James Henry Black

James Henry Black (1870-1948) was born in Louisville, KY to George and Mattie (Robinson) Black. He was one of seven children. On April 15, 1908, black married Jeanette L. Steward, daughter of William H. and Mamie (Lee) Steward (who are both featured this month), and together they had two children: Mary Elizabeth and Myrtle Robinson, who both became teachers. Black and his family lived at 1819 W. Chestnut Street in the Russell Neighborhood. Black worked as a clerk at the Post Office, a position he held for 35 years before retiring in 1938. He began his career at the Government Printing Office in Washington, D.C. in 1902. While there, Black was part of a group called the “Kentucky Colony.” According to the Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, the Kentucky Colony was, “a group of Kentuckians living in a particular area outside the state of Kentucky. The term was also used to refer to the ‘Kentucky Colony’ neighborhood in Washington, D.C. on 10th Street between R and S Streets. The residents were members of the ‘Kentucky Colony’ organization, a networking, society and support group of African Americans from Kentucky who had migrated to Washington, D.C. … The Kentucky Colony also kept ties to family and friends in Kentucky. In 1908, the group presented a 24-piece silver set to the newlyweds Jeanette L. Steward and James H. Black.” Jeanette worked as the cafeteria manager of the Phyllis Wheatley Branch YWCA (528 S. 6th Street). When Black died on October 2, 1948, he was grand master of the Negro Masonic Lodge of Kentucky and grand secretary of the state Odd Fellows. He was buried in the Steward family plot in Eastern Cemetery.