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

Givens, Mrs. Fanny Rosalind Hicks, and James Edward Givens

Mrs. Fanny R. Hicks Givens was an artist, songwriter, educator, and police matron. She was born in 1872 in Chicago, IL; her parents were Kentucky natives who had migrated North. In the early 1890s, Givens was living in Louisville, KY, she was head of the art department at State University [later known as Simmons University, KY]. The art department had 23 students and their works were exhibited at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. She painted a portrait of John R. Walter, Minister of Madagascar and presented it to President Harrison. The portrait was hung in the White House. In 1895, Fanny R. Hicks married James Edward Givens. James Givens was born in 1861 in Greenwood, VA, the son of Jefferson and Mary Ann Dickerson Givens. James Givens was a graduate of Harvard College. He arrived in Louisville in 1892 to become a Latin and Greek instructor at State University. He was later a Latin and English professor at Louisville Colored High School [later known as Louisville Central High School]. He was founder of New South, a weekly newspaper published in Louisville beginning in 1894.

From 1898-1900, James E. Givens was the second president of the State Normal School for Colored Persons (later known as Kentucky State University) [see the Office of the President Records, a Kentucky Digital Library webpage]. He was a storekeeper when he died of typhoid fever in 1910 at his home, 507 Jacob Street, in Louisville, KY, according to the Kentucky Death Records. James Givens was buried in the Eastern Cemetery in Louisville. Prior to his death, he was attended by Dr. Ellis D. Whedbee, husband to Bertha Whedbee, the first African American woman to be employed by the Louisville Police Department.

In 1920, the Givens family was living on Finzer Street in Louisville, KY: Mrs. Givens, her daughter Fanny, niece Evaline Williams, and nephew James E. Givens. Mrs. Fanny R. Givens was a portrait artist, and in 1915 she attempted to raise $100,000 to build an Art Institute for the development of Negro artists. She was also a songwriter, on March 23, 1908, she had received a copyright for the words and the song titled "Hallelujah! Christ is Risen," [C 177237]. She was also chair of the Ways and Means Committee in Louisville. She sailed to Liberia, Africa, leaving from the Baltimore port aboard the ship Byron, December 10, 1921, according to her passport application. In 1923, Mrs. Givens and her daughter Fanny were missionaries for the National Baptist Convention, and were to sail to Sweden, the British Isles, France, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, and Germany, according to their U.S. Passport. They were to leave the Port of New York on June 30, 1923, sail to their destinations aboard the Olympic, and return to the U.S. within one year.

In 1930, Mrs. Givens would become one of the first African American women to be hired by the Louisville Police Department. Fanny R. Hicks Givens died of breast cancer in Louisville in 1947, according to her death certificate, she was buried in Eastern Cemetery.

For more see Mrs. Fanny R. Givens on p.202 in The Crisis, v.18, no.4, August 1919, [available at Google Book Search]; p.366 in Catalog of Copyright Entries, new series volume 3, nos 1-5, January 1908, by Library of Congress Copyright Office [available at Google Book Search]; Black Higher Education in Kentucky, 1879-1930 by L. H. Williams; "Mrs. Fannie R. Givens" on pp.252-253 of the Golden Jubilee of the General Association of Colored Baptists in Kentucky; and the Louisville Division of Police by M. O. Childress, Sr. See the James Edward Givens entry in Harvard College, Class of 1892-1896, Secretary's Report, No.11 by Harvard College [available at Google Book Search]; see "James Edward Givens" entry in Harvard College Class of 1892, Twenty-fifth Anniversary Report, 1892-1917 by Harvard College; and "Prominent Colored Educator" in The Mt. Sterling Advocate, 03/23/1910, p.1.

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Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Simmons College (Louisville, KY)
NKAA Entry: World's Columbian Exposition 1893
NKAA Entry: Louisville Central High School/Central High School Magnet Career Academy
NKAA Entry: Whedbee, Bertha P.
NKAA Source: New South (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Black higher education in Kentucky, 1879-1930: the history of Simmons University
NKAA Source: Golden Jubilee of the General Association of Colored Baptists in Kentucky: the story of 50 years' work from 1865-1915 including many photos and sketches, compiled from unpublished manuscripts and other sources
NKAA Source: Louisville Division of Police : history & personnel
NKAA Source: Twenty-fifth anniversary report, 1892-1917
NKAA Source: The Mt. Sterling advocate (newspaper)

Related Entries Citing this Entry

NKAA Entry:  African American Police Women (Louisville, KY)
NKAA Entry:  Howard University Club of Kentucky (Louisville, KY)
NKAA Entry:  Kentucky State University Presidents, 1886-present

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Givens, Mrs. Fanny Rosalind Hicks, and James Edward Givens,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 6, 2020,

Last modified: 2019-08-24 21:13:18