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

Colored Voters' Leagues

The Colored Voters' Leagues were politically influential civil rights organizations first established in the 1890s. In Kentucky, there was an Independent Colored Voters' League of Kentucky in 1899, they presented a bouquet of flowers to Senator William J. Goebel when he spoke before the Turner Society in Louisville, KY; Goebel was the Democratic nominee for Kentucky Governor [source: "German voters," The Evening Bulletin, 10/28/1899, p.3].

However, the Kentucky Colored Voters' League was a much later development, it was established in 1935, according to the Guide to Civilian Organizations. Fayette County, Kentucky by the U.S. Work Projects Administration in Kentucky, January 1943, p.11. The organization was said to have 2,500 members, and was open to "any registered male colored voter." The purpose was "To promote civic and legal interest of the members." The president was Charles P. Riley; Frank Tatman, Secretary; and J. Rice Porter, Chairman. The office terms were indefinite. The organization's office was located at 233 E. Second Street in Lexington, KY, and is listed in Polk's Lexington (Fayette County, KY.) City Directory, v.1939, p.136, and in v.1942, p.95.

At Western Kentucky University Library, Manuscripts and Folklife Archives are two letters written in 1933 by Sherman Parks from Madisonville, KY, to Joseph F. Garnett in Hopkinsville, KY. "Parks, as an officer in the Hopkins County and Kentucky Colored Independent Voters Leagues, requests assistance, including monetary aid to promote the recruitment of African-Americans to Kentucky‚Äôs Democratic Party." - - source: bibliographic record for Sherman Parks Manuscripts.

Around the country, the work of the various state organizations can be found in African American newspaper articles. One of the earliest Colored Voters' Leagues was formed in 1891 in Pittsburgh, PA, when a call was made to overthrow the politicians [source: "A Colored Voters' League," The New York Times, 12/27/1891, p.1]. By 1898, there were organizations in several states, including New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia [source: "In organization is power," Colored American, 03/26/1898, p.1]. In 1903, a Colored Voters' League was established in Kansas, "to look well towards the rights and protection of the Negro" [source: "The Legislature employe[e]s," Plaindealer, 03/06/1903, p.1].

In 1905, there was a call at the New York Colored Republican Club for the formation of a political organization known as the National Colored Voters' League that was to have state associations [source: "Colored Voters' League: form political organization of national scope," The Deseret Evening News, 02/18/1905, p.8; and "Negroes of New York...," Freeman, 03/18/1905, p.4].

The 1912 endorsement by the Colored Voters' League in Cook County, IL, had helped Honorable Joseph S. LaBuy to be elected to the Municipal Court of Chicago [source: "Hon. Joseph S. LaBuy, Democratic candidate for Judge of the Municipal Court of Chicago," Broad Ax, 11/01/1924, p.6]. In 1920, the United Colored Voters' League of Detroit held it's first annual dinner [source: "Cleveland social and personal," Cleveland Gazette, 02/07/1920, p.3]. In 1928, the Independent Colored Voters' League of Waco, TX, joined the Houston NAACP in filing a petition in federal court to restrain the Democratic Party from barring Negroes from voting in the primaries [source: "N.A.A.C.P. to fight newest Texas attempt at Negro disfranchisement," Plaindealer, 08/10/1928, p.1].

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Fayette County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Jefferson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Hopkins County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Christian County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Lexington, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Louisville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Madisonville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Hopkinsville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Colored Voters' Leagues,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 14, 2024,

Last modified: 2017-09-29 23:02:49