Kansas Citian Bernard Powell began participating in civil rights work from the early age of 13 when he joined the NAACP. After graduating from Central High School, he joined Martin Luther King, Jr. in the March to Selma, AL
Powell’s dedication to end racial discrimination continued and in the 1960s, he became regional director of the Congress of Racial Equality.
After King’s assassination in 1968, Powell created the Social Action Committee of 20 (SAC-20) to teach leadership and job training skills to Black youth in Kansas City and to push for more investment and employment for the Black community.
At that time, Powell was known for wearing a SAC-20 black beret.
Working tirelessly for civil rights, notably with the Urban League of Kansas City, Powell received many honors including “Outstanding Man of the Year” by the National Junior Chamber of Commerce and the National Jefferson Award for public service.
Powell dreamed to become Missouri’s first Black governor, but his dream was cut short when he was killed in 1979. He was just 32 years old.
SAC-20 worked tirelessly for many years to raise $170,000 for a fountain in his memory. The fountain was installed in 1985 in Spring Valley Park. Then in 1991, a bronze statue of Powell was also installed in the park, facing his childhood home.
Behind the fountain a time capsule is buried, which is set to be opened in 2041.