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

Livisay, Charles H., Sr.

(born: 1913  -  died: 1990) 

Charles Livisay was active in civil rights as both a civic leader and politician; he is also remembered as an outstanding tennis and basketball player and an outstanding basketball coach at Douglass High School.

Born in Lexington, KY, Livisay was a graduate of old Dunbar High School and a 1935 graduate of Kentucky State University. He taught for a year at Dunbar High School in Mayfield, KY, but left teaching because of the low pay, taking a job with Mammoth Life Insurance. In 1943 he left that job to serve in the U.S. Army. 

Livisay returned to Lexington as Douglass High's head basketball coach and remained in that position for 18 years. The team finished second to Louisville Central in the 1953 National Negro basketball tournament held in Nashville, TN, and the team took the Kentucky High School Athletic League (KHSAL) championship in 1954.

Author Louis Stout credits Livisay as one of the first coaches to institute the "transition" game in basketball. The Douglass teams coached by Livisay had a record of 255 wins and 65 losses. His 1956 basketball team came in second in the KHSAL tournament and took second again in the National Negro basketball tournament. Following school integration, Livisay coached and taught at Bryan Station High School from 1966 until his retirement in 1974.

Also while coaching basketball, in 1965, Livisay ran for the 54th District seat in the Kentucky House of Representatives; he lost to Foster Pettit. In 1979, he was appointed to the First District council seat in Lexington to complete the term of the late O. M. Travis. When the term ended, Livisay ran for the seat and was defeated by Edgar Wallace. Livisay also served as president of the Lexington Chapter of the NAACP.

His tennis career coincided with his many other activities. Livisay was considered a star tennis player:  participated in tournaments such as the one held in 1940 between African American tennis players from Louisville and Lexington. His teammates were Albert "Happy" Ray, William Madden, Rice Stone, Leonard Mills; they were coached by Ages Bryant. Matches took place in Lexington at Douglass Park.

In 1975, Livisay was inducted into the Kentucky State University Athletic Hall of Fame. In 1993, he was inducted into the Dawahares-Kentucky High School Athletic Association Sports Hall of Fame.

For more see "Tennis stars clash," Lexington Leader, 7/12/1940, p. 7, col. 4; 1993 KHSAA Hall of Fame [.pdf]; Shadows of the Past, by Louis Stout; and S. Brown, "Charles Livisay; civic leader, ex-coach, dies; Black leader was role model in community," Lexington Herald-Leader, 10/01/1990, City/State section, p. C1.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Fayette County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Graves County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Lexington, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Mayfield, Kentucky in Wikipedia.


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Paul Laurence Dunbar High School (Lexington, KY)
NKAA Entry: Mammoth Life and Accident Insurance Company
NKAA Entry: Louisville Central High School/Central High School Magnet Career Academy
NKAA Entry: Shadows of the Past by Louis Stout
NKAA Entry: Stout, Louis
NKAA Entry: Travis, Oneth M., Jr.
NKAA Entry: African American Schools in Lexington and Fayette County, KY
NKAA Entry: African American Schools in Graves County, KY
NKAA Source: Lexington herald-leader (newspaper)

Related Entries Citing this Entry

NKAA Entry:  Givens, Reuben and Ruth Newby Givens Roper
NKAA Entry:  Livisay, Stacy A.
NKAA Entry:  Douglass Deamons (high school basketball), Lexington, KY, 1957
NKAA Entry:  Hall, William Henry, Sr. "Bubber"

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Livisay, Charles H., Sr.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed September 27, 2022,

Last modified: 2021-03-08 19:00:10