Swope Health highlights Black history through Kansas City leaders

In February, Swope Health hosted a series of community conversations with leaders in Kansas City who reflected on Black history through their personal experiences. 

Swope Health developed the program to recognize that Black history happens daily and deserves recognition more than once a year in Black History Month. The four conversations in the program were recorded and are available for replay. 

The event featured:

Dr. Kimberly Beatty, chancellor of Metropolitan Community College

Kimberly Beatty, Ed.D., began her tenure as Metropolitan Community College’s eighth chancellor on July 1, 2017. She was formally installed as chancellor at an inauguration ceremony on Aug. 24, 2018.

Dr. Beatty came to MCC from Houston Community College, the nation’s fourth-largest community college system, where she served as vice chancellor for instructional services and chief academic officer.

As the first African American leader in the 105-year history of Metropolitan Community College, and the only African-American CEO in the Missouri community college system, “I live and walk in the truth of who I am each day,” Dr. Beatty says.

Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

Bob Kendrick was named president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in March 2011. Founded in 1990, the NLBM is the world’s only museum dedicated to preserving and celebrating the rich history of African American baseball and its profound impact on the social advancement of America.

“The Negro Leagues museum is bigger than baseball,” he said. “The Negro Leagues is about economic empowerment, justice, and civil rights.” 

The museum was founded in 1990 in a one-room office to tell “the story of triumph over adversity and the power of the human spirit.” In addition to stories about the players and the spirit with which they faced segregation and discrimination, Kendrick outlines ways the community can support the living history – including via the continued revival of the 18th and Vine district. 

Frank Ellis, founder of Swope Health

Frank Ellis served as founder, chairman, and CEO of Swope Health Services. Originally named Model Cities Health Corporation, Swope Health Services opened in 1969 in the basement of Metropolitan Baptist Church in Kansas City. He and his dedicated board saw the need to provide primary health services to those who fell through the cracks of the health care system — the working poor.

Ellis described Swope Health as a mission-driven, business-minded entrepreneurial organization. He recalled his motto from the early days — no money, no mission — which kept a focus on business growth and financial management as a key to fueling the success of Swope Health. 

His recollections included a description of the site of current Swope Health central (a landfill), the work for Black harmony during the riots and years of civil unrest in Kansas City, and his own leadership style and practices (daily devotional and meditation). 

U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, Congressman from Missouri’s Fifth Congressional District

Rep. Cleaver, now serving his ninth term in congress, was Kansas City’s first African American mayor, elected in 1991 after serving 12 years on city council. 

During his eight-year stint in the Office of the Mayor, Cleaver distinguished himself as an economic development activist and an unapologetic redevelopment craftsman. He and the city council brought a number of major corporations to the city and led the effort, after a forty-year delay, to build the South Midtown Roadway – now known as The Bruce R. Watkins Roadway. Additionally, his municipal stewardship includes the 18th and Vine Redevelopment, a new American Royal, the establishment of a Family Division of the Municipal Court, and the reconstruction and beautification of Brush Creek.

Cleaver addressed his work on community revitalization in the Kansas City Green Impact Zone, and new efforts with the federal Build Back Better infrastructure program. 

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Health Forward Foundation
2300 Main Street, Suite 304
Kansas City, MO 64108
(816) 241-7006