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

Rowe, John William

(born: 1893  -  died: 1978) 

The John William Rowe entry was written and submitted by Anu Kasarabada, an archivist at the University of Kentucky.

John William Rowe was an attorney and civic leader active in Lexington and Fayette County from the 1920s through at least the 1950s. He served as co-counsel in Johnson v. Board of Trustees of University of Kentucky et al.[1], the 1949 federal civil rights lawsuit that integrated the University of Kentucky. Rowe was part of the team representing plaintiff Lyman T. Johnson, along with Thurgood Marshall, Robert Carter, and Louisville’s James A. Crumlin, Sr. Rowe's wife, Hattie H. Rowe, was the director of Douglas Park, the first city park in Lexington created to serve African-Americans.

John W. Rowe was born on January 19, 1893 in Danville, Kentucky, one of three children born to carriage painter John C. Rowe, Sr. and Elizabeth (Eliza) B. Rowe, a domestic servant. He received both his A. B. and LL.B. from Howard University and was admitted to the Kentucky bar in 1922. According to the Lexington Leader, Rowe was Lexington’s only black attorney for many years [2]. He was also active in civic issues: In 1940, Rowe organized Lexington’s Memorial Day services [3], and he is known to have served as president in 1941 of the Emancipation Association of Lexington and Fayette County [4]. Rowe died on March 24, 1978.

[1] 83 F. Supp. 707 (E.D. Ky. 1949) [online at Justia US Law]

[2] “John Rowe, retired black lawyer, dies.” Lexington Leader, March 24, 1978, p.A10, col.1.

[3] “Colored Notes.” Lexington Herald Leader, May 26, 1940, p.35, col.5.

[4] “Colored Notes.” Lexington Herald-Leader, January 12, 1941, p.12A, col.2.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Boyle County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Fayette County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Danville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Lexington, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Rowe, John William,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 15, 2024,

Last modified: 2018-12-04 21:39:24