1945 – 1992
Peterson was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and as a child moved with his family to Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from Central High School in 1964 and attended Arkansas A&M College in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in sociology in 1968.
Peterson was fascinated by stories of the African American experience in the Midwest and was devoted to preserving them. An expert in African American history and Missouri folklore, he is best known for establishing the Black Archives of Mid-America in Kansas City.
His interest in African American culture and reputation as a historian allowed him to collect materials for the archives, which continue to serve the Kansas City community today. Collections include photographs and artifacts from former slaves, the Buffalo Soldiers, and choreographer Alvin Ailey.
In 1992, Peterson was honored by the Missouri governor for outstanding contributions to bridging race relations.
His tragic drowning death in 1992 robbed Kansas City of one of its best known and most productive citizens.