1920 – 1970
John F. Ramos set two important precedents in Kansas City — he was the first African American to become a board-certified radiologist (in 1950) and the first to take a seat on the Kansas City School Board (in 1964). Born in Boston, Ramos earned a bachelor’s degree from Seton Hall College before attending Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. He served his internship and residency at the old General Hospital No. 2, Kansas City’s hospital for African Americans, earning certification from the American Board of Radiology.
In 1964, the Democratic county committee nominated Ramos to the school board with strong support from Freedom Inc., the Black community’s most influential political organization. Earlier attempts to establish an African American presence on the board had failed, but the clout of Freedom Inc., helped push the appointment through. Ramos would be joined in his final year on the board by three additional Black members, the result of a move to public voting on candidates. Ramos served on the school board with quiet dignity, attending nearly every meeting until his health began to decline. Shortly after his death in 1970, the board of education officially named the African American history collection at the Kansas City Public Library in his honor.