The brief yet distinguished life of Wayne Miner was defined by sacrifice and valor. The son of former slaves, Miner was born in 1890 in Henry County, Missouri.
Rosie Mason was a law enforcement trailblazer, working 39 years in the Kansas City Police Department and serving as its first African American female officer.
Maj. N. Clark Smith was a prominent musician, composer, and instructor and one of the most accomplished African American bandmasters of the early 20th century.
More than a century after the Kansas City Fire Department was established, Edward Wade Wilson became its first African American chief, capping a trailblazing career of nearly 46 years.
Lafayette Alonzo Tillman is remembered most for being one of Kansas City’s first African American police officers.
Cathay Williams was the first African American woman to enlist in the U.S. Army — in a time when women were prohibited from serving.
Lt. William Dominick Matthews was an African American officer of the Independent Battery, U.S. Colored Light Artillery, at Fort Leavenworth.
First Sergeant William A. Messley (also known as Measley) of Company C, 62nd United States Colored Troops, posed for this portrait shortly after his enlistment in late 1863.
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.
This photograph shows the men of the Independent Battery, U.S. Colored Light Artillery, positioned in front of the guard house at Fort Leavenworth.