HBHA Students Meet Alvin Brooks in Preparation for Civil Rights Trip
Photo by Teddy Zitron

HBHA Students Meet Alvin Brooks in Preparation for Civil Rights Trip

HBHA and University Academy (UA) are getting ready for the upcoming Civil Rights Trip, taking place in March 2024. The students will travel to the South to learn more about the civil rights movement. 

 

The trip takes place every other year with HBHA’s freshmen and sophomores along with UA’s honors students. To prepare, the students and teachers are getting together for fun and meaningful events to get to know each other better and get ready. 

 

HBHA and UA students recently visited the Black Archives of Kansas City. The Black Archives is a non-profit organization that offers important information on African American culture and history. It was created in 1974 to collect and preserve the history of African Americans in the Midwest. During the students’ visit to the Black Archives, they heard from guest speaker, the Kansas City civil rights activist, Alvin Brooks.

 

Black Archives of Mid-America in Kansas City. (Photo by Teddy Zitron)

 

Brooks made history as one of the first Black police officers in the 1950s. Brooks has shared his story many different ways, and he has an autobiography called “Binding Us Together” where he shares more about what he has gone through in his lifetime. 

 

Brooks was born in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1932, and he was adopted by Estelle and Cluster Brooks. He later moved to Kansas City, Missouri. Brooks got married to Carol LaVern Rich when he was 18 years old, they had six children, and they were married for 63 years until she passed in 2013. 

 

Brooks told students that he did not know he was adopted until he was 22-years old. He found his mother, Wilbur Herring, in 1954 and nine years later in 1963, he found his father, Thomascine Glider as well. 

 

During the visit to the Black Archives, Brooks shared some of his story with the students and teachers from HBHA and UA. During the Civil Rights Trip, the students will additionally learn about the Jewish aspects of the civil rights movement.

 

Brooks talked about the segregation that was prevalent in Kansas City. He recounted that African Americans and Jews lived in the same general vicinity. Although both groups were subject to discrimination, both cultures were also pursuing education and advocacy. 

 

Brooks has had an incredible experience watching decades of progress and growth in our communities. He has been here for many disappointments and challenges, and he has also had the pleasure of watching the Kansas City community, Jewish community, and Black community thrive. Brooks even watched congregation Beth Shalom, a conservative community on Paseo with a vibrant Jewish congregation, turn into Victorious Life Church. He also watched the old B’nai Jehudah building on Holmes turn into the location where University Academy stands today. His belief that education is the best way to move forward is a core foundation of  both of our communities. 

 

Brooks says, “I felt that I had a calling to try and make a difference not only to support my own race, but others’ religions and ethnicities regardless of who people were, and I believe that it is a said scripture that we are all made in the image of the creator and I believe that, and therefore I try to do what I can to make a difference so that’s what guided me throughout these years.” 

 

“I’ve had some good times and some bad times. I couldn’t have done this by myself, I had my wife and others who supported me and I supported them,” Brooks says. Brooks’ wife was a big part of his life, and he wouldn’t be where he is today without her.

 

Brooks says this moment was when he knew that he wanted to share his story and speak out about how he overcame racial discrimination in Kansas City. After all those years of being such a significant part of the Kansas City community, Brooks knew he had a strong passion for what he is doing today. Brooks has worked very hard to get to this point in his life, and will forever play a big role in the Kansas City community.

 

The HBHA and UA students were honored to get to hear a little bit more about Kansas City’s history and about Brooks’ personal story. The students are looking forward to the trip and are excited for each event like this one, which will prepare the students for the Civil Rights Trip.

 

Me’Lani Hollinshed, senior at UA, says that one part of his talk that stood out to her was the connection to his wife. “What I thought about most was how he was talking about his wife and how she helped him through college and how much of a supporter she was,” she says, “I thought that was really sweet.” 

 

HBHA and UA students playing an icebreaker to get to know eachother better. (Photo by Teddy Zitron)

 

Hollinshed says what she is most looking forward to about the trip is “visiting the sights, the same big historical events, and being somewhere where something big happened.”

 

It is apparent that this trip will be inspiring for both the students of UA and HBHA.

 

As Brooks expressed, the coming together of our communities, and learning about each other’s past and current reality, will only benefit our future and the future of the greater Kansas City community.

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About the Contributor
Ayla Williams, Writer
Ayla Williams is a freshman at HBHA. This is her first year In publications. She enjoys playing volleyball, basketball, soccer, and hanging out with friends in her free time. She is excited to capture photographs at HBHA, and write articles for the RampageWired! She is looking forward to contributing to the publications team this year!