Archive for Thursday, March 1, 2007

KCKCC honors two women from area

March 1, 2007

Two Leavenworth women are to be honored today, March 1, at the annual Women's History Month luncheon on the campus of Kansas City Kansas Community College.

Phyllis Bass, director of Leavenworth's Richard Allen Cultural Center and Sally Hatcher, chair of the Leavenworth Preservation Alliance, are among five women of distinction being recognized under this year's theme: "Generations of Women Moving History Forward."

Bass and Hatcher also were honored locally on Wednesday, Feb. 28, as part of the scheduled event, "An Evening with Author Sharon Mehdi," at the Riverfront Community Center.

Bass's commitment to working for the local African-American community has spanned over 40 years.

After serving as secretary of the NAACP for 25 years, Bass became director of the Richard Allen Cultural Center in 1992 and is primarily responsible for making the center an integral and viable part of the Leavenworth community.

The center offers public tours and displays various African and Native American relics, including some of the oldest known Cherokee artifacts in the United States. Most of the exhibit focuses on the contributions the buffalo soldiers made to the American military in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Along with then-one-star Gen. Colin Powell, Bass was influential in the construction of the Buffalo Soldier Monument on base at Fort Leavenworth. Bass also sponsors an after-school tutoring program for black - and white - students in the area.

Asked what her motivation was for her work at the Richard Allen center and her many other contributions to cultural enrichment, Bass said, "To recognize the achievements of African-Americans is uppermost in my mind. African-American children are suffering because they don't know who they are, and they don't know this rich history."

Hatcher has been a lifelong advocate of preserving history for educational and inspirational purposes.

As a board member of the Leavenworth Preservation Alliance, Hatcher's committee was successful in preserving 39 buildings at the VA Medical Center in Leavenworth that were to be demolished to make room for burial places.

Hatcher and the preservation alliance petitioned state and national legislators and were able to save and renovate the historical buildings.

More recently, Hatcher has worked to gain support for the "Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area," a project administered through the National Park Service that was signed into law by President Bush in 2006.

Freedom's Frontier has rallied support in 26 counties across Kansas and 12 counties in Missouri and is aimed at celebrating the rich history of "bleeding Kansas."

Like Bass, Hatcher remained modest about being honored.

"It's a great surprise first of all," Hatcher said. "Secondly, it's an honor to anyone who has ever helped with these projects. Nobody does these things themselves."

Bass and Hatcher were considered exemplary candidates for recognition by a panel of judges designated by the intercultural center at KCKCC. All honorees were selected in order to coincide with national women's history month, which lasts the entire month of March and celebrates the extraordinary achievements of women throughout history.

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