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

Wiggins, Willian H., Jr.

(born: May 30, 1934  -  died: December 24,2016) Dr. William H. Wiggins, Jr. was born in Port Allen, LA and grew up in Louisville, KY. He was a pastor, a folklorist, an educator, a scholar and an author. Dr. Wiggins taught at Indiana University for 34 years, he was a professor of folklore. He was the author of O Freedom: Afro-American Emancipation celebrations, The Rapture Family (60 and 30 minute films), Joe Louis: American folk hero, and many journal articles.

He was a graduate of Louisville Central High School where he played basketball and in 2012 was inducted into the Central High School Alumni Hall of Fame. He earned his B.A. in pre-theology at Ohio Wesleyan University where he also lettered in tennis. He earned his B.D at Phillips School of Theology and his M.TH. at the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. He was the first African American male to earn a Ph.D. in folklore at Indiana University. He would become a professor at Indiana University, and was one of the faculty members that helped to more firmly establish the African American Studies Department. He had also been a Professor of Religion at Lane College. Dr. Wiggins had served as pastor at Freeman Chapel C.M.E. Church in Hopkinsville, KY. He was the Director of Religious Life at Texas College.

Dr. Wiggins served on a number of boards, including the Indiana Historical Society and the Smithsonian Institute Advisory Council. He also received a number of awards that includes Indiana University's Dr. Herman B. Wells’ Lifetime Achievement Award and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Building Bridges Award. He was a columnist with the Herald Times and the Indianapolis Recorder. Read more about the career and appreciated teaching and mentoring of Dr. William H. Wiggins, Jr. at "Obituary for William Hawthorne Wiggins, Jr." a Allen Funeral Home and Crematory webpage; and Vernon A. Williams, "Dr. William "Bill" Wiggins - quintessential master teacher," Crusader 01/06/2017 (online).  

He was the son of William H. Wiggins, Sr. and Mabel Leora Washington Wiggins; the brother of Alfred W. Wiggins, Sr.; and the husband of Janice L. Slaughter Wiggins, the couple has two children. 

This entry was suggested by Ms. Anna Smith who also provide background information about her brother, Dr. Willima H. Wiggins, Jr.

Kentucky County & Region

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

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

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

Outside Kentucky Place Name


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Louisville Central High School/Central High School Magnet Career Academy
NKAA Source: O freedom! : Afro-American Emancipation celebrations
NKAA Source: The Rapture family (film)
NKAA Source: Joe Louis : American folk hero
NKAA Source: The Crusader online (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Wiggins, Alfred W., Sr.

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Wiggins, Willian H., Jr.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 31, 2021,

Last modified: 2021-03-30 02:00:40