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Austin, Bobby W.
Birth Year : 1944
He was born in Jonesville, an African American community in Bowling Green, KY. Austin earned a B.A. in Economics and Sociology from Western Kentucky University in 1966; a Master's in Sociology from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee in 1968; and a Ph. D. from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, in 1972. Austin relocated to Washington, D.C. He is the founder and editor of the Urban League Review and a partner with Austin Ford Associates. Austin founded the Village Foundation, which focuses on reconnecting African American males with society. He is co-author of Repairing the Breach and Wake Up and Start to Live, both of which focus on African American males. For more see the Bobby Austin entry at The HistoryMakers website.
Subjects: Authors, Civic Leaders, Sociologists & Social Scientists, Urban Leagues
Geographic Region: Jonesville, Warren County, Kentucky (no longer exists) / Bowling Green, Warren County, Kentucky / Washington, D. C.

Baker, Charles William
Birth Year : 1941
Charles W. Baker was the second African American to serve as a Jefferson County, KY police officer, [the first was William Parker Mitchell]. In 1977, Charles William Baker filed a discrimination lawsuit in the Federal District Court against Chief Edgar Helm, the Jefferson County Police Executive Board, and the Jefferson County Police Merit Board. The lawsuit was in response to the failure to hire and promote African American police officers within the Jefferson County Police Department. The case was handled by attorney Juanita Logan Christian with support from the Urban League [Juanita L. Christian had a private law practice in Louisville and now practices law in Michigan]. The suit was settled with a ten year consent decree that would increase the number of African American police officers hired and promoted, and open the rank for assistant chief. Though Charles W. Baker scored the highest on the exam for the promotion, he was still denied rank, and retired from the Jefferson County Police Department in 1982. Charles W. Baker was born in Louisville, KY, the son of Helen Keeylen Baker and Thomas Baker. He is a graduate of Male High School in Louisville; earned his associate degree and bachelor's degree in business administration while enlisted in the U.S. Marines; and earned his M.S. in political science at Eastern Kentucky University. He was a police officer in Washington D. C., and transferred to the City of Louisville Police Department in 1968. Baker transferred to the Jefferson County Police Department in 1972, he was hired by Chief Russell McDaniel. The lawsuit filed by Baker, and the consent decree signed by County Judge Mitchell McConnell, opened the door for more African American officers to be hired in Kentucky, and other southern states followed Kentucky's lead. In the Jefferson County Police Department, the first African American woman officer was Jackie Dulan, and Carol Hickman was the third woman officer to be hired. Information for this entry was provided by Charles W. Baker during a phone interview on February 14, 2012. For more information see, Charles W. Baker, et al., v. County of Jefferson et al., Case No. C-80-8039(L)(A) and the consent decree at the U.S. District Clerk of Court in Louisville, KY.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Military & Veterans, Corrections and Police, Urban Leagues, Court Cases
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Beauty Shops (Louisville, KY)
In 1968 the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights conducted a study on the nature and extent of Negro ownership of business in Louisville. The commission found that beauty shops were a leading business: Of the 490 Negro-owned businesses, 42.2% were beauty shops, 19.3% barber shops. Within Louisville as a whole, Negro-owned beauty shops were 42.74% of the total number of beauty shops in the city and 32.14% in the entire county. For more see Black Business in Louisville, by the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights. For earlier information on African American beauty shops and other occupations, see A study of business and employment among Negroes in Louisville, by Associates of Louisville Municipal College, University of Louisville, Louisville Urban League, and Central Colored High School (1944).
Subjects: Businesses, Cosmetologists, Beauty Shops, Hairdressers, Beauty Supplies, Urban Leagues, Kentucky Commission on Human Rights
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Blanton, John Oliver, Jr.
Birth Year : 1885
Death Year : 1962
J. O. Blanton, Jr. was born in Versailles, KY, on Christmas Day in 1885, according to his WWI Draft Registration Card. He was the son of John, Sr. and Eliza Blanton [source: 1900 U.S. Federal Census]. He was president of the American Mutual Savings Bank in Louisville, KY. The building was built by Samuel Plato in 1922, the same year that William H. Wright launched the business. Blanton was also director of the Mammoth Building and Loan Association and a professor of mathematics at Central High School in Louisville for 12 years. Blanton was also involved with the Louisville Urban League, which was founded in 1959. His wife was Carolyn Steward Blanton; they were the parents of John W. Blanton. For more see Who's Who in Colored America, 1933-37.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Bankers, Banks, Finance, Financial Advisors, Education and Educators, Fathers, Urban Leagues
Geographic Region: Versailles, Woodford County, Kentucky / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Blanton, John W.
Birth Year : 1922
Death Year : 2003
John W. Blanton, born in Louisville, KY, was the son of John O. and Carolyn Steward Blanton. He was a retired General Electric Aircraft Engines executive. He received GE's Gerald L. Phillippe Award for distinguished public service in 1981 and was inducted into the GE Aircraft Engine's Propulsion Hall of Fame in 1991. He was president of the Urban League Board of Greater Cincinnati and was an original member and former president of the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA). Blanton was a 1943 mechanical engineering graduate of Purdue University. He is buried in Cincinnati, OH. For more see K. Andrew, "Obituary: John Blanton, 81, GE executive," Cincinnati Enquirer, 05/11/2003, Metro section, p. 5B; and "John W. Blanton" in vol. 1 of African American National Biography, edited by H. L. Gates, Jr. and E. B. Higginbotham.
Subjects: Migration North, Mechanics and Mechanical Engineering, Urban Leagues
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Cincinnati, Ohio

Brown, Phil H.
Birth Year : 1872
Death Year : 1923
Phil H. Brown was the appointed Commissioner of Conciliation in the U.S. Department of Labor, Division of Negro Economics. News of his appointment was listed under the heading of "Politics" in M. G. Allison's article "The Horizon" in The Crisis, June 1921, vol.22, issue 2, whole number 128, p.80 [available online at Google Book Search]. The Division of Negro Economics was established in 1918 to mobilize Negro workers and address their issues during WWI. The program came about after much pressure from Negro leaders. It was the first program to assist Negro workers and acted as an informal employment agency. George Haynes, of the Urban League, was named director and continued at the post until the program was discontinued in 1921, when Haynes left the office. Phil H. Brown replaced Haynes in 1921 with the new title of Commissioner of Conciliation. He was assigned the task of making a special study of Negro migration to the North and the cause of the migration. Brown delivered an address on his findings at the International Labor Conference in Toronto, Canada. Brown continued to serve as the Commissioner of Conciliation until his sudden death in November 1923. He died of a heart attack at his home, 1326 Riggs St. N.W in Washington, D.C. Funeral services were conducted at Brown's home by Rev. J. C. Olden and Rev. T. J. Brown. Phil H. Brown's body was sent to Hopkinsville, KY, for burial; he considered the city to be his home town. Brown was born in Ironton, OH, and he had previously lived in Washington, D. C. while working at the Government Printing Office (GPO). He then moved to Hopkinsville, KY, where he was a Republican leader. He was employed by the Republican National Committee during the presidential elections from 1908-1920. Brown was also an associate of W. C. Handy; he wrote a commentary that accompanied Handy's 1922 published sheet music "John Henry Blues." [Handy's first wife, Elizabeth, was a Kentucky native.] Phil H. Brown was also a recognized journalist and publisher in Kentucky; Brown had owned a printing company located at Tenth and Chestnut Streets in Hopkinsville. He was editor of the newspaper Major in 1902 and the Morning News in 1903. He also published the Saturday News. Brown had an association with the Chicago Daily News, The New York Journal, and the New York Sun. He also wrote articles for many other publications. In 1916, Brown's printing company published the book The Awakening of Hezekiah Jones by J. E. Bruce. Phil H. Brown was married to Dorothea "Dolly" R. Brown, b.1872 in Pennsylvania, and died in 1924. Prior to their second move to Washington, D.C., the couple had lived on North Liberty Street in Hopkinsville, according to the 1920 U.S. Federal Census. For more see A History of Christian County Kentucky from Oxcart to Airplane by C. M. Meacham; Colored Girls and Boys Inspiring United States History and a Heart to Heart Talk About White Folks by W. H. Harrison, Jr.; "Phil H. Brown dies suddenly in Washington," The Afro American, 12/07/1923, p.1; and U.S. Department of Labor Historian, J. MacLaury, "The Federal Government and Negro Workers Under President Woodrow Wilson," paper delivered at the Annual Meeting of the Society for History in the Federal Government, 03/16/2000, Washington, D.C. [available online].
Subjects: Businesses, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Migration North, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Migration South, Urban Leagues
Geographic Region: Ironton, Ohio / Hopkinsville, Christian County, Kentucky / Washington, D.C.

Clark, John T.
Birth Year : 1883
Death Year : 1949
John T. Clark was born in Louisville, KY, the son of John R. and Sallie Clark. He graduated in 1906 from Ohio State University with a focus in sociology and economics. Clark returned to Louisville, where he was an instructor at Central High School (1907-1913). He left Louisville to become housing secretary in New York City (1913-1916). He was a contributing author to the 1915 collection, "Housing and Living Conditions among Negroes in Harlem." Clark held a number of posts with the National Urban League and its state chapters from 1916 to1949, including bringing the National Urban League to Pittsburgh in 1917 and becoming executive secretary of the St. Louis Urban League, beginning in 1926. Also a member of the American Social Workers Association, Clark was elected the third vice president of the National Conference of Social Work in 1940. For more see Who's Who in Colored America, 1933-37; and Who's Who in Colored America, 1950. The John T. Clark files of the Urban League of St. Louis are available at the Washington University of St. Louis Library.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Authors, Civic Leaders, Education and Educators, Migration North, Migration West, Social Workers, Sociologists & Social Scientists, Urban Leagues, Housing, Fair Housing, Open Housing, Housing Agencies
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / New York City, New York / Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania / St. Louis, Missouri

Coggs, Pauline Redmond
Birth Year : 1912
Death Year : 2005
Pauline Coggs was born in Paris, Kentucky, the daughter of Rev. John B. and Josephine B. Redmond. The family moved to Chicago, where Coggs graduated from high school and earned a bachelor's degree in sociology and psychology at the University of Chicago. She earned a master's degree in social work at the University of Pittsburgh. Coggs was the first African American woman to head the Washington, D.C. Urban League. She also directed the youth activities department in the Chicago Urban League, 1936-1940. She was a part-time instructor in the Department of Social Work at Howard University, 1943-1944, and later became the assistant executive secretary of the Wisconsin Welfare Council, 1947-1948. Coggs was the author of "Race Relations Advisers - Messiahs or Quislings," Opportunity, 1943. She was a confidante of Eleanor Roosevelt. The governor of Wisconsin appointed her to the Wisconsin Civil Rights Commission. Pauline R. Coggs was the aunt of Wisconsin Senator Spencer Coggs. The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. created the Pauline Redmond Coggs Foundation, Inc. For more see Who's Who in Colored America, 1950; C. Stephenson, "Striving to combat myths and ignorance never goes out of style," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 12/04/02, B News section, p.02; and F. Thomas-Lynn, "Coggs 'silent strength' behind political dynasty," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 07/28/2005, B News section, p. 07.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Education and Educators, Welfare (Social Services) Organizations, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Social Workers, Women's Groups and Organizations, Urban Leagues
Geographic Region: Paris, Bourbon County, Kentucky / Washington, D.C. / Chicago, Illinois / Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Duncan, John Bonner
Birth Year : 1910
Death Year : 1994
Duncan was born in Springfield, KY, leaving the state in 1930 to attend Howard University, where he earned a bachelor of arts degree. He was also a 1938 graduate and distinguished alumni of the Robert H.Terrell Law School. A government employee, he served from 1952-1961 in the appointed position of Recorder of Deeds for the District of Columbia. President John F. Kennedy appointed him to the D.C. governing board in 1961; he was the first African American commissioner of the District of Columbia. In 1964, he was reappointed to the position by President Lyndon B. Johnson and served until 1967. At the end of his second term, Duncan was appointed assistant to the secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior for Urban Relations. He retired from government in 1969. Duncan was a community and civic leader in a large number of organizations, including the NAACP and the Washington Urban League, and he served on the board of the United Negro College Fund. The John B. Duncan Papers are available at George Washington University. For more see "John B. Duncan, 84, 1st black commissioner," Obituaries, Washington Times, 06/23/1994, Section C, p. C8.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Civic Leaders, Lawyers, Migration North, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), Appointments by U.S. Presidents/Services for U.S. Presidents, Urban Leagues, United Negro College Fund (UNCF)
Geographic Region: Springfield, Washington County, Kentucky / Washington D. C.

Ellison, Fanny McConnell
Birth Year : 1911
Death Year : 2005
Fanny M. Ellison was born in Louisville, KY, to Ulysses and Willie Mae Brock McConnell; her parents divorced before Fanny was a year old and she and her mother moved to Colorado, then to Chicago. Fanny Ellison was the wife of Ralph Ellison (1913-1994), author of the 1953 National Book Award title, Invisible Man. Both were divorced when they met in 1944; they married in 1946. Fanny Ellison had attended Fisk University and graduated from the University of Iowa; she was involved in the theater, politics, and civil rights. In 1938, she founded the Negro People's Theater in Chicago, and in 1943 she moved to New York, where she was an assistant to George Granger, Director of the National Urban League. She supported her husband, Ralph, while he was writing what would become his only published novel. Fanny Ellison edited and typed the book manuscript that her husband had written in longhand, and she did the same for the second manuscript that he was unable to finish before his death. The second novel, Juneteenth, was published in 1999 with the permission of Fanny Ellison. For more see "Fanny McConnell Ellison dies at 93," an MSNBC website; and D. Martin, "Fanny Ellison, 93; helped husband edit 'Invisible Man'," The New York Times, 12/01/2005, Metropolitan Desk section, p. 9.

See photo image of Fanny M. Ellison and Ralph Ellison at the Library of Congress website.
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Authors, Migration North, Migration West, Urban Leagues
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Colorado / Chicago, Illinois / New York

Elzy, Robert James
Birth Year : 1884
Death Year : 1972
Born in Lexington, KY, Elzy was a 1909 graduate of Fisk University and completed his graduate work at Columbia University and New York University. He was assistant principal and a teacher at Joseph K. Brick School in North Carolina, then taught for a year at State Normal School for Colored Persons [now Kentucky State University]. Elzy left Kentucky to practice social work in Brooklyn, New York. He was the founder and executive secretary of the Brooklyn Urban League, chaired the Colored Case Committee of the Bedford and Ft. Green districts of the Brooklyn Bureau of Charities, and was treasurer of the Brooklyn Social Service League. Robert J. Elzy was the husband of Louise Voorhees Elzy. For more see Who's Who in Colored America, 1928-29 and 1950; and "Robert Elzy of Urban League, champion of Black welfare, dies," New York Times, 02/20/1972, p. 68.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Education and Educators, Welfare (Social Services) Organizations, Migration North, Social Workers, Migration East, Urban Leagues
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / North Carolina / Brooklyn, New York

Evans, William L., Sr.
Birth Year : 1886
Born in Louisville, KY, Evans received an A.B. from Fisk University in 1909, took advanced study at Columbia University, from 1910 to 1911, and earned his M.A. from the University of Buffalo in 1930. He was Industrial Secretary of the Chicago Urban League, 1919-1923, worked with Plato and Evans Architectural Firm, 1923-1927, and was executive secretary of the Buffalo Urban League, beginning in 1927. Evans had also been a teacher before moving to Buffalo. He was a member of the Buffalo Commission in the New York State Commission Against Discrimination. Evans was the author of three articles: "Federal Housing Brings Racial Segregation to Buffalo," "Race, Fear and Housing," and "The Negro Community in 1948." He was the father of W. Leonard Evans, Jr. For more see Who's Who in Colored America, 1933-37 & 1950; and Strangers in the Land of Paradise, by L. S. Williams.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Architects, Education and Educators, Fathers, Migration North, Sociologists & Social Scientists, Urban Leagues, Housing, Fair Housing, Open Housing, Housing Agencies
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois / Buffalo, New York

Greene, Harold, Jr.
Greene was the first African American to be appointed to serve as Administrative Assistant to a governor (John Y. Brown in 1980). He is a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University and earned his law degree from the University of Kentucky. He was a former leader of the Lexington Urban League and the Lexington NAACP Chapter. For more see The Fascinating Story of Black Kentuckians, by A. A. Dunnigan; and J. Campbell, "Lexington attorney to speak at awards banquet," Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer, 09/07/2004, section C, p. 1.
Subjects: Civic Leaders, Lawyers, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), Appointments by Kentucky Governors, Urban Leagues
Geographic Region: Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Johnson, Lillian E. Russell Bakeman
Birth Year : 1872
Lillian E. Russell was born in Kentucky and moved to Detroit, Michigan. She was the daughter of Wilbur L. Gordon Russell (mother) and William Russell [source: Michigan Marriages, 1868-1925]. After attending high school and business college in Detroit, she became a bookkeeper and stenographer. She was married to George C. Bakeman around 1895, and they were divorced by 1910, and Lillian and her daughter were living with her mother, Wilbur L. Russell, according to the U.S. Federal Census. Her name was Lillian E. Johnson by 1920 and she was once again living with her mother; Lillian had remarried and was a widow, and was employed as a stenographer at a law office. She was considered a member of the middle class within the African American community in Detroit, and was selected as a board member of the Detroit Urban League; at the time she was employed as a bookkeeper for a physician. She was one of the early African American members of the Detroit Urban League's integrated board at a time when the organization worked hand-in-hand with its financier, the Employer's Association, to supply Detroit industries with African American laborers from the South. The Detroit Urban League was established in 1910. Lillian E. Johnson was living with her brother in 1940, his name was Samuel H. Johnson, and the family of four lived on Alger Street in Detroit [U.S. Federal Census]. Johnson was employed as a bookkeeper with a newspaper. Bakeman's brief biography is included in the Michigan Manual of Freemen's Progress, compiled by F. H. Warren [available full text online in .pdf format on the Western Michigan University website]. For more about the Detroit Urban League Board when Bakeman was a member, see Internal Combustion: the races in Detroit, 1915-1926, by D. A. Levine.
Subjects: Accountants, Bookkeepers, Certified Public Accountants, Stenographers, Employment Services, Migration North, Urban Leagues
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Detroit, Michigan

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, Eugene K.
Birth Year : 1885
Death Year : 1954
Contrary to popular belief, Eugene Kinckle Jones was not from Kentucky; he was born in Richmond, VA, the son of Joseph and Rosa Jones. Both parents taught at Virginia Union College [now Virginia Union University]. Eugene Jones came to Louisville, KY, to teach (1906-1909). He then left Kentucky for New York, where he became the first Chief Executive of the National Urban League and founded the organization's magazine, Opportunity. Jones also organized the first three Alpha Phi Alpha chapters and was appointed the adviser on Negro Affairs for the U.S. Dept. of Commerce in 1933. Eugene Jones was a graduate of Virginia Union College (B.A.) and Cornell University (M.A.). For more see The Talented Tenth: the founders and presidents of Alpha, by H. Mason; Eugene Kinckle Jones and the Rise of Professional Black Social Workers, 1910-1940, by F. Armfield (thesis); and the Eugene Kinckle Jones entry in African-American Social Leaders and Activists, by J. Rummel.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Education and Educators, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Urban Leagues
Geographic Region: Richmond, Virginia / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / New York, New York

Jones, Samuel
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

Little, Chester H.
Birth Year : 1907
Little was born in Paducah, KY, and received an honorary degree in 1971 from Indiana Christian University. Little was a community and civic leader who held a number of positions in various organizations, including first vice president of the Malleable Foundry Employee Credit Union in Indianapolis and president of the Marion County Council on Aging. In 1956, Little was president of the Progressive Community Club in Indianapolis and led the organization when it became a member of the Federation of Associated Clubs (FAC). Little was the first vice president of FAC from 1956-1978. He was also on the board of directors of the Indianapolis Urban League, and captain of the auxiliary police. For more see the Progressive Community Club Collection, 1940-1982 at the Indiana Historical Society; and Who's Who Among African Americans, 1980-2004.
Subjects: Civic Leaders, Migration North, Corrections and Police, Urban Leagues
Geographic Region: Paducah, McCracken County, Kentucky / Indianapolis, Indiana

Peeples, Porter G.
Birth Year : 1947
Porter G. Peeples was born in Lynch, KY. When he became director of the Lexington (KY) Urban League, he was the youngest Urban League director in the U.S. He continues to lead and to advocate for the needs and rights of the disadvantaged in Lexington. Peeples is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. For more see Porter Peeples in Living the Story, Film Interviews at the Kentucky Historical Society; Porter Peeples Biography at The HistoryMakers.

  View the interviews, read the transcript, and listen to the audio of Porter G. Peeples in the Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky Oral History Project at the Kentucky Historical Society.

Access Interview Read about the Porter G. Peeples oral history interviews available at the University of Kentucky Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, item records in SPOKE Database.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Urban Leagues
Geographic Region: Lynch, Harlan County, Kentucky / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Pendleton, Clarence M., Jr.
Birth Year : 1930
Death Year : 1988
Born in Louisville, KY, and raised in Washington, D.C., Pendleton was appointed by President Ronald Reagan as the first African American chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (1981-1988). Pendleton replaced Arthur S. Flemming, who was dismissed by President Reagan. Pendleton had been the director of the San Diego Urban League and was later an opponent of school busing and affirmative action. He changed his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican in 1980. Over the next eight years he lived part time in Washington, D.C. and part time in San Diego, where he died suddenly in 1988. His father had been the first swimming coach at Howard University, where Pendleton received his B.S. and his Master's degree in education. He later took over as the swimming coach at Howard, and the team won 10 championships in 11 years. For more see Current Biography (1984); and J. McQuiston, "Clarence M. Pendleton, 57, dies, Head of Civil Rights Commission," The New York Times, 06/06/1988, p. A1.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Athletes, Athletics, Education and Educators, Migration North, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Appointments by U.S. Presidents/Services for U.S. Presidents, Urban Leagues, Swimmers, Swimming, Swimming Facilities
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Washington, D.C.

Poston, Ersa Hines
Birth Year : 1921
Death Year : 2009
Ersa H. Poston was born in Mayfield and raised in Paducah, KY, after her mother's death. She was the daughter of Vivian Johnson Hines (1905-1925, died of tuberculosis) and Robert Hines. Ersa Poston was one of the highest-ranked women in the federal government, having been appointed a member of the U.S. Civil Service Commission by President Carter in 1977. Prior to the appointment, Poston was director of the New York State Office of Economic Opportunity, 1965-67, and president of New York State Civil Service Commission, 1967-75. She served as vice president of the National Urban League. Ersa Hines Poston was the former wife of John Clinton and Ted Poston; the marriages ended in divorce. She was a 1942 graduate of Kentucky State University, and earned her master's in social work at Atlanta University [now Clark Atlanta University] in 1946. For more see In Black and White. A guide to magazine articles, newspaper articles, and books concerning Black individuals and groups, 3rd ed., Supp., edited by M. M. Spradling; The Negro Almanac. A reference work on the African American, 5th ed.; and A. Berstein, "New York, U.S. Civil Service Administrator," The Washington Post, 01/22/2009, Metro section, p.B5.

See photo image and additional information on Ersa H. Poston from the The Boston Globe at
Subjects: Migration North, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Appointments by U.S. Presidents/Services for U.S. Presidents, Urban Leagues, Tuberculosis: Care and Deaths
Geographic Region: Mayfield, Graves County, Kentucky / Paducah, McCracken County, Kentucky / Washington, D.C. / New York

Stanley, Frank L., Jr.
Birth Year : 1937
Death Year : 2007
Frank L. Stanley, Jr. was a journalist and was editor and publisher of the Louisville (KY) Defender newspaper until 1976. He chaired the Allied Organizations for Civil Rights (AOCR), the organization that coordinated the 1964 March on Frankfort, KY, where Martin Luther King, Jr. addressed 10,000 citizens. The march was in support of the public accommodations bill, which was not passed. Stanley was active in many civil rights efforts in Louisville, including voter registration and public demonstrations. In 1968, he was executive director of the Los Angeles National Urban League. Kentucky Governor Julian Carroll appointed him executive director of the Kentucky Commission on Corrections and Community Service in 1974. Ten years later he planned to run as a Democratic candidate for mayor of Louisville. Frank L. Stanley, Jr. was the son of journalist Frank L. Stanley Sr. He was a graduate of Louisville Central High School, the University of Illinois, and George Washington University. For more see Kentucky's Black Heritage, by the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights; and P. Burba, "Frank Stanley, Jr., champion of civil rights in Louisville, dies at 70," Courier-Journal (Louisville), 03/02/2007, News section, p. 4B.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Corrections and Police, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Appointments by Kentucky Governors, Urban Leagues
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky / Los Angeles, California

Steppe, Cecil H.
Birth Year : 1933
Steppe was born in Versailles, KY, the son of Esther and Grant Steppe and the nephew of Rebecca Craft. When Grant and Esther separated, Esther took the children and moved to San Diego, where they at first lived with Craft. Cecil Steppe is a graduate of San Diego City College and California Western University [now Alliant International University]. Since 2001, Steppe has served as president and CEO of the San Diego County Urban League. He came to the Urban League after two years retirement from San Diego County; Steppe had been employed with the county for 35 years, both as director of social services and as Chief Probation Officer of San Diego County. In 2007, Steppe announced that he would retire from the Urban League. For more see Who's Who Among African Americans, 1985-2006; K. Kucher, "Steppe leaves lasting imprint on county," San Diego Union-Tribune, 07/05/1999, NEWS section, p. A-1; and "Urban Leagues leader to resume his retirement," San Diego Union-Tribune, 02/15/2007, Local section, p. B-2.
Subjects: Welfare (Social Services) Organizations, Migration West, Corrections and Police, Social Workers, Urban Leagues
Geographic Region: Versailles, Woodford County, Kentucky / San Diego, California

Stone, Lee Owen
Birth Year : 1903
Death Year : 1977
Stone was born in Lexington, KY, the son of Walter and Lillace Peasons Stone. He was a 1936 graduate of Bishop Payne Divinity [merged with Virginia Theological Seminary in 1949], and a 1944 graduate of Lewis and Clark College. Stone taught at the Kentucky House of Reform before leaving Kentucky for Portland, OR, where he spent the rest of his career as Vicar of St. Philips Episcopal Church. Stone was a leader of the Portland African American community; in 1942 he called for Union Reform during WWII. He was a board member of the Portland Urban League, the Portland Council of Social Agencies, and the Portland U.S.O. The Lee Owen Stone Cooperative Preschool was named in his honor. Lee Owen Stone is buried in the Rose City Cemetery in Portland Oregon. For more see "Lee Owen Stone" in Biographical Directory of Negro Ministers by E. L. Williams; "Biography-Rev. Lee Owen Stone," Vertical File, Oregon Historical Society Research Library; "Church-Episcopal-Portland-St. Phillip the Deacon," Vertical File, Oregon Historical Society Research Library; and Lee Owen Stone's obituary in The Oregonian, 03/11/1977, p.A13.
Subjects: Civic Leaders, Education and Educators, Migration West, Ministers, Pastors, Preachers, Religion & Church Work, Urban Leagues
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Portland, Oregon

Sykes, Harry N.
Birth Year : 1927
Death Year : 2012
Born in Starkville, MS, in 1963 Harry N. Sykes became the first African American elected to the City of Lexington, KY, Council; he also served as mayor pro-tem, 1967-1969. Sykes ran unsuccessfully for Mayor of Lexington in 1971. He founded the Lexington Fayette County Urban League in 1968, serving as president from 1968-1972. Sykes was also a member of the Harlem Globetrotters, 1952-1954. For more see Harry Sykes, Lexington Herald Leader, 08/02/03, Final Ed., p. B1.

  See photo image of Harry Sykes and additional information at The HistoryMakers website.

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

Subjects: Basketball, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Urban Leagues
Geographic Region: Starkville, Mississippi / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Towles, Jeffrey
Birth Year : 1930
Death Year : 2004
According to his death notice by the Associated Press and newspaper sources, Jeffrey Towles was born and raised in Kentucky. He was the surgeon who helped save the life of Vernon Jordan in 1980. Jordan, then president of the Urban League, had been shot in the back by a sniper. Jordan had been standing in a hotel parking lot in Fort Wayne, IN, when he was shot. Towles led the surgery team that operated on Jordan. Towles was also active in the Fort Wayne community and served on the school board before becoming the first African American president of the school board in 1987. He was a veteran of the Korean War and a graduate of West Virginia State College [now West Virginia State University] and the University of Louisville Medical School. For more see "Towles, surgeon and Fort Wayne community leader, dies at age 74," The Associated Press; and J. Creek, "Black leader, surgeon for Vernon Jordan dies," The Journal Gazette, 01/26/2004, p. 1A.
Subjects: Medical Field, Health Care, Migration North, Military & Veterans, Board of Education, Urban Leagues
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Fort Wayne, Indiana

Walters, Arthur M.
Birth Year : 1918
Death Year : 2010
Arthur M. Walters, born in Magnolia, KY, was a social services administrator most recognized for his role as executive director of the Louisville Urban League from 1970-1987. He led the League's involvement in the implementation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Walters already had a B.A. when he earned a M.Ed. at the University of Louisville. He belonged to a number of organizations and received many awards. Walters also received a number of military recognitions: the Medal of Merit, the Bronze Star for heroism, the Soldier's Medal for Bravery, the American Campaign Medal, the European-African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 4 bronze stars, World War II Victory Medal, and many more. The Louisville Urban League's Arthur M. Walters Award is named in his honor. For more see Arthur M. Walters at the Louisville Urban League website; and Who's Who Among African Americans, 1975-2006.

See photo image of Arthur M. Walters at
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Military & Veterans, Urban Leagues
Geographic Region: Magnolia, Hardin County, Kentucky / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Wilson, Hughlyne A. Perkins
Birth Year : 1931
Hughlyne A. Perkins Wilson was the first woman assistant superintendent in the Louisville, KY, public schools. She is a 1951 graduate of Howard University and earned her M. Ed. in 1964 at the University of Louisville, where she completed her thesis, A Study of the Relationship of First Grade Readiness Test Scores to Reading Achievement in the Fifth Grade. Wilson began her career with the Louisville Public Schools as a teacher in 1956. She is a member of the Urban League, Delta Sigma Theta, and Phi Delta Kappa. She was a member of the Board of Regents at Western Kentucky University. Hughlyne Wilson was born in Louisville, KY, the daughter of Henry W. and Gertrude Loving Perkins. She is the wife of Charles A. Wilson. For more see the Hughlyne Perkins Wilson entry in Who's Who Among Black Americans, 1975-1995; and Who's Who Among African Americans, 1996-2009.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Women's Groups and Organizations, Urban Leagues
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Wolfe, William K.
Birth Year : 1926
Death Year : 2002
Wolfe, born in Bowling Green, KY, was the former executive director of the Greater Cleveland Urban League, 1972-1984, and is credited with developing the organization into a multi-million dollar operation. He had also been head of the Urban League in Westchester County, NY, and was the housing coordinator for the New York Housing Authority. He was a past president of the Ohio Welfare Conference and had begun his social work career with the Dayton YMCA. Wolfe was a social work graduate of Springfield College and Adelphi University. He founded the Black Professional Association of Cleveland. For more see A. Baranick, "William K. Wolfe, led Urban League," Plain Dealer, 12/31/2002, Metro section, p. B7.
Subjects: Welfare (Social Services) Organizations, Housing Authority, The Projects, Migration North, Social Workers, Urban Leagues, YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association), Housing, Fair Housing, Open Housing, Housing Agencies
Geographic Region: Bowling Green, Warren County, Kentucky / Cleveland and Dayton, Ohio / Westchester County, New York

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]. 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

Young, Whitney M., Jr.
Birth Year : 1921
Death Year : 1971
Whitney M. Young, Jr. was born in Lincoln Ridge, KY. He was the executive director of the National Urban League, and through this organization he pushed for equal opportunity, housing, education, and economic well being for African Americans. Young was a graduate of Lincoln Institute, Kentucky State College [now Kentucky State University] and the University of Minnesota. He was dean of social work at Atlanta University [now Clark-Atlanta]; the Whitney M. Young Jr. School of Social Work was named in his honor. He and Florence V. Adams co-authored Some Pioneers in Social Work: brief sketches; student work book (1957). In 1969, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award for civilians, by President Johnson. He was an adviser to Presidents Johnson, Kennedy, and Nixon. Young was married to Margaret B. Young and was the son of Whitney Young, Sr. and Laura Young. For more see Militant Mediator, by D. C. Dickerson.

See also "Whitney M. Young Jr.: Little Known Civil Rights Pioneer," a website by the U.S. Department of Defense.
See and download photo image at end of the article.

See photo image of Whitney M. Young, Jr. in UK Explore.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Authors, Education and Educators, Appointments by U.S. Presidents/Services for U.S. Presidents, Urban Leagues, Housing, Fair Housing, Open Housing, Housing Agencies
Geographic Region: Lincoln Ridge, Shelby County, Kentucky / Atlanta, Georgia


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