By Eric L. Wesson Sr.
CALL Staff Writer
This year’s Black History Month theme is, “2016 – Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African American Memories”.
The focus this year centers around he story of America without preserving and reflecting on the places where African Americans have made history. The Kingsley Plantation, DuSable’s home site, the numerous stops along the Underground Railroad, Seneca Village, Mother Bethel A.M.E. church and Frederick Douglass’ home to name just a few are sites that keep alive the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in our consciousness.
They retain and refresh the memories of our forbears’ struggles for freedom and justice, and their belief in God’s grace and mercy. Similarly, the hallowed grounds of Mary McLeod Bethune’s home in Washington, D.C., 125th Street in Harlem, Beale street in Memphis, and Sweet Auburn Avenue in Atlanta tell the story of our struggle for equal citizenship during the American century.
There are few cities in the United States that have the history that Kansas City has in the area of barbeque, jazz, baseball, style, groceries, entertainment, radio and fashion just to name a few of the cultural contributions which can all be connected to heart of Kansas City 12th street and 18th and Vine.
The Historic Jazz District was the home of some of the world’s best barbeque when Henry Perry introduced the world to slow cooked ribs as he served them wrapped up in newspaper print for 25 cents a slab from a trolly barn on 19th and Highland in 1908 where he sold to a customer base in the Garment District in Downtown Kansas City.
Perry was a restaurateur who is considered the “father of Kansas City barbecue.” His smoked meats included wild game, beef, possum, woodchuck and raccoon.
When he died on March 22, 1940 at age 65, a long-time employee, Charles Bryant, took over the business and sold it to his brother, Arthur, and re-located the restaurant from Highland to 18th and Euclid to finally 17th and Brooklyn where they opened in 1958.
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