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

Walters, Lelia Coleman

(born: 1866  -  died: 1949) 

Lelia Coleman Walters, born in Bardstown, KY, was the second wife of Alexander Walters. She broke many racial barriers, including becoming the first African American woman principal of a public school in Kentucky; for nine years she was principal of the Shelby Street School in Louisville. In 1916, by executive order of President Wilson, Walters was employed as a clerk and interpreter with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service on Ellis Island; she retired in 1935. For twelve years, she was also president of the African Redemption Society, where she was associated with Booker T. Washington and Marcus Garvey. Walters had attended school in a Roman Catholic convent and graduated from Louisville High School. In 1895, she completed a business course at Coon's Commercial High School in Kansas City, MO, and was the first African American to graduate from any Missouri school for whites only. For more see "Mrs. Alexander Walters," New York Times, 03/18/1949, p. 25; and Lelia Walters photo on p. 72, and additional information, in My Life and Work by Bishop Alexander Walters [available full text at the UNC Documenting the American South website].

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Nelson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Jefferson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Bardstown, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Louisville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Walters, Alexander
NKAA Source: The New York times (newspaper)
NKAA Source: My life and work

Related Entries Citing this Entry

NKAA Entry:  Middletown Consolidated School, Berea, KY

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Walters, Lelia Coleman,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed October 30, 2020,

Last modified: 2018-10-08 19:48:44