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

Sheppard, William Henry

(born: March 8, 1865  -  died: November 25, 1927) 

William H. Sheppard was born in Waynesboro, Virginia. He was a devoted Presbyterian whose parents had been enslaved. His father was a barber and his mother managed a women's health bath. William H. Sheppard became a minister, then found a way to go Africa, even though at that time African Americans were not chosen to head African missions. Sheppard was an evangelist who fought to improve the living conditions of Africans. He was also the first American to collect African art. Sheppard referred to himself as "The Black Livingston." In his final years, Sheppard resided in Louisville, KY, where he was a leader in the community, as well as pastor of the Grace Hope Presbyterian Church (1912-1927). The Smoketown housing development, Sheppard Square, is named in his honor. William Sheppard's work was featured during Family Saturday at the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, KY, February 2003. The African art collection includes items donated by Sheppard's family. In 2007, William H. Sheppard was inducted into the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights Hall of Fame.

For more see M. Larry, "Speed will showcase William Sheppard's life," Courier-Journal (Louisville), 02/14/03; M. Lewis, "Jewel of the Kingdom," Mission Frontiers; and William Sheppard: Congo's African American Livingstone, by W. E. Phipps.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Jefferson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Louisville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Smoketown, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name

Item Relations

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: Courier-Journal [Louisville] (newspaper)
NKAA Source: William Sheppard: Congo's African American Livingstone

Related Entries Citing this Entry

NKAA Entry: Colored Swimming Pool (Louisville, KY)

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Sheppard, William Henry,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 20, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-05-30 18:43:40