‘From any position, a person can lead’: Black Kansans to discuss civic engagement at Lawrence brunch

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As part of a statewide leadership series, Black Kansans will soon convene in Lawrence in hopes of empowering one another.

The Kansas Black Leadership Council invites Black community members to join for brunch and discussion. Stacey Knoell, KBLC Board of Directors president and Kansas African American Affairs Commission executive director, said the goal is to bring Black Kansans together, with a focus on civic engagement.

“One of the things that’s really big and important for KBLC is that leadership is not necessarily a position,” Knoell said. “Leadership is something that anyone can do. If you have a title or don’t have a title — from any position, a person can lead.”

Three Black women, Bonita Gooch, Kenya Cox and the late Gail Finney, in 2015 launched the KBLC to draw in Black communities to advocate around political and social issues that were specifically affecting them. 

The organization has since evolved. It continues legislative advocacy work but now also works with organizations, such as the Kansas Black Legislative Caucus and the Kansas NAACP, to take on Kansas Black Legislative Day at the Capitol and other statewide initiatives. Part of its charge is polling and speaking with Black Kansans about issues most important to them.

The brunch series originated two years ago with a single event in Wichita. It garnered so much interest that people wanted to continue it in other cities, including Topeka and now Lawrence, Knoell said.

Conversations will be aimed at encouraging folks to get involved locally, through community organizations or commission and board seats, and voting in every election. Kaye Monk-Morgan, president and CEO of the Kansas Leadership Center, is slated as the keynote speaker.

The event is scheduled for 11 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 29 at Arterra Event Gallery, 2161 Quail Creek Drive in Lawrence. Doors will open at 10:30 a.m.

Tickets, which include brunch, are free. Those interested in attending are required to register online, via zeffy.com.

Brunch will include vegan options, Knoell said.

Learn more about the KBLC on its website, kansasblc.org. Follow the organization on Instagram, @kansasblc, and Facebook, facebook.com/KansasBLC.

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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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Gray coneflower, Ratibida pinnata, is a long blooming native perennial whose name refers to the gray cone under the brown disk florets, here being visited by a bumblebee interested in their sweet nectar.


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