From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Henderson, Dennis Irwin

(born: January 20, 1896  -  died: June 23, 1979) 

Republican Dennis I. Henderson was elected Representative of the 42nd District (Louisville) in 1948, the second African American elected to the Kentucky General Assembly. He served one term plus the 1949 Special Session.

Henderson was born in New Orleans, LA, according to his World War II Draft Registration Card (Ancestry). Grenada County, MS, has also been given as his birth location. He was the son of Augustus H. and Rosa L. Ingram Henderson, according to the 1910 U.S. Federal Census.

Henderson was a graduate of Talladega College and received his law degree from Howard University As early as 1924, he was practicing law in Louisville, KY as a divorce attorney. In July of 1926, Henderson was the attorney who handled the W. H. Wright estate. Wright was also an attorney in Louisville and a graduate of the Howard University Law School. Dennis Henderson would also take on cases involving lawsuits. In 1927, he married Edna E. Ridgley.

In 1947, Dennis Henderson filed to fill the Representative seat that had been held by Charles W. Anderson, Jr., who had resigned to become Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney. Anderson signed Henderson's filing papers. Republican Henderson defeated William H. Childress, a Democrat. Childress would be elected a Representative in 1960.

After his term as Representative, Dennis Henderson became a partner of the Ray and Henderson Real Estate Agency. He served as legal counsel for the Domestic and Supreme Insurance Company. His Louisville law career lasted for more than 50 years. He died in 1979 and he is buried in the Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, KY.

See the column "News of the courts" in the 1924-1926 issues of The Courier-Journal for mention of Dennis Henderson as a divorce attorney. See also "Negro attorney leaves estate worth $50,000," The Owensboro Messenger, 7/13/1926, front page; "Representative B. J. Bonn to run for state senate," The Courier-Journal, 5/29/1947, p. 13; "42nd, 41st Involved," The Courier-Journal, 11/7/1947, p. 12; and "D. Henderson, ex-legislator, attorney dies," The Courier-Journal, 6/25/1979, p. 16.

For more information contact the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission.

Kentucky County & Region

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Item Relations

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Wright, William H.
NKAA Entry: Childress, William Haydon, Jr.
NKAA Source: The Owensboro messenger (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Courier-Journal [Louisville] (newspaper)
NKAA Entry: Anderson, Charles W., Jr.

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Henderson, Dennis Irwin,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 23, 2024,

Last modified: 2024-07-10 17:00:02