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

Colbert, Jesse B.

(born: 1861  -  died: 1936) Reverend Jesse B. Colbert was a nationally known leader and minister of the AMEZ Church, as well as a lawyer and civil rights leader. He was the first president of the Varick Christian Endeavor Movement [information], and he was author of The Origin and Progress of the Christian Endeavor Movement in the World and in the A. M. E. Zion Church in America [information, p. 9]. Colbert was also a civil rights leader before and after he came to Kentucky. In 1894, he was vice president of the American Liberty Defense League, an anti-lynching organization in Washington, D.C. [source: "The American Liberty Defenc[s]e League," Washington Bee, 10/06/1894, p. 2].

Jesse B. Colbert was born in 1861 in Lancaster, SC, the son of Sarah House Colbert and Tillman Colbert. He was the husband of Margaret A. Davis Colbert; the couple married in North Carolina on July 3, 1888 [source: North Carolina Marriage Collection]. Jesse and Margaret Colbert lived in a number of locations in the United States [information]. In 1910, they were living in Chicago, where Jesse was an [AME] Zion minister, according to the U.S. Federal Census. By 1911, the couple was living in Kentucky, and Jesse was the AMEZ presiding elder over the Louisville District, a position he held until 1917 [sources: "Rev. J. B. Colbert...," Bee, 05/19/1911, p. 4; and Caron's Directory of the City of Louisville]. He was also editor of the Louisville Columbian newspaper [source: "It seems that the Louisville Columbian...," Freeman, 06/14/1913, p. 3]. He was a member of the Fraternal Day Movement that sought to bring together all of the groups that were fighting for the rights of the Colored people in Louisville [source: "Kentucky's metropolis. Talking segregation.," Freeman, 07/25/1914, p. 8]. He was a member of the Legal Committee of the Louisville NAACP Branch and co-author of the 1918 publication, "History of Louisville Segregation Case and the decision of the Supreme Court" [source: Papers of the NAACP, Part 5, Campaign against residential segregation, 1914-1955 ;, reel 4, fr. 0752-0813].

Jesse B. Colbert was also editor of the first and second editions of The Historical Hand Book and Illustrated Directory of the General Conference of the A. M. E. Zion Church [source: "New books by leading thinkers," Savannah Tribune, 01/29/1916, p. 1]. In 1918, Jesse B. Colbert was listed in the Louisville city directory as a lawyer with an office at 505 Green Street. From 1928-1936, he was listed as an employee of the National Employment Bureau [source: Caron's Louisville City Directory]. He was also an agent for the National Colored Teachers' Agency, a division of the National Teachers' Agency in Louisville. Jesse B. Colbert died in Louisville, KY, on December 14, 1936 [source: Kentucky Certificate of Death, Registered No. 5776]. The day of his funeral, the flag at the Louisville courthouse was flown at half mast as a show of respect [source: "At half mast for colored resident," Capital Plaindealer, 01/03/1937, p. 7].

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Jefferson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Louisville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Colbert, Jesse B.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed May 20, 2024,

Last modified: 2019-10-03 14:01:12