Articles

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).
John Jordan O’Neil was born in Carrabelle, Florida. He was the second of three children born to John Sr., a sawmill worker, and Luella, a restaurant manager.
An inspiring teacher and passionate communicator, Josephine Silone Yates devoted her life to fighting racial prejudice.
Born in Boonville, Missouri, and raised in Kansas City, Julia Lee was a singer and pianist whose work incorporated both blues and jazz. 
Farmer, landowner, and businessman Junius G. Groves was one of the wealthiest African Americans of the early 20th century.
Ironically nicknamed “Speedy” for his slow, soft-shoe dancing style, L. C. Huggins’ roots stretched back to the city’s Golden Age of Jazz.
Lafayette Alonzo Tillman is remembered most for being one of Kansas City’s first African American police officers.
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. 
Journalist and civil rights advocate Lena Rivers Smith was one of the first African American women to work as a television news reporter in the Midwest.
The Jordans worked throughout their careers to expand the influence of African American voters and to increase the number of Black candidates for political office.
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.
Legendary for his play and his personality, Leroy Robert “Satchel” Paige entered the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971, the first Negro Leagues player so honored. 
Sixteen years before the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education ended legal segregation in schools, Lloyd Gaines fought a court battle to attend the University of Missouri.
Bluford served as editor of The Kansas City Call for nearly 50 years and played an important role in the major civil rights battles of the 20th century. 
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.
Among the great jazz musicians, Mary Lou Williams was a piano prodigy and became a professional performer while in her teens.
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.
Crosthwaite was one of the first African American social workers in Kansas City and spent decades working to improve health care for the local Black community. 
Singer Myra Taylor is recognized as one of the last great performers from Kansas City’s jazz heyday of the 1930s.
Maj. N. Clark Smith was a prominent musician, composer, and instructor and one of the most accomplished African American bandmasters of the early 20th century.