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Banks, William Venoid
Birth Year : 1903
Death Year : 1985
In 1975, William V. Banks, born in Geneva, KY, was the first African American to own and operate a television station in the United States, WGPR-TV in Detroit, MI. He also became the owner, in 1964, of the first black radio station in Detroit, WGPR-FM. Banks was a graduate of Lincoln Institute, Wayne State University (1926), and the Detroit College of Law (1929) [now Michigan State University College of Law]. He also became an ordained minister after completing his studies at the Detroit Baptist Seminary in 1949. Banks founded the International Free and Accepted Modern Masons and Eastern Star, serving as its supreme president. He also founded the Universal Barber College and the International School of Cosmetology in 1957. A biography of Banks' life, A Legacy of Dreams, was written by S. T. Gregory. For more see "Founder of 1st black-owned TV station dies," United Press International, 08/26/1985, Domestic News section.
See photo image of William V. Banks on p.23 of Jet, December 30, 1985-January 6, 1986.
Subjects: Barbers, Cosmetologists, Beauty Shops, Hairdressers, Beauty Supplies, Lawyers, Migration North, Radio, Ministers, Pastors, Preachers, Religion & Church Work, Television, Fraternal Organizations, Women's Groups and Organizations
Geographic Region: Geneva, Henderson County, Kentucky / Detroit, Michigan
Burley, Daniel Gardner
Birth Year : 1907
Death Year : 1962
Daniel G. Burley was born in Lexington, KY, lived for a few years in Texas, and in 1915 his family moved to Chicago, IL. He was the son of James M. Burley and Annie Seymour Burley Wilson. Dan Burley was a musician and journalist who is still remembered for his column "Everybody Goes When the Wagon Comes." Burley was editor of several newspapers, including the South Side Civic Telegram in 1932. For a while he was employed by the Johnson Publishing Company and in 1960 produced the magazine Salaam, which was similar to Jet. Burley was also a boogie woogie and jazz pianist. In 1946 he had a group called Dan Burley and the Skiffle Boys. He also played with other greats such as Brownie McGhee and Lionel Hampton. Burley can be heard playing piano on the album South Side Shake, 1945-1951. In addition to being a musician, Burley was also a disc jockey at stations WWRL and WLIB. He was also a composer and authored Dan Burley's Original Handbook of Harlem Jive (published in 1945). For more see Dictionary of Literary Biography, vol. 241: American Sportswriters and Writers on Sport, ed. by R. Orodenker; and Biography Index. A cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines.
Listen to clips of Dan Burley's performances, MP3 Downloads for sale at Amazon.com.
Subjects: Authors, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Radio
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois
Birth Year : 1908
Death Year : 1967
Herman Chittison was born in Flemingsburg, KY, then left Kentucky to attend school in Tennessee when he was 13 years old. He was the son of Charles and Sarah Chittison. After completing high school, Herman Chittison enrolled at Kentucky State College [now Kentucky State University] in 1925, but he soon left school to pursue his music career. Chittison was a self-taught jazz pianist who had studied chemistry in college. Once his music career took off, he traveled to New York, then played in Europe and Egypt and toured with Louis Armstrong. Chittison returned to the U.S. during World War II. For seven years he played on the weekly CBS radio series, Casey, Crime Photographer. For more see Biographical Dictionary of Jazz, by C. E. Claghorn; Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, 9th ed., ed. by L. Kuhn; and F. E. Lockwood, "Flemingsburg Jazz pianist lives on in ebony and ivory, musician's artistry reached across racial divide," Lexington Herald Leader, 02/26/2000, Main News section, p. A1.
See photo image of Herman Chittison at the Library of Congress Digital Collections.
Subjects: Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Radio, Migration South, Migration Outside the U.S. and Canada
Geographic Region: Flemingsburg, Fleming County, Kentucky / New York / Europe / Egypt
Birth Year : 1957
Born in Louisville, KY, Ronn Elmore left Kentucky at the age of 16 and became an actor and dancer in Europe before becoming a minister and marriage counselor. He is a graduate of Antioch University (B.A.), Fuller Theological Seminary (M.A.) in California, and Ryokan College (Ph.D.), also in California. In 1989, Elmore developed the Relationship Center and the Relationship Enrichment Programs in Los Angeles. In the 1990s he also started a radio show and was a guest on television and other media, where he spoke on love, marriage, and family. Elmore has published several books, including How to Love a Black Man in 1996 and How to Love a Black Woman in 1998. Elmore is also the founder of Kingdom Shelter, which provides housing for homeless men. For more see African-American Religious Leaders, by N. Aaseng; and the Dr. Ronn Elmore website.
Subjects: Authors, Migration West, Radio, Ministers, Pastors, Preachers, Religion & Church Work, Television, Housing, Fair Housing, Open Housing, Housing Agencies
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Los Angeles, California
Evans, W. Leonard, Jr.
Birth Year : 1914
Death Year : 2007
Evans, born in Louisville, KY, was the son of William L., Sr. and Beatrice Evans. Evans Jr. was raised in Chicago and graduated from the University of Illinois in 1935. He was president and senior partner of the New York ad agency Evans and Durham, Inc., which specialized in the Negro market. Beginning in 1948, he was an account executive and supervisor for the Chicago advertising agency Arthur Meyerhoff Associates, Inc. He was president of the marketing consult firm, Leonard Evans Associates of Chicago, from 1951-1961. He was an advertising executive with Ebony and later helped co-found the National Negro Network (a radio network) in 1953. He was president of Chicago-based Tuesday Publications, Inc., publishers of Tuesday Magazine, founded in 1961, it is an insert in 22 major newspapers. The magazine focused on the positive contributions of African Americans. Evans retired in the 1970s and lived the remainder of his life in Arizona. For more, see "Tuesday publisher is Ad Club speaker," Milwaukee Star, 11/22/1969, p.7; The Fascinating Story of Black Kentuckians, by A. A. Dunnigan; "William Leonard Evans, Jr." in The Negro Almanac; vol. 3 of the African American National Biography, edited by H. L. Gates, Jr. and E. B. Higginbotham; and T. Jensen, "W. Leonard Evans, Jr.: 1914-2007 - founded Tuesday Magazine, National Negro Network," Chicago Tribune, 06/27/2007, Metro section, p. 9.
Subjects: Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Migration North, Migration West, Radio
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois / Arizona
Birth Year : 1956
Haywood Galbreath was born in Mayfield, KY, oldest of six children. When he was 13 years old, he was adopted by a white family. In 1977 he hosted a weekly affairs radio program in Mayfield. Galbreath would become a photojournalist, an actor, and a stuntman. In 1986 he established the H. G. Star-1 Production Co. and H. G. Star-1 News Photos. In 1997 the H. G. Star Company was the first African American-owned news photo service to record the Emmy awards from inside the auditorium. Galbreath is the author of The O. J. Simpson Murder Trial: the complete photo journal of the trial of the century. For more see O. J. Simpson Facts and Fictions, by D. M. Hunt; Minority Photo - Journalism Institute (MPJI); and Anatomy of a Trial, by J. Hayslett.
See photo image of Haywood Galbreath at the MPJI website.
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Authors, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Photographers, Photographs, Radio
Geographic Region: Mayfield, Graves County, Kentucky
Henry, Ragan A.
Birth Year : 1934
Death Year : 2008
Henry was born in Sadieville, KY, the son of Augustus and Ruby Henry. He was an African American pioneer in radio and television station ownership. In 1993, the Regan Henry Group was responsible for 26 owned and leased radio stations. Henry published The National Leadership newspaper, then, in 1989, became president of Broadcast Enterprises National, Inc. He was a partner of the law firm Wolf, Black, Schorr, and Solis-Cohen. Henry spent much of his life in Philadelphia, PA. He earned an A.B. degree at Harvard College in 1956 and an L.L.B. from Harvard Law School in 1961. He was also a veteran of the U.S. Army. For more see The Negro Almanac, 4th-9th eds.; Who's Who in Entertainment; and J. A. Gambardello, "A Pioneering media mogul and lawyer," The Philadelphia Inquirer, 08/08/2008, Obituaries section, p.A01.
Subjects: Businesses, Lawyers, Migration North, Military & Veterans, Radio, Television
Geographic Region: Sadieville, Scott County, Kentucky / Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Horn, Bobby Joe "Bob Nighthawk Terry"
Birth Year : 1936
Death Year : 1977
Horn was born in Franklin, KY. His on-the-air name was Bob 'Nighthawk' Terry. Horn was a prominent disc jockey of Black radio in Washington, D.C. at stations WOL-AM, 1965-1971, and WHUR-FM, 1971-1975. He had attended the New York School of Announcing and Speech then worked as an on-air personality, producer, host, program director, and manager at a number of radio stations before coming to D.C. He was voted Best Air Personality of the Year, WOL-AM, 1966-1970. Horn left radio to form his own entertainment company and in 1977, he disappeared. In the 2007 movie, Talk to Me, Cedric the Entertainer plays the role of Bob 'Nighthawk' Terry. For more see The Washington Post articles, T. S. Robinson and C. Schauble, "Disc jockey was officials suspect victim of murder," 03/15/1978, Metro section, p. C1; "Missing persons: 5 unsolved cases," 10/23/1983, First Section, p. A16; and F. Ahrens, "A century's strongest signals," 12/28/1999, Style section, p. C1. See also Hit Men: Power Brokers and Fast Money Inside the Music Business, by F. Dannen; and Who's Who Among African Americans, 1975-2000.
Subjects: Businesses, Migration North, Radio, Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Franklin, Simpson County, Kentucky / Washington, D.C.
Johnson, Benjamin, Jr. "Ben"
Start Year : 1950
End Year : 2003
Johnson, a journalist and talk show host, was born in Louisville, KY, the son of Benjamin, Sr. and Alyce E. Johnson. He was a 1975 journalism graduate of Lincoln University in Missouri. His original plan was to attend architecture school at Howard University, where he had been accepted into the program, but instead he became a hawk in the U.S. Marines and served in Vietnam before returning to attend college. His career included being a reporter and photographer at the Louisville Defender, and reporter and city editor at the Courier-Journal in Louisville. He had also been employed at the Post Tribune, Detroit Free Press, St. Petersburg Times, Washington Post, Chicago Sun-Times, and as a columnist with the Huntsville Times. He was founding president of the Detroit Chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists, and vice president of the Society of Professional Journalists, Detroit. Johnson and his wife, Mary E. Bullard-Johnson, were editors of Who’s What and Where: a directory of America’s Black journalists (1st ed., 1985 & 2nd ed., 1988). Johnson had also taught journalism classes at the University of Missouri and helped found the school's Multicultural Management Program. From 1997 until the time of his death, Johnson was the talk-show host of Just Talking at WEUP-AM 1600. For more see "B. Johnson, 53, talk show host, journalist," South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 12/28/2003, National section, p. 6B; and Who's Who Among African Americans, 1992-2000.
Subjects: Authors, Education and Educators, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Military & Veterans, Radio
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Detroit, Michigan / Huntsville, Alabama
Birth Year : 1938
Death Year : 2013
Samuel Jones is recognized as the first African American television newsman in Lexington, KY. He joined WLEX (Channel 18) in 1970 as a part-time newscaster and as a producer-moderator of the community problem show, Focus on Minorities. Jones also handled special assignments and weekend news. [The minority public affairs show was the second of its kind; an earlier show had aired on WTVQ (then Channel 62).] Jones also covered the burial of Whitney Young, Jr. on national hookup. He worked in radio from 1956 to 1958 and had a position with WLAP-FM in 1964. Jones is a graduate of old Dunbar High School in Lexington, KY, where he attended the University of Kentucky, majoring in radio and television arts. It was due to the efforts of CORE and the Urban League that minorities were hired in Lexington television. Initial information for this entry was submitted by B. Jones, with additional information gathered from Sam Jones and WLEX and forwarded by Ken Kurtz of WKYT (Channel 27). For more, see the Lexington Herald-Leader, January 15, 2013, p. A8.
Subjects: Radio, Television, Urban Leagues, CORE (Congress of Racial Equality)
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky
Jones, William (Bill) A., Jr.
Birth Year : 1934
Death Year : 2006
Born in Louisville, KY, Jones was ordained a minister in Kentucky and served as pastor of Bethany Baptist Church for 43 years. The church, located in Brooklyn, New York, has about 5,000 members. Jones' message was also delivered on the Bethany Hour, which was broadcast on television and radio to 400 cities. He also led the campaign to integrate New York trade unions and organized a boycott of grocery stores, such as A & P, because they did not hire African Americans. He helped to establish and lead the National Black Pastors Conference in 1979. He was the first chairman of the New York chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). He had preached in Toronto and Scotland and completed special studies in Nigeria and Ghana. Jones grew up in Lexington and was a graduate of the (Old) Dunbar High School and the University of Kentucky, where he earned a degree in sociology. He was also a graduate of Crozer Theological Seminary and earned his doctorate from a school that is now part of the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School. He was the son of William A. Jones, Sr. and the grandson of Henry Wise Jones, Sr. who co-founded Simmons Bible College in Louisville, KY. William A. Jones, Jr.'s memorial service was held at the Historic Pleasant Green Missionary Baptist Church in Lexington, KY. For more see D. Martin, "Rev. William A. Jones, Civil Rights Activist, Dies at 71," The New York Times, 02/08/2006, Sec. C, p.16; and J. Hewlett, "Renowned preacher, civil-rights leader," Lexington Herald-Leader, 02/07/2006, City&Region section, p. B1.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Civic Leaders, Migration North, Radio, Ministers, Pastors, Preachers, Religion & Church Work, Television
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Brooklyn, New York
Kentucky Members of the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters (NABOB)
The National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters was founded in 1976 with the headquarters in Washington, D.C. Taken from the NABOB website: "NABOB has two principal objectives: First, to increase the number of African-American owners of telecommunications facilities, and second, to improve the business climate in which we operate. The overall objective is to maximize the potential for financial success through providing advocacy resources and information in critical business areas including, advertising sales, station acquisition, financing, and federal broadcast regulation." The majority of the members are located on the eastern side of the United States, including 11 NABOB members that were in Kentucky: one in Latonia, two in Lexington, and eight in Louisville. The NABOB conducts workshops, compiles statistics, lobbies and provides legal representation for minority ownership policies, and the organization holds an annual Communications Award Dinner.
Subjects: Radio, Television
Geographic Region: Latonia, Kenton County, Kentucky / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky
Key Newsjournal (newspaper)
Start Year : 2004
The Key Newsjournal newspaper was founded in 2003 by Patrice K. and LaMaughn Muhammad. The paper is published by LexTown Publications, a company also owned by the Muhammads. The newspaper, published biweekly, focuses on the African American population in Central Kentucky. Initially, the paper was available in Winchester, Richmond, Berea, Nicholasville, Frankfort, and Georgetown. The circulation region has expanded over the past five years. It is only the second of two newspapers in Lexington to focus on the African American community since the early 1900s. The other publication, Community Voice, ceased publication in 2001. In addition to the newspaper, Patrice Muhammad also has a radio show, Key Conversations, that is broadcast Sundays at 10 a.m. on Groovin 1580AM, also available online. LexTown Publications also publishes The Lexington and Central Kentucky Black Book, a resource directory. Patrice Muhammad is a native of Detroit, MI, and a graduate of Central State University. For more see R. Brim, "Paper to feature Black news," Lexington Herald-Leader, 01/15/2004, Business section, p. C1; and the Key Newsjournal website.
Subjects: Businesses, Directories, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Radio, Migration South
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Detroit, Michigan
Radio Broadcasts Negro High School Sports, Lexington, KY
Start Year : 1954
In 1954, Theodore "Cal" Wallace was the first person to broadcast Negro high school sports on the radio in Lexington, KY. At the time, Wallace was employed at WLEX-AM, and while the station manager was out of town, Wallace sold ads for the broadcasts to companies such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, and Weber Sausage. The assistant manager did not want to accept the ads; he was unsure how Lexington would react to the broadcasts of Dunbar and Douglass High School basketball games. Cal Wallace ignored the assistant manager and broadcast the games. When the station manager returned, Cal Wallace was accused of running roughshod over the assistant station manager. But, since Wallace had done so well selling ads, and because the listening audience liked the broadcasts, Cal Wallace was allowed to continue broadcasting the games.
For more information listen to the Cal Wallace interview at the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky Special Collections.
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky
Randolph, Amanda E.
Birth Year : 1896
Death Year : 1967
Amanda E. Randolph was born in Louisville, KY. Her married name was Hansberry. She began her career in black vaudeville, appeared in all-black films, was a character actress on radio, and was the first African American star (as a maid) in the television sitcom series, Make Room for Daddy. She was the older sister of actress Lillian Randolph. They were the daughters of Jessie W. Randolph, a clergyman born in Pennsylvania in 1845, and Jane Randolph born 1859 in Kentucky; in 1900, the family of four lived in the 7th Ward of Ponchatoula, LA [source: U.S. Federal Census]. For more see Facts on File Encyclopedia of Black Women in America. Theater Arts and Entertainment.
See photo image of Amanda Randolph at BlackPast.org.
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Radio, Television, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers, Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky
Rich, Geneva Cooper
Birth Year : 1911
Death Year : 1989
Geneva Cooper Rich was a musician who played the organ and the piano, and she was an internationally known singer from Louisville, KY. She studied music under R. Todd Duncan at the Louisville Municipal College. She received the title of "Unofficial Ambassador of Democracy" while in Morocco in 1954. Geneva Cooper Rich had gone to Rabat, Morocco to join her husband, Clayburn Rich (1916-1991), who was a sergeant in the U. S. Air Force. While there, she trained singing groups and she performed at the Non-Commissioned Officers' Club. Her notoriety grew and Geneva Cooper Rich soon signed a singing contract with Radio-Maroc to perform American gospel music. She was the first African American to sign a singing contract in Morocco. She also sang live for the American-owned broadcast station in Morocco. In recognition, she received a letter of commendation from Mrs. Eisenhower for her work as a gospel singer with the Armed Forces in Northern Africa. Prior to her career in Morocco, Geneva Cooper had been a member of several singing groups in Louisville, KY, and she had guest appearances on the television and the radio. She was one of the first African Americans to have a sponsored radio program in Kentucky. After leaving Kentucky and traveling with her husband, Geneva Cooper Rich lived in a number of locations. Her husband had been in the Air Force for 18 years in 1958 when the family of four moved from Blytheville, AR, to Lebanon, IN. They had planned to live in their trailer, but because they were Negroes, they were not allowed to station their trailer at any of the lots in the city. The family decided to live in a house and sold the trailer. In 1964, the family moved to North Highlands, CA; Clayburn Rich was stationed at McClellan Air Force Base. When the family moved to Kentucky, Geneva Cooper Rich was still performing and she sang the national anthem at the 1967 inauguration of Kentucky Governor Louie B. Nunn. She also wrote the song "The Modern Moses" in 1970 as a dedication to the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. For more see "Radio Morocco presents Kentucky gal's spirituals," Washington Afro-American, 04/26/1955, p.7; see p.317 in The Fascinating Story of Black Kentuckians by A. A. Dunnigan; "Appreciation," Indianapolis Recorder, 04/19/1958, p.6; "Arkansas family in trailer gets no Hoosier hospitality," Indianapolis Recorder, 03/29/1958, p.1 & 2; "Louisville singer, pianist, radio artist...," Jet, 07/09/1964, p.64; see Geneva Cooper Rich in "Judge Dawson to introduce new governor," Daily News, 11/19/1967, p.12; and see the entry "The Modern Moses" by Geneva Cooper Rich, on p.1080 in the Catalog of Copyright Entries, 3rd series, v.24, part 1, number 1, section 1, 1970: January-June, Books and Pamphlets, Current and Renewal Registrations, by Library of Congress, Copyright Office.
Subjects: Military & Veterans, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Radio, Television, Migration Outside the U.S. and Canada
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Rabat, Morocco, Africa / Blytheville, Arkansas / Lebanon, Indiana / North Highlands, California
Birth Year : 1972
Renee Shaw was born in Portland, TN, and is a graduate of Western Kentucky University, with a B.A. in political science and broadcast journalism (1994) and an M.A. in corporate communications (1996). She is an adjunct professor of media writing at Georgetown College and has trained journalists in Cambodia on reporting in an open democracy. For several years Shaw was a reporter and associate producer with WKYU-TV and WKYU-FM, where she earned state and national awards for her radio reporting. Her career with Kentucky Educational Television (KET) began in 1997, and in 2005 she launched "Connections with Renee Shaw" on KET, the first statewide minority affairs program. Shaw is a public affairs program producer and co-produces KET's longest running public affairs program, "Comment on Kentucky." She is also producer/managing editor and host of KET's legislative coverage. She is a 2007 graduate of the Leadership Kentucky program and heads Public Relations and Marketing for the First Baptist Church Bracktown, where she is also a Sunday School teacher. For more, contact Renee Shaw at Kentucky Educational Television (KET).
See photo image of Renee Shaw at the KET website.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Radio, Television, Sunday School
Geographic Region: Portland, Tennessee / Bracktown, Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky
Sloan, John Steward
Birth Year : 1918
Death Year : 2001
John Steward Sloan was a decorated Tuskegee Airman, a private pilot, an author, a journalist, and the first African American personnel counselor at Inland Steel Company in Chicago. Sloan was born in Louisville, KY, the son of Abram and Patsie Sloan. He was a history and sociology graduate of Kentucky State University. He was a journalist with the Kentucky Reporter newspaper. During WWII, Sloan was a pilot with the 32nd Fighter Group of the 99th Fighter Squadron, the first Black fighter squadron in the U.S. His plane was shot down over Monte Cassino, Italy in 1944; Sloan suffered a fractured thigh when he was hit by shrapnel. He managed to bail out of the plane and survived. Sloan received a Purple Heart and an Honorable Discharge. He returned to Kentucky for a brief period before he and his wife, Wilhelmina Carson Sloan, moved to Chicago, IL, where John Sloan was employed at the Inland Steel Company. Prior to his retirement from the company in 1978, Sloan had advanced to become a corporate finance manager. He was also a private pilot and had worked as a radio DJ. Sloan was a member of the Chicago Urban League. He is the author of two books: The Game Plan for Handicapping Harness Races (1975) and Survival! a Purple Heart Tuskegee Airman (2000). John Steward Sloan died December 28, 2001 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. For more see John Steward Sloan in "Interesting People," Chicago Metro News, 08/04/1979, p.9; E. Smith, "Lt. John S. Sloan shot down over Italy," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 09/26/2009; and R. E. Igoe, "John Sloan, Sr., Inland Exec, Tuskegee Airman," Chicago Tribune, 01/05/2001, Obituaries section, p.8.
Subjects: Authors, Aviators, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Migration North, Military & Veterans, Radio
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois
Stephens, Fred E.
Birth Year : 1908
Death Year : 1985
Fred E. Stephens was the first African American Chaplain of the first African American service unit in the Air Corps [today the Air Force] of the U.S. Army. Prior to WWII there were no African Americans in the Air Corps. In 1943, Stephens was one of 22 African American, commissioned, graduates from the 9th class of the Army Chaplain School of Harvard University [more information]. The first class had graduated in August of 1942. Fred E. Stephens was born in Tatesville [Tateville], KY, the son of Sandy and Bertha A. Davis Stephens. According to the 1910 U.S. Federal Census, Sandy was a farmer, Bertha was a farmhand, and the family lived in Patesville, Hancock County, KY. They later moved to Evansville, IN, were Fred Stephens graduated from high school. He earned his A.B. from Indiana University in 1932, and his LL.D. from Shorter College in 1942. He was pastor of AME churches in Atlanta, GA; Tucson, AZ; and Columbia, MO. He was a member of the NAACP national board and general chairman of the branch in Kansas City, MO. He was a member of the YMCA, the Masons, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, and was vice president of the Young Democratic League. He was also the author of newspaper and journal articles, and was a radio announcer in Arizona and Missouri. In the late 1950s, Stephens served as pastor of the Bethel AME Church in Kansas City, MO. In the 1970s, Stephens was pastor of the first AME Church in Los Angeles; in 1975 he married Ralph Russell and Debraca Denise Foxx, daughter of comedian and actor Redd Foxx. Rev. Fred E. Stephens died in Los Angeles, April of 1985. For more see Chaplain Fred E. Stephens in The Encyclopaedia of the African Methodist Episcopal Church compiled by Bishop R. R. Wright; P. D. Davis, "22 receive commission as Chaplain," Plaindealer, 07/09/1943, p.5; and Rev. Fred Stephens in photograph on p.203 in The Crisis, April 1958 [available online at Google Book Search], and p.361 in The Crisis, Jun-Jul 1958 [available online at Google Book Search].
Subjects: Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Migration West, Military & Veterans, Radio, Ministers, Pastors, Preachers, Religion & Church Work, NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), Fraternal Organizations, YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association)
Geographic Region: Tatesville [probably Tateville], Pulaski County, Kentucky / Patesville, Hancock County, Kentucky / Evansville, Indiana / Kansas City, Missouri / Los Angeles, California
Strange Fruit (radio program), Louisville, KY
Start Year : 2012
The following information was written and submitted by Laura Ellis, producer of the radio program Strange Fruit at 89.3 WFPL. The entry was added to the Notable Kentucky African Americans Database with permission from Laura Ellis. Received via email 03/30/2015. Strange Fruit is believed to be the first and the only radio program in Kentucky to focus on race, gender, and LGBTQ issues.
Strange Fruit is a weekly talk show that airs on 89.3 WFPL in Louisville, Kentucky, and is podcast on strangefruitpod.org. Our tagline is "Musings on Politics, Pop Culture, and Black Gay Life," we focus on race, gender and LGBTQ issues (especially where they intersect!), and we've been in production since September, 2012. Our hosts are Jaison Gardner and Dr. Kaila Story.
This program was borne out of some racial tension that was affecting Louisville’s LGBTQ community. The owner of a gay bar in Louisville made some racist remarks online, was called out on it by anti-racist activists, and the result was a pile-on which was hugely polarizing in our community. It also raised questions within WFPL about why we tend to reach out to the same (largely male, white and affluent) folks each time we cover an event in the gay community.
We decided to seek out some lesser-heard and ask them to tell us their stories. The result was our nine-part series, Defining Fairness, which ran that spring. Jaison Gardner was one of those interview subjects. He and Dr. Story had also been guests on another show on our station, State of Affairs, to talk about drag and house ball culture. We felt like the conversation started in Defining Fairness needed to continue, and we loved Jaison and Kaila's rapport and expertise, so Strange Fruit was born.
Our hosts are two queer people of color, who have been close friends for years, so they bring a lot of humor and chemistry to Strange Fruit. Dr. Kaila Story is a professor, Pan-African Studies Graduate Director, and the Audre Lorde Endowed Chair in Race, Gender, Class, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Louisville. While there, she has created new courses in Black Lesbian Lives, Introduction to LGBTQ Studies, Black Feminisms in Action, and Queer Perspectives in Literature and Film. Dr. Story is also one of the co-chairs of the Fairness Campaign’s Coordinating Committee.
Jaison Gardner is has been a social justice activist and community organizer for more than fifteen years, working primarily around issues related to youth empowerment, LGBT rights, people of color issues and women’s liberation. A current member of the Fairness Campaign’s Coordinating Committee, Jaison is also the proud founder of BlkOut, an organization dedicated to empowering black LGBT students on the University of Louisville campus, and Derby City Black Pride, a city-wide celebration of Louisville’s black LGBT and Same Gender Loving community.
We were faced with a steep learning curve when we started, as our hosts had no radio experience, but this turned out to be a good thing; we immediately heard from listeners who appreciated that Strange Fruit sounds nothing like other public radio shows. We cover a broad range of topics, but always with a focus on LGBTQ people of color. While it sounds like a small niche, our listeners who fall outside that demographic tell us they appreciate hearing about issues they had no idea were affecting other people in their community.
Each episode opens with what we call our Juicy Fruit segment, where we talk about some relevant stories that have been in the news or in social media that week. Jaison typically keeps up with current events, and Kaila gives us some more academic analysis of the systemic things at play behind the stories.
After Juicy Fruit, we typically do a feature interview where we speak with someone who has done some relevant work, or an LGBTQ and/or black artist or activist, either local or national. In some circumstances, we may break format and spend an entire hour talking about one subject. The week of the George Zimmerman verdict, for example, and the week of Michael Brown's shooting in Ferguson, we skipped our Juicy Fruit segment and went straight into reaction and analysis.
In late 2014, we celebrated our 100th episode.
Contact Laura Ellis at email@example.com or (502) 814-6536.
Visit the Strange Fruit website at strangefruitpod.org.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Radio, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, ...
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky
Summers, William E. III
Birth Year : 1918
Death Year : 1996
Born in Louisville, KY, William E. Summers, III was the first African American to manage a radio station in the U.S. (1967) as well as the first African American radio station owner in Kentucky (1970). Summers was also a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. He served on the Kentucky Derby Board beginning in 1972, and was chair in 1984. For more see "1st black to own radio station in Ky., William Summers, dies," Lexington Herald-Leader, 05/18/1996, Obituaries section, p. C2; and "First African-American to manage radio station," Lexington Herald-Leader, 02/27/2004, City&Region section, p. B1.
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky
Taylor, Steve L. "The Cowboy Steve Show"
Birth Year : 1922
Death Year : 1993
Steve Taylor was a radio station owner, WSEV in Lexington, KY. In 1969, the signal reached a block, maybe two blocks, from his Jefferson Street studio near Fourth Street. The studio also served as his one-room apartment. WSEV was a country radio station with ad lib commercials, all broadcast by Taylor from a self-built transmitter. For more than 10 years, three or four nights per week, around 6:00 p.m, The Cowboy Steve Show was broadcast to neighbors. Taylor's previous radio station, at his home on Brown Street, had a much weaker signal and was difficult to pick up outside his home. With that station he and friends had played live music, five nights per week. Taylor was a self-taught player of the guitar, fiddle, and mandolin. At the age of 14, he had started his first country music band, the group played in the Lexington vicinity and had a few engagements in Cincinnati. Taylor was also a song writer, three of his songs were recorded, two by Esco and Jackie, and one by the Rogers Sisters. Steve L. Taylor was from Madison County, KY, he died in 1993 and is buried in Lexington Cemetery. For more see G. Mendes, "The Cowboy Steve Show," in the last issue of the Blue-Tail Fly, 1971, no. 11, pp. 12-14 [available full-text online at Kentucky Digital Library]. The article was reprinted in the Chevy Chaser Magazine, October 2006, pp. 40-43 & 45. This entry was suggested by UK Librarian Jo Staggs-Neel, who also provided the research.
See photo image of Steve Taylor and the online article "(Lo) Power to the People," July 2, 2014, at the ACE website.
Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Radio
Geographic Region: Madison County, Kentucky / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky
Waits, Ernest J., Sr. "Ernie"
Birth Year : 1920
Death Year : 2004
Ernie Waits, Sr. is often referred to as the first African American DJ [disc jockey] in both Kentucky and Ohio [source: E. S. Murrain, "Payola and the Pied Pipers," Tone, 09/01/1960, p. 11]. In Kentucky, he was a DJ at WNOP in Newport, KY [source: see "Gab Bag" in the column "Vox Jox," Billboard, 04/21/1951, pp. 28 & 33]. In Cincinnati, he was a DJ at WZIP [source: "Chicago Chatter," Billboard, 05/28/1949, p. 40]. Waits was also among the first African American broadcasters in both radio and television in Cincinnati, Ohio, his home town. He was a singer and musician, as well as a civil rights leader who helped start organized labor. He was an international representative for the United Auto Workers, integrated the Democrat Party of Hamilton County, Ohio, and was the first African American in Cincinnati to become a New York Stock Exchange registered representative. He owned a bowling alley and other businesses and helped establish the Black Expo in Cincinnati. Ernie Waits was born in Georgia and grew up in Cincinnati. He was the son of Jesse and Mozell Harper Waits. He was a veteran of World War II. For more see Ernie Waits, Sr. in the video Road to Equality at CETConnect.org; Ernie Waits in the H. Wilkinson article, "Berry showed them the way," Cincinnati Enquirer, 10/19/2000 [online at enquirer.com]; Ernie Waits in the Encyclopedia of American Radio, 1920-1960, by L. F. Sies; Who's Who in Black Cincinnati 2003-2004 Edition, M. C. Sunny and R. Love; and R. Goodman, "Civil Rights fighter Ernest Waits dies," Cincinnati Enquirer, 10/22/2004 [online at enquirer.com].
See photo image of Ernie Waits Sr. within article about Theodore M. Berry at the Cincinnati Enquirer website.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Businesses, Military & Veterans, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Radio, Television, Union Organizations
Geographic Region: Georgia / Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio / Kentucky
Wallace, Bonnie Goddard and Theodore "Cal" Sr.
Activist Theodore Calvin Wallace, Sr. (1914-1987) was a pioneer in radio and television in Lexington, Kentucky. He was born in Patton, AL, the son of Eula Wallace Williams (b.1898 in AL) and the stepson of Allen "Baby Bush" Williams (b.1883 in MS). According to the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Allen Williams was a coal miner in Parrish, AL. The family of four lived on Jasper Road. Theodore Calvin Wallace was known as Cal. He grew up in Parrish, AL, and later came to Kentucky to work in the coal mines in Harlan. While in Harlan, he met his future wife, Bonnie J. Goddard (1920-2002), the daughter of Lee D. (b.1875 in KY) and Edward Goddard (b.1864 in TN). Ed Goddard was a circuit-ridding preacher of the Christian Church/Church of Christ. Bonnie Goddard was born in Harlan, KY. She and her husband left Kentucky for West Virginia and Virginia, where Cal Wallace worked in the coal mines. He eventually left the coal mines and moved his family to Cincinnati, OH, where he had various jobs and also worked for a radio station. He was sometimes on the air at WZIP in Covington, KY, and was one of the first two African American disc jockeys (DJs) in the state. [The other was Ernie Waits.] Cal Wallace moved his family to Lexington, KY in 1954, and they all lived in the home purchased on Whitney Avenue in the Forest Hill area. The school-age children attended Booker T. Washington School. Cal Wallace had come to Lexington the year before his family arrived; he was employed as a DJ with WLEX Radio (AM). He was a DJ at night and sold accounts [air time] during the day. The radio station had another African American employee named Nancy Webb, she had a half-hour program called "Webb Presents." When WLEX expanded to television, Cal Wallace had a weekend program, he was on the air live and showed films. He was the first African American to have a program on television in Lexington, KY. Cal Wallace was also in accounts at WLAP Radio (AM), and it was there that he came up with the idea of developing the commercial station WLAP FM. He then went to a local store named Barney Miller's and ordered a truck load of FM radios, and gave them to people in the community, because most of his potential audience members had only AM radios. WLAP FM, with Cal Wallace as general manager, proved to be a hit. Several of Cal Wallace's sons and his wife were on the air. Bonnie Wallace had a popular program called "The Sweet Chariot." The station also had a DJ contest for teenagers, and two of the winners were Sam Jones and Raymond Ross, both of whom would become successful broadcasters. Cal Wallace was the first African American to manage a radio station in Lexington. He also established The Lexington Chronicle newspaper in the 1960s, and the entire family helped to publish each issue. The newspaper was a free publication made available to the African American community. The newspaper was published for about five years. In 1978, Cal Wallace's sons, Edgar and Bernard, resurrected the newspaper with the new title Bluegrass Chronicle. In 1963, Cal Wallace ran unsuccessfully for the Kentucky House of Representatives. His son Edgar Wallace would become a Lexington City Council Member, and his son, Theodore (Ted) Calvin Wallace, Jr. was a House Member of the Michigan Legislature for four terms and he also served as judge of the 36th District Court for seven years. The leadership role of their father extended into the community; Cal Wallace served as director of the Lexington Community Action organization, and he worked with Micro City Government. Cal Wallace was also a minister, he was pastor at Prall Street Church of Christ in Lexington. The church was founded by Cal and Bonnie Wallace, and began as a Bible class in their living room. Today, the church is located on Russell Cave Road. Cal Wallace would become a bishop and overseer in the Church of Christ, he was over seven churches that were located in North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Cincinnati, OH, and Lexington and Harlan, KY. Cal Wallace's communication skills had been well groomed when he was a high school student in Alabama where he also competed in oratorical contests. He attended Lincoln Normal School for Colored Students [today Alabama State University], then returned to his high school as a teacher and he coached the football team. For additional information listen to the Edgar Wallace interview [info.], and the Thomas C. Wallace interview [info.]; see "Fayette radio pioneer 'Cal' Wallace dies," Lexington Herald-Leader, 01/04/1987, p.C7; and "Bonnie G. Wallace, ex-DJ at WLAP, 81" Lexington Herald-Leader, 03/23/2002, p.C4. See also the NKAA entries for Thomas C. Wallace, Ted Wallace, and Leula Wallace Hall.
Read about the Theodore Calvin Wallace, Sr. oral history interviews available in the University of Kentucky Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, item records are in the SPOKE Database.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Education and Educators, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Kentucky African American Churches, Migration North, Miners, Mines, & Steel Mills, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Radio, Ministers, Pastors, Preachers, Religion & Church Work, Television
Geographic Region: Patton, Alabama / Harlan, Harlan County, Kentucky / West Virginia / Virginia / Cincinnati, Ohio / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky
Wallace, Thomas Cicero "Little Bee"
Birth Year : 1943
Thomas C. Wallace was an extremely popular and successful radio personality in Lexington, KY for ten years. He was a disc jockey [DJ] known as "Little Bee." He was voted the number one night time DJ in Lexington. Many remember him for his rhythm and rhyming, and he is often referred to as an early and original rapper. "You and me and Little Bee on WLAP," the "Little Bee" program went on the air at WLAP FM in 1964 and ended in 1974. The format was the first urban contemporary [soul music] program in Lexington. The targeted audience included African Americans in Lexington and surrounding counties, and there were thousands of faithful followers. WLAP FM was managed by Theodore "Cal" Wallace, Sr., the father of Thomas C. Wallace. For many of the former audience members, the "Little Bee Show" is aligned with memories of the civil rights era of activism in Lexington, along with the broadcasts of Alex Williams. But at the time, the program was not considered a civil rights show, according to Thomas C. Wallace. "I was just a Black DJ on a Black station where young folk could tune in and hear Black music." In 1974, Thomas C. Wallace left radio to go into the ministry. He is a bishop in the Church of Christ, sharing the duties with his brother: they are over five of the churches that their father oversaw during his tenure as a bishop. Thomas C. Wallace is also pastor of the New Birth Church of Christ, Christian Ministries, Inc., located on Russell Cave Road in Lexington, KY. He was born in Virginia, the fourth child of the late Bonnie Goddard Wallace and Theodore C. Wallace, Sr. For more information listen to the three Cal Wallace interviews [info.], and the Edgar Wallace interview [info.]; and see "WLAP-AM History" website by Scott Willis. See also the NKAA entries for Ted Wallace and Leula Wallace Hall.
See photo image of Rev. Thomas C. Wallace and other church pictures at the Facebook page for New Birth Church of Christ, Christian Ministries, Inc.
Read about the Thomas C. Wallace oral history interview available in the University of Kentucky Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, item record in the SPOKE Database.
Subjects: Kentucky African American Churches, Migration West, Radio, Ministers, Pastors, Preachers, Religion & Church Work
Geographic Region: Virginia / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky
Williams, Alexander "Alex", Jr.
Birth Year : 1919
Death Year : 1973
The following information comes from "Alex Williams Jr., radio personality, dies at 54, " Lexington Leader, 09/10/1973, p. 2. Alexander Williams, Jr. was a radio broadcaster, known for his 1960 program, "Cool Summer." During the program, Williams promoted non-violence in reaction to a period of racial unrest in Lexington, KY. The program was broadcast from station WLAP in Lexington. Williams also broadcast Dunbar High School (Lexington) basketball games on the "Bearcats Sports Network" at WLAP. He also did Kentucky State University broadcasts. He was the regional managing editor of NIP Magazine and was a reporter for the Blue Grass Edition of the Louisville Defender newspaper. He was a promoter for the Ohio Valley Jazz Festival. Williams also worked with underprivileged children. In 1977, Alexander Williams, Jr. was posthumously honored when the former Booker T. Washington School, on Georgetown Street in Lexington, was formally dedicated as the Black and Williams Neighborhood Community Center [source: "Special People: Black and Williams Center dedicated to social worker, Happy Warrior," Lexington Herald, 10/31/1977, p. A-3]. Alexander Williams, Jr. died at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Lexington. He was the husband of Beatrice Williams.
Subjects: Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Military & Veterans, Radio
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky
Birth Year : 1896
Death Year : 1981
Born Edith Goodall in Louisville, KY, she would marry piano player Danny Wilson. She left Kentucky for northern locations to pursue a career of singing and acting. Edith Goodall Wilson became a blues singer who first recorded in 1921. She was the third African American woman to make phonographic records. She acted on radio programs, appeared on stage and in films, and was featured in cookie advertisements as 'Aunt Jemima'. Edith Goodall Wilson was the daughter of Susie A. Goodall. In 1910, the family of six lived on 5th Street in Louisville along with three lodgers [source: U.S. Federal Census]. For more see the Lexington Herald Leader, 09/18/03, p. E2; American National Biography, by J. A. Garraty and M. C. Carnes; and Edith Wilson, a Red Hot Jazz website.
See the image and listen to Edith Wilson - Rules and Regulations by Razor Jim, 1922, on YouTube.
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Radio, Minstrel and Vaudeville Performers, Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky
WTLA-FM (We're The Listener Alternative) 105.3, Lexington, KY
Start Year : 1982
In October of 1982, WTLA-FM (We're The Listener Alternative) Radio was founded by Lexington-Fayette County Urban League. At the time, the Lexington-Fayette County Urban League was the only one in the United States that owned a radio station. The station was on the air 24 hours a day on the TeleCable FM frequency 105.3. The station was located at the Black and Williams Center on Georgetown Street in Lexington. The format was Black programming and music. WTLA was one of the 29 FM radio stations offered via the cable service, and it was granted to the Urban League for community broadcasting. Porter G. Peeples was the executive director of the Lexington-Fayette County Urban League; Toni Sweat was the program director at WTLA; Jodi "Lady Bee" Berry was the music director and a disc jockey; and James E. "Mellow Man" Bradley Jr. (1949-1986) was one of the 20 disc jockeys. The entire operation depended on volunteers. WTLA was not a free radio service: the cost to customers who already had cable service was a one-time cost of $10 for adding FM radio and $1.50 per month subscription fee. The cost was even higher for those who did not already have cable; there was a one-time installation cost of $15 and the monthly subscription was $5.50. WTLA was still on the air in 1995 when TCI of Lexington (Technology Consulting, Inc.) did away with most of its FM radio stations and used the space for its new Sega channel. TCI had a franchise agreement with Lexington, KY, that required the company to keep the Urban League radio station WTLA-FM. In 1995, the WTLA-FM was free due to the passing of the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992 [.pdf at transition.fcc.gov]. Meanwhile, in addition to the radio programing at WTLA-FM, the station produced a weekly show called Steppin' Out which was the local version of Soul Train. [Soul Train was a national television program of music and dancing that was broadcast via cable to mainly African American households]. Steppin' Out was broadcast three times a week on local cable channel 9. In 1983, the WTLA Gospel Radio Ensemble was formed by Reggie Gay and Isaac Williams, and the group celebrated its first anniversary at Philips Memorial C.M.E. Church on August 5, 1984. The group continued performing over the years and along the way the name was changed to WTLA Gospel Ensemble. One of the groups last performances was at Transylvania University's MLK Unity Celebration in January of 2000. The WTLA-FM that was owned by the Lexington-Fayette County Urban League no longer exists. For more see K. Million, "Local Black radio station observing first anniversary WTLA airs its pride on anniversary," Lexington Herald-Leader, 10/27/1983, p.D1; V. Honeycutt, "Success of Urban League celebrated," Lexington Herald-Leader, 10/26/1984, p.B1; R. Bailey, "Centenary to celebrate 118th anniversary," Lexington Herald-Leader, 07/28/1984, p.D2; M. Foley, "Despite uncertainty about concert, Jackson's fans still adore their idol," Lexington Herald-Leader, 06/09/1984, p.A1; N. Crane, "WNVL-1250 DJ leaving for Chicago," Lexington Herald-Leader, 06/27/1995, p.3; and see "WTLA Radio" and "James Bradley, Jr." in Urban League, Lexington-Fayette County, Annual Report 1985-1986, pp.16-17.
Subjects: Radio, Television, Urban Leagues
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky