This is our last episode, but it’s not the end of the story. We go back a few years to when the Nelson-Atkins started to make some moves to celebrate Juneteenth, and why the museum needed to take a breath and listen. We stumble across a performance of the Kansas City 2Step in the museum’s lobby, with Black joy filling the air. And we dream about what could be next.
About the Guests
Sonié Joi Thompson-Ruffin is a fabric artist, fabric designer, curator, and author. She uses her artist’s platform to share the African American narrative. Her artwork is a celebratory testimony of courage, struggle, and strength that is intertwined through the life of African Americans. Sonié is a co-founder of the African American Artists Collective. She serves on the Kansas City Museum Foundation Board and Curatorial committee and she served ten years as curator in residence for the American Jazz Museum. Her artwork can be found in galleries, museums, and public and private collections throughout the United States, Europe, and Africa.
Alvin Brooks is a former Kansas City police officer, councilman, and mayor pro tem, as well as the founder of the community organization AdHoc Group Against Crime. He is the author of Binding Us Together: A Civil Rights Activist Reflects on a Lifetime of Community and Public Service. His decades of civil rights, violence prevention, and criminal justice advocacy led President George H. W. Bush to appoint him to the President’s National Drug Advisory Council and Governor Jay Nixon to appoint him to the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners. He recently was named the 2019 Kansas Citian of the Year by the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, and he is a recipient of the Harry S. Truman Award for Public Service.
Makeda Peterson is a Rockhurst University alum and the Program Director of JuneteenthKC, a 501c3 organization that spearheads the development of Kansas City’s official Juneteenth celebration activities in addition to providing community programming that promotes healthy lifestyles and socialization within the urban core. Makeda has been driven since childhood to find ways to serve communities in need and provide positive social engagements to counteract adverse childhood experiences within underserved populations. Motivated by the work of her parents, the late Horace Peterson III and Barbara Louise Peterson, Makeda has continued to make significant impacts in Kansas City, providing direct support to thousands of families across the Midwest.
Kreshaun McKinney is the Director of Learning and Engagement at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. She was previously the Manager of Audience Engagement at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, where she worked for sixteen years starting as a Studio Programs Teacher. During her tenure, Kreshaun was instrumental in the development of multiple public programs, including award-winning partnerships that increased the cultural diversity of the museum’s visitorship and program participation. She serves as a member of the African American Artists Collective, the City of Kansas City’s Municipal Arts Commission, the Kansas Creative Arts & Industries Commission, and a board member for the Kansas City Artists Coalition.
De Barker earned the title of Kansas City’s 2Step & Line Dance Queen. She is the CEO and Chief Choreographer/Head Instructor of IDWD (I Dance Wit De) Productions, instructing, showcasing, and performing R & B Soul Line Dance & KC 2Step Ballroom dance all over the United States. She coordinates and co-produces The Big StepOff, raising funding and distributing prize money in excess of $100,000 over the years to KC 2Steppin’ contest winners. She is retired from the corporate world of IT consulting and currently serves as an AmeriCorps VISTA.
Chiluba Musonda, Deputy Director of Operations & Organizational Development, Kansas City Museum
Rodney Thompson, documentary filmmaker with Stinson McClendon at Reel Images
About the Host
Glenn A. North is an award-winning poet, activist, educator, and arts executive based in Kansas City. He is currently the Director of Inclusive Learning & Creative Impact at the Kansas City Museum. He has previously served at the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Center, American Jazz Museum, and The Black Archives of Mid-America. Having earned an M.F.A. in Poetry from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Glenn also conducts Ekphrastic poetry workshops and uses poetry to address issues of social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and self-empowerment.
The Art in the Episode
Robert Morris, American (1931–2018). Glass Labyrinth, 2013. Purchase: acquired through the generosity of the Hall Family Foundation, 2014.13. Art © Robert Morris / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
This sculpture is a labyrinth with one single path. Visitors walk from the entrance to the center and retrace their steps to the exit. It’s a potentially disorienting environment where you might consider: is the experience of walking through a glass labyrinth a metaphor for negotiating the uncertainties of our time? Labyrinths are found throughout history—in prehistoric cave drawings, ancient Greek mythology, and in the stone floors of cathedrals to guide meditative walking. Contemporary in form and material, Glass Labyrinth was created by Kansas City native and acclaimed artist Robert Morris.
Juneteenth KC: A premiere community heritage celebration in Kansas City, Missouri, hosted annually in the 18th & Vine Historic District.
The Emancipation Proclamation at the Nelson-Atkins: News clippings of the historic occasion when the Emancipation Proclamation was on view at the Nelson-Atkins, in partnership with The Black Archives of Mid-America, Inc.
A Conversation in Dance: A documentary by Rodney Thompson and Stinson McClendon that celebrates the 2Step, its history, and its place in Kansas City as it follows steppers battling for the title of King and Queen of the Kansas City 2Step.
A Frame of Mind is the podcast of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. This episode was produced and co-written by Glenn North and Christine Murray. Editing and sound design by Brandi Howell. Interview recording by Tim Harte. Studio engineering by Simpson Sound Lab. Fact checking by Kate Carpenter. Theme music by The Black Creatures. Additional music by Eclipse. Cover art by Two Tone Press.
Thanks to advisory group members Jimmy Beason II, José Faus, Allan Gray, Ron Jones, and Nia Richardson.
Produced in partnership with Jocelyn Edens and Kim Masteller, and with support from Anne Manning, Rachel Nicholson, Brent Bellew and the Nelson-Atkins Teen Council.
Produced with generous support from Bank of America, N.A., Trustee of the John W. and Effie E. Speas Memorial Trust.