KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Alvin Brooks has served the Kansas City community for nearly 70 years.
Tuesday Kansas City turned out to celebrate the former Mayor Pro-Tem and civil rights leader on his 90th birthday. The party came a day after Jackson County Executive Frank White honored Brooks with a proclamation.
A wing of the Kansas City museum is currently filled with Alvin Brooks accomplishments since his birth May 3, 1932. But many of his friends and the man himself say his biggest accomplishment was bringing people together.
A giant cake with the number 90 rotating on top was filled with images of Brooks and words that best describe his many roles and impact on Kansas City.
“You can’t sum it up Alvin Brooks is a force he’s the kind of man that never stops,” Bishop Mark Tolbert said.
“The one word, I would use would be bridge-builder,” Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II said.
After becoming one of the city’s first Black police officers in 1954, Brooks was tabbed to head a new city department on human relations after the 1968 race riots and civil rights movement in Kansas City.
“From the 1950s to now that’s what, a long time? And I’ve enjoyed every moment of it. Kansas City has been good to me and I hope that I’ve been good to Kansas City and I’ve been able to give something back.”
He founded Ad Hoc Group against Crime at the age of 45 and 45 years later the citizen-led group is still trying to reduce crime in Kansas City.
“You know when you talk to Alvin Brooks he’s a walking history book. You are talking about things you read, he’s telling you about things he saw,” Tolbert said.
Brooks doesn’t necessarily like what he sees now. Throughout the pandemic and social justice movement he’s been leading a weekly zoom meeting with people of color across America.
“Kansas City is just a microcosm of what’s happening in America,” Brooks said.
Though he says he wishes he’d seen more progress toward unity in his life, he’s thankful for everyone who recognizes his efforts.
“It’s overwhelming God’s been good to me for 90 years,” Brooks said.
“Even at 90 he’s just taking a break to have a party and then he’s going back to do great things in the community,” Tolbert said.