First Harriet Tubman Day  2007

The Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center/Museum, 3700 Blue Parkway, KCMO,  hosted  its first annual  Harriet Tubman Day Celebration on March 10, 2007, from 1:00pm to 5:00pm. This event was sponsored by Oglesby’s Communications and Consulting Agency founded by Mrs. Shirley E.  Oglesby Smith Johnson.  This event highlighted achievements of many American heroes in addition to our special hero of the day, Harriet Tubman. More than 100 schools were invited.

The hallway, beautifully decorated the night before with a huge display stamp of Harriet Tubman at the entrance was donated by Mr. Harry Reeves of Creative Mind Art Center. The tables were decorated with yellow, blue, pink and white tablecloths with lace center pieces. A special Harriet Tubman table, all pink, featuring her “tea with butter” (sample cups) and a special pink cake—adorned with beautiful red, juicy, strawberries—was quite special. A picture of Harriet Tubman stood nearby on a golden tripod. 


Displayed also, were beautiful student art pieces in the hallway of the exquisitely decorated Bruce R. Watkins Museum, painted and drawn by students from The Paseo Academy and Lincoln College Preparatory Academy.

Many attractively dressed citizens from the community began filing in at about 12:00 Noon. J.S. Chick School students and their chaperone were the first to arrive.  The J.S. Chick dancers found a space in the Northeast corner to continue practicing their routine until it was time to file into the beautifully decorated auditorium. The dancers, dressed in black, wore beautifully adorned scarves around their perfectly coiffure hair. 

During intermission, many children and adults visited the magnificently showcased hat display, created by the director/curator, Mrs. Terry Beavers - also an artist. Some of our guests used intermission times to gather at the refreshment tables to sip coffee, punch, eat refreshments, and meet new people. 

Our hostess, and publicist, Shanna Summers dressed in a beautiful beige and brown 1820’s outfit (designed by Liz Smith,) beckoned all participants andguests inside the auditorium when it was time to begin.  There were no empty seats.Our opening prayer was led by Ms. Zelda McRae, a Unity Ministerial Student.   Miss Adrianna Andrews played her rendition of the Black National Anthem on her viola, infusing America the Beautiful. 

Pastor Anthony Andrews, Church of Faith, our first community MC, paid a special tribute to Mr. Bruce R. Watkins, a local American hero, for whom the museum is named.  Two other invited MC’s,   Dr. Lawrence Shine, and Dr. Edith Coleman awaited their turn at the microphone.

The special heroes, our children, paid tribute to many American heroes as well as Harriet Tubman. The  Kansas City Missouri School District, Hickman Mills School District, Independence School District  and  Lee’s Summit School District all sent students and adult participants and representatives to the first Harriet Tubman Day Celebration. 

A story of Harriet Tubman mural was presented by art teacher, Joan CarterMoore/Dr. Byrd, Principal (Sugar Creek School) and the I Have A Dream Mural, Mrs. Berry (Delano School) both received blue ribbons for their first place art work. 

Our ushers, Kourtney Thomas (Blue Ridge Christian), Tiana Cadenhead, (KCMO),  and Carlisa May, (Lees Summit), were adorned in their black and white polka dot outfits and wore white lace gloves.

An inspiring version of Deep River was sung by 10 year old Carlisa May (Lees Summit) who received a standing ovation. Dreams, a wonderful poem composed and recited passionately by little Miss Taylor Stevens (Gordon Parks Charter) delighted the audience.

The audience sat quietly and listened intently while Ms. Tammie Turner lectured on the meaning of different quilt patterns used during the Underground Railroad.  Her email address is for those interested organizations/schools etc.

Dr. Lawrence Shine told stories about the Civil Rights Movement and how his school (Central High in Little Rock, AR) participated. When Dr. Shine introduced His Manifested Glory—a    praise dance troupe featuring Sonya, Tracie and Kam the audience was amazed and extremely fulfilled with this group (

Our last Community MC, Dr. Edith Coleman, a retired principal, spoke eloquently about her father, a former NAACP President, his teaching and what she learned from being in her wonderful family.  She reintroduced our publicist-hostess Shanna. Miss Summers introduced   A Triumph of the Spirit (a story about Harriet Tubman) the featured show for the evening.

A Triumph of the Spirit, (a story about Harriet Tubman) was the highlight of the evening.  The show began with Mrs. Cynthia Green, gospel artist, belting—Walk With MeLord—the theme song for the show. The featured performer of the show, Shirley Johnson entered from the back of the auditorium singing and greeting members of the audience. “Her performance left nothing to be desired and was unforgettable,” stated audience member Susan Thompson. “Ms Johnson brought Harriet Tubman to life,”said    Mary Groves Bland, retired Missouri State Senator. 

Gospel singers Sadie Cole, Tammie May and Cynthia Green performed superbly with their   alto, soprano, and contralto voices—creating a wonderful melodious sound throughout the performance. Anthony Mondaine, portraying one of Harriet’s friends, did an outstanding job as well.When the performance ended, a representative from Mayor Kay Barnes’ office, and a representative from Senator Maida’s  office, representative Craig Bland, awarded proclamations designating March 10, as HarrietTubman Day in Missouri.  This event will be held each year celebrating the achievements of women all over the world in honor of our beloved heroine—Harriet Ross Tubman.  The cast was invited to perform this show inJefferson City, Missouri very soon.

Mrs. Tammie May, a soloist in the play, representing Oglesby Communications awarded the first Triumph of the Spirit Freedom Award to Mrs. Audrey Bullard, Principal of JS Chick African Centered School.

A very special thank you to each volunteer who helped to make this day successful. Many people are needed to make an event like this victorious.  Those who wish to donate time and supplies to this event next year please use the contact information.

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