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

McFarland, Richard L., Sr. "R.L."

(born: August 26, 1917  -  died: September 13, 2002) 

Richard L. McFarland, Sr. was born in Owensboro, KY. He was valedictorian of his 1935 graduating class at Western High School in Owensboro. In 1985 McFarland was the first African American to be elected to the Owensboro City Commission, serving a total of six terms.

McFarland was pastor of the Mt. Calvary Baptist Church for 46 years. He and his wife owned McFarland Funeral Home. In 1975, Rev. McFarland was among the group of ministers who traveled to Monrovia, Liberia, Africa,  where they baptized more than 800 persons [source: 2012 Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, p. 15].

McFarland also worked for the telephone company and served as mayor pro tem. In 1992, the Owensboro Human Relations Commission created the Rev. R. L. McFarland Leadership Award in his honor. In 1998, a tree and a plaque were placed in the Owensboro English Park to honor Rev. McFarland.

For more see R. L. McFarland within the article "Middlesboro city councilwoman top vote-getter," in  the 1988 Kentucky Directory of Black Elected Officials, Seventh Report, by the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, p. 28; J. Campbell, "Williams' bid opened door for black leaders, he earned a spot on fall ballot," Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer, 10/28/2005, p. 19; and K. Lawrence, "McFarland, former mayor pro tem dies at 85, minister opened door for Black politicians," Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer, 9/14/2002, p. 1; John Kirkpatrick, "McFarland Funeral Home withstands the test of time, proud of history, 6/13/2021, Owensboro Times; and listen to the 5/22/1999 Interview with R. L. McFarland, Sr. at the SPOKEdb on the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History website and the 7/3/1997 Interview with R.L. McFarland at the Pass the Word Kentucky Oral History Commission website.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Daviess County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Owensboro, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name

Item Relations

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: 2012 Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
NKAA Source: Kentucky directory of black elected officials
NKAA Source: Owensboro messenger-inquirer (newspaper)

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“McFarland, Richard L., Sr. "R.L.",” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed May 28, 2024,

Last modified: 2021-11-15 17:42:20