For Black History Month, we are profiling prominent African Americans who made a significant and historic impact on Kansas City Public Schools. We want to give credit and our gratitude to the Black Archives of Mid-America in Kansas City and LINC for providing the images and information for this series.
Kansas City, February 10, 2020: Hugh O. Cook (1873-1949), the longest-serving principal of Lincoln High School in Kansas City, Mo., was born in Washington D.C., graduated from Cornell University, and taught at Normal A&M College in Huntsville, Alabama. He moved to Kansas City in 1901 to teach mathematics and psychology at Lincoln High and assumed leadership of the school in 1922.
Cook’s tenure saw Lincoln High’s move into its new Woodland Avenue facility, which is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Awarded the Distinguished Service Medal from the Missouri State Association of Negro Teachers in 1940, he also was instrumental in the founding of the Paseo YMCA and the Kansas City branch of the NAACP.
Cook joined the Army YMCA during World War I and was attached to the 371st Infantry Regiment, which provided the “comforts of home” to black troops. He and his wife had two children and became foster parents to dozens of others without homes of their own. He retired in 1944.