By the time Chester Franklin arrived in Kansas City in 1913, he was well experienced in the newspaper business.
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.
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.
Holmes was the pastor at Paseo Baptist Church for 46 years and used his role in the community to advocate for better conditions for local African Americans.
As the founder and operator of Mrs. Meek’s Mortuary — recognizable for its pink limousines and building facade — Fannie L. Meek was a trailblazer, one of the few women of her time to go into the funeral business.
One of Kansas City’s best-known Black businessmen, G. Lawrence Blankinship Sr. was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, in 1913 and moved to Kansas City as a teenager.
Longtime teacher and administrator Girard T. Bryant was the first African American to serve as president of Penn Valley Community College in Kansas City, Missouri.
Herman and Dorothy Johnson achieved success in numerous endeavors while contributing to institutions and causes that strengthened the social and economic interests of the African American community.
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.
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).
Leona Pouncey Thurman was the first African American woman to practice law in Kansas City. Born in Russellville, Arkansas, Thurman became interested in the legal profession after moving to Kansas City in 1931 and working as secretary for attorney James D. Pouncey.
For more than two decades in the Missouri State Legislature as a Democratic representative, Mary Groves Bland was an advocate for the rights of minorities and a champion of equality and social justice.
Richard Thomas Coles was an educator who focused on teaching manual arts — practical, job-related skills — to his students. He was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1859 to parents who instilled the value of education.