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Bernard Powell Memorial Fountain

In 1979, when Bernard Powell was murdered at age 33, he'd already spent twenty years as a civil-rights activist, having joined the NAACP at 13. In March 1965 -- the year he graduated from Central High School -- young Powell joined Martin Luther King Jr.'s march to Selma, Alabama. In the late '60s, when violence erupted in Kansas City and elsewhere across the nation in response to racial inequality, Powell established the Social Action Committee of 20 (SAC-20), which aimed to help young men and women by providing leadership and job training. He spearheaded an initiative to fix up his alma mater, which had languished in a segregated school system. He collaborated with Jesse Jackson on a national campaign to get families involved with their children's education and rebuild communities. Today, Powell stands only in memory, his image cast in bronze not far from where he went to high school. And a walk from Spring Valley Park to his old school shows that, though Powell did more during his short life than most of us will with long ones, America and Kansas City certainly would have kept him busy many more years.

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