Kenneth Blackwell has been a prominent African American educator, political leader and elected official in Ohio in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.
John Kenneth Blackwell was born on February 28, 1942, in Cincinnati, Ohio. He graduated from Xavier University with a bachelor's degree in 1970 and with a Masters degree in 1971. He taught at that institution from 1974 until 1991.
While a professor at Xavier University, Blackwell also began a political career. From 1979 to 1980, he served as Cincinnati's mayor and represented the Charter Party. The Charter Party calls for an active government to address the needs and concerns of its constituents. Blackwell later joined the Republican Party.
President George H.W. Bush appointed Blackwell to be a deputy undersecretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development in 1989. He left this office in 1990 to run for the United States House of Representatives from Ohio. Unsuccessful in that election, Blackwell then was appointed to be the United States ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission. He held that position from 1992 to 1993.
Blackwell returned to Ohio after Mary Ellen Withrow resigned as Ohio's Treasurer. Governor George Voinovich appointed Blackwell to the position in 1993, and he was elected to the office in the following year. In 1998, Blackwell was elected to be Ohio's Secretary of State.
In 2006, Blackwell was the Republican candidate for Governor and ran against Democratic candidate Ted Strickland. Blackwell campaigned on a platform of lower taxes with the belief that this would help reinvigorate Ohio's economy. He also proposed limiting the amount of money that public schools can spend on administrative costs and intended to enhance spending on students in the classroom. Strickland defeated Blackwell in the election.
After the election, Kenneth Blackwell became a Senior Fellow at the Family Research Council and at the Buckeye Institute.