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 24, 2020: One of Kansas City’s best known black businessmen, G. Lawrence Blankinship Sr. (1913-2005) was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and moved to Kansas City as a teenager. A graduate of Lincoln High School, he learned the pharmacy profession, managed the Crown Drug store at 18th & Vine, and in 1947 started his own business. The company became Blankinship Distributors Inc., a wholesale supplier of African American beauty products.

Blankinship Distributors supplied hundreds of sales outlets, mainly drugstores, with hair care and cosmetic products developed for a burgeoning, often overlooked African American market. Blankinship’s national reputation as a successful entrepreneur complemented that of a tireless community leader and advocate for black economic development.

With Bruce Watkins, whom he succeeded, he was among the first African Americans on the Kansas City Council. Blankinship also served on numerous influential boards, including the Douglass State Bank and the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, and was the founding chairman of the Black Economic Union. Described as a soft-spoken leader, his even-handed style helped to bridge the racial divide during the city’s troubled 1960s.