Ruth Ramsey, Black Businesswoman in Kansas City

September 7, 2008

Ruth Ramsey is founder of:
Ramsey and Associates Design Inc.
Primary SIC: Converted Paper & Paperboard Prod Nec, Primary NAICS: All Other Converted Paper Product Manufacturing
Description: Manufacturing: Converted Paper & Paperboard Prod Nec

Additionally, her company offers namebadges called More Than Hello and she publishes a bimonthly magazine called: “Our Health Matters”

Kansas City Black United Front (NBUF) Annual Kwanzaa Event

July 12, 2008

The National Black United Front began in Chicago, Illinois and has expanded to several cities throughout the United States.

But the Kansas City Chapter of the National Black United Front is the largest and most active group of NBUF.  The organization has led many grassroots activities from monthly meetings to holding the annual convention of NBUF.  One of its greatest feats is organizing and creating the African Centered Education program.  The African Centered Education program created elementary and middle schools that teaches Black Children from a Black perspective.  The schools are free for students admitted into the program and are a part of the Kansas City Public School system.  Many cities in other locations look at the Kansas City Black United Front’s African Centered Education program as a model for their own program initiatives.

The biggest event for the community is the annual Kwanzaa celebration that takes place at the GEM Theater in the 18th and Vine District.  The event consists of a song and the black pledge.  Next, the lighting of the candle and recognition of a Kansas City community elder.  The event lasts the full seven days, unlike most Kwanzaa celebrations around the country that only lasts one afternoon.  In fact, Kansas City may be the longest lasting Kwanzaa celebration in the Midwest, if not in the entire country.

The Kansas City Chapter of the National Black United Front (KCBUF) invites you to read about highlights and current Kansas City events. KCBUF holds monthly meetings, for more information e-mail us at:

The Kansas City Black United Front’s President is Ajamu Webster, a true king and leader, a softspoken but effective hero.  The Kansas City Black United Front is truly a Black history maker and will blaze in the minds of future generations to come.

Dick Gregory, St. Louis Native Wears Many Hats

February 17, 2008

Dick Gregory Book Titled

Gregory, Richard Claxton ‘Dick’ (Born, October 12, 1932, St. Louis, Mo.), African American comedian and civil rights activist whose social satire changed the way white Americans perceived African American comedians since he first performed in public. Dick Gregory entered the national comedy scene in 1961 when Chicago’s Playboy Club (as a direct request from publisher Hugh Hefner) booked him as a replacement for white comedian, ?Professor? Irwin Corey.

Gregory’s activism continued into the 1990s. In response to published allegations that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had supplied cocaine to predominantly African American areas in Los Angeles, thus spurring the crack epidemic, Gregory protested at CIA headquarters and was arrested. In 1992 he began a program called “Campaign for Human Dignity” to fight crime in St. Louis neighborhoods.

In 1973, the year he released his comedy album Caught in the Act, Gregory moved with his family to Plymouth, Massachusetts, where he developed an interest in vegetarianism and became a nutritional consultant. In 1984 he founded Health Enterprises, Inc., a company that distributed weight loss products. In 1987 Gregory introduced the Slim-Safe Bahamian Diet, a powdered diet mix, which was immensely profitable.

Dick Gregory’s Position On:

  • In ’68 Gregory wrote that the one qualification we should seek in a Presidential candidate is “a sensitivity to human need” (p.18)  Our two party electoral system generally promotes candidates who lack this qualification for office—and who focus not on human need but on supporting and spreading corporate greed.
  • Smash the two party system.  Gregory writes that he did not vote in the 1964 Presidential election because “I refused to be the victim of having to choose between the lesser of two evils.”   Choose a candidate in ’08 who actually represents your world view don’t just vote for the other guy, or gal, because you think they can win.  And don’t vote for any candidate who accuses another candidate of stealing his or her votes.  The two party system has fostered an arrogant attitude in both the Democratic and Republican parties where their candidates assume that the votes are theirs even before election day.  This is why they speak so easily of red and blue states and Republican and Democratic districts.  Yet anyone has the right to run for office and the votes belong to no candidate until they are cast and counted on election day.
  • America speaks with pride of the fruits of democracy and advocates democracy for the rest of the world.   Yet we go all over the world trying to force democracy upon people at gunpoint.” (p. 49)   Elect the candidate in ’08 who will support democracy at home and abroad not with force but with respect for the ability of a people to determine their form of government and elect their leaders.   Foreign democracies have been judged good by American leaders only when they support America’s policies otherwise they are considered bad and our government undermines their ability to rule.  If we truly support democratic values then we must judge a democracy to be good or bad not for its support of American policies but for its ability to recognize and express the will of its people.
  • I have a dream and a vision of seeing the Constitution of the United States implemented in full for the first time in American history.” (p. 58)  It has been popular in recent years for candidates to talk about amending the Constitution.  What Gregory writes in 1968 is that the Constitution has never been fully implemented.  He suggests, therefore, that before we talk about changing it we actually see how life in America would change if we followed the Constitution.
  • Gregory writes that his administration will give us the “Clean Society.”  He writes that one of his first acts will be to set aside half of his Presidential salary as a reward for any information leading to his arrest and conviction for wrongdoing in office.  Further he proposes to place into escrow $10,000 for each Senator and Congressman also as a reward for information of wrong doing in office.  This combined sum (around $5 million dollars he estimates) is small in comparison to the federal government’s annual budget.  Yet the rewards for taking political corruption seriously would be profound.
  • Gregory proposed a tax on “excess-profits.”  Today we have Congressmen and Senators who will debate the excess-profits of the oil industry but will not tax it!  In 2008 we need a President who will pledge to tax excess-profits.
  • I will propose legislation to allow American taxpayers to bring suit against the federal government challenging the spending of a sizable portion of the national budget for a possibly illegal war.” (p. 104)   In 1968 Gregory was writing about Vietnam, but what he saw then with the executive seizing more and more power and Congress spending more and more money on military actions overseas has direct parallels to the current situation in Iraq.  ” Any time American troops are being used overseas as a result of orders by the commander-in-chief, the question of the constitutionality of such action should be immediately raised.” (p. 104)
  • Gregory pledged to respect international law and order and to create renewed respect for the United Nations.   “I will urge a redistribution of power in the UN so that every nation has an equal voice […] ” (p. 110)  Further he proposes that the UN flag become as recognizable as corporate logos, the flag announcing to people the world over that “colors, religions and political orientations place no restriction upon membership in the human family.” (p. 112)
  • America must re-evaluate what is meant by developing ‘stronger’ nations.  A nation that is well equipped militarily, yet plagued with disease, hunger and ignorance, is not really strong.” (p.113)
  • Gregory wanted to see America taking leadership in eliminating world hunger and he proposed to have elementary school children contribute a penny a week and for adults to give up one meal each week the proceeds from both to be used to feed the hungry.
  • Gregory proposed using tax rebates as incentives for companies which establish fair employment practices.   In 2008 we desperately need a candidate who will use our tax code to reward corporate behavior that benefits consumers, employees and the environment.
  • Gregory offers reforms for fire and police departments as well as the criminal justice system and the courts.   “As President, I will make every effort to free the court system from political ties.   I will seek federal legislation to rule out the concept of judgeship by political appointment.
  • The elimination of capital punishment was one of his criminal justice reforms.  He sought a criminal justice system that accomplished rehabilitation of the criminal rather than merely punishment.   We should not accept a candidate in 2008 who talks about compassion and respect for life if they support capital punishment.  We must accept that every person is capable of finding and achieving redemption and that taking a life ends this possibility.  Capital punishment is only acceptable to the cynical Christian who sees redemption in the spiritual realm alone.
  • Nigger : An Autobiography

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    Marian O’Fallon Oldham

    February 10, 2008

    Banner for Gaines Oldham Black Culture Center

    Marian O’Fallon Oldham was rejected from attending the University of Missouri because she was Black.  It did not stop her as she instead attended Harris-Stowe in St. Louis. She later got her master’s from the University of Michigan. She then became a teacher and counselor in St. Louis Public Schools, a civil rights activist and a member of various charitable boards in St. Louis. In 1977, Oldham became the University of Missouri’s first Black female curator, and she served for eight years. The university’s St. Louis campus later gave her an honorary doctorate and set up a scholarship in her name. She died in 1994 at 66.

    Today, the University of Missouri has named the Mu’s Black Culture system in her owner and that of Lloyd Gaines who was also denied admission for being Black.  The center is names the Lloyd Gaines-Oldham Black Culture Center.

    Lloyd Gaines Becomes A Civil Rights Leader, But Only Wanted to Go to Law School

    February 5, 2008

    Lloyd Gaines Photo from MU ArchivesDuring segregation, black students seeking a graduate degree had to leave the state. Unlike most schools in segregated states, though, MU would pay for part of a black student’s out-of-state graduate school tuition.But leaving Missouri was unappealing to Gaines. In 1935, he applied to MU and received interest from admissions. It is safe to say that the university registrar, S.W. Canada, knew neither the color of Gaines’ skin nor the historically black university he had attended.

    Meanwhile, NAACP lawyers and civil rights pioneers Sidney Redmond and Charles Houston were battling segregation and unequal teachers’ salaries in Missouri. Hoping to challenge segregation at MU, they were looking for a black student as a plaintiff.

    The university learned of Gaines’ color after receiving his Lincoln transcript and denied him admission. Soon after, Gaines met the NAACP lawyers who sought him out and would lay the foundation of the coming court case. It was the first NAACP test case regarding educational segregation to reach the Supreme Court.

    The Board of Curators rejected Gaines’ application and those of three other black students. Gaines was probably disappointed though not shocked. Quickly, the NAACP petitioned the Boone County Circuit Court in July 1936 to force the university to admit Gaines. During the trial, one of Gaines’ lawyers attacked traditionalist mentality and asked, “You don’t think tradition can bind progress forever, do you?” F.M. McDavid, senator and president of the Board of Curators replied, “I don’t know what you mean by progress.” The court ruled in favor of the university, and the NAACP immediately filed an appeal.

    In December 1937, the case reached the Missouri Supreme Court, and again the court handed down a pro-segregation decision by maintaining that Gaines was not deprived of his rights under the 14th Amendment because Missouri paid black students’ nonresident tuition.

    Neither Gaines nor the NAACP was satisfied. By that time, the case had grown bigger than Gaines. Although he was the poster child for an antidiscrimination case — an honors student with an exemplary record — he was also an instrument in the civil rights attempt to eradicate segregation. But as the case slowly pushed its way through the court system, Gaines moved on and attended the University of Michigan to pursue a master’s degree in economics. Under pressure and aware that he would be judged by both his supporters and opponents, he again excelled at school.

    In 1938, his case reached the U.S. Supreme Court. Around the country, people on both sides of the segregation debate anticipated the court’s reaction. Justice Hugo Black, a former member of the Ku Klux Klan, sat on the court. On Gaines’ side were his original lawyers, now with the help of future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. On December 12, 1938, the Supreme Court rendered a 5-2 decision that was both a victory and a loss for Gaines. The verdict stated that Missouri must admit Gaines or provide an equal law school facility for black students within the state. Black, who would later become one of the Court’s most liberal judges, voted with the majority.

    Newspapers across the country exploded in headlines about the case, many of them supporting the verdict and some saying the ruling did not go far enough. The case did not end segregation but merely allowed for a new interpretation of “separate but equal” as rendered in the Plessy v. Ferguson decision.

    Gaines, who was in Michigan when the verdict was rendered, offered a few poignant words in response: “Organized pressure has opened another great gate for our people…may we all see that this golden opportunity is never neglected, lost or forgotten.”

    But perhaps the opportunity was more gilded than truly golden. Publicly, Gaines stated he would enroll at Missouri’s law school but told his mother privately that he was not planning to attend. Clearly, the years of legal battles and the pressures of being a civil rights figurehead had taken their toll on the courtroom-wary man.

    In compliance with the Supreme Court, a law school for black students was established in St. Louis through Lincoln University. In 1939, a group of 20 students arrived to take classes at the new law school. The school, however, was short-lived and shut down in 1943.

    It was not until 1950 that Gus T. Ridgel, a fellow Lincoln graduate, became the first black student to attend MU.

    Varied Discussions About Lloyd Gaines and the Refusal of MU to Accept Blacks into their University

    February 5, 2008

    Now & Then

    Past and present conversations surrounding the Lloyd Gaines case are imperative to understanding the sentiment of America in the late1930s and how the civil rights figure is remembered today.

    Letter from Gaines seeking admittance to MU, 1935:

    “I would appreciate your prompt attention to this matter, in as much as an early reply would enable me to make the adjustments necessary in completing my plans for the employment of my time for the fall.”

    Response from the MU Board of Curators, 1936:
    “… any change in the State system of separate instruction which has been heretofore established, would react to the detriment of both Lincoln University and the University of Missouri …”

    An editorial in The Missouri Student newspaper, MU’s official student newspaper, 1937:
    “Outspoken students said they would not sit by a Negro in class. Stronger voices announced they would leave school if Gaines were admitted. The logic of the latter statement is ridiculous. Where would they go?” The editorial further compared race relations in the United States to those in Europe with, “Lincoln university for the Negro. The Ghetto for the Jew. For, wherein is there a basic difference? … Our actions in accepting him will define our status as Americans.”

    Gaines’ letter to his mother, March 3, 1939:
    “… I have found that my race still likes to applaud, shake hands, pat me on the back and say how great and noble is the idea; how historical and socially important is the case but—and there it ends. Off and out of the confines of the publicity columns, I am just a man—not one who has fought and sacrificed to make the case possible; one who is still fighting and sacrificing … just another man whose name no one recognized.”

    Andom Gherezghiher, MU student, 2006:
    “When I toured this campus, the guides talked all about former deans, Beetle Bailey and leprechauns, but nothing about Gaines. They should talk about this on tours. The university should acknowledge that they made mistakes and made changes.”

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