Human rights activist Alvin Sykes devoted his life to helping those wronged by the U.S. justice system. In 1981, he sought justice for Steve Harvey, a Black musician who was beaten to death at Penn Valley Park in a racially motivated attack. Sykes rose to national prominence in the early 2000s when he took up the Emmett Till case.
Educator Eugene Eubanks championed equal opportunities for Black students and fought to desegregate Kansas City, Missouri, public schools. Raised in Meadville, Pennsylvania, Eubanks showed an early interest in and aptitude for mathematics.
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.
As a prominent big band leader, Andy Kirk popularized the Kansas City sound nationwide.
Anna H. Jones was born in Canada and graduated from Oberlin College, a private Ohio school noted for having been the first American institution of higher learning to regularly admit Black students.
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.
Bernard Powell was a leader in local and national efforts to end racial discrimination and increase the political and economic power of African Americans.
Bettye Miller and Milt Abel, a husband and wife musical duo, reigned over the Kansas City jazz scene from the 1950s through the 1970s.
Bruce R. Watkins was an entrepreneur, public official, and community leader. Born Bruce Riley in Parkville, Missouri, Watkins was adopted by his mother’s second husband, Theron B. Watkins, co-founder of Watkins Brothers Funeral Home.
Charles Wilber “Bullet” Rogan was one of the greatest players in the history of the Negro Baseball Leagues, a multifaceted star who earned enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Musical giant Charlie Parker was a key creator of bebop, the jazz style marked by improvisation, quick tempos, and virtuosic technique. Born in Kansas City, Kansas, and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, Parker attended Lincoln High School.
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.
Corinthian Clay Nutter was a teacher who fought to expand educational opportunities for her students. She was born in Forney, Texas. Her family relocated frequently as her parents sought work, and Nutter had to drop out of school at age 14.
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.
Thomas dedicated his life to education and public service. Born in Kansas City, Kansas, he graduated from Sumner High School and later earned B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Chicago.