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

Kendall, Joseph N.

(born: 1909  -  died: 1965) 

Joseph N. Kendall was born in Owensboro, KY. In July 2007, he became the first Kentucky State University inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame, located in South Bend, IN. Kendall was considered one of the greatest passers in college football and a good all around player. He not only played quarterback, but was a running back, punted with both feet, and played on defense. In 1934, he led Kentucky State University to a national black college football championship and an undefeated season. In 1935, he led the team to an Orange Blossom Classic victory. The Pittsburgh Courier named Kendall a First Team All-America three times between 1934-36. He was inducted into the Kentucky State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1975. During Kendall's college football career, Kentucky State had a 29-7-3 record. He was selected for the African American All-Star team that played against the Chicago Bears in 1935; it was the first time that an African American team played against an NFL team.

Joseph N. Kendall was also a good baseball and basketball player. He served in the Army for two years, then graduated from Kentucky State in 1938. His original higher education plan had been to attend Paducah to study culinary arts, but once he was seen playing football, he was encouraged to enroll and play for Kentucky State. After college, he was hired to teach and coach at the African American Rosenwald High School in Harlan, KY, and in 1946 became principal of the school. In 1948, he returned to Owensboro to become the football coach at the school he had graduated from, Western High School. The Kendall-Perkins Park in Owensboro is named in honor of Joseph N. Kendall and Joseph Perkins.

For more see L. Vance, "College football hall of fame welcomes 3 African-American QBs," at; S. Hagerman, "One of the finest: Late Western High standout to be inducted into College Football Hall of Fame," Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer, 07/16/2007, section C, p.1; and contact CESKAA.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Daviess County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Franklin County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Harlan County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Owensboro, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Frankfort, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Harlan, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Center of Excellence for the Study of Kentucky African Americans (CESKAA)
NKAA Entry: African American Schools in Harlan County, KY
NKAA Entry: African American Schools in Daviess County, KY
NKAA Source: The Pittsburgh courier (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer (newspaper)

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Kendall, Joseph N.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed November 25, 2020,

Last modified: 2019-05-27 14:44:47