Complete A-Z list of entries

Complete list of sources

Recent Additions / Updates

About NKAA

NKAA Brochure

African American Library Directors in the USA

Links of Interest

staff only

University of Kentucky Libraries

Notable Kentucky African Americans Database

<Voting Rights>

Return to search page.

African American Felony/Voter Disenfranchisement
The Kentucky Constitution, section 145, bars a person with a felony conviction from voting for the rest of the individual's life whether the full sentence has been completed or not. In reference to African Americans, Kentucky has the highest disenfranchisement rate in the nation. A request to have voting rights restored begins with the individual submitting an application to the Kentucky Governor requesting an executive pardon for reinstatement of voting rights. It is the Governor's decision as to whether the voting rights are restored or not. For more see J. Shugarts, "Felons' disenfranchisement mostly a matter of geography," Republican-American, 01/25/2009," Local News section, p. 1A; "African Americans and the Criminal Justice System" on pp. 20-21 in The State of African Americans in Kentucky, by the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights [available online .pdf]; and Felony Disenfranchisement in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, a report of the League of Women Voters of Kentucky [available online .pdf]. See also Determinants of College Students' Opinions Towards Felon Voting Rights: an exploratory study (dissertation) by B. C. Dawson Edwards. 
Subjects: Voting Rights, Corrections and Police
Geographic Region: 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

Bond, Henry
Birth Year : 1865
Death Year : 1929
Henry Bond was born in Anderson County, KY. He was a teacher and lawyer, and it was believed that he had political influence over the African American Republican vote in Williamsburg, KY. Bond was the principal and lone teacher of the Williamsburg Colored Academy for a number of years. The school was a one-room cabin with grades 1-8. In 1929, Henry died ten days before his brother, James M. Bond; both were sons of Jane Arthur, a slave, and Reverend Preston Bond. Henry Bond is buried in the Briar Creek Cemetery in Williamsburg. For more see The Bonds, by R. M. Williams. *Additional informaiton from Carrie Stewart of Williamsburg, KY; Stewart's mother and her mother's siblings attended the one room school and they were students of Henry Bond.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Education and Educators, Voting Rights, Lawyers, Grade Schools & High Schools in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Anderson County, Kentucky / Williamsburg, Whitley County, Kentucky

Colored Voters' Leagues
Start Year : 1891
The Colored Voters' Leagues were politically influential civil rights organizations first established in the 1890s. In Kentucky, there was an Independent Colored Voters' League of Kentucky in 1899, they presented a bouquet of flowers to Senator William J. Goebel when he spoke before the Turner Society in Louisville, KY; Goebel was the Democratic nominee for Kentucky Governor [source: "German voters," The Evening Bulletin, 10/28/1899, p.3]. However, the Kentucky Colored Voters' League was a much later development, it was established in 1935, according to the Guide to Civilian Organizations. Fayette County, Kentucky by the U.S. Work Projects Administration in Kentucky, January 1943, p.11. The organization was said to have 2,500 members, and was open to "any registered male colored voter." The purpose was "To promote civic and legal interest of the members." The president was Charles P. Riley; Frank Tatman, Secretary; and J. Rice Porter, Chairman. The office terms were indefinite. The organization's office was located at 233 E. Second Street in Lexington, KY, and is listed in Polk's Lexington (Fayette County, KY.) City Directory, v.1939, p.136, and in v.1942, p.95. At Western Kentucky University Library, Manuscripts and Folklife Archives are two letters written in 1933 by Sherman Parks from Madisonville, KY, to Joseph F. Garnett in Hopkinsville, KY. "Parks, as an officer in the Hopkins County and Kentucky Colored Independent Voters Leagues, requests assistance, including monetary aid to promote the recruitment of African-Americans to Kentucky’s Democratic Party." - - source: bibliographic record for Sherman Parks Manuscripts. Around the country, the work of the various state organizations can be found in African American newspaper articles. One of the earliest Colored Voters' Leagues was formed in 1891 in Pittsburgh, PA, when a call was made to overthrow the politicians [source: "A Colored Voters' League," The New York Times, 12/27/1891, p.1]. By 1898, there were organizations in several states, including New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia [source: "In organization is power," Colored American, 03/26/1898, p.1]. In 1903, a Colored Voters' League was established in Kansas, "to look well towards the rights and protection of the Negro" [source: "The Legislature employe[e]s," Plaindealer, 03/06/1903, p.1]. In 1905, there was a call at the New York Colored Republican Club for the formation of a political organization known as the National Colored Voters' League that was to have state associations [source: "Colored Voters' League: form political organization of national scope," The Deseret Evening News, 02/18/1905, p.8; and "Negroes of New York...," Freeman, 03/18/1905, p.4]. The 1912 endorsement by the Colored Voters' League in Cook County, IL, had helped Honorable Joseph S. LaBuy to be elected to the Municipal Court of Chicago [source: "Hon. Joseph S. LaBuy, Democratic candidate for Judge of the Municipal Court of Chicago," Broad Ax, 11/01/1924, p.6]. In 1920, the United Colored Voters' League of Detroit held it's first annual dinner [source: "Cleveland social and personal," Cleveland Gazette, 02/07/1920, p.3]. In 1928, the Independent Colored Voters' League of Waco, TX, joined the Houston NAACP in filing a petition in federal court to restrain the Democratic Party from barring Negroes from voting in the primaries [source: "N.A.A.C.P. to fight newest Texas attempt at Negro disfranchisement," Plaindealer, 08/10/1928, p.1].
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Voting Rights, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Fraternal Organizations
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / United States

Convention of Colored Men of Kentucky
Start Year : 1866
The First Convention of Colored Men of Kentucky was held in Lexington, KY, March 22-26, 1866. The convention was held in Ladies Hall on Church Street. The organization was to be temporary, according to the recorded proceedings. George Perry was named chairman and Henry Scroggins was named secretary. The organization had been formed first and foremost to address the Kentucky Legislature on the issue of voting rights for African American men. Other concerns included morality, education, temperance, frugality, industry, and the overall well being of African Americans in Kentucky. Initially, the organization did not push for total equality, but rather was organized with the intent of taking one step at a time toward gaining civil rights and justice. They established the Kentucky State Benevolent Association with Henry King as chairman, Madison C. Johnson as vice president, Henry Scroggins as recording secretary, James H. Campbell as corresponding secretary, and George Perry as treasurer. There was also an executive committee that was given the power to call a convention whenever they thought it necessary; they were the managers of the association. Convention members who arrived late or left the meeting early were fined. There was an exceptionally high expectation that all who had committed to the convention would arrive on time and remain for the duration of the meeting. Delegates came from all over the state. There was also a list of honorary members, beginning with Rev. John G. Fee. A petition was raised to pay the Ladies' Educational Association for the use of their building, Ladies Hall. The petition passed and the Ladies received $25, which was $8 more than they had asked. The Benevolent Association bought stock in the Colored Citizen newspaper, which was recognized as the voice of African Americans in Kentucky. Recognition was also given to Charlotte Scott, former slave of Dr. Rucker in Virginia; Scott was leading the campaign for the erection of the National Colored Men's Monument in memory of President Lincoln. Twelve hundred copies of the Proceedings of the First Convention of Colored Men of Kentucky were printed and forwarded to prominent men such as President Andrew Johnson. For several years, William J. Simmons served as chair of the executive committee of the Convention of Colored Men of Kentucky, with one of his re-elections taking place in 1875. He chaired the committee that led in presenting grievances to the Kentucky Legislature. In 1886, his speech before the Legislature on the injustices put upon the Colored people of Kentucky was described as a masterpiece; the Kentucky Legislature order that 2000 copies be printed. It was the first time that an African American addressed the Kentucky Legislature about the plight of African Americans in Kentucky. For more about the establishment of the organization, see the Proceedings of the First Convention of Colored Men of Kentucky [available at Google Books]. For more on the text of William J. Simmons' speech, see pp. 48-50 in Men of Mark by W. J. Simmons and H. M. Turner [available at Google Books]; and Life Behind a Veil, by G. C. Wright.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Voting Rights, Fraternal Organizations
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Doneghy, Edward "Ed"
Birth Year : 1871
Death Year : 1930
In November of 1930, Ed Doneghy was shot and killed at the Turkey Pen Precinct by Joe Hayden, a Democratic election challenger. The disagreement between Doneghy and Hayden was reported in the newspapers to have been a "trivial" matter about Negroes voting at the booth. Hayden claimed he shot Doneghy in self-defense. Hayden was arrested, he posted bond, and return to work at the election booth. Ed Doneghy was a carpenter, according to the 1920 U.S. Federal Census. He was the husband of Mollie Caldwell Doneghy (1871-1931) and the couple had several children. For more see "Kentucky Negro shot during quarrel at election booth-voting is spotty," Sheboygan Press, 11/04/1930, p.1; "50 years ago today '30," The Lewiston Journal, 11/04/1980, p.5; and The Hayden Family by C. Hayden, v.1-2, p.190.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Voting Rights
Geographic Region: Danville, Boyle County, Kentucky

Duncan, Clark and Julia
Born in 1849 in Logan County, KY, Clark Duncan was a hotel employee in Springfield, IL; he was a member of the community of African Americans who had migrated from Kentucky to Springfield. Clark Duncan was the son of George Duncan and Louisa Orendoff [later Stevens] (b.1835 in KY); it is not known if the family was free or enslaved. During the Civil War, Clark Duncan had served with the 15th Colored Infantry and he was 1st Sargent with Company B of the 6th Colored Cavalry. After the war for a few years, he alternated living in Springfield, IL, and Russellville, KY. He was married to Springfield native Julia Chavious, the daughter of Malan Chavious (d. 1879), who was from Kentucky and had been a barber in Springfield. Julia Chavious Duncan was Grand Treasurer of the Grand Court of Illinois. Clark Duncan was a Knight Templar, a Mason, and Senior Warden in Lodge No. 3. Like George Stevens and other African Americans in Springfield, Clark Duncan voted for Ulysses S. Grant during the 1868 presidential election. The Duncan family lived at 312 N. Thirteenth Street in Springfield, IL. Clark Duncan died April 7, 1929 in Springfield, IL, according to the Illinois, Deaths and Still Births, 1916-1947, at For more see History of Sangamon County, Illinois; together with sketches of its cities, by Inter-state Publishing Company (Chicago) [available online at Google Book Search]; and contact the Springfield, Illinois, African American History Foundation.
Subjects: Barbers, Voting Rights, Migration North, Military & Veterans, Fraternal Organizations, Women's Groups and Organizations
Geographic Region: Russellville, Logan County, Kentucky / Springfield, Illinois

Election Day Riot (Frankfort, KY)
Start Year : 1871
On the evening of August 7, 1871, the election polls had just closed when a race riot developed between African American and white voters in Frankfort, KY, at the market-house precinct. It was the second year of voting for African American men in Kentucky, and tension was high. After a scuffle, whites and African Americans took cover on separate sides of Broadway and began shooting and throwing rocks and boulders at each other across the railroad tracks that ran down the center of the street. Police Captain William Gillmore and Officers Jerry Lee and Dick Leonard rushed to the scene; Gillmore was killed and Lee and Leonard were injured. Other police arrived, but they were driven back. A Mr. Bishop, who was also white, was killed, and several others on both sides were injured. State Troops were ordered into downtown Frankfort to bring the rioting under control. An African American, Henry Washington, who supposedly fired the first shot, was apprehended for the murder of Captain Gillmore. Frankfort Mayor E. H. Taylor, Jr. had appointed the state militia to guard the jailhouse. After the State Troops had gone, the militia dispersed when about 250 armed and masked white men stormed the jailhouse at mid-morning and removed Washington and another African American man, Harry Johnson, who was accused of the rape of a Mrs. Pfeifer. Both men were hanged. For more see "Kentucky Elections. Rioting reported in various places - Two whites killed in Frankfort - Negro prisoners lynched," New York Times, 08/09/1871, p. 1; and "A Democratic riot," printed in the New York Times, 08/15/1871, p.6, from the Louisville Commercial, August 10, 1871.
Subjects: Voting Rights, Lynchings, Corrections and Police, Rioting, Insurrections, Panics, Protests in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky

Jackson, Luther Porter
Birth Year : 1892
Death Year : 1950
Born in Lexington, KY, Luther P. Jackson was full professor and head of the history department at Virginia State College [now Virginia State University] beginning in 1922. He founded the Virginia Negroes League to encourage African Americans to vote, and he spoke out in his writings for racial equality. He delivered a paper on Virginia and the Civil Rights Program during the annual meeting of the Virginia Social Science Association in 1949. He authored a number of books, including The Virginia Free Negro Farmer and Property Owner, 1830-1860 (1939). He was also on the editorial staff of the Journal of Negro History and Negro History Bulletin. For more see Who's Who in Colored America, 1950; Luther P. Jackson at the University of Virginia website; Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History, 2nd. ed., edited by C. Palmer, vol. 3, p. 1142; and a more detailed biography, Luther Porter Jackson (1892-1950), at Encyclopedia Virginia [online].

Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Authors, Historians, Voting Rights, Migration East
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Petersburg, Virginia

Jackson, Thompson
Birth Year : 1882
Jackson was born in Henderson, KY, the son of Lizzy Jackson. He organized the Good Citizenship League in Mansfield, Ohio in 1924, the Y-Indus Club in 1926, and the Boy Scout Troop. Jackson served as president of the Republican Club for Colored Voters, delegate to the National Republican Convention in 1924, and president of the Mansfield NAACP. For more see Who's Who in Colored America 1928-29 and 1950.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Civic Leaders, Voting Rights, NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People)
Geographic Region: Henderson, Henderson County, Kentucky / Mansfield, Ohio

Jones, Alberta O.
Birth Year : 1930
Death Year : 1965
Alberta Odell Jones was born in Louisville, KY, the third child of Sarah (Sadie) Frances Crawford Jones and Odell Jones. She was also a first cousin of Raymond Ponder. During her brief life, Alberta Jones was at the forefront of change in Kentucky and Louisville. She was one of the first African American women to pass the Kentucky Bar (1959) and the first woman prosecutor in Kentucky (1964). [Sally J. Seals White was the first African American woman admitted to the Kentucky Bar.] Jones was prosecutor in the Louisville Domestic Relations Court; her law office was located at 2018 W. Broadway. [James A. Crumlin, Sr. was the assistant prosecutor.] Jones was Cassius Clay's [Muhammad Ali's] first attorney, taking him to California to be trained under Archie Moore. Jones was also a civil rights activist: in addition to participating in the March on Washington and the marches in Louisville, she rented voting machines and held classes to teach African Americans how to vote for the candidate of their choice. She established the Independent Voters Association and was an active member of the Louisville Urban League and the NAACP. Jones also established the James "Bulky" Welch Fund and held a fund-raiser, raffling off a car to pay Welch's medical bills and purchase the prosthetic arms to replace the ones young Welch had lost trying to retrieve his dog from under a train. Alberta Jones was a graduate of Louisville Central High School and attended the Louisville Municipal College for Negroes. When the college was merged with the University of Louisville (U of L) during desegregation, Jones continued her education at U of L and graduated third in her class. She was accepted into the University of Louisville Law School but transferred after the first year to Howard University School of Law, where she graduated fourth in her class. A picture of Alberta O. Jones hangs in the U of L Law School. She was a member of the American Bar Association, the Fall City Bar Association, and the Louisville Bar Association, serving as secretary of the latter. She was also a member of the Eta Zeta Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta and the Sigma Chapter of Iota Phi Lambda. Alberta O. Jones was murdered in August 1965 -- the case has not been solved. This information was submitted by Alberta Jones's niece, Ms. Nicole M. Martin, and Jones's sister, Ms. Flora Lutisha Shanklin. For more see "Alberta Jones' funeral rites held; unsolved murders alarm West Enders," The Louisville Defender, 08/12/1965, front page and p. 6; and Legacy of Leadership: African American Pioneers in Kentucky Law (video-recording), by the University of Louisville School of Law.


   See photo image of Alberta O. Jones and Cassius Clay [Muhammad Ali] in Jet, 08/26/1965, p.5.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Civic Leaders, Voting Rights, Lawyers, NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), Women's Groups and Organizations, Urban Leagues
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Jones, Henry Wise, Sr.
Birth Year : 1873
Death Year : 1954
Rev. Henry Wise Jones, born in Knoxville, TN, was co-founder of Simmons Bible College in Louisville . He also served as pastor of the Green Street Baptist Church in Louisville and the Pleasant Green Baptist Church in Lexington. Rev. Jones was an advocate for African Americans' voting and education rights. He was a marble polisher who became an ordained minister on September 4,1892. Rev. Jones had attended Knoxville College and State University [Simmons College] in Louisville. He was the father of Rev. William A. Jones, Sr. and the grandfather of Rev. William A. Jones, Jr. and Louis Clayton Jones. In 2007, Rev. Henry Wise Jones was inducted into the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights Hall of Fame. For more see Rev. Henry Wise Jones in the 2007 Hall of Fame at the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights' website; and "Rev. Henry Wise Jones" on pp.238-239 in Golden Jubilee of the General Association of Colored Baptists in Kentucky.

Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Fathers, Voting Rights, Kentucky African American Churches, Religion & Church Work, Grandparents
Geographic Region: Knoxville, Tennessee / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Moorish Science Temple of America in Kentucky [Mary Clift Bey]
Start Year : 1938
The Moorish Science Temple of America began as a religious movement in 1913 known as the Canaanite Temple, founded in New Jersey by Timothy Drew (1886-1929). The name was changed to the Moorish Holy Temple of Science in the early 1920s. Read more at the organization's website. Drew became known as Prophet Noble Drew Ali, he moved the main branch of the organization to Chicago, IL in 1925 and the Moorish Science Temple of America, Inc. was officially registered as a corporation in 1926. There were also branches in Philadelphia, Washington D. C., and Detroit. A focus of the religion was that American Blacks were of Moor ancestry and should return to Islam. There were teachings of racial pride, the rejection of negative labels, and a mission to uplift the race using education and non-confrontational methods. Moorish-American Voice is the organization's publication. Members of the organization added "Ali," "El," and "Bey" to their surnames as an indication of their Moor identity. The Nation of Islam grew out of the Moorish Science Temple of America. There was a Moorish Science Temple of America in Lexington, KY, according to the overview of the Moorish Science Temple of America Collection, 1926-1967, a New York Public Library website. There was an FBI report of a branch in Paducah, KY [source: Part 2 FBI File: 62-25889: Section 3. Feb-Mar 1943. FBI File on the Moorish Science Temple of America. Federal Bureau of Investigation Library. Archives Unbound.]. Moorish Science Temple of America #45 was located at 628 S. Ninth Street in Louisville, KY. All branches in all locations were watched by the local police, and were considered a radical group that was monitored by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) which sometimes referred to the organization as a "cult" in FBI correspondence. The Moorish Science Temple of America #45 was organized in August of 1938 by Mary Clift Bey who came to Kentucky from Chicago, IL [source: File No.100-2273 dated 12/8/42 - citation: Part 1 FBI File: 62-25889: Section 2. Dec 1942-Feb 1943. FBI File on the Moorish Science Temple of America. Federal Bureau of Investigation Library. Archives Unbound.]. Mary Clift Bey was one of the first female missionaries from the Chicago temple; she was named the grand governess of the Louisville temple in 1941. Bey is listed as a teacher by the name of "Cilft Bey" on p.189 of Caron's Louisville (Kentucky) City Directory, 1939; she lived at 628 S. Ninth Street. In 1940, her name is listed as "Clift Bey" who lived at 630 S. Ninth Street, listed on p.191 of Caron's Louisville (Kentucky) City Directory, 1940. She is also listed in the 1940 U.S. Federal Census as "Cliff M. Bey" with no occupation or income, and living with Jesse Bey (born in KY) and Birdie Lee Bey (born in KY), all at 630 1/2 S. Ninth Street. According to the census record, Mary Clift Bey was born in Tennessee around 1876, she was a widow, and had completed the 4th grade of school. A physical description of Mary Clift Bey is included in the FBI files; the description was based on an eye witness and a photograph the FBI obtained from the library of the Courier Journal newspaper. Bey was said to be about 45-50 years old; 5'3" tall; 175 pounds; brown complexion; straight black hair worn in a bob; maroon eyes, wears glasses; wide mouth; and a teacher by occupation [source: Part 1 FBI File: 62-25889: Section 2. Dec 1942-Feb 1943. FBI File on the Moorish Science Temple of America. Federal Bureau of Investigation Library. Archives Unbound.]. Within the 1942 FBI report, Mary Clift Bey was said to live at 437 S. 9th Street with seven other people with the last name Bey (p.7). The Moorish Science Temple of America in Louisville, KY, was said to have about 50 members. In 1939 there were about 41 members when Mary Clift Bey led the members to register to vote and all were registered with the Democratic Party (p.9). According to the FBI files, there was an article about their voter registrations in the Courier Journal (p.10), and there was much discussion and dispute about the members' legal names (p.11). The headquarters of the Louisville Temple was at 628 S. Ninth Street (p.10). Mary Clift Bey, said to have been born in Macon County, Tennessee (p.12), was also investigated for her work in Chicago, and possible activity in Detroit and Pittsburgh (p.19). In January of 1943, the U.S. Assistant Attorney General distributed a memorandum stating that "there was not sufficient evidence at that time to establish prosecution [of the Moorish Temple of America] under the Sedation Statuses" [source: Part 1 FBI File: 62-25889: Section 2. Dec 1942-Feb 1943. FBI File on the Moorish Science Temple of America. Federal Bureau of Investigation Library. Archives Unbound.]. Though, the surveillance was continued. In March of 1943, Special Agent in Charge, Hebert K. Moss, of the Louisville branch of the FBI, forwarded a series of reports to the Director of the FBI concerning C. Kirkman Bey and et. al. and the Moorish Science Temple of America in Louisville, KY [source: Part 2 FBI File: 62-25889: Section 5. Feb-Apr 1943. FBI File on the Moorish Science Temple of America. Federal Bureau of Investigation Library. Archives Unbound.]. The reports were dated December 1, 1942 through March 6, 1943. There are presently no Moorish Science Temple of America organizations in Kentucky. For more see Who was Noble Drew Ali? by Isa Abd Allah Muhammad al-Mahdi; see "Moorish Science Temple" in the Encyclopedia of African and African-American Religions edited by S. D. Glazier; and Islam in the African-American Experience by R. B. Turner.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Voting Rights, Religion & Church Work, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
Geographic Region: Macon County, Tennessee / Chicago, Illinois / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Louisivlle, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Paducah, McCracken County, Kentucky / New Jersey

The Morris Family
Shelton Morris (1806-1889), his five siblings, and their mother, Fanny, were freed by their owner (and father of the children), Col. Richard Morris of Ohio. Shelton moved to Louisville, KY, where he purchased land and opened a barbering business and bathhouse. His younger brothers, John and Alexander, were also barbers; they joined Shelton in Louisville. Shelton married Evelina Spradling, sister of Washington Spradling, Sr., who was also a barber. In 1840 Shelton was accused of voting in the presidential election; African Americans were not allowed to vote in Kentucky until 1870 (with the passing of the 15th Amendment). Voting rights for free African Americans had been revoked in 1799 in Kentucky's second Constitution. After the voting incident and the death of his wife, Shelton moved to Cincinnati, where his sister Elizabeth lived. For more see The Saga of the Morris Family, by R. M. Graham.
Subjects: Barbers, Businesses, Voting Rights
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Cincinnati, Ohio

Ratification of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments (Kentucky)
Start Year : 1865
End Year : 1976
Kentucky House Member Mae Street Kidd sponsored the resolution that moved the state of Kentucky to ratify the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments in 1976. The ratification of the 13th Amendment formally abolished slavery in the United States. "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction." The U.S. Senate passed the amendment on April 8, 1864; the House of Representatives defeated the amendment on June 15, 1864, then passed the amendment on January 31, 1865; President Lincoln signed and presented the amendment to the states on February 1, 1865; and Secretary of State William Seward issued a statement on December 18, 1865 to verify the ratification of the 13th Amendment. There were three states that rejected the 13th Amendment and did not ratify it until the 20th Century: Delaware (February 12, 1901); Kentucky (March 18, 1976); and Mississippi voted to ratify the 13th Amendment on March 16, 1995, but it was not officially ratified until February 7, 2013. The 14th Amendment was ratified July 9, 1868, and granted citizenship to all who were born or naturalized in the United States. States that ratified the 14th Amendment in the 20th Century were Delaware (1901), Maryland (1959), California (1959), Kentucky (1976), and Ohio (September 17, 2003) [Ohio had rescinded its ratification of the 14th Amendment in 1868]. The 15th Amendment, ratified February 3, 1870, gave African American men the right to vote. States that did not ratify the 15th Amendment until the 20th Century were Delaware (1901), Oregon (1959), California (1962), Maryland (1973), Kentucky (1976), and Tennessee (1997).  For more see 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, all on the Library of Congress website; see also A. Greenblatt, "Failure to ratify: during amendment battles, some states opt to watch," an NPR website.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Freedom, Voting Rights
Geographic Region: Kentucky

Ross, William H.
Birth Year : 1869
Born in Madisonville, KY, William H. Ross taught school in Muhlenberg County, KY, before he quit teaching in 1887 to go into the grocery store business with his father in Madisonville. The business was known as John [R.] Ross & Son. Ross was also politically active: he stood at the voting polls to make sure every African American in Madisonville voted Republican, which resulted in his being physically attacked by Democrats. He was Assistant Elector of the Second Congressional District in the 1896 presidential campaign. William H. Ross was the husband of Cordie Ross who was a school teacher in Madisonville. For more see Biographical Sketches of Prominent Negro Men and Women of Kentucky, by W. D. Johnson.
Subjects: Businesses, Education and Educators, Voting Rights, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Grade Schools & High Schools in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Madisonville, Hopkins County, Kentucky / Muhlenberg County, Kentucky

Schooler, James W.
Birth Year : 1865
Death Year : 1918
Schooler, from Nicholasville, KY, was admitted to practice in the Kentucky Court of Appeals in 1888, becoming one of the first African American lawyers in Kentucky. He was present the day R. C. O. Benjamin was killed in 1900; Schooler had led Benjamin away from polling Precinct 32 in Lexington, KY, after Benjamin challenged precinct worker Michael Moynahan's right to call into question Harvey Jackson's right to register to vote. Moynahan had suspected Jackson, an African American, of being a vote floater, and Benjamin had intervened on Jackson's behalf. Moynahan struck Benjamin in the face. Schooler led Benjamin away from the polling precinct. Benjamin and Schooler were both lawyers and civil rights leaders, they were at the precinct to support African American voter registration. According to one newspaper account, though Benjamin had been led away from the polling precinct by Schooler, Benjamin later returned and was killed by Moynahan. Schooler was the son of Johns and Myra Lemuel Schooler, and the husband of Nora Schooler, b.1878 in KY, according to the 1910 U.S. Federal Census. James Schooler's exact birthday was not know at the time of his death, his age was estimated at 53 on his death certificate. Schooler died in Lexington, KY, and is buried in African Cemetery No.2. For more see "A Negro lawyer in Kentucky," New York Times, 06/06/1888, p. 6; and "R. C. O. Benjamin; shot dead as the result of a petty election quarrel," Hopkinsville Kentuckian, 10/05/1900, p.5.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Voting Rights, Lawyers
Geographic Region: Nicholasville, Jessamine County, Kentucky / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Smith, Lucy W.
Birth Year : 1861
Death Year : 1889
Lucy Wilmot Smith was born in Lexington, KY, the daughter of Mrs. Margaret Smith. She began teaching in 1877 in Lexington and became a journalist in 1884 with The American Baptist. She provided sketches of women journalists for the New York newspaper, Journalism. She served as an editor and wrote special columns for Our Women and Children and was also on the staff of the Baptist Journal. She spoke out on women's rights and voting. Smith was a graduate and a teacher at State University [later Simmons University] and was the private secretary of school President William J. Simmons. She was a historian for the Negro Baptist. For more see The Fascinating Story of Black Kentuckians, by A. A. Dunnigan; and "Lucy Wilmot Smith," in Noted Negro Women: their triumphs and activities, by M. A. Majors; see p.9 in Negro Baptist History, 1750-1930 by L. G. Jordan [bio & picture]; and see Lucy Wilmot Smith in "The Death Roll," Lexington Leader, 12/03/1889, p.2.

Subjects: Education and Educators, Historians, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Voting Rights, Women's Groups and Organizations
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Stevens, George
Birth Year : 1815
Stevens was born in Georgetown, KY, the son of Washington Stevens. A slave, he had many owners until he joined the Army during the Civil War. He was present at a number of battles and was on the tugboat "Thompson" when Vicksburg was taken in 1863. At the end of the war, Stevens settled in Springfield, IL, where he lived at the corner of Fifteenth and Jefferson Streets, and worked in a lumberyard. In 1868, the 14th Amendment was ratified, and George Stevens voted for Ulysses S. Grant during the presidential election. For more see History of Sangamon County, Illinois; together with sketches of its cities, by Inter-state Publishing Company (Chicago); and contact the Springfield, Illinois, African American History Foundation.
Subjects: Freedom, Voting Rights, Migration North, Military & Veterans, Logging, Lumbering, Lumber Business, Lumber Employees
Geographic Region: Georgetown, Scott County, Kentucky / Vicksburg, Mississippi / Springfield, Illinois

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].
Subjects: Voting Rights, Court Cases
Geographic Region: Kentucky

Voting Rights in Kentucky, 1792-1799 - Free Negro, Mulatto, Indian Males
Start Year : 1792
End Year : 1799
Kentucky became a state in 1792 and the first state constitution had no restrictions on the voting rights of all free men, including African Americans. "Article III. § 1. In elections by the citizens, all free male citizens of the age of twenty-one years, having resided in the State two years, or the county in which they offer to vote one year next before the election, shall enjoy the rights of an elector;..." [source: p.5 in "First Constitution of Kentucky. (1792)" a .pdf at (available online)].   However, when the 1799 constitution was written, the voting rights were rescinded. "Section 8. In all elections for representatives, every free male citizen, (negroes, mulattoes, and Indians excepted,) who at the time being, hath attained to the age of twenty-one years, and resided in the state two years, or the county or town in which he offers to vote one year next preceding the election, shall enjoy the right of an elector;..." [source: p.29 in "The Old Constitution of Kentucky" found in The Revised Statutes of Kentucky by C. A. Wickliffe, S. Turner, and S. S. Nicholas, 1852 (available online at Internet Archive)]. According to the Second Census of Kentucky, there were free Negroes and Mulattoes and 40,303 slaves in 1800. Voting rights were regained for African American males with the ratification of the 15th Amendment, February 3, 1870. Voting rights for African American women and all other women were gained with the ratification of the 19th Amendment on August 18, 1920. 
Subjects: Voting Rights
Geographic Region: Kentucky

Warley, William [Buchanan v. Warley]
Birth Year : 1884
Death Year : 1946
Warley fought for African Americans' right to vote and wrote about African Americans' contributions to history. He was editor of the Louisville News, which he founded in 1913, using the paper to speak out against segregated street cars and school inequality. Warley was also president of the NAACP Louisville, KY, Chapter in 1917 when he and Charles H. Buchanan challenged the legitimacy of the Louisville ordinance that mandated segregated housing. Warley won the U.S. Supreme Court decision giving African Americans the right to acquire, own, and live on property without race discrimination. In 1937, he was co-editor of the The Herald Tribune; the newspaper existed for a brief period, it was published in Louisville with co-editors Charles E. Tucker and Huron Clark [source: The Fascinating Story of Black Kentuckians by A. A. Dunnigan, p.528].  For more see the Kentucky Encyclopedia 2000; and R. Wigginton, "But he did what he could: William Warley leads Louisville's fight for justice, 1902-1946," Filson History Quarterly, vol. 76, issue 4 (2002), pp. 427-458.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Voting Rights, NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), Court Cases, Housing, Fair Housing, Open Housing, Housing Agencies
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Wheeler, John W.
Birth Year : 1847
Death Year : 1912
Wheeler was born free in Lexington, KY. He moved to St. Louis in 1873 where he was a politician and the publisher of the St. Louis Palladium newspaper. A republican and follower of Booker T. Washington, he echoed Washington's message for African Americans to become more self-reliant. He also used his newspaper to speak out against discrimination toward African Americans, actively seeking to mobilize black votes for the Republican Party. For more see Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Civil Rights, ed. by C. D. Lowery, J. F. Marszalek and T. A. Upchurch.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Voting Rights, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / St. Louis, Missouri

White, Albert S., Sr. and Sally J. Seals
Albert S. White, Sr. (1869-1911), was born in Kentucky, the son of Albert and Jane Buckner White. He was an attorney and dean of Louisville (KY) Central Law School, where he served from 1896-1911. He fought for African American voting rights; when White and others insisted on voting in the 1890s, they were beaten by Louisville police officers. White was a graduate of State University [Simmons, KY] and Howard University Law School. In 1902 he was appointed a U.S. Revenue Agent following the election of Kentucky's first Republican governor, William O. Bradley. White was unsuccessful in his quest to be named the Minister to Liberia. He was killed by Louis A. Evans in a dispute over the removal of personal belongings at the Lyric Theater, located at 13th and Walnut Streets in Louisville. His wife, Sally J. Seals White (b.1868 or 1871 in KY), was the first woman to graduate from Central Law School, where she was also an instructor. In 1904, she became the first African American woman to be admitted to the Kentucky Bar. White had a bachelor's degree from Fisk University. For more see Central Law School Alumni Information, a University of Louisville website; C. B. Lewis, "Louisville and its Afro-American citizens," Colored American Magazine, vol. 10 (no.3-4), pp. 259-265; Life Behind a Veil, by G.C. Wright; Emancipation: the making of the Black Lawyer, 1844-1944, by J. C. Smith; "Negro woman admitted to bar...," The Landmark, 09/23/1904, p. 3 (also in Marshall Expounder, 09/23/1904, p. 2); and "Albert S. White is shot to death," Lexington Leader, 07/22/1911, p.8. See also the entry for Central Law School.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Education and Educators, Voting Rights, Lawyers, Appointments by Kentucky Governors, Higher Education Before Desegregation, Kentucky, Theater: Companies, Education, Exhibitions, Performers, and Performances in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Women's Right to Vote in Kentucky
Start Year : 1838
End Year : 1902
In 1838, the Kentucky Legislature granted limited voting rights to unmarried women and widows who owned property, and was over 21 years old and lived in the school district. The women could vote on school board issues, on the selection of county school district trustees, and on school taxes. Few women were able to actually vote based on the criteria, and according to author J. D. Wright, Jr, the voting rights were revoked in 1902 because more African American women were going to the polls than white women. The trouble was said to have started in Lexington, KY, when an unpopular Colored man was to be named head of the Colored schools and there was an outpouring of African American women at the polls. Though the rights were revoked, the 1838 School Suffrage voting rights for women in Kentucky set a precedence that was followed by Kansas in 1861, Wyoming in 1869, England in 1870, New Zealand in 1877, and many other states in the U.S. For more see J. Reis, "Winning the right to vote," The Kentucky Post, 11/08/2004, Kentucky Life: History section, p. K4; Lexington, Heart of the Bluegrass, by J. D. Wright, Jr.; the article on black and white women voting in The Bourbon News, 02/11/1902, p. 4; and "School Suffrage in Kentucky - Boston Transcript," Friend's Intelligencer, 1902, v.59, p.221 [available at Google Book Search].
Subjects: Voting Rights, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Women's Groups and Organizations
Geographic Region: Kentucky


Return to the search page.