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Preserving Our Past: Kansas City Stories of Black History

Flatland Special Premieres Tonight at 7:30 p.m. on Kansas City PBS

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Above image credit: Thomas Jones, bottom right, was promoted from 1st lieutenant to captain after rendering aid to two fallen comrades while under heavy fire during the Battle of Argonne Forest. (Contributed | Emma Lapsansky-Werner)

During her time as a reporter for FlatlandCatherine Hoffman has worked to share the rich legacy of Black history in Kansas City by uncovering some of its most compelling stories.

In a new special, compiled in honor of Black History Month, a selection of the Emmy Award-winning reporter’s stories of Black excellence, sacrifice and discrimination are brought to life on Kansas City PBS.

Featuring five topics and their historical impact on Kansas City, “Preserving Our Past: Kansas City Stories of Black History” focuses on the remembrance of Black history, contributions and culture. It premieres at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 17, on KCPBS.

Through her research, Hoffman uncovered a racial divide in the practice of midwifery that left practitioners and mothers of color behind. She revisited the lynching of Levi Harrington in Kansas City, and the work of local organizations to shed light on past injustices. She recounted the legacy of two women from Merriam, Kansas, who worked tirelessly to fight to integrate South Park Elementary. She highlighted a local project focused on a systematic review of Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American and Jewish American soldiers who fought in World War I and were denied a Medal of Honor because of their race or religion. She also spoke with local leaders to understand the role and influence of the Black Church on the communities it serves.  

These legacies — remembered in living rooms, local museums and places of worship — have long gone unsung, uncelebrated or unexamined. In 2022, they bring new relevance and context to Kansas City’s history.

In recent days, Hoffman has discussed the documentary on KCUR 89.3’s “Up to Date” program with Steve Kraske, in a virtual chat moderated by the host of the KCPBS “Flatland” show, D. Rashaan Gilmore, and during a conversation with 90.9 The Bridge’s morning host, Bryan Truta.



Catherine Hoffman covers community affairs and culture for Kansas City PBS in cooperation with Report for America. The work of our Report for America corps members is made possible, in part, through the generous support of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

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