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Ainsworth, Marilyn V. Yarbrough
Birth Year : 1945
Death Year : 2004
Ainsworth was born Marilyn Virginia Yarbrough in Bowling Green, KY, the daughter of Merca L. Toole and William O. Yarbrough. When Marilyn was a child, the family moved to Raleigh, NC. She was a graduate of Virginia State University and, in 1973, the UCLA Law School. Ainsworth was an aerospace engineer with IBM and Westinghouse. She and her husband, Walter, were able to pay her law school tuition with her winnings from the Hollywood Squares Show. Marilyn Ainsworth later earned additional winnings from the television game shows Concentration and Match Game. She was a law professor at several colleges and served as dean of the University of Tennessee College of Law. She was the first African American woman to become dean at a major southern law school, and she was one of the first African American female law professors in the United States. Prior to her death, Ainsworth was a law professor at the University of North Carolina. For more see Who's Who In American Law; Who's Who of American Women; Who's Who Among African Americans, 1985-2006; and L. Stewart, "Yarbrough, 58, law professor," The Daily Tar Heel, 03/15/04.

 See photo image and biography of Marilyn Y. Ainsworth at the University of Kansas Women's Hall of Fame website.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Lawyers, Television, Migration East
Geographic Region: Bowling Green, Warren County, Kentucky

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

Bannister, Frank T., Jr.
Birth Year : 1932
Death Year : 1986
Bannister, at one time a schoolteacher in Louisville, KY, later became a pollster with Jet magazine, compiling African American college football and basketball polls. Bannister was also a broadcaster who in 1976 became the first African American closed-circuit announcer for a heavy-weight championship fight: Muhammad Ali vs Ken Norton. He was selected for the job by Top Rank Inc. executives Robert Arum and Butch Lewis. Bannister, who had taught Ali when he was a student in Louisville, was a sportswriter and commentator. He was born in Roanoke, VA, and was a graduate of Tuskegee University, and earned a doctorate from the University of Massachusetts. For more see "Jet pollster Bannister to call Ali-Norton fight," Jet, vol. 51, issue 2 (09/30/1976), p. 52; and "Frank Bannister, 54 dies; sportscaster, educator," Jet, vol. 71, issue 8 (11/10/1986), p. 18.
See photo image of Frank T. Bannister, Jr. in Jet.
Subjects: Boxers, Boxing, Education and Educators, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Television
Geographic Region: Roanoke, Virginia / Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Best, James L.
Birth Year : 1944
Death Year : 2013
James Best, born in Lexington, KY, was the first African American firefighter to be promoted to the rank of captain in the Lexington Fire Department. He joined the department in 1970 and retired in 2008, having served for 38 years. He was also host of the educational show "In Case of Fire" that aired on the local government television channel GTV. James Best was an active member of he Historic Pleasant Green Missionary Baptist Church, and was elected to the church's Hall of Fame in recognition of his public service and work with youths. James Best was the husband of Karen I. Best. He was the son of Lottie Mae Best Riley. For more see J. Kegley, "Firefighter was a pioneer - first black to be promoted to captain," Lexington Herald-Leader, 02/07/2013, p.A5.
Subjects: Firefighters, Television
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Calhoun, William C., Sr.
Birth Year : 1949
Reverend William C. Calhoun, Sr. is a native of Frankfort, KY.  He is pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in West Baltimore, MD.  He was host of the ecumenical program Lift Every Voice that aired Sunday mornings at 7:30 a.m. on WMAR TV Channel 2 in Baltimore. The program came on the air in 1980 and by 1999,  Rev. Calhoun as the coordinator, writer, producer, and host. Lift Every Voice was the longest running locally produced television program in Maryland when it ended in 2002. Rev. W. C. Calhoun, Sr. is a 1971 graduate of Judson University with a B.A. in music; a 1974 graduate of the School of Theology at Virginia Union University (now Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology) and was ordained at the First Baptist Church in Frankfort, KY; and he earned a Doctor of Ministry from Palmer Theological Seminary in 1990. He has served in a number of leadership positions, including president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, and he chaired the Progressive Baptist Convention of Maryland Ecumenical Council. He was a professor of Urban Ministry at the Ecumenical Institute of Theology at St. Mary's Seminary and University. Rev. Calhoun is the son of the late Myrtle Scott and William T. Calhoun. The family attended St. John AME Church in Frankfort until they moved to Rantoul, IL in the 1960s. For more see Mary C., "Trinity Baptist pastor hosts 'Lift Every Voice' on Channel 2," Baltimore Afro-American, 02/13/1999, p.A8 [online at Google News]; see the biography of Rev. Dr. W. C. Calhoun, Sr. [.pdf]; Member Rev. Dr. William C. Calhoun, Sr. at the Maryland Transportation Authority website; and Our Pastor, a Trinity Baptist Church website.


  See photo image of Rev. Dr. William C. Calhoun, Sr. at Maryland Transportation Authority website.


Subjects: Migration North, Ministers, Pastors, Preachers, Religion & Church Work, Television
Geographic Region: Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky / Rantoul, Illinois / Baltimore, Maryland

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

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

Crump, Steven
Birth Year : 1957
Steven Crump, a news reporter and an award-winning documentary filmmaker, was born in Louisville, KY. He has won a number of awards for his work. Crump is a reporter with WBTV 3 in Charlotte, NC. He has produced more than 20 documentaries that focus on African Americans and the Civil Rights Era. The titles include Forgotten at the Finish Line, Souls of Passage, Nickles from Heaven, Airmen and AdversityLessons from the Lunch Counter, and Louisville's Own Ali, which was recognized as a 2008 NABJ Salute to Excellence Award title. The documentaries are aired at WTVI (Charlotte, NC) and have also aired on other educational and public television stations around the U.S. Crump is a graduate of Trinity High School in Louisville and Eastern Kentucky University. This entry was submitted by Suzanne D. Cordery. For more see M. Washburn, "Steve Crump's documentary takes us to landmarks of Civil Rights Era," The Charlotte Observer, 01/18/2009, Carolina Living section, p.1E; "New ASC Award honors lifetimes of creativity," The Charlotte Observer, 09/21/2008, Carolina Living section, p.3E; and L. M. Imuhammad, "Louisville's own Ali," The Courier-Journal, 01/15/2007, Features section, p.1E.

See photo image and additional information about Steven Crump at
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Authors, Historians, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Television, Migration East, Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Charlotte, North Carolina

Elmore, Ronn
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

Gulley, Rosemarie C.
Birth Year : 1942
Death Year : 1994
Rosemarie C. Gulley, born in Louisville, KY, was the first woman and the youngest person to become executive director of the Independent Voters of Illinois (IVI). The organization was formed in 1942, and encouraged African Americans living in the inner city to vote in regional and state elections. Gulley joined the Chicago staff of IVI in 1965, and advanced to executive director, 1969-1972. She had moved with her family from Louisville to Chicago in 1956. Gulley was a graduate of Roosevelt University. Following her years with IVI, in 1972 she became one of the first African American television reporters in Chicago; Gulley was the consumer and education reporter at WLS-TV until 1979. She was co-host of the television talk show Feminine Franchise and was later named director of community relations. The Feminine Franchise was produced by Theresa Gutierrez, who was also the other co-host of the series. The program was the first weekly feminist television program. Both Gutierrez and Gulley were pioneers in television; Gutierrez was one of the first Hispanic women in television journalism. Gulley left WLS-TV in 1985 to become director of media relations at the Chicago Transit Authority. Rosemarie Gulley was the daughter of Marie S. and Ernest Lee Gulley, Sr. For more see the [Rosemary] C. Gulley entry in Chicago Negro Almanac and Reference Book edited by E. R. Rather; B. Austin, "Rosemarie Gulley - the girl scout promise? I still take it very seriously," Chicago Tribune, 04/19/1987, p.3; and "CTA media director Rosemarie Gulley," Chicago Tribune, 06/24/1994. For more on Theresa Gutierrez see her entry in Feminists Who Changed America, 1963-1975 edited by B. J. Love.
Subjects: Migration North, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Television, Bus Transportation: Employees, Owners, Segregation
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois

Harris, Lauretta
Harris was the first African American to be hired full-time in Lexington televised news broadcasting, and she was the first African American anchor. She was at Kentucky State University when she was hired by Buzz Riggins, the WKYT News Director [prior to 1975]. Harris later moved on to WAVE and WDRB in Louisville, KY, and then to Nashville, Tennessee. Information for this entry was gathered from Lauretta Harris and Buzz Riggins and forwarded by Ken Kurtz of WKYT (Channel 27).
Subjects: Television
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette 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

Hopkins, Telma
Birth Year : 1948
Telma Hopkins was born in Louisville, KY. She was a session singer in Detroit, mostly with the Motown label, before she became a member of the group Tony Orlando and Dawn (Michael Anthony Orlando Cassivitis, Joyce Vincent and Telma Hopkins). Their 1970 single "Knock Three Times" sold a million copies the first month after it was released, but their biggest hit was "Tie a Yellow Ribbon," in 1973. The group had a television program from 1974-1976 before their break-up in 1977. Telma Hopkins went on to have a successful career as a sitcom actress in television shows such as "Gimme a Break" and "Family Matters" plus guest appearances on other shows. She was the character Daisy in the television mini-series "Roots: the Next Generation." For more see Biography Index. A cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines, vol. 25, Sept. 1999 - Aug. 2000; TV Guide, vol. 51, issue 46 (November 15-21, 2003), p. 15; and Who's Who Among African Americans, 1989-2006. View Telma Hopkins in Half & Half - No More Tears.wmv on YouTube.

Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Television
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Humes, Helen
Birth Year : 1913
Death Year : 1981
Born in Louisville, KY, Humes made her first recording in 1927 in St. Louis. She then moved to New York and worked with the Vernon Andrades Orchestra. She replaced Billie Holiday in the Count Basie Band, recorded tunes for film and television, and appeared in the film Simply Heaven [Langston Hughes]. Humes moved to California in the 1940s and when her career slowed in the 1960s, returned to Kentucky. Humes' career picked up in the 1970s. For more see Kentucky Women, by E. K. Potter; and Contemporary Musicians, vol. 19, by S. A. McConnel.

Access InterviewListen to the Helen Humes Oral History (includes transcript) at the University of Louisville Libraries.

View Helen Humes with Dizzy Gillespie c.1947 on YouTube.
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Migration North, Migration West, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Television, Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / St. Louis, Missouri / New York / California

Hutchinson, Jerome, Sr.
Birth Year : 1926
Death Year : 2007
Born in Louisville, KY, Reverend Hutchinson was the first African American to chair the Louisville-Jefferson County Planning Commission in 1979. He became a member of the commission in 1976. He was a graduate of Central High School and attended Louisville Municipal College. He was owner of Jerome Hutchinson and Associates, a marketing and real estate business. He also owned and was chairman of the television station WYCS-TV, the first African American-owned television station in Kentucky. Hutchinson had also been an associate minister at the Emmanuel Baptist Church in Louisville. He was the father of Seretha Tinsley and Jerome Hutchinson, Jr. For more see P. Burba, "Businessman Jerome Hutchinson, Sr. dies," Courier-Journal (Louisville), 07/27/2007, News section, p. 6B.
Subjects: Kentucky African American Churches, Ministers, Pastors, Preachers, Religion & Church Work, Television, Realtors, Real Estate Brokers, Real Estate Investments
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Jones, Robert E. "Jonah"
Birth Year : 1908
Death Year : 2000
Robert Elliot Jones was born in Louisville, KY, and raised in an orphanage. A jazz trumpeter, he played with the Cab Calloway Orchestra for 11 years, then went on to appear on television, make several albums, and win a Grammy Award in 1959 for Best Jazz Performance by a group. He was one of the all-time best trumpeters. Jones is also remembered for the spit ball incident that got Dizzy Gillespie fired. One day during practice, Jones threw a spit ball. Cab Calloway accused Dizzy Gillespie of the deed and slapped Gillespie. A scuffle ensued. When the two were pried apart, Calloway's pants were cut up and he had razor cuts on his hip and thigh. Gillespie was fired. Jonah Jones and the other orchestra members kept quiet. For more on Jonah Jones see Who's Who of Jazz, by J. Chilton; and Talking Jazz, by M. Jones. For more on the spit ball incident see Dizzy Gillespie, by T. Gentry, pp. 69-71. View image and listen to Jonah Jones Quartet: Night Train on YouTube.

Subjects: Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Television, Orphans and Orphanages in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

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

Jones, Silas
Birth Year : 1936
Death Year : 2016
Silas Jones was born in Brentsville (Bourbon County), KY, the son of John and Mary Jones. He is the founder and director of WordPlay and author of books of fiction, short stories and plays, including Waiting For Mongo, Children Of All, and God in Little Pieces. Jones has also written for film, television, and radio. He earned his B.A. in English from Washington State University. Many of Jones' plays have not been published nor made available to the general public. Silas Jones was a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, he joined-up after high school. Silas Jones died July 16, 2016 in Los Angeles, CA. He is buried with his parents in the Cherry Grove Cemetery in Cynthiana, KY. For more see R. Forte, "Back stage with successful playwright Silas Jones," Call & Post [Cleveland, OH], 06/16/1994; National Playwrights Directory, 2nd ed., edited by P. J. Kaye; Silas Jones at, The Playwrights Database. Silas Jones is included in the picture of the children in "Brentsville One-Room School Students" on page 87 of Paris and Bourbon County, by B. Scott and J. Scott. For more information about his career, see the Silas Jones Obituary in the Los Angeles Times, 08/19-22/2016 [available online].

Subjects: Artists, Fine Arts, Authors, Migration West, Military & Veterans, Television, Theaters [outside Kentucky]
Geographic Region: Brentsville, Bourbon County, Kentucky / Los Angeles, California

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

Miller, Barbara Simmons
Birth Year : 1909
Death Year : 2000
Barbara Simmons Miller, born in Louisville, KY, was the first African American to graduate with a library degree in Kentucky, from Nazareth College (now Spalding University); she specialized in children's librarianship. Miller was a librarian with the Louisville Free Public Library and served on the faculty of several Kentucky institutions. She was a delegate to the USSR and went abroad to study library services to children. She was known as the "Storytelling Lady" on the television show T-Bar V Ranch on Louisville television. Miller was the second African American president of the Kentucky Library Association. The Barbara S. Miller Multicultural Children's Literature Collection is in the University of Louisville Library. For more see Who's Who Among American Women, 8th-10th ed.; and In Black and White. A guide to magazine articles, newspaper articles, and books concerning Black individuals and groups, 3rd ed., Supp., ed by M. M. Spradling. Additional information provided by Fannie Cox.

See photo image and additional information about Barbara S. Miller at the University of Louisville Ekstrom Library website.
Subjects: Education and Educators, Librarians, Library Collections, Libraries, Television
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson 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
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

Shaw, Renee
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

Still, Valerie
Birth Year : 1961
Born the ninth of ten children, Valerie Still, the 6' 1" forward was the leading scorer and rebounder in the history of the University of Kentucky basketball with 2,763 points and 1,525 rebounds; she was second in the nation in both categories. Her jersey (no. 12) was retired in Memorial Coliseum in January 2003. She played professional basketball in Italy for 12 years and also acted and had a television show there. She was a WNBA player with the Washington Mystics. Still was born in Camden, NJ. For more see Who's Who Among African Americans, 11th -15th ed., and Who's Who of American Women, 21st ed.

See photo image of Valerie Still at UK Athletics Blog, Cat Scratches.
Subjects: Basketball, Television, Migration Outside the U.S. and Canada
Geographic Region: Camden, New Jersey / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Italy, Europe

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; Ernie Waits in the H. Wilkinson article, "Berry showed them the way," Cincinnati Enquirer, 10/19/2000 [online at]; 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].

  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.

Access Interview 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

Warren, Mark Edward
Birth Year : 1938
Death Year : 1999
Mark E. Warren was born in Harrodsburg, KY, the son of Mary Wade Warren. He was the director of the television program, Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, and other television sitcoms such as Sanford and Son, The Dukes of Hazzard, Barney Miller, and What's Happening. He won an Emmy Award in 1971 for Laugh-In, and was the first African American to win the award. He had also done some acting, including playing Hoon Driver in The Big Steal. He directed the movie Come Back Charleston Blue. Warren began his career in Toronto with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He was a professor at the University of Southern California School of Cinema and Television. He was a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. For more see Who's Who Among African Americans (1999); Who's Who in Entertainment, 2nd ed.; From Beautiful Downtown Burbank by H. Erickson; and "Mark Warren, 60, tv and film director," New York Times, 01/25/1999, p.A21.

  See photo images of Mark Warren in the article "TV's Black Skyrocket: Mark Warren becomes director of 'Laugh-In' in less than two years" in Ebony, April 1970. pp.113-120 [online at Google Books].
Subjects: Actors, Actresses, Military & Veterans, Television, Movies and Films
Geographic Region: Harrodsburg, Mercer 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]. 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


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