Monument To Freedom, Justice and Courage 2018 Honorees



The "Monument To Freedom, Justice and Courage," constructed of brick and polished concrete blocks, is located at Leon Jordan Memorial Park at 31st St. & Benton Blvd. in Kansas City.

It contains two sections, each eight feet high and 33 feet long, creating a half-circle around the Leon Jordan statue. Each monument segment contains space for 500 memorial plaques, for a total of 1,000 honorees. Each year for the next 10 years, 100 individuals will be selected to be added to the monument as directed by the Jackson County Freedom Wall Commission, which was established in 2014.


Ahmad Alaadeen was recognized for his significant contributions in the area of Jazz music as a master of Kansas City Jazz. He was also an educator, teaching both in public schools and privately.

Cora Pearl Thuston Brown is known as a Jazz performer who introduced various forms of cutting- edge jazz to Kansas City, as well as her jazz comedy.

Jay McShann is recognized as one of the last great pianists, fluent in the Kansas City Jazz style.


Alex Harris National Administrator of the National Association of Construction Contractors Cooperation which fights for minority participation within the construction trades.

Inez Y. Kaiser was the first African-American woman in Kansas City to run a public relations company with national clients.

Charles Ashley Smith played an important role as a Kansas City architect from 1887 until 1948. He planned more than 50 schools for the Kansas City District as well as the YMCA Building on 18th and Paseo and Unity Temple on the Plaza.

Charles Wimes was widely known and respected for his business success, philanthropic endeavors, and commitment to civil rights. He had a long and distinguished career in the real estate industry where he excelled in mortgage banking, real estate finance and development cooperation.

Civil Rights

Sharon Sanders Brooks All aspects of her life have been for causes to advance equal rights for African-Americans at every level of life.

Estella Reams Carter provided the testimony by which Attorney Richard Phelps was able to convict Morris Klein for voter fraud in Jackson County in 1946.

William Howard Clark had a unique ability to unite diverse groups and create coalitions. He often referred to himself as a “social change agent,” but those who knew and worked with him referred to the Urban League CEO as the “consummate bridge builder.”

Rev. Dr. Wallace S. Hartsfield His service to the community spans over 50 years. Notable is his involvement, participation and contribution for economic dignity issues around race, labor and healthcare.

Gloria Dean Hazley was a community activist who worked with C.O.R.E. (Congress Of Racial Equality) and attended the 1963 March on Washington.

Daniel Arthur (DA ) Holmes fought to fund the building of Lincoln High School; spearheaded an effort to integrate the University of Missouri-Columbia; founded the Paseo Baptist Church and the George Washington Carver Neighborhood Center.

Mamie Hughes pushed for increased economic development in the Historic 18th & Vine Jazz District; founded the Central Exchange to help train and develop women; and fought for those displaced by the construction of Bruce R. Watkins Drive.

Rosa James was a board member of SCLC, NAACP, and a charter member of United Minority Media Association, Inc. throughout the 1970s. She was the first African-American female to serve on the Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners.

Rev. Dr. Mac Charles Jones helped gather African-American, Latino and white gangs for a Kansas City Summit on urban violence in 1993. He also helped bring national attention to Black church burnings in the South.

Leon Jordan co-founded Freedom, Inc. with Bruce R. Watkins. The organization advocates political awareness among African-Americans in Kansas City. He organized a massive voter registration drive and developed African-American political candidates.

Rev. Samuel E. Mann is a long-time civil rights activist, marching in many demonstrations at home and across the country, including the historic march for Sanitation Workers in Memphis, TN and against the Vietnam War (led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Lounneer Pemberton As Executive Director for the Urban League of GKC, he developed a local plan for getting minorities into construction trades and collaborated with the KC Chamber of Commerce on the Education and Urban Employment Committee.

Bernard Powell At the height of riots and mass protests in 1968, he formed the Social Action Committee of 20 (SAC-20) to provide job and leadership training to impressionable African-American youth.

Rev. Kenneth Ray was one of the founding members of the Kansas City Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC); he was also the first African-American Vice President of the Communications Workers of America Union.

Eva Ross was a member of the Welfare and Human Rights Committee which eradicated state caseworkers from unannounced home visits. She served on the board that planned a community center dedicated to Missouri’s first African-American Judge Lewis Clymer.

Anita Russell In addition to serving as President of the Kansas City, Missouri Branch of the NAACP, she is a devoted leader and supporter of community involvement and volunteerism.

Alvin Sykes was instrumental in helping to pass the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act (2007), a law allowing authorities to re-open civil rights cold cases.

Rev. Dr. Nelson ”Fuzzy” Thompson served as president of the SCLC Kansas City Chapter for several decades and dedicated his life to fighting for civil rights and challenging racism, inequality and discrimination.

Bishop James D. Tindall is founder and convener of the Urban Summit, an organization that brings together elected officials, community residents, and others interested in advocacy to address the issues of the African-American community in Kansas City.

Community Activist

Joanne Collins is a highly regarded philanthropist and community fundraiser. She also serves on the Anti-Drug Task Force of Kansas City, and on her 50th birthday headed a fundraiser that produced more than $50,000 for Kansas City Metropolitan charities.

Community Engagement

Alvin Brooks founded Kansas City’s Ad Hoc Group Against Crime and served as its President and CEO from 1991 to 2000. Ad Hoc serves as a trusted bridge between the community and law enforcement to reduce violence and solve crimes in order to make our neighborhoods safe and secure.

Melvin Brown serves as a member of the Employment Practices Network of Kansas City, United Minority Media Association, Missouri Gospel Announcers Guild–Kansas City, MO Chapter, National Association of African-Americans in Human Resources, Executive Board of Paseo High School Alumni Association, and School Advisory Council Chair of Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts. In addition to these, he has performed volunteer work for other nonprofit organizations.

Community Historian

Lyle Gibson is a leader in the encouragement of individuals to research their historical roots. He co-produced Legacy: Spirit of Black Panthers, a documentary screened at MCC Penn Valley in February 2018.

Joe Louis Mattox was one of Kansas City’s most prolific and recognized historians. He held this title for local agencies and organizations including Kansas City’s Historic Preservation Commission and the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center.

Horace Peterson had an obsession for the preservation of history and the stories of the Black experience in the Midwest, he created the Black Archives of Mid-America in 1974.

Community Organizing

Ike Graham, as president of the Vineyard Neighborhood Association, is responsible for all organization activities including coordinating efforts for community involvement, membership meetings, membership drives, and many other activities initiated to promote unity and support in the community.


Rose Bell is recognized for her decade of service and representation on the Kansas City Public Library Board. She has been instrumental in being a voice for African-Americans at UMKC.

Dwayne Crompton was the first African-American male to serve as the president of the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Lester Leon Dixon, while providing mathematics tutoring to family and friends, a concept was formed that led to the cofounding of the W.E.B. Dubois Learning Center in 1973.

William Grace created a method to teach reading, and while seeking independence to use the method beyond the school district, he cofounded the W.E.B. Dubois Learning Center.

William J. Herron was Principal at Southeast High School from 1970 to 1980, where he nurtured, encouraged and inspired his students. He founded the Kansas City Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association.

Dr. Julia Hill was elected to the school board in 1984, where she developed a reputation for fiercely defending the interests of black students. She was board president from 1990 to 1996.

Helen Ragsdale Following her retirement as an educator in 1996, she continued to address the educational and social needs of students by running for the Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS) Board of Directors where she served as the President, Treasurer, Education Committee Chair, and Board Liaison to the federal court appointed Desegregation Monitoring Committee.

Marilyn Simmons was a tireless warrior for children. As a KCPS Board member and President, she supported many district programs, including the African-centered education program.

Ajamu Webster petitioned KCPS to introduce an African Centered Education (ACE) program. He testified in Federal Court for the expansion of ACE and served on the ACE Taskforce committee which developed K–12 Articulation for Southeast High, King Middle, Chick and Ladd Elementary schools.


Ollie Gates has raised money to retire the debt on the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center; built the Spirit of Freedom Fountain; renovated the historic Satchel Paige Memorial Baseball Stadium; and built the memorial to African-American veterans of WWI and WWII.

George Harrington, through several businesses, was able to provide employment to many in the community.

Homer Roberts was the first African-American to own an automobile dealership in the country. By 1928, with an all African-American staff, he sold more than $2 million worth of cars, mostly to the African-American community.


Pastor Earl Abel established and built two senior citizen residences that housed over 118 seniors, an activity center costing $2.5 million, and youth camp costing $5 million.

Rev. Preston Allen, Sr. was a social change agent who counseled various public and private sector corporations and organizations on major issues ranging from public school education to race relations.

Pastor Preston Allen, Jr. succeeded his father as Senior Pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church; he was a faith leader and a committed civic leader in numerous organizations.

Pastor John L. Brooks leads the Convoy of Hope, a powerful outreach ministry providing African-Americans with food, clothing, school supplies, and other services.

Rev. Leonard P. Butler provides leadership of the Palestine Senior Citizens Activity Center and is instrumental in unifying neighborhoods surrounding Palestine Missionary Baptist Church.

Rev. Dr. John Modest Miles seeks to strengthen community engagement with county, city and state agencies, as well as forge active collaborations and alliances to enhance the well-being of the African-American community.


Dr. Leslie Becker was part of one of the first African-American group practices in Kansas City; and one of the first African-Americans appointed to teach at the University of Kansas School of Medicine.

John Bluford initiated school-based clinics and pre-paid capitalization programs in the 1980s, and later the TMC Corporate Academy, the Hospital in an Art Gallery concept, and his Thinking Outside of the Bed community outreach program, while at the helm of Truman Medical Center.

Dr. Marion Jones specialized in urology and general practice medicine. He sought to help whomever needed healing and was highly respected by his patients.

Dr. John Edward Perry joined with other black physicians in 1903 in the struggle to create professional hospitals for minority patients. In 1910 he opened a private hospital, the Perry Sanitarium and Training School for Nurses at 1214 Vine Street.

Dr. Carl Peterson was founding member of the first African-American multi-specialty group in Kansas City west of the Mississippi; first African-American to be certified by the American Board of Surgery; and eventually became the Chief of Surgery at Research Medical Center.

Dr. Walter R. Peterson was the first African-American to serve as the Regional Medical Advisor with the Department of Health & Human Services.

Melissa Robinson is the youngest African-American female to serve as Board president of KCPS and Executive Director of the Black Health Care Coalition.

Dr. Samuel U. Rodgers planned and opened the first federally-recognized community health center in Missouri, just the fourth such center in the country at that time.

Law/Criminal Justice

Judge Lewis W. Clymer was the first African-American appointed to the Jackson County Circuit Court, where he served for 10 years.

Pearl Fain worked tirelessly for MBE/WBE Workforce requirements for city and county construction projects; Established the Office of Citizens Complaints.

Judge Jon Gray, as Circuit Judge for the Sixteenth Judicial Circuit of Missouri, worked tirelessly on the frontline bringing issues to the forefront and was instrumental in righting laws that worked against blacks in the judicial system.

Harold Holliday, Sr. was the first African-American to receive a law degree from the school which would become the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In addition, Holliday was a civil rights activist, economist, army officer, and Democratic politician who served in the Missouri House of Representatives.

Judge Leonard Hughes, Jr. was the first African-American to integrate a white law firm; first African-American appointed to the Election Board; and he and his son were the first African-American father and son judges in Missouri.

Judge Clifford Spottsville was the first African-American appointed as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri and the first assigned First Assistant in the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office; also the first African-American Kansas City Municipal Court Judge.

Leona Pouncey Thurman was the first African-American woman to practice law in Kansas City.


Lucille Bluford worked for the Kansas City Call for 70 years and helped it become one of the largest black newspapers in the nation.

Andrew “Skip” & Mildred Carter were the first African-Americans to own a radio station west of the Mississippi in Kansas City.

Olivia Dorsey was a pioneer in media creating the show Dimensions in Black, featuring stories that highlighted issues in the black community.

Wayne Hubbard and Candice Price created Wayne’s Outdoor Lifestyle TV show in 1999. Later, they became the first African-American couple appointed to the Hunting Heritage Conservation Council by President Obama.

M.C. Richardson is Founder/CEO/Chairman of the United Minority Media Association, Inc., a nonprofit, volunteer organization of minority entrepreneurs, professionals and students in the communications and media industry who share a commitment to career development, education and community service.

Lena Rivers Smith was the first African-American reporter and the first on-air female reporter in Kansas City.


Jim Nunnelly is a strong advocate for the development and mentoring of future leaders (young professionals) by connecting them to leadership opportunities that will have a positive impact on the issues affecting them in their community.

Neighborhood Leadership

Esther Glover faithfully gave of her service to the Kansas City community by serving on countless boards and committees dedicated to the area of community economic development.

Rosemary S. Lowe developed plans and strategies that enabled police officers and neighborhood residents in developing safe, economically sound and viable communities.


Willie Humphrey, co-founder of the Go-Long Foundation, which provides college scholarships to African-American youth.

Dorothy Johnson was cofounder of LINC (Local Investment Commission). She worked with numerous philanthropic organizations and powerful business and civic leaders to advance the cause of African-Americans and the economically disadvantaged.

Herman Johnson was cofounder of LINC. He worked with numerous philanthropic organizations and powerful business and civic leaders to advance the cause of African-Americans and the economically disadvantaged.

Sanders Martin, co-founder of the Go-Long Foundation, which provides college scholarships to African-American youth.

Joe Webster, co-founder of the Go-Long Foundation, which provides college scholarships to African-American youth.


Kenneth Bacchus served as a Kansas City Councilman as well as his varied roles in housing and economic development. He’s responsible for helping secure over $20 million for Kansas City development projects.

Mary Groves Bland was a member of both the Missouri House of Representatives and Senate. She sponsored House Bill 1565 establishing an Office of Minority Health with the MO Department of Health. She also was president of Freedom, Inc.

Mark Bryant is a former President of Freedom, Inc., as well as a City Councilman. He pushed for settlement of the lawsuit that delayed construction of the Bruce R. Watkins roadway for over 25 years.

Rev. Emanuel Cleaver II was elected the first African-American Mayor of Kansas City, serving from 1991 to 1999. In 2004, he was elected to represent Missouri’s 5th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Carol Coe has been politically engaged in Kansas City for over five decades. As a Councilwoman she advocated for collaboration between faith-based, community organizations and the City to spur economic development.

Fred Curls was the first African-American appraiser in Kansas City. As one of the founding members of Freedom, Inc., he negotiated to expand the City council to 12 members as part of an effort to open local political offices to minorities.

Philip B. Curls As State Representative and State Senator of Missouri, as well as President of Freedom, Inc., he dedicated an exceptional amount of time and energy to increase representation of the Kansas City African-American community in elective office at the local, state and national levels.

Charles Hazley served on the City Council in the 3rd District for two decades, from 1971 to 1991. He rose to chairmanship of the Plans and Zoning Committee, where he oversaw scores of city development projects and urban renewal efforts.

Harold “Doc” Holliday, Jr. was the first African-American appointed to the Kansas City, MO Board of Parks and Recreation; first African-American elected to the Jackson County Legislature; one of the original members of Young Freedom under Leon Jordan’s leadership; and served as president of Freedom, Inc.

Orchid Jordan became a candidate for her husband’s legislative seat after he was killed. She won the election, and served 16 years in the MO House of Representatives.

Walter Peterson was elected to the MO House of Representative in 1982, he served on the Appropriations-Social Service and Corrections, Civil and Criminal Justice, Governmental Organization, and Urban Affairs Committees during his tenure.

Lee Vertis Swinton was an attorney and politician who became the first African-American State Senator in Missouri.

Earl D. Thomas was the first African-American candidate elected to serve at-large in City Council history. He served two four-year terms for the 3rd District, retiring in 1971.

Bruce R. Watkins was Kansas City’s first African-American City Council member and co-founder of the political organization, Freedom, Inc.

Yvonne Wilson served five years as a MO State Representative and was elected State Senator in 2004 and 2008, where she held a leadership position in the upper chamber as Minority Caucus Secretary.

Social Engagement

Sybil Daniels, political activist and fundraiser, was instrumental in establishing a Youth Scholarship program for the Urban League of GKC which provided scholarships for African-American students.


Harrell and Myrtle Johnson founded the Kansas City Keys in 1976 to serve African-American youth in the Kansas City community using a holistic approach of activities for the mind and body.

Bob Kendrick leads efforts to promote and preserve the sports history at the Negro League’s Baseball Museum.

John “Buck” O’Neil not only made significant contributions to the game of baseball, he was also a faithful supporter of many Kansas City causes and a beloved ambassador and humanitarian for the betterment of its citizens.

Youth Development

Samuel Eason founded Niles Home for Children. He was an African-American bricklayer who opened his home to orphaned and homeless children living in the historic 18th and Vine District.