An actress and singer closely identified with the role of Bess in the opera Porgy and Bess, Etta Moten Barnett was born in Texas and studied music and drama at Western University in Kansas City, Kansas.

A child of the Great Depression, Vincent O. Carter was thankful for the comfortable upbringing his parents provided and devoted himself to the written word.

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.

Renowned composer, singer, pianist, and music critic Nora Holt broke the boundaries of what was expected of her race and sex.

For three decades, William Fambrough documented African American life in Kansas City through his photographs.
A leader of the Harlem Renaissance, James Mercer Langston Hughes was a writer and social activist who developed a new literary art form called jazz poetry. 
The son of a farmer in Fort Scott, Kansas, Gordon Parks defied racism and his own impoverished beginnings to become one of the world’s great photographers, as well as an internationally recognized writer, composer, and filmmaker. 
Born in Texas, Cloteele T. Raspberry moved to Kansas City at a young age and became a fashion designer and mentor to young women interested in the profession.
Melvin B. Tolson became the first Poet Laureate of the Republic of Liberia. Born in Moberly, Missouri, Tolson spent his junior and senior years at Kansas City’s Lincoln High School.

A songwriter, musician, and poet, Annetta “Cotton Candy” Washington reigned almost four decades as the Queen of Kansas City Blues.