CMG Black History Month Series Bruce R. Watkins

Bruce Riley Watkins (March 20, 1924 Parkville, Missouri – September 13, 1980 Kansas
City, Missouri) and his stepfather Theron B. Watkins (1877–1950) were prominent political and social activists in Kansas City and Jackson County, Missouri. The younger Watkins was the first African-American elected to Kansas City’s City Council, in 1963; the first African-American elected to office in that county’s
administration, in 1966; and the first African-American to nearly win election as Kansas City Mayor, in April 1979.[1][2][3][4] Mr. Watkins and his close friend Leon Jordan[1] established the political club “Freedom, Inc.” in 1962.
Monuments erected in Bruce’s honor include the Spirit of Freedom fountain at Brush Creek Boulevard and Cleveland Avenue in Kansas City, Missouri and the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center at Blue Parkway and Cleveland Avenue and Bruce R. Watkins Drive, a major thoroughfare in Kansas City completed October 22, 2001. Both landmarks are within walking distance of the family business co-founded by Theron Watkins,Watkins Brothers Memorial Chapel.

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