Memorial for 1,000 famous African Americans planned for Kansas City park

07/16/2014 12:08 PM

07/16/2014 12:08 PM

Bishop James D. Tindall did the Kansas City area a great service by getting the Jackson County Legislature to approve the creation of the Freedom Memorial Wall Commission to pick the names of 1,000 African American leaders for a new monument.

Tindall had been a longtime Jackson County legislator until June 30, his last day. He also pastors the Metropolitan Spiritual Church of Christ.

The names will go on the Freedom Memorial Wall in a park at 31st Street and Benton Boulevard to honor African Americans who have made significant contributions to Jackson County. The park already includes a statue of Leon M. Jordan, who helped found Freedom Inc., an influential black political organization.

Freedom Inc. for decades has helped register voters and get black candidates elected to city, county, state and national offices. Bruce R. Watkins Jr. also is organizing an effort to get the Kansas City Police Department’s new East Patrol Division campus named after Jordan.

The creation Freedom Memorial Wall is being hailed as a great idea by many Kansas City leaders, The Kansas City Star reports. And it is.

No details of who will sit on the new commission are set, a cost for the project, how it will be financed, a time line for action or whose names might go on the wall.

But there certainly are a great number of African Americans who qualify to be listed. Once the commission is seated, it should seek input from the public to get ideas of who should be on the memorial. That would spur community ownership in the project and inspire new generations of African Americans to contribute to the area.

The commission also should seek the help of the Black Archives of Mid-America and the Lucile Bluford Branch of the Kansas City Public Library to develop a wealth of information to go with the names so that people who visit the Leon M. Jordan Memorial Park could be better informed.

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