KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Monday marks Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which was first recognized in 1971 in cities across America, before being enacted as a federal holiday in 1986.
It’s a day to honor the legacy of the civil rights icon, which falls on or around his birthday every year, Jan. 15.
Six times King visited the Kansas City area. One of those times was in 1958, right in the auditorium of Sumner Academy, formerly Sumner High School, which was an all Black school until 1978 in Kansas City, Kansas.
The message in every single one of those visits, equal rights for everyone.
“The time is always right, to do what is right” King said in a speech.
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said the civil rights icon embraced the work that moved all people forward, not just this group or that group.
“Many of his visits to Missouri and Kansas, related to particular issues that weren’t just about the African American experience, but were largely about issues as it as it really pertains to how we can make life better and fairer for everyone.” Lucas said.
Over an 11- year period King made what we know of six documented visits, serval for faith conventions across the metro including his first visit in 1957. His second visit was to Sumner High School.
His visits displayed what his message was, progress for everyone. It showed in the diversity in his trips to KC, universities and in March of 1961 the congregation B’nai Jehudah the oldest synagogue in the Kansas City area.
On Monday, Lucas hosted a conversation with author Hannibal B. Johnson that covered many topics such as the Tulsa Massacre. The day was apart of the conversation, which had a focus on where we go next.
“The message is we have to work together to create a society that is more egalitarian, and more inclusive. I mean, that really is the ultimate aim” Johnson said.
Lucas and Johnson emphasized the importance of making sure progress continues.