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

Denning, Joe W.

(born: November 30, 1945) 

Joe W. Denning was born in Bowling Green, KY, the son of Marion E. and Evelyn Huskey Denning. He is a 1970 graduate of the Kentucky State Police Academy also attended Western Kentucky University.  

In 1975, Denning, a former state trooper, became the first African American to serve on the Bowling Green School Board and in 1991 was elected a city commissioner. He had also served as Bowling Green's first African American police officer, starting in 1969. Fifty years later, June 4, 2019, the city commemorated his accomplishment by proclaiming Joe Denning Day. 

Denning was pro-tem mayor of Bowling Green, KY in 2011 and later replaced Mayor Elaine Walker after her resignation to become the Kentucky Secretary of State, becoming the first African American mayor of the city. Denning lost to Bruce Wilkerson in his bid to be elected mayor in the special election held in November 2011. 

Denning continued to be elected to the Bowling Green City Commission after his term as the city's mayor, completing his last term as a commissioner in December 2020. 

For more see "17 blacks are local school board members," in 1978 Kentucky Directory of Black Elected Officials, Fifth Report, by the Commission on Human Rights, p. 24; Who's Who Among African Americans, 1985-2006; "Everyday Joe" "Dedicated to his community," The Park City Daily News, 2/14/2011, p. A1 and p. B1; "Congratulations to winners of 2011 election," Daily News, 11/9/2011, p. A5; "Voter Guide: Joe Denning," 10/31/2018, at the website (includes photograph); Joe W. Denning in the article "City," Bowling Green Daily News, 5/5/2019, pp. A1 and A8 (includes photograph); Wes Swietek, "Denning has series of Bowling Green firsts," Bowling Green Daily News, 6/10/2019, pp. 1A and 3A; Wes Swietek, "We've come a long way," Bowling Green Daily News, 11/22/2020, pp. A1 and 9A. 

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Warren County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Bowling Green, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: Kentucky directory of black elected officials
NKAA Source: Who's who among African Americans
NKAA Source: Bowling Green daily news (newspaper)

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Denning, Joe W.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 12, 2024,

Last modified: 2022-02-10 17:49:17