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

Kendall, Joseph Nathaniel "Tarzan"

(born: 1909  -  died: 1965) 

Joseph N. Kendall was born to Stephen Kendell and Theresia Moore Kendall in Owensboro, KY, Oct. 2, 1909. In July 2007 he became the first Kentucky State University inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame, located in South Bend, IN.

Kendall was considered one of the greatest passers in college football and a good all-around player. In addition to playing quarterback, he was a running back and punter (who punted with both feet) as well as a defensive player.

In 1934 he led Kentucky State University to a national black college football championship and an undefeated season. In 1935, he led the team to an Orange Blossom Classic victory. During Kendall's college football career, Kentucky State had a 29-7-3 record.

The Pittsburgh Courier named Kendall a First Team All-American three times between 1934 and 1936. He was inducted into the Kentucky State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1975. He was also selected for the African American All-Star team that played against the Chicago Bears in 1935, the first time that an African American team played against an NFL team. Kendall was also a good baseball and basketball player.

He served in the Army for two years, then graduated from Kentucky State in 1938. His original higher education plan had been to go to Paducah, KY to study culinary arts, but once people saw him play football, they encouraged him to  enroll and play for Kentucky State.

After college he was hired to teach and coach at the African American Rosenwald High School in Harlan, KY; in 1946 he became principal of the school.

In 1948, he returned to Owensboro to become the football coach at the school from which he graduated, Western High School. The Kendall-Perkins Park in Owensboro is named in honor of Joseph N. Kendall and Joseph Perkins.

For more see "Joe Kendall Hall of Fame profile" at; S. Hagerman, "One of the finest: Late Western High standout to be inducted into College Football Hall of Fame," Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer, 7/16/2007, section C, p. 1; his Find-a-Grave entry; and contact CESKAA.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Daviess County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Franklin County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Harlan County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Owensboro, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Frankfort, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Harlan, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Kendall, Joseph Nathaniel "Tarzan",” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 23, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-06-30 18:48:05