From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)
Rev. E. A. White.pdf
Dr. E. A. White2.pdf

White, Elam A.

(born: June 1862  -  died: July 15, 1932) 

Rev. Elam A. White was a Methodist Episcopal minister and a civil rights activist. He was often referred to as Rev. or Dr. E. A. White. In 1916, he was named president of Walden University in Nashville, TN, and served for two years. He was the second African American president of the school, and his tenure followed that of the previous African American president, Edward A. White. The school had been Central Tennessee College from 1865 to 1900. Rev. White was a graduate of Central Tennessee State, and he was also educated at DePauw University and Ohio Wesleyan University. He had also been a schoolteacher in Kentucky and Indiana. Rev. White was a four-time member of the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He served as superintendent of the Ohio District and the Indianapolis District. 

Rev. White had made a steady climb to the top of the church conferences. As early as 1890, he was in Louisville, KY, when he advanced to the second class of deacons in the Lexington Conference. The following year, he was elected an elder of the Kentucky Conference. Three years later, in 1894, Rev. White was appointed pastor of St. Mark United Methodist Church in Chicago. Before he could take charge of the church, he was called to Cleveland, OH, and never became pastor of the church. The following year, Rev. White was named Secretary of the Lexington Conference. In 1901, he was named Presiding Elder of the Lexington Annual Conference and he established the organization headquarters in Maysville, KY.   

Rev. White was still living in Maysville in 1902 when he was a speaker at the Negro Young People's Christian and Educational Congress. The messages delivered at the conference were to inspire the uplift of the race through the young people. [The Negro Young People's Christian and Educational Congress was a predecessor to the 1926 Young People's Congress, Youth Council of Kentucky.] In 1908, Rev. White was living in Cincinnati, OH, when he visited his hometown of Bethel, KY, to address the Colored Republicans Club at Bethel Church. He was one among the ministers traveling the state to get African American men to vote for Republican candidates. [Women would not be allowed to vote until 1920.]

Rev. White was working with Charles P. Taft, stumping the state of Kentucky in an effort to get William Howard Taft elected President of the United States. Charles P. Taft was an older half-brother to William H. Taft, and he was a former U.S. Representative from Ohio and editor of the Cincinnati Times-Star. There was a national concern that African Americans would turn away from the Republican Party due to the 1906 Brownsville Affair in Brownsville, Texas. The affair resulted in 167 African American infantry men being dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Army at the orders of U.S. Republican President Theodore Roosevelt. The infantry men were all innocent. Rev. E. A. White referred to the Brownsville Affair as a "sticking point."

In 1913, Rev. White was minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Covington, KY, while also serving as the presiding elder of the Maysville District. At the time, he was living in Cincinnati, OH, and also serving on the Commission of Jubilee. The commission was a committee tasked with highlighting the accomplishments of the M. E. Church in reference to African Americans over the past 50 years following the end of slavery. The committee was also to remind the church of the remaining problems and responsibilities in the development and uplifting of the Negro race in the United States. This new commission came under the heading of "The Freedmen's Jubilee." [The 50th Freedom Anniversary is also referred to as the Golden Jubilee in some sources.]

Rev. White would leave the northern Kentucky area when he was appointed minister of Corey Chapel in Cleveland, OH. While in Cleveland, he was one of the six executive committee members of the Cleveland NAACP Branch. In 1915, the group fought against the random arrests of African American men after a rumor circulated that African American men had attacked a patrolman. The committee's efforts were included in the "5th Annual Report of the N.A.A.C.P." published in The Crisis, v.9. no.6, April 1915. Rev. White would leave Cleveland in 1917 to become president of Walden College in Nashville, TN. He was at the school for two years, and by 1920, he was a minister in Cincinnati, OH. Five years later, Rev. White was named minister of Simpson M. E. Church in Indianapolis, IN. He would leave Indianapolis for Chicago where he died in 1932. He is buried in Lincoln Cemetery. 

Rev. Elam A. White was born in Bethel, KY. Both of his parents were born in Kentucky, though he never knew his father. His mother died when he was a small child. Elam White was enumerated in the 1880 U. S. Census as living with his brother George White and family members in Monroe, OH. The city of Monroe is just north of Cincinnati. As an adult, Rev. White lived in many different locations, often returning to live and visit in Kentucky. He was the husband of Ida White, who he married in 1906 [from the 1910 U.S. Census]. His previous wife was Amanda White, and they had married in 1892 [from the 1900 U.S. Census]. 

For more see "Lexington Conference," The Courier-Journal, 03/22/1890, p.8; "Colored Christians," Kentucky Leader, 03/20/1891, p.8; Images of America: St. Mark United Methodist Church by Daniel T. Parker, chapter 1, p.11; "M. E. Church, Colored.," The Evening Bulletin, 03/15/1895, p.3; "In Colored Circles," The Evening Bulletin, 05/04/1901, front page; The United Negro: his problems and his progress, containing the addresses and proceedings the Negro young people's Christian and educational congress, held August 6-11, 1902, published by the D. E. Luther Publishing Co.; "Our Colored Citizens," Public Daily Ledger, 10/19/1908, p.3; "Rev. E. A. White says Brownsville Affair is sticking point," The Springfield Daily News, 07/14/1908, p.8; see Rev. E. A. White in "Notes of Colored People" The Indianapolis News, 05/31/1913, p.5; "Commission on Jubilee," The Christian Educator, May 1913; "The Freedmen's Jubilee," The Christian Educator, August 1913; see Dr. E. A. White in "Walden College," Nashville Tennessean and The Nashville American, 07/15/1917, p.26; "The Rev. E. A. White is new Simpson pastor," The Indianapolis News, 06/20/1925, p.35; see Elam A. White in the Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths Index in Ancestry; "Rev. E. A. White dies," The Indianapolis Star, 07/16/1932, p.5.

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Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“White, Elam A.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed May 22, 2024, https://nkaa.uky.edu/nkaa/items/show/300004848.

Last modified: 2023-10-01 00:07:10