Team KCPS Celebrates Black History Month

Special event includes performances and insights about African American history

Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey dancer Kennedy Banks performs during the Team KCPS Black History Month luncheon on Feb. 19, 2020 at the Board of Education Building. (PHOTO BY: Ray Weikal/KCPS)

Kansas City, February 20, 2020: Kansas City Public Schools employees took some time and opened their eyes to “see” the true legacy of the African American experience during a Black History Month luncheon on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at the Board of Education building.

A wide spectrum of Team KCPS from the central office and schools, led by Superintendent Mark Bedell, broke bread together during the special event, which was organized by Assistant Superintendent for Equity, Inclusion & Innovation Derald Davis and his team.

The luncheon was launched with a musical performance by Central Middle School teacher Amber Underwood’s jazz and R&B trio, The Amber Underwood Project. They led the attendees in a rendition of “Lift Every Voice,” the black national anthem.

Ms. Underwood’s performance was followed by opening remarks from Dr. Andrea Hendricks, Senior Executive Director of Diversity and Inclusion Strategy for Cerner. She encouraged the KCPS staff to continually celebrate the achievements of all their colleagues.

Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey Chief Artistic Director Tyrone Aiken

Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey dancer Kennedy Banks performed an interpretive piece. The organization’s Chief Artistic Director, Tyrone Aiken, then talked about the importance of the arts in the African American community and the value of the dance troupe’s longtime partnership with KCPS.

Dr. Rodney Smith delivered the keynote address for the luncheon. He is the managing partner of Sophic Solutions, LLC. Dr. Smith walked through a series of misperceptions and facts about the African American experience, including data demonstrating that black men are often more engaged in the lives of their children compared to white and Latino fathers.

Sophic Solutions Managing Partner Rodney Smith

“It is extremely important that we must first see and acknowledge each other for who we truly are,” Smith said. “Only then can we begin the progress towards achieving truth and reconciliation as a people.”

Visit the KCPS Flickr page to view more photos from this event. There are also a series of posts on The Plug about the historic role of African Americans within KCPS and Kansas City.