There are more notable African Americans with Kentucky roots and ties than any one person knows about. Very little has been written about many of them and it is a challenge to find what was written in the past. For some, their stories have only been told by word of mouth. The Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (NKAA) has been developed as a finding aid to bring together a brief description of pertinent names, places, and events, and to list the sources where additional information may be found. This is not currently an all inclusive database, but we are working toward that goal and suggestions are welcomed.

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Smith, Verna

Verna Smith was the first African American woman president of the Democratic Club and president of the National Housewives League. She served as an…

Cox, Johnson Duncan

Johnson D. Cox, born in Kentucky to Calvin and Annie Cox, was a teacher at Governor Street School in Evansville, IN. He was the husband of Eugenia D.…

Nelson, James

James Nelson, born into slavery in Kentucky, was a blacksmith. As a freeman, Nelson moved to Springfield, OH, where he maintained a successful…

Baptist Women's Educational Convention

African American Baptist women in Kentucky gathered in 1883 to develop an organization dedicated to raising funds to support Simmons University in…

Kentucky Divisions of the Universal Negro Improvement Association

On August 1, 1914, Marcus Garvey founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in Jamaica with the goal of uniting all of African…

Campbell, Charles

Charles Campbell, born in Covington, KY, later moved to Buffalo, NY, where he was the first African American car salesman at Mernan Chevrolet and the…

Nelson-Johnson, Esther Byrd

Esther Byrd Nelson-Johnson was born in Hickman, KY, one of the six children of Louis and Hestella Holmes Byrd. In 1982, Nelson-Johnson became a part…

Wolfe, William K.

William K. Wolfe, born in Bowling Green, KY, was the former executive director of the Greater Cleveland Urban League, 1972-1984; he is credited with…

Johnson, Jessica Grimm "Judy"

Jessica Grimm Johnson was born in Lexington, KY. When she was a child, her family moved to Clifton, OH, and she later moved to Buffalo, NY, with her…

Banks, William Venoid

In 1975, William V. Banks was the first African American to own and operate a television station in the United States, WGPR-TV in Detroit, MI. He also…