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

Owensboro (KY) Negro Chautauqua

(start date: 1906  -  end date: 1930) 

Often said to be one of the first of its kind, the Owensboro Negro Chautauqua was established by A. O. Gutherie and Samuel Barker [source: "Black Chautauqua" in Kentucky Humanities, Fall 2012, pp.12-13]. The chautauqua events were part of a national movement to promote literacy and higher education along with music and art, all for the social advancement of the people. In 1907, the Owensboro Negro Chautauqua was held at the fairgrounds located at E. 18th Street. Tobe Brown's Louisville orchestra provided the music; Tobe Brown was a Shelbyville native. Also present was speaker Miss Vera Lee Moore, a teacher at Walden University, the historically black college that was located in Nashville, TN from 1865-1925 [source: "Owensboro Chautauqua," The Nashville Globe, 08/09/1907, p.1]. Vera Lee Moore spoke on August 2, 1907, Woman's Day, and there were about 1,000 persons in attendance.

The actual starting date for the Owensboro Negro Chautauqua was probably 1906, according to the article "Kentucky's greatest entertainment: Eight Annual session of the Owensboro Negro Chautauqua..." in The Freeman newspaper dated July 11, 1914. Special train fares were arranged for those attending the chautauqua, as with the colored fairs in Kentucky; in 1909, the fare from Cloverport to Owensboro was $1.35 round trip "good to return three days from date of sale [source: The Breckenridge News, 06/23/1909, p.5, bottom of 2nd column].

Ida B. Wells was the featured speaker in 1910; she drew a crowd of 1,200. There were also professional colored baseball exhibition games. The 1910 Owensboro Negro Chautauqua was announced in Lyceumite & Talent: the lyceum magazine dated June 10, 1910, on page 82, along with the mention of the Kansas City Chautauqua for Negroes [online at Google Books].

The Owensboro Negro Chautauqua organization was incorporated in 1914 and that year the annual event was held July 18-26. The music was performed by the Hamilton Military Band from Lexington, KY. The 1915 chautauqua was held August 8-15 and the Hamilton Military Band from Lexington, KY, provided the music again [source: "Negro Chautauqua," Hopkinsville Kentuckian, 07/29/1915, p.4; and "Owensboro Negro Chautauqua" in The New York Age, 08/26/1915, p.7]. The overall chautauqua movement ended in the early 1930s.

For more information see Music in the Chautauqua Movement: from 1874 to the 1930s by P. Lush; The Chautauqua Movement: an episode in the continuing American revolution by J. E. Gould; see p.647 for information about "Negro Chautauqua" within the article "Durham, North Carolina: a city of Negro enterprise" by B. T. Washington, Independent, v.70, pp.642-670 [article within Black Thought and Culture database by Alexander Street Press]; and see "Chautauqua Movement" by S. Birden within the Encyclopedia of the Social and Cultural Foundations of Education by E. F. Provenzo Jr. and A. B. Provenzo [Online Sage Publication].

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Daviess County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Jefferson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Shelby County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Owensboro, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Louisville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Shelbyville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Owensboro (KY) Negro Chautauqua,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 22, 2024,

Last modified: 2017-08-26 19:01:31