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

Washington, Roy L., Sr.

(born: 1897  -  died: 1953) 

Roy L. Washington was born in Lovelaceville, KY, the son of Isam M. Washington and Arbella Weeks. When he was a teenager, Roy Washington left Kentucky for southern Illinois, where he married Bertha Spence Jones (1898-1980). The couple later moved to Chicago, two of the more than 50,000 African Americans who had left the South by 1920 to settle in Chicago. The couple had four children, 2-6 years old, when Bertha separated from Roy. He retained custody of the children while earning $15 per week at the stockyard and attending Chicago-Kent College of Law at nights. Bertha lived nearby and assisted with the raising of the children. She would later marry Ernest Price, and they would have six children. Roy Washington received his law license in 1923, and he too remarried. Washington developed his law practice and was also a minister who preached at various churches in Chicago. He would become the Democratic Party precinct captain in the Third Ward and was also a police court prosecutor. When Roy Washington died in 1953, his youngest child, Harold Washington (1922-1987), took over his precinct position. Harold Washington also served as the Democratic representative to the Illinois State Legislature, 1965-1976; state senator, 1976-1980; and house member, beginning in 1980. He was the first African American mayor of Chicago, 1983-1987 (he died during his second term). Harold Washington was the brother of Ramon Price (1930-2000), Chief Curator of Du Sable Museum of African American History in Chicago. For more see J. Camper, et al., "The road to city hall, a half-century of black political evolution set the stage for the Harold Washington revolution," Chicago Tribune, 11/16/1986; Pinderhughes, D., "Washington, Harold." Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History, pp. 2267-2268; and The Ancestry of Mayor Harold Washington (1922-1987) by C.G. Brasfield.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Ballard County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Lovelaceville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Washington, Isam McDaniel "Mack"
NKAA Source: Chicago tribune (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Encyclopedia of African American culture and history
NKAA Source: Ancestry of Mayor Harold Washington, 1922-1987

Related Entries Citing this Entry

NKAA Entry:  Washington, Isam
NKAA Entry:  Washington, Rebecca Neal
NKAA Entry:  Newhouse, Richard H., Jr.
NKAA Entry:  African American Lawyers/Attorneys, Kentucky, 1880-1940

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Washington, Roy L., Sr.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 26, 2021,

Last modified: 2020-06-04 15:52:49