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

Ball, Richard

(born: 1874) Richard Ball was an amateur cyclist from Louisville, KY. He was one of the competing African American cyclist in Kentucky, and said to be one of the fastest. In 1899, he went to Indianapolis to compete in a race. Ball was employed as a waiter at the Galt House Hotel [source: Caron's Directory of the City of Louisville for 1898, p.116]. Richard Ball was born in Tennessee, the son of Mary Ellis, and he was the husband of Maggie Ball [source: 1900 U.S. Federal Census]. His past time as a cyclist, then called a wheelman, was not a main source of income for Richard Ball. In Louisville, colored wheelmen belonged to the Union Cycle Club, said to be the largest African American cycling club in the South [source: Ethnicity, Sport, Identity edited by J. A. Mangan and A. Ritchie, p.20]. Colored wheelmen were barred from membership and from participating in events sponsored by the Louisville Wheelmen, and from membership to the League of American Wheelmen (L. A. W.). The color line was an issue that came up at the biannual 1894 L. A. W. Convention held in Louisville, KY; Louisville attorney, Colonel William W. Watts, put forth the motion that would limit L. A. W. membership to whites only. The vote was split 108 for, 101 against, but a two thirds majority was need, so the motion was brought forward the following year and it passed. In June of 1894, the L. A. W. chairman explained that the vote had only denied Colored wheelmen membership, not the right to participate in L. A. W. sponsored races, nor did it impact a cyclist's amateur status. For more see Richard Ball in the column "Spokes from a wheel" on p.2 of the Indianapolis Recorder, 06/17/1899; Highway History: The Road to Civil Rights, The League of American Wheelmen, a Federal Highway Administration website; and "Colored wheelmen may race," The Roanoke Times, 06/15/1894, p.2 [article available online at Chronicling America].

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“Ball, Richard,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed May 20, 2024,

Last modified: 2017-07-19 17:51:55