Articles

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Black history is American history. It is baked into the foundation of our country so thoroughly that it is impossible to escape its influence today.

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Benjamin “Bennie” Moten was an influential pianist and bandleader whose career was essential to the development of Kansas City-style jazz. 
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By the time Chester Franklin arrived in Kansas City in 1913, he was well experienced in the newspaper business.
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Realizing that Black drivers were as swept up as anyone in the automobile craze of the 1920s, Homer B. Roberts became one of the first nation’s first African American car dealers. 
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The daughter of a house painter and a domestic worker, Inez Kaiser learned the value of hard work at a young age and made herself into a nationally known business leader. 
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Reuben and Ella Street were prominent restaurateurs and hotel proprietors in Kansas City for nearly half a century. 
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A while back, while I was searching for material for the memoir I was preparing, I ran across an article I had written for The Kansas City Call, the Black weekly newspaper, at the request of the late Miss Lucile Bluford, managing editor.
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Fletcher Daniels led a distinguished life of public service as a postal worker, civil rights leader, school board member, and legislator.
Known as the “Father of African American Arts,” Aaron Douglas was born in Topeka, Kansas, and developed an interest in drawing and painting at an early age.

Andrew "Skip" Carter’s fascination with radio started early. Raised in Savannah, Georgia, he built his first radio set at age 14.

As a prominent big band leader, Andy Kirk popularized the Kansas City sound nationwide.
Anna H. Jones was born in Canada and graduated from Oberlin College, a private Ohio school noted for having been the first American institution of higher learning to regularly admit Black students.
Described as barreling through life blind to failure, Bailus M. Tate Jr. worked his way up from shoveling coal in the basement of Kansas City Power and Light, retiring 33 years later as the utility giant’s vice president of human resources. 
This illustration from the March 14, 1863, issue of Harper’s Weekly magazine — titled “A Negro Regiment in Action” — depicts the Battle of Island Mound, Missouri, in October 1862.
Bernard Powell was a leader in local and national efforts to end racial discrimination and increase the political and economic power of African Americans. 
Bettye Miller and Milt Abel, a husband and wife musical duo, reigned over the Kansas City jazz scene from the 1950s through the 1970s.
Bruce R. Watkins was an entrepreneur, public official, and community leader. Born Bruce Riley in Parkville, Missouri, Watkins was adopted by his mother’s second husband, Theron B. Watkins, co-founder of Watkins Brothers Funeral Home.
Cathay Williams was the first African American woman to enlist in the U.S. Army — in a time when women were prohibited from serving.
Charles Wilber “Bullet” Rogan was one of the greatest players in the history of the Negro Baseball Leagues, a multifaceted star who earned enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Musical giant Charlie Parker was a key creator of bebop, the jazz style marked by improvisation, quick tempos, and virtuosic technique. Born in Kansas City, Kansas, and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, Parker attended Lincoln High School.