Rev. Dr. William E. Summers III (1918 - 1996), a noted African-American
broadcast journalist, made history in 1967 as the first African-American in the
United States to manage a radio station. In 1971, he became the first
African-American radio station owner in the state of Kentucky when he purchased
WLOU. Concurrent with his professional career, he became an ordained minister in
the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and pastured churches in Georgetown,
Louisville, Shelbyville and Taylorsville, Kentucky. Born in Louisville, Mr.
Summers was a community leader and was active in a number of civic groups. These
included the Urban League and the Boys Clubs of America. He served on the
Kentucky Derby Festival Board from (1972 – 1985), and served as its first
African-American chairman in 1984. He was also a board member for the Transit
Authority of River City from (1986 – 1995), and served as its chair in 1993. Mr.
Summers was inducted into the University of Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame in
1996, in honor of his many years in broadcast journalism. He was also presented
the Kentucky Derby Festival Distinguished Service Award that year. It was only
the fourth time the festival had presented the honor in forty years. The City of
Louisville’s Freedom Award to honor a person who embodies the principles of
Martin Luther King, Jr. was presented to Reverend Summers in 1993.
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