LEXINGTON, Ky. — The grandchildren of the University of Kentucky's first Black graduate have founded a nonprofit called Resilience Charity. The nonprofit follows in the footsteps of their grandmother and gives back to the Lexington community. 

What You Need To Know

  • Mary Ann Henderson-Adams was the first Black graduate of the University of Kentucky in 1950

  • Henderson-Adams grandchildren Tyler, Taylor Morton are following in her footsteps nearly 70 years later

  • The Morton’s are the founders of Resilience Charity, which was founded in 2020

Mary Ann Henderson-Adams would be proud of her grandchildren. Tyler and his twin sister Taylor Morton are 23-year-old Lexington natives. They graduated from the University of Kentucky in May 2021. The graduates are following in their grandmother’s footsteps nearly 70 years later. The twins are the founders of Resilience Charity, a Lexington nonprofit founded in 2020 after hosting a Christmas party for the Lexington community. Sunday, the twins hosted a Black History Month Festival to spread their message of education, empowerment and growth, all of which their grandmother taught them.

“For so long, people didn’t know her story. People would see her with us. She was like a regular human. To us, she was more of a superstar and role model, so it’s big to me that we are able to acknowledge her. Especially in Black History Month because to us that is history. The first Black person ever to graduate from UK. That’s huge,” said Taylor Morton.

The nonprofit gives back to the community with service, which is something their grandmother was known for. Morton’s grandmother earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1949 at Kentucky State University. She served her community through the Beta Zeta chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. 

Henderson-Adams went on to the University of Kentucky College of Education to earn her Master’s in the summer of 1949. UK didn’t fully open up to African-American undergraduates until 1954, but if it weren’t for Henderson-Adams and the 30 other students working to desegregate the school, it could’ve been much longer.

“To think that she actually had to go through those things like for us we never really have to go through those things so I can’t really feel how she would feel. I know it had to be something very hard for her to do,” said Taylor Morton.

Henderson-Adams became a schoolteacher in Cynthiana, Kentucky, after completing her degrees, and taught until she retired in 1989. The Mortons’ grandmother passed away December 2021 on Christmas Eve at ‌94. Her determination is why the Morton’s are teaching little girls and boys in Lexington about their grandmother’s legacy and what it means to serve in a community.

“I think that she wanted to set the precedence for Black people to go to UK and for Black people to reach high and reach their dreams. She just wanted to knock down barriers and do anything she could to uplift her community,” said Tyler Morton.

That same path is what the Morton’s are fulfilling one event at a time. The twins are planning to both start their Master degrees in the coming fall. Resilience Charity says they are always looking for more volunteers for their community and service events. If you're interested, you can go to their Facebook page.