||Early life and education
Blackwell was born in Alliance, Ohio, the son of Dana, a part-time nurse, and George Blackwell, a meatpacker. He has two brothers, Carl and Charles. He married his wife Rosa in 1969 while he was in college. They have three children, Kimberly, Rahshann (a Denver resident and Ohio Northern Law School graduate), and Kristin.
Blackwell attended Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio on a football scholarship. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Xavier in 1970 and his Master of Education degree, also from Xavier, in 1971. After college, he was invited to the Dallas Cowboys' training camp; he gave up football when told he would have to convert from linebacker to offensive lineman. He taught at Xavier from 1974 to 1991.
He has served as a trustee of Wilberforce University and Wilmington College. On April 25, 1987 Kenneth Blackwell was made a Mason-on-Sight by Grand Master Odes J. Kyle Jr. of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Ohio; thereby making him a Prince Hall Freemason. This African-American branch of Freemasonry was founded in the 19th century.