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

Washington, Roy L., Sr.

(born: 1897  -  died: 1953) 

Roy L. Washington was born in Lovelaceville, KY, the son of Isam M. Washington and Arbella Weeks. When a teenager, Roy Washington left Kentucky for southern Illinois, where he married Bertha Spence Jones (1898-1980). The couple later moved to Chicago, two of the more than 50,000 African Americans who had left the South by 1920 to settle in Chicago.

The couple had four children, 2-6 years old, when Bertha separated from Roy. He retained custody of the children while earning $15 a week at the stockyard while attending Chicago-Kent College of Law at nights. Bertha lived nearby and assisted with the raising of the children. She would later marry Ernest Price, with whom she would have six children. Roy would also remarry.

Roy Washington received his law license in 1923.  He developed his law practice and also became a minister, preaching at various churches in Chicago. He would become the Democratic Party precinct captain in the Third Ward and also a police court prosecutor.

When Roy Washington died in 1953, his youngest child, Harold Washington (1922-1987), took over his precinct position. Harold also served as the Democratic representative to the Illinois State Legislature, 1965-1976; as a state senator, 1976-1980; and as a house member, beginning in 1980. He was the first African American mayor of Chicago, 1983-1987 (he died during his second term). He was the brother of Ramon Price (1930-2000), Chief Curator of Du Sable Museum of African American History in Chicago.

For more see J. Camper, et al., "The road to city hall, a half-century of black political evolution set the stage for the Harold Washington revolution," Chicago Tribune, 11/16/1986; Pinderhughes, D., "Washington, Harold." Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History, pp. 2267-2268; and The Ancestry of Mayor Harold Washington (1922-1987), by C.G. Brasfield.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Ballard County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Lovelaceville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Washington, Roy L., Sr.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 23, 2024,

Last modified: 2021-07-30 15:58:31