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

Adams, Mary A. Henderson

Mary Ann Henderson was the first African American to earn a degree while attending the University of Kentucky. Fall 1949, she enrolled in the College of Education and completed her master's degree in 1950 [source: University of Kentucky Eighty-Third Annual Commencement Exercises, Nineteen Hundred Fifty, p.46]. Henderson had earned a B.A. degree at Kentucky State College (now Kentucky State University) during the time that the University of Kentucky was segregated. As a result of Lyman T. Johnson's lawsuit, the University of Kentucky began integration in 1949, and Mary Ann Henderson was one of the more than 30 African American students to enroll for classes in the summer of 1949.  All of the African American students who enrolled in 1949 were graduate students or they were enrolled in a professional program. African American undergraduates were allowed to enroll in 1954. Mary A. Henderson was a school teacher in Cynthiana, KY, and in Lexington, KY, and she retired from teaching in 1989. In celebration of the success of Lyman T. Johnson's lawsuit and her graduation, Mary Ann Henderson Adams received a 2006 Torch Bearer Award [source: "Recognition of African American Women at the University of Kentucky," p.1].

Kentucky County & Region

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Kentucky Place (Town or City)

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Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: University of Kentucky annual commencement exercises (serial)
NKAA Source: Recognition of African American Women at the University of Kentucky (unpublished manuscript)

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Adams, Mary A.Henderson,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed January 17, 2021,

Last modified: 2017-08-25 22:53:13