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The Honorable Harry Sykes

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Information about The Honorable Harry Sykes

Profile image of The Honorable Harry Sykes

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
PoliticalMakers
Occupation(s):
Civic Leader
City Council Member

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Prime Rib Steak
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Houston, Texas
Favorite Quote:
You Only Have One Mind. You Need To Develop That Mind And Stay In School.

Birthplace

Born:
4/1/1927
Birth Location:
Starksville, Mississippi

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
PoliticalMakers
Occupation(s):
Civic Leader
City Council Member

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Prime Rib Steak
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Houston, Texas
Favorite Quote:
You Only Have One Mind. You Need To Develop That Mind And Stay In School.

Birthplace

Born:
4/1/1927
Birth Location:
Starksville
See how The Honorable Harry Sykes is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Lexington, Kentucky, community leader Harry Nash Sykes was born on April 1, 1927, in Starksville, Mississippi, to Marie Hall Sykes and P.K. Sykes. His family moved to Maywood, Illinois, where he graduated from high school in 1948. Sykes attended Kentucky State University on a basketball and track scholarship and received his bachelor's degree in physical education in 1952. He later earned a master's degree in mathematics from the University of Minnesota.

After graduating from Kentucky State University in 1952, Sykes played basketball for the Harlem Globetrotters through the 1954 season. From 1954 until 1962, he taught high school mathematics for the Lexington Public School System at Dunbar High School and coached the junior high basketball team. From 1964 until 1969, Sykes became an insurance salesman for Commonwealth Life Insurance. Then, from 1970 until 1972, he worked as the business development officer for Second National Bank. Sykes later received his real estate brokerage license and practiced realty for three years. From 1981 until 1992, he served as a contract compliance officer with the Frankfort, Kentucky, Department of Finance.

In 1963, Sykes was elected as the first African American councilman for the city of Lexington. He was reelected in 1965, 1967 and 1969. Between 1967 and 1969, Sykes also served as mayor pro-tem. In 1971, he ran for mayor of Lexington but lost by a narrow margin to Foster Pettit. From 1972 to 1974, he served as acting city manager and, from 1974 until 1975 he worked as the acting chief administrative officer for the Urban County government. Sykes has served his community on various boards and commissions, including the Board of Management of the YMCA and the Historical Pleasant Green Baptist Church. In 1968, he founded the Lexington-Fayette County Urban League and served as president until 1972. Sykes has been honored with numerous awards, including the Outstanding Citizen's Award by the Council of Christians and Jews in 1969.

Sykes was married to Geraldine Higgins Sykes and has five children, Harry, Melvin, Paula, Kevin and Kermit. He passed away on November 28, 2012, at the age of 85.

Harry Sykes was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 10, 2002.

See how The Honorable Harry Sykes is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Harry Sykes's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Harry Sykes lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Harry Sykes describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Harry Sykes describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Harry Sykes talks about his father's occupation
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Harry Sykes describes his father's mules, Kate and Doll, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Harry Sykes describes his father's mules, Kate and Doll, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Harry Sykes talks about his mother and his siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Harry Sykes describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Harry Sykes describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Harry Sykes describes working on his family's farm
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Harry Sykes describes his father's caring for his extended family
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Harry Sykes talks about his experience at Ebenezer Elementary School
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Harry Sykes describes a confrontation his father had with a white man in Starkville, Mississippi
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Harry Sykes describes how his family moved to Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Harry Sykes describes his experience attending school while working for the American Can Company in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Harry Sykes talks about playing basketball at Proviso Township High School and Kentucky State University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Harry Sykes describes his experience at Kentucky State University in Frankfort, Kentucky
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Harry Sykes describes being invited to play with the Harlem Globetrotters, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Harry Sykes describes being invited to play with the Harlem Globetrotters, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Harry Sykes talks about playing with the Harlem Globetrotters in Canada and Minnesota
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Harry Sykes describes the racism he encountered on tour with the Harlem Globetrotters
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Harry Sykes names some famous people he met while on tour with the Harlem Globetrotters
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Harry Sykes describes his career as a math teacher and athletic organizer for Dunbar High School in Lexington, Kentucky
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Harry Sykes talks about his experience at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Harry Sykes describes his experience as a high school teacher in Lexington, Kentucky
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Harry Sykes describes the segregation of Lexington, Kentucky
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Harry Sykes talks about his civil rights work in Lexington, Kentucky
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Harry Sykes describes his election as a city commissioner for Lexington, Kentucky
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Harry Sykes describes his accomplishments in his first term as a Lexington, Kentucky City Commissioner
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Harry Sykes describes his re-elections to the Lexington, Kentucky city council in 1965, 1967, and 1969
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Harry Sykes talks about running for Mayor of Lexington, Kentucky in 1971
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Harry Sykes describes merging the governments of Lexington, Kentucky and Fayette County, Kentucky
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Harry Sykes describes his experience as city manager and acting chief administrative officer of the Urban County Government in Lexington, Kentucky
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Harry Sykes describes planning the Lexington, Kentucky chapter of the National Urban League in 1964
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Harry Sykes describes chartering the Lexington, Kentucky chapter of the National Urban League in 1968
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Harry Sykes describes the accomplishments of the Urban League of Lexington-Fayette County
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Harry Sykes talks about Lexington, Kentucky's first African American police sergeant
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Harry Sykes talks about passing a resolution in support of open housing in Kentucky
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Harry Sykes talks about helping to integrate the athletics department at the University of Kentucky in Frankfort, Kentucky, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Harry Sykes talks about helping to integrate the athletics department at the University of Kentucky in Frankfort, Kentucky, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Harry Sykes talks about University of Kentucky basketball coach Orlando "Tubby" Smith, pt. 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Harry Sykes talks about University of Kentucky basketball coach Orlando "Tubby" Smith, pt. 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Harry Sykes describes his experience in the personnel department and Department of Contract Compliance for the State of Kentucky
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Harry Sykes describes his experience after retiring from government in 1992.
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Harry Sykes describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Harry Sykes talks about the purchase of Kentucky American Water by the German company RWE in 2001, pt. 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Harry Sykes talks about the purchase of Kentucky American Water by the German company RWE in 2001, pt. 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Harry Sykes reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Harry Sykes describes how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Harry Sykes talks about his family
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Harry Sykes narrates his photographs, pt. 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Harry Sykes narrates his photographs, pt. 2