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 28, 2020: Harold Holliday Sr. (1918-1985) was a lawyer and legislator who devoted his career to civil rights activism. Born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, in 1918, he moved with his family two years later to Kansas City and lived there most of his life. After graduating from Central High School and then earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics, Holliday was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1942.
Upon returning home, Holliday applied to the University of Kansas City Law School but initially was rejected based on his race. He fought the decision, gained admittance in 1948, and became the first African American to receive a law degree from the school when he graduated four years later.
Holliday went on to serve in the Missouri House of Representatives from 1965-76, championing progressive legislation and earning a reputation as an inspiring orator. He became a charter member of Kansas City’s Freedom Inc.; served as an officer in the local chapter of the NAACP, in the Urban League, and in multiple bar associations; and continued his public service after leaving the state legislature – as a magistrate judge and then as associate regional counsel in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Harold Holliday, Sr. Montessori School was named in his honor when it opened in 1992.