galleries and exhibits in Detroit, MI. According to his draft registration card for WWI, Goss had been employed by the Connecticut Tobacco Company in Somerset, KY, prior to the war. He served in the U.S. Navy. His WWII registration card gives his address as Cincinnati, OH, were Goss was employed at the Wright Aeronautical Company. In 1931, he was living at 1021 S. 15th Street in Toledo, OH, and had sailed to France and returned home six months later aboard the ship "France" on September 23, 1931 [source: New York Passenger List of United States Citizens, U.S. Department of Labor, Immigration Service, S.S. France, September 17-23, 1931]. Upon his return to the States, Goss was employed as a commercial artist at the Chevrolet Motor Company in Detroit [source: Ebony Rhythm: an anthology of contemporary Negro verse by B. M. Murphy]. In 1940, William and Cora Jones Goss lived in Indianapolis, IN, at 2101 Boulevard Place, and both had lived in Detroit, MI in 1935 [source: U.S. Federal Census]. The couple married June 1, 1939 in Marion County, IN [source: Marion County Marriage License Record #55548, p.325, ref. book #152]. While in Indanapolis, William T. Goss was self-employed as a portrait artist and he owned a sign shop [source: "William Goss [obituary]" in the Indianapolis Recorder, 02/13/1960, p.9]. William Thompson Goss died 01/30/1960 at the Veteran's Hospital in Cincinnati, OH [source: Ohio Death Certificate #12228]. His services were held at Delaines Funeral Home in Covington, KY, and he was buried in Cincinnati. Pearl Goss (1890-1976), from Covington, KY, is listed as his wife in the obituary. For more see Negro Artists: an illustrated review of their achievements, by Harmon Foundation (1991 reprint edition); and Afro-American Artists. A bio-bibliographical directory, compiled and edited by T. D. Cederholm. Two of Goss' poems, "Man to Man" and "Variety," are on pp.72-73 in Ebony Rhythm by B. M. Murphy.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Military & Veterans, Poets
Geographic Region: Barren Fork, McCreary County, Kentucky / Detroit, Michigan / Cincinnati, Ohio / Indianapolis, Indiana

Green, Emma Cason
Birth Year : 1884
Death Year : 1983
Green, born in North Middletown, KY, was the daughter of James and Rebecca Cason. Her husband was Charles Green, also from Bourbon County. Emma Cason Green attended Kentucky Classical and Business College in North Middletown and later moved to Indiana. A dressmaker who also wrote poetry, she had some of her poems published in Attempting to Express My Thoughts, compiled by J. Curtis. She also wrote the History of the Second Christian Church, North Middletown, Ky. Emma Cason Green has a headstone in the Prescott Pike Cemetery in North Middletown, KY, that gives her birth year as 1886. The Emma Cason Green Papers are housed at the Indiana Historical Society. For more see "Emma Cason Green" in Guide to African-American History Materials in Manuscript Collections at the Indiana Historical Society.
Subjects: Authors, Migration North, Poets
Geographic Region: North Middletown, Bourbon County, Kentucky / Indiana

Handy, Elizabeth P.
Birth Year : 1876
Death Year : 1937
Elizabeth Virginia Price Handy was born in Henderson, KY, the daughter of Jim and Betty Price. She wrote poetry but was never published. She was the first wife of blues composer and musician William C. (W. C.) Handy (1873-1958), with whom she had six children: Lucille, William Jr., Katherine, Florence, Elizabeth, and Wyer. Elizabeth Handy died in New York City. Hours before her death, she had been taken by ambulance to the Knickerbocker Hospital on March 11, 1937; she was suffering from a brain hemorrhage. Because she was African American, she had to wait outside in the ambulance for 55 minutes, while her husband W. C. Handy, and her physician, Dr. Farrow R. Allen, tried to get her admitted. The admitting clerk had informed them that Negroes were not admitted to the private ward. W. C. Handy had to pay $63 before Elizabeth was admitted [the usual charge was $6 per day]. Elizabeth Handy died two hours after she was admitted to the hospital. The New York NAACP, led by Roy Wilkins, assistant secretary, requested that New York Mayor LaGuardia investigate the Knickerbocker Hospital policies concerning Negro patients. Walter Mezger, superintendent of the hospital, told the media that the hospital did not discriminate toward Colored patients; the discrimination that had taken place was that of the admitting clerk, a long time employee who had used bad judgment and had since been transferred from the hospital. For more see The Annals and Scandals of Henderson County, by M. Arnett; and "Hospital accused by Negro society," The New York Times, 03/27/1937, p.30.
Subjects: Migration North, Mothers, Poets, NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), Hospitals and Clinics: Employment, Founders, Ownership, Incidents
Geographic Region: Henderson, Henderson County, Kentucky / New York, New York

Harrison-Pace, Yolantha
Yolantha Harrison-Pace, who lives in Danville, KY, is a performing arts specialist. For 30 years she has designed and facilitated academic programs in dance and the performing arts, most recently in the Danville/Boyle County area. She also conducts storytelling and poetry writing workshops, is the founder and facilitator of V.O.I.C.E. (Voices of Influence Creating Encouragement) and S.P.E.A.K.!!! (Stop, Please End Abuse to Kids!!!), and is the author of a book of poetry, Wing-Plucked Butterfly (Neshee Publication, 2004). Harrison-Pace has received a number of awards and honors, including the 2004 YOUnity Guild Humanitarian of the Year Award and the 2004 Urban Spectrum Poetry Book of the Year Award. For more see Yolantha Harrison-Pace on the Kentucky Educational Television website.

  See The Wells Are Dry by Yolantha Harrison-Pace aka Mama Haiti on YouTube
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Authors, Civic Leaders, Education and Educators, Poets
Geographic Region: Danville, Boyle County, Kentucky

Hayden, Shirley M.
Birth Year : 1960
Shirley M. Hayden was born in Lexington, KY, and grew up in Maddoxtown, KY, one of 13 children of the late Elmo and Joann Buckner Hayden. Shirley is the author of the 1995 novel, I Tell on Stephen Foster, and her most recent novel, The Women of Nelson, which emphasizes the treatment of the families, African American women and children, who accompanied the U.S. Colored soldiers to Camp Nelson, KY, during the Civil War. A screenplay is being written based on the book. Hayden is also a poet with many published works, including It's My Poetry and I'll Cry if I Want To. Hayden is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and has received writing residencies through the Kentucky Arts Council and the Kentucky Foundation for Women. She spends half her time in Kentucky and half in the hills of North Carolina. For more see M. Davis, "A footnote of history becomes a novel,"Lexington Herald-Leader, 02/05/2008, Health Family section, p. D1.
Subjects: Authors, Poets
Geographic Region: Lexington, Maddoxtown, Fayette County, Kentucky / North Carolina

hooks, bell [Gloria Jean Watkins]
Birth Year : 1955
She was born Gloria Jean Watkins in Hopkinsville, KY, the daughter of Rosa Bell and Veodis Watkins, but goes by the name bell hooks, which she prefers to spell without capitalization. hooks is a professor, feminist, cultural critic, poet, and author of more than 30 books, including Ain't I a Woman, Breaking Bread, and four children's books that include Happy to be Nappy and Be Boy Buzz. She is considered one of the foremost African American intellectuals. hooks is a graduate of Crispus Attucks High School in Hopkinsville, Stanford University (B.A.), the University of Wisconsin at Madison (M.A.), and the University of Santa Cruz (Ph.D.). After almost 30 years of teaching in California, Connecticut, New York, and Ohio, in 2004 she returned to Kentucky to join the faculty at Berea College as a Distinguished Professor in Residence. For more see Feminist Writers, ed. by P. Kester-Shelton; The African American Almanac, 8th & 9th ed.; Current Biography: World Authors 1900-1995 (updated 1999) [available via Biography Reference Bank]; and bell hooks, feminist scholar, on Connections with Renee Shaw, video #416 [available online].
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Authors, Education and Educators, Migration North, Migration West, Poets, Children's Books and Music
Geographic Region: Hopkinsville, Christian County, Kentucky / California / Connecticut / New York / Ohio / Berea, Madison County, Kentucky

Jacobson, Harriet P.
Birth Year : 1879
Death Year : 1961
Harriet Price Jacobson was born in Lexington, KY, the daughter of Nannie Price and Robert Johnson. A teacher and poet, she taught in Oklahoma rural schools from 1893 to 1896 and in Kansas and Oklahoma city schools from 1897 to 1935. She was an advisory teacher from 1935 to 1947. Jacobson organized the East Side Culture Club in Oklahoma City in 1907 and assisted in the organization of the State Training School for Negro Boys in Boley and the Training School for Girls in Taft. She was the founder and first president of the Oklahoma Federation of Negro Women's Clubs, 1910-1915. She received an award for her 42 years of teaching. Jacobson was author of a number of published poems in publications such as Anthology of Poetry by Oklahoma Writers (1938) and The Poetry Digest Annual (1939), and in 1947 her book of poems was published, Songs in the Night. For more see Who's Who in Colored America, 1950; and Black American Writers Past and Present. A biographical and bibliographical dictionary, by T. G. Rush, et al. See also Harriet Price Jacobson at the Uncrowned Community Builders website, and Harriet Price Jacobson at the Find A Grave website.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Authors, Civic Leaders, Education and Educators, Migration West, Poets, Women's Groups and Organizations
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Oklahoma City, Oklahoma / Kansas

Johnson, Christine Claybourne
Birth Year : 1909
Death Year : 1999
Johnson was born and raised in Versailles, KY, the daughter of Mattie A. Williams Claybourne and Braxton D. Claybourne. She graduated from the Versailles Colored high school in 1927. She won a gold medal for her poetry. She lived in Detroit in the 1940s, where she worked with the National Youth Administration and established day care centers in churches. Johnson attended nursing school and studied music before earning her undergraduate degree in biology from Loyola University in 1948. She earned a master's degree in education from DePaul University in 1950. Johnson was a member of the Nation of Islam and was principal and director of the University of Islam Primary School in Chicago. She traveled to Africa, Asia, and Europe. Johnson also published plays and poems; her poem, "Cadence," was published in Outlook Magazine. She was the author of Poems of Blackness and three children's textbooks: Muhammad's Children, ABC's of African History and Masks. For more see "Christine C. Johnson" in For Malcolm, by D. Randall and M. G. Burroughs; and A. Beeler, "Longtime teacher Christine Johnson," Chicago Tribune, 03/22/1999, Metro Chicago section, p. 7.
Subjects: Authors, Education and Educators, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Poets, Children's Books and Music, Nurses, National Youth Administration (NYA)
Geographic Region: Versailles, Woodford County, Kentucky / Detroit, Michigan / Chicago, Illinois

Jones, Gayl A.
Birth Year : 1949
Born in Lexington, KY, Gayl A. Jones is a noted author. In the 1970s when she published Corregidora, Eva's Man, and White Rat. She is also a poet, short story writer, and novelist. She was a faculty member at the University of Michigan. Jones left the school in 1984 and lived for a while in Europe. She published The Healing in 1998, the year of her husband's suicide, after their return to the U.S.; they had settled in Lexington. Gayl Jones is the daughter of Franklin and Lucille Watson Jones. She is a graduate of Henry Clay High School in Lexington, Connecticut College (B.A.), and Brown University (M.A. & Ph.D.). For more see "The Saddest Story," Time Canada, vol. 151, issue 9, p. 42; The Bloomsbury Guide to Women's Literature, edited by C. Buck; In Black and White. A guide to magazine articles, newspaper articles, and books concerning Black individuals and groups, 3rd ed., edited by M. M. Spradling; and World Authors 1990-1995, by C. Thompson.

See photo image of Gayl A. Jones at the University of Michigan website.
Subjects: Authors, Education and Educators, Poets, Migration Outside the U.S. and Canada, Suicide
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Flint, Michigan / Europe

Knight, Etheridge
Birth Year : 1931
Death Year : 1991
Etheridge Knight was born near Corinth, MS and grew up in Paducah, KY. He was the son of Bushie and Belzora Knight, one of their seven children. He mastered the art of toast - a form of poetry that dates back to the 19th century and began writing poetry while serving an eight year sentence in Indiana State Prison, including Poems from Prison and Black Voices From Prison. Knight was a member of the Black Arts Movement. He was also a veteran and had been a medic in the Army during the Korean War. Knight was the husband of Sonia Sanchez, they divorced in 1972 and the following year Knight married Mary Ann McAnally. For more see In Black and White. A guide to magazine articles, newspaper articles, and books concerning Black individuals and groups, 3rd ed. Supp.; "Etheridge Knight" in Notable African American Writers; and Etheridge Knight, Jr. Papers at the Indiana Historical Society.

See photo and additional information on Etheridge Knight at the Poetry Foundation website.
Subjects: Authors, Migration North, Military & Veterans, Poets, Corrections and Police
Geographic Region: Corinth, Mississippi / Paducah, McCracken County, Kentucky / Indianapolis, Indiana

Laine, Henry Allen
Birth Year : 1869
Death Year : 1955
Henry A. Laine was born near College Hill in Madison County, KY. He wrote many poems using Negro dialect. Laine was one of three poets invited to appear before the 1923 Kentucky Negro Educational Association (KNEA) body; he read Fine Greetings to Colored Educators [full-text]. [The other two invited poets were Joseph C. Cotter, Sr. and Joseph C. Cotter, Jr.] Laine is also the author of Foot Prints (1914) [full-text]. He founded the Madison Colored Teachers Institute and was inducted into the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame in 2003. He was the father of Beatrice "Tommie" Holland. For more see Black American Writers Past and Present. A biographical and bibliographical dictionary, by T. G. Rush, et al. The Henry Allen Laine Papers, 1874-1988, are at Eastern Kentucky University, Special Collections and Archives.


See photo image of Henry Allen Laine at the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, Hall of Fame 2003.


See photo image and additional information about Henry Allen Laine at "Kentucky teacher, poet and early Berea alumnus Henry Allen Laine honored at Berea College Founder’s Day Oct. 8," a Berea College website.
 
Subjects: Authors, Education and Educators, Fathers, Poets
Geographic Region: College Hill, Madison County, Kentucky

Lawson, William H.
Birth Year : 1840
Death Year : 1913
Lawson was born in Maysville, KY, the son of Robert Lawson. He attended school in Ripley, OH. His family moved to Louisville in 1856 and was listed as free in the 1860 U.S. Federal Census. The family included William; his mother, M. Lawson, who was employed as a wash woman; and two other children. William was training to become a painter, decorator, and photographer. In 1872 he ran unsuccessfully for Marshall of the City Court. From 1879-1886, he operated a photography studio at 319 W. Walnut Street. He was later a U.S. store-keeper and an artist. William Lawson served with the 122nd Regiment of the U. S. Colored Troops; he was a quartermaster sergeant. He helped organize the United Brothers of Friendship and served as a state and national Grand Master. He was also a published poet. William Lawson was married to Emeline Lawson, who was born in 1857 in Tennessee. He was later married to Elizabeth [Lizzie] Lawson. For more see the "W. H. Lawson" entry in Weeden's History of the Colored People of Louisville, by H. C. Weeden; and J. C. Anderson, "Photography," p. 703, middle column, in The Encyclopedia of Louisville, edited by J. E. Kleber.
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Businesses, Military & Veterans, Photographers, Photographs, Poets
Geographic Region: Maysville, Mason County, Kentucky / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Majozo, Estelle Conwill
Birth Year : 1949
Majozo was born in Louisville, KY. Early in her career, she produced the play Purgatory. She is a performer and author of several books, including works of poetry (The Middle Passage and Jiva Telling Rites), and she has written several plays. She was a collaborator in the creation of the terrazzo and brass project, Rivers, for the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. She is also an English professor and presently teaches creative writing at the University of Louisville. She is a graduate of the University of Louisville (B.A. & M.A.) and the University of Iowa (Ph.D.). Majozo is a sister of Houston Conwill. For more see Come Out the Wilderness, by E. C. Majozo.
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Authors, Education and Educators, Poets
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Merchant, Jesse, Sr.
Birth Year : 1878
Death Year : 1959
Born in Winchester, KY, Merchant was employed as a pharmacist at the U. S. Food Laboratory in Chicago in 1909 and later moved to the Department of Agriculture. He was also a civilian postmaster for the 10th U.S. Vol. Infantry in Lexington, KY, and Macon, GA, during the Spanish-American War. He was the son of Alpheus and Georgia A. Williams Merchant, and had attend high school in Lexington, KY. Merchant was a graduate of the Pharmacy College in Louisville, KY. He served as vice president of the Omaha Branch of the NAACP. Merchant was also a poet and is credited with composing "Back to My Old Kentucky Home" in 1906. He was the husband of Gladys Merchant and the couple had four children. The family lived on Wabash Street in Chicago, IL, according to the 1930 U.S. Federeal Census. Jesse Merchant, Sr. retired in 1950 from the federal alcohol tax unit, according to his obituary in the Chicago Daily Tribune, 05/08/1959. For more see the Jesse Merchant entry in Who's Who of the Colored Race, 1915 by F. L. Mather [available full view at Google Book Search].
Subjects: Medical Field, Health Care, Migration North, Poets, Postal Service, NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), Pharmacists, Pharmacies
Geographic Region: Winchester, Clark County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois

Merriweather, Claybron W.
Birth Year : 1874
Death Year : 1952
Claybron Merriweather was born in Christian County, KY, the son of John and Mary Gwynn Merriweather, both former slaves. The Merriweathers lived in extreme poverty. Claybron eventually saved enough money to attend school and later became a schoolteacher and founded three newspapers. He was also a painter, using water colors and oils for his paintings. He is author of Light and Shadows, published in 1907, it was his first book. Merriweather was also a poet and went on to publish five additional books. He promoted his poetry by giving readings in various cities; in 1940 he was in Chicago and was on his way to Cleveland to give a dramatic reading before the Mission Convocation of the First Episcopal District. Claybron Merriweather was also a practicing lawyer, and had studied with the Black Stone Institute, which offered a home study course. He began his practice in 1908 and was the first African American attorney in Hopkinsville, KY, and the first to receive a license to practice law in Mayfield, KY [source: "First Colored Attorney," Hopkinsville Kentuckian, 05/11/1912, p.4; and "First Colored man ever admitted to the bar at Mayfield, " The Paducah Sun, 11/28/1905, p.1]. Claybron Merriweather was the husband of Rosa Morgan Merriweather (c.1874-1935), born in KY, she was a school teacher in Paducah and in Hopkinsville, KY. The couple last lived at 1103 Coleman Street in Hopkinsville. They are buried in the Cane Spring Cemetery in Christian County, according to their death certificates. For more see The Fascinating Story of Black Kentuckians by A. A. Dunnigan; "C.W. Merriweather to give reading," Kentucky New Era, 08/10/1940, p.6; and The Law Trained Man by W. C. Wermuth [available full text at archive.org].
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Authors, Education and Educators, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Lawyers, Poets
Geographic Region: Hopkinsville, Christian County, Kentucky

Negro wit and humor: also containing folk lore, folk songs, race peculiarities, race history
Start Year : 1914
In 1914, Marion Franklin Harmon published Negro Wit and Humor through his Louisville, KY, press, Harmon Publishing Company. The book was one of the joke books published by whites and distributed throughout the South for the purpose of entertaining other whites. Harmon claimed the book was meant to show the progress of the race, the content based on his observations and the words of friends "who vouch for their accuracy and originality." The book is full of supposed Negro dialect. Harmon gives thanks to Professors A. J. Aven of Mississippi College, Joseph [S.] Cotter, [Sr.] of Louisville Coleridge Taylor Colored School, and Thomas [F.] Blue, [Sr.], head of the Louisville Colored Branch Library. In 1929, Harmon produced The History of Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ) in Mississippi, published in Mississippi. For more see R. D. Abrahams, "Folk beliefs in Southern joke books," Western Folklore, vol. 24, issue 4 (Oct. 1964), pp. 259-261; J. Morgan, "Mammy the huckster: selling the Old South for the New Century," American Art, vol. 9, issue 1 (Spring 1995), pp. 86-109; S. A. Brown, "The Negro character as seen by White authors," The Journal of Negro Education, vol. 2, issue 2 (April 1933), pp. 179-203; and Negro Wit and Humor, by M. F. Harmon.
Subjects: Authors, Jim Crow, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Poets
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Nichols, M. Celeste
Birth Year : 1951
Death Year : 1996
Nichols, born in Tulsa, OK, was an English professor at Bellarmine College [now Bellarmine University] in Louisville, KY. She was the Louisville coordinator for the National African American Read-In Chain. She also chaired the First National Toni Morrison Conference that was held at Bellarmine in 1995. Nichols was the first African American to earn a doctorate in English from the University of Louisville, where she wrote her dissertation, The Rhetorical Structure of the Traditional Black Church. Nichols taught at Kentucky State University before leaving to teach at Bellarmine from 1993 until her death. The Dr. M. Celeste Nichols African American Collection, works by and about African American female writers, was established in the W. L. Lyons Brown Library at Bellarmine. For more see High Upon a Hill, by W. H. Hall; and "Belknap; Bellarmine honors dynamic professor," Courier-Journal, 04/06/2001, News Neighborhoods Daily News Report section, p. 2B.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Librarians, Library Collections, Libraries, Poets, Migration East
Geographic Region: Tulsa, Oklahoma / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Nwangwa, Shirley A. Bacon
Birth Year : 1944
Death Year : 1996
Born Shirley Bacon in Christian County, KY, she received her B.A. in elementary education from Lane College in 1966 and her M.S. in public health and community organization from the University of North Carolina--Chapel Hill in 1970. She was employed by the Halifax County Health Department and worked in the area of teenage pregnancy. Nwangwa was the executive producer of the film, The Eye Can Story, a 30-minute documentary created to promote the self-esteem of teenagers and to deter early sexual involvement. For more see Contemporary Black American Playwrights and Their Plays, by G. L. Peterson, Jr.
Subjects: Authors, Medical Field, Health Care, Poets, Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Christian County, Kentucky / Halifax County, North Carolina

Packer, Zuwena "ZZ"
Birth Year : 1972
Zuwena Packer was born in Chicago and grew up in Louisville, KY, where she attended Seneca High School. Packer published her first story in Seventeen Magazine. She is the author of Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, has won a number of awards and recognitions for her writing, and has taught English. She now lives in California with her family. Zuwena Packer is a graduate of Yale University (B.A.), Johns Hopkins University (M.A.), and the University of Iowa (MFA). For more see "The ABC's on ZZ," Courier-Journal (Louisville), Features, 03/03/2003; "Robert Birnbaum talks with the author of Drinking Coffee Elsewhere," on identitytheory.com, 04/29 /2003; and "ZZ Packer" in World Authors 2000-2005 (2007).

See photo image of Zuwena Packer at her Facebook page.
Subjects: Authors, Education and Educators, Migration West, Poets
Geographic Region: Chicago, Illinois / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / California

Pegram, Amelia Blossom
Born in Cape Town, South Africa, Amelia Blossom Pegram is a teacher, writer, performer, and poet. She began teaching in South Africa, then left the country in 1963. She studied acting at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and has acted on stage, radio, and television in England and the United States. Pegram came to the U.S. in 1972. She has won many awards, including the Louisville Board of Alderman Literary Award. She is author of several books, including Our Sun Will Rise: poems from South Africa, and she is included in Conversations with Kentucky Writers II. For more see Biography Index A cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines, vol. 20 (Sept. 1991-Aug. 1995); and the Amelia Blossom Pegram at the South African Women for Women Annual Awards website.

See photo image of Amelia Blossom Pegram and additional information at the KET Website.
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Artists, Fine Arts, Authors, Education and Educators, Poets
Geographic Region: Cape Town, South Africa / England, Europe / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Penn, Anna Belle Rhodes
Birth Year : 1865
Death Year : 1930
Anna Belle Rhodes Penn was born in Paris, KY, the only child of William and Sophia Rhodes. The family moved to Lynchburg, VA, when Anna was a small child. Educated by private teachers, she is a graduate of Shaw University. Penn was a school teacher and noted essayist and poet. Her published works include "Grief Unknown," and her handwritten collection includes "Light Out of Darkness." She was the wife of I. Garlan Penn, with whom she had seven children: Anna, Marie, Louise, Elizabeth, Georgia, Irvine, Jr., and Wilhelmina. The family moved to Cincinnati, where Anna Belle Rhodes Penn was a well-known social worker. For more see "Anna Belle Rhodes Penn" in Noted Negro Women: their triumphs and activities, by M. A. Majors; and The Life and Times of Irvine Garland Penn, by J. K. Harrison and G. Harrison.

See halftone photomechanical print of Anna Belle Rhodes Penn at New York Public Library Digital Gallery.
Subjects: Authors, Education and Educators, Migration North, Poets, Migration East
Geographic Region: Paris, Bourbon County, Kentucky / Lynchburg, Virginia / Cincinnati, Ohio

Poetry Broadside Collection
Start Year : 1945
End Year : 1972
This collection contains limited edition broadsides, many signed, from Black Sun Press, Unicorn Press, Pommegranite, Gehenna, and Kriya Press, among others. Poets represented include Nhat Hanh, Langston Hughes, Jorge Luis Borges, Diane di Prima, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and Fuhara ya Sanifer. Available at the University of Louisville Libraries.
Subjects: Authors, Poets
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Poston, Ephraim
Birth Year : 1865
Death Year : 1951
Poston was born in Clarksville, TN, the son of Ephraim and Louisa Rivers Poston. In Kentucky, he was an educator, poet, author, and journalist. Poston was a graduate of Roger Williams University in Nashville, TN. He taught school in Wickliffe, KY, and was a professor and Dean of Men at Kentucky Normal and Industrial Institute [now Kentucky State University] for two years, before leaving to become principal at Pembroke High School. He was the author of Manual on Parliamentary Proceedings (1905), and Pastoral Poems (1906). His "Political Satires," a series, was published in the Hopkinsville newspaper, Kentucky New Era, from 1908-1912. Poston managed his family newspaper, the Hopkinsville Contender, with his children. He was the husband of Mollie Cox Poston and the father of Ted, Robert, and Ulysses Poston. After Mollie Poston's death, Ephraim later married Susie E. Forrest (1880-1966) and the couple lived in Paducah, KY. He taught at West Kentucky Vocational School [now West Kentucky Community and Technical College], and she was a teacher at Lincoln Grade School, according to the 1939 Paducah Kentucky Directory. For more see the Ephraim Poston entry in Who's Who of the Colored Race, by F. L. Mather [available full-text at Google Book Search]; and Dark Side of Hopkinsville, by T. Poston.
Subjects: Authors, Education and Educators, Fathers, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Migration North, Poets
Geographic Region: Clarksville, Tennessee / Hopkinsville, Christian County, Kentucky / Paducah, McCracken County, Kentucky

Smith, Effie Waller
Birth Year : 1879
Death Year : 1960
Effie Waller Smith was born in Pike County, KY, the daughter of Sibbie and Frank Waller, a blacksmith. Smith earned her teaching certificate at Kentucky Normal School for Colored Persons [now Kentucky State University]. She was a school teacher in Pike County and was certified by Superintendent Perry A. Cline in the early 1890s. Effie W. Smith was well-read in classical literature, she published three books of poetry, and her poems also appeared in literary magazines. She stopped publishing her work in 1917 at the age of 38. Her husband, Deputy Sheriff Charles Smith, had been killed in 1911 while serving a warrant, they were married two years. Effie W. Smith left Kentucky for Wisconsin in 1918 and is buried in the city of Neenah. A Kentucky Historical Marker [#1959] was placed at the police department in Pikeville in honor of Effie Waller Smith. For more see The Collected Works of Effie Waller Smith; Effie W. Smith in Kentucky Women, by E. K. Potter; Effie W. Smith in the Kentucky Encyclopedia 2000; "State honors Black poet...," Lexington Herald Leader, 12/11/01, p. B3; "Effie Waller Smith: An Echo Within the Hills," The Kentucky Review, Vol. 8, issue 3 (Autumn 1988), pp. 26-46; and W. R. Cummings, "History of the Perry A. Cline High School," Kentucky Negro Educational Association Journal, vol. 9, no. 1-2 (Oct.-Nov. 1938), p. 49. See photo image and bio of Effie Waller Smith on pp. 131-132 in The Negro in Revelation, in History, and in Citizenship, by J. J. Pipkin.

See photo image of Effie Waller Smith at Great Black Kentuckians, a Kentucky Commission on Human Rights website.
Subjects: Authors, Education and Educators, Migration West, Poets, Corrections and Police, Blacksmiths
Geographic Region: Pike County, Kentucky / Neenah, Wisconsin

Smith, Leslie S.
Birth Year : 1908
Death Year : 1997
Smith was born in Pleasant Ridge, KY. A schoolteacher in Kentucky and West Virginia, she published short stories, poems, and her book, Around Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, A Black History (1979), which covers 1795 to 1979. For more see The Fascinating Story of Black Kentuckians, by A. A. Dunnigan.
Subjects: Authors, Education and Educators, Historians, Poets
Geographic Region: Pleasant Ridge, Lewis County, Kentucky

Smith-Hyatt, Mary E.
Born in Estill County, KY, Smith-Hyatt practiced medicine in Indianapolis, IN, specializing in women's and children's diseases. She was also a dressmaker and milliner as well as a voice and piano teacher. She wrote medical articles published in newspapers and journals and published a book of poetry and a book on health. Smith-Hyatt composed the words and music of My Little Hoosier Song and Consecration. For more see Who's Who in Colored America, 1933-37.
Subjects: Authors, Businesses, Medical Field, Health Care, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Poets
Geographic Region: Estill County, Kentucky / Indianapolis, Indiana

Stevenson, Willie B.
Birth Year : 1904
Born in Lexington, KY, Stevenson taught voice in Chicago, supervised music and vocals at Western High School in Paris, KY, and received a number of awards for her poetry, including first place at the Golden State Anthropology Exposition in San Francisco. For more see Who's Who in Colored America 1950.
Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Poets
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois / Paris, Bourbon 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

Walker, Frank X
Birth Year : 1961
Frank X Walker was born in Danville, KY. He is a visual artist, poet, author, educator, and motivator. Walker is a founding member of the Affrilachian Poets, editor of Eclipsing a Nappy New Millennium, and author of Affrilachia and Buffalo Dance: the Journey of York. He has given over 250 poetry readings, including readings at the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry, Northern Ireland, and in Santiago, Cuba. He has received many awards, appeared on television and been heard on the radio; he was the first writer from Kentucky to be featured on NPR's This I Believe. Walker was director of the Kentucky Governor's School for the ARTS, 1998-2004, leaving that position to become an English professor at Eastern Kentucky University. He has also been a visiting professor at Transylvania University. His teaching experience includes writing workshops at various locations and writing classes at the university level, including the University of Louisville and the University of Minnesota. Walker is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and Spalding University, and he received an honorary Doctorate of Humanities from the University of Kentucky and an honorary Doctor of Letters from Transylvania University. In 2010, Frank X. Walker joined the University of Kentucky Department of English, and in 2011 he was named director of both the African American Studies & Research and the Africana Studies Programs at UK. In 2013, Frank X Walker was named Kentucky's poet laureate [source: M. Meehan,"Lexington writer Frank X Walker named Kentucky poet laureate," Lexington Herald-Leader, 02/15/2013, p.A3]. At the age of 51, he is the youngest to be named the state's poet laureate and he is also the first African American to receive the honor. For more see Frank X. Walker website; Affrilachian Poets; and The Columbia Granger's Index to African-American Poetry, by N. Frankovich and D. Larzelere.


  See photo images of Frank X Walker by Rachel Eliza Griffiths at the Frank X Walker website.

  View Kentucky Muse: (#503) Frank X Walker "I Dedicate This Ride" at KET Video (Kentucky Educational Television).

Access Interview Read about the Frank X Walker oral history interviews available in the University of Kentucky Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, item records are in the SPOKE Database.

   View video at Vimeo: "Accpetance Speech: The Induction of Frank X Walker, Kentucky Poet Laureate, 2013-2014 - April 24, 2013, Capitol Rotunda, Frankfort, Kentucky." Video footage courtesy of the Kentucky Arts Council. Edited by Nyoka Hawkins for Old Cove Press.

 
Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Authors, Education and Educators, Poets
Geographic Region: Danville, Boyle County, Kentucky

Webster, Benjamin Sweeney, Sr.
Birth Year : 1911
Death Year : 1987
Webster was a Kentucky native, the son of James and Marie L. Webster. A mortician and salesman, Benjamin was the father of poet Toi Derricotte (b. 1941 in Detroit, MI) and the husband of Antonia Baquet (Webster) Cyrus until they divorced in 1953. The Webster Family owned the Webster Funeral Home in Detroit, MI. For more see M. Salij, "The poetry of black and white Detroit native Toi Derricotte reaches inside herself to write about race," 04/27/2001, and "Antonia Cyrus: family historian, animal lover," 10/20/2001, both articles in the Detroit Free Press. For more on Derricotte see the Concise Oxford Companion to African American Literature.
Subjects: Fathers, Migration North, Poets, Undertakers, Cemeteries, Coroners, & Obituaries
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Detroit, Michigan

Whitman, Albery A.
Birth Year : 1851
Death Year : 1901
Albery Allson Whitman was born into slavery in Hart County, KY, on the Green River Plantation. Albery was the husband of Caddie Whitman (1857-1909), who was also from Kentucky. Albery was a poet and a Bishop of the Methodist Church. He was a graduate of Wilberforce College [now Wilberforce University] and served as Dean of Morris Brown College in Atlanta. His published works include "Leelah Misled" in 1873, "Not a Man and Yet a Man" in 1877, and "The Rape of Florida" in 1884. His last work was published in 1901: "An Idyll of the South." His talent as a Negro poet has been described as between Phillis Wheatley and Paul L. Dunbar. Albery A. Whitman was also the father of musician Caswell W. Whitman (1875-1936) and the Whitman Sisters, one of the most successful vaudeville troupes in the U.S. Albery taught his older daughters to dance when they were children, and for a brief period they were manged by their mother, Caddie. The Whitman troupe first toured Kentucky in 1904. The Whitman Sisters were Mabel (1880-1962), Essie B. (1882-1963), Alberta (1887-1964), and Alice (1900-1969). Mabel directed the shows, Essie was a comic singer, Alberta was a flash dancer and did male drag, and Alice was an exceptional tap dancer. For more on Albery A. Whitman see Dictionary of American Negro Biography, by R. W. Logan and M. R. Winston; and Albery Allson Whitman (1851-1901), epic poet of African American and Native American self-determination (thesis), by J. R. Hays. For more about the Whitman Sisters see The Royalty of Negro Vaudeville by N. George-Graves; and Jazz Dance, by M. W. Stearns and J. Stearns. For more on Caswell Woodfin Whitman see the following Chicago Defender articles - "The Whitman Sister's kin passes away," 04/04/1936, pp.1 & 10; "Allen Bowers Entertains," 03/06/1932, p.7; and "The Whitmans arrive," 03/16/1918, p.6 - [article citations provided by the Curator of the Chicago Jazz Archive at the University of Chicago].
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Authors, Education and Educators, Fathers, Mothers, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Poets, Religion & Church Work, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers, Cross Dressing, Dress in Drag
Geographic Region: Hart County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois

Wilkinson, Crystal
Birth Year : 1962
Crystal Wilkinson was born in Ohio and reared in Indian Creek, KY. She chaired the Creative Writing Department for the Kentucky Governor's School for the Arts, taught creative writing at the University of Kentucky, served as a writer-in-residence at Eastern Kentucky University, and was a member of the faculty of Spalding University's MFA Program. In 2007, she was a writer in residence at Morehead State University. Wilkinson is author of Blackberries, Blackberries; Water Street; and a host of works in anthologies and serial publications. Her works have received a number of awards and recognitions, including the 2002 Chaffin Award for Appalachian Literature. Crystal Wilkinson and her husband are owners of the Wild Fig Book Store in Lexington, KY. For more see Crystal Wilkinson, Poet, on Connections with Renee Shaw, video #422 [available online]. 

  See photo image of Crystal Wilkinson and additional information at the Baggot Asher Bode blog site.

Access Interview Read about the Crystal Wilkinson oral history interviews available at the University of Kentucky Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, item records are in the SPOKE Database.
Subjects: Authors, Businesses, Education and Educators, Poets
Geographic Region: Ohio / Indian Creek, Whitley County, Kentucky

Williams, Orena Vaught
Birth Year : 1913
Death Year : 1988
The poet Orena Williams was born in Berea, KY, the daughter of Eliza and Dock Vaught [also spelled Vaughn]. The family is listed in the 1920 U.S. Federal Census showing Eliza Vaught (b. 1878 in KY) as a widow with seven children; the family was living on Georgia Avenue in Connersville, IN. Orena was one of the younger children. She attended Lewis Business College in Indianapolis in 1932, and was later employed as a secretary and teacher. She also wrote plays and poetry, including two books of poetry, Grains of Sand in 1974 and From My Garden in 1980. Orena Williams was the wife of Roy L. Williams of Louisville, KY. For more see The Black Women in the Middle West Project, by D. C. Hine, et al.; and the Indiana Historical Society website.
Subjects: Authors, Education and Educators, Migration North, Poets
Geographic Region: Berea, Madison County, Kentucky / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Connersville, Indiana

Yarbrough-Jumoke, Nailah
Yarbrough-Jumoke is a writer, poet,  and activist. In 1999 she was the first African American candidate for governor of Kentucky. She ran on the Natural Law Party (NLP) ticket and received a little more than 1% of the vote. In 2000 she won the Preservation Award from the Louisville Historic League for developing the Harriet Tubman Cultural Center. For more see "Ex-candidate fosters culture," Lexington Herald-Leader, 02/18/200, p. B3.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Poets, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Community Centers and Cultural Centers
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

 

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