Welcome to the blog of the Henderson, Ky., Depot Community Room. The Community Room strives to promote a better understanding of Henderson, Ky., history and culture through special programs and exhibits. Our exhibit hall features the collections of the Henderson County Historical and Genealogical Society. The Community Room is funded by the City of Henderson, Ky., through the Henderson County Tourist Commission.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

National Women's History Month!

Thelma Johnson (Photo Courtesy The Gleaner)
Thelma Johnson, who was elected to the Henderson County Board of Education in 1978 and served until 1986, was the first black official elected to any public office in Henderson County. She was so well-respected by her peers, that she was elected the board chair-person in 1981. The fith of six children born to parents who worked as domestics, she made up her mind early on that she was going to be a teacher, and she did just that, serving as a beloved teacher for a number of years.

When Johnson was elected to the school board she said she was “scared to death” because now she had to “worry about doing a good job on the school board.”  The other four members of the board were white males. But Johnson need not have worried. She easily gained the respect and admiration of many in the community, black and white.

She was thereafter named to the board of Methodist Hospital, adding that to the volunteer work she was already doing for senior citizens and for such agencies as the League of Women Voters, Redbanks nursing home, American Red Cross, Friends of the Library and the Green River Area Development District’s Council on aging. When she was elected for a second term on the school board, the new board voted her its chairwoman. Being a pioneer in the community was nothing new to Johnson --She had also been the first black University of Kentucky extension agent in western Kentucky. The Chamber of Commerce named her “Distinguished Citizen of the Year” in 1984 and she is well-remembered as a champion of education and service.

Source: The Gleaner, Yesterday’s News by Frank Boyett.

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