Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, recently honored the life of Mrs. Ruby Arnold who saved the Black Archives of Mid-America several years after Horace Peterson founded the Archives.
“Years after Peterson’s accidental death, the BAMA experienced internal tumult that unfortunately played out in the Kansas City media. The unflattering press resulted in funding shortfalls and eventually, the exodus from Vine street, sometimes referred to as the ‘Firehouse,’” Rep. Cleaver said.
As BAMA began to fade, in part, because it did not have an adequate home or sufficient funding nor the extensive collection of artifacts and memorabilia. Longtime supporters began searching for funding and a new location. Mrs. Arnold was among those diehard fighters.
“During the Spring of 1998, Ruby Arnold, a BAMA diehard Board member began a personal crusade to secure a new home for the organization that she held dear. One Monday morning , during a heavy Spring rain, Mrs. Arnold appeared at the desk of the 29th floor of City Hall. The security guard asked if she had an appointment with anyone in particular. ‘I don’t have an appointment, but I have come to see Mayor Emanuel Cleaver,’ she said. ‘I’m sorry, but the Mayor is not in,’ Ms. Cheryl Richards, an assistant to the Mayor stepped in and stated,” Rep. Cleaver said.
Mrs. Arnold was told that on Mondays the Mayor attends the Mayors Corp. of Progress meeting, which was a meeting of a group of Kansas City business leaders.
“Thank you I will wait. It’s raining pretty hard anyway,” Mrs. Arnold said.
And wait she did. She waited until Mayor Cleaver and his security detail stepped off the elevator and greeted the Mayor.
“Mayor Cleaver, I need your help to locate a home for the Black Archives. We don’t have any money, but we need a place large enough to grow,” she said.
Mayor Cleaver responded, “Well, I don’t know for sure what I can do. You know the Black Archives was suppose to be the main museum on 18th, but Horace wanted something different than we could not do legally.”
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