Black Movie Hall of Fame

The inaugural Black Movie Hall of Fame is launching this week to highlight Black trailblazers and icons in film who have roots in Kansas City.

The event, launching March 30 at the B&B Theater, 1400 Main St. from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. is the product of a partnership between the Critics Choice Association, KC Film Fest International and the Historic Boone Theater at 1701 E. 18th Street, where the Black Movie Hall of Fame will be housed permanently.

The Boone Theater, located in the Jazz District, is currently under renovations, but upon its completion will house the Black Movie Hall of Fame, digital media labs, office space and the Black Repertory Theater of Kansas City. Construction should start by the end of this year and be completed by the end of 2023.

Developer of the Boone Theater, Vine Street Collaborative is hoping to bring life back to the historic Jazz District where there have been ongoing economic challenges.

“We think this is something that will help curtail a lot of the problems that are taking place in the 18th and Vine Historic Jazz District because there’s not a central hub where people can be productive and create,” said Black Movie Hall of Fame director Shawn Edwards.

The theater was boarded up in the 1950s and sat vacant for years. Last year, the city chose Vine Street Collaborative’s proposal to rehabilitate the historic theater.

The 45,000 square foot Boone Theater opened as The New Rialto Theater in 1924. It served as a vital core to the commercial and entertainment center created by the Black community in the Historic Jazz District. In 1929, it was renamed the Boone Theater in honor of John “Blind” Boone, a blind Black composer and concert pianist from Missouri whose music influenced Kansas City jazz. Boone died in 1927.

At the induction ceremony this week, Edwards will announce the freshman class of 10 Black cinema trailblazer inductees. There will be a mix of historical and contemporary honorees.

Possible inductees include Don Cheadle, who was born in Kansas City and is known for his roles in “Boogie Nights,” “Hotel Rwanda” and the “Avengers” movies. Film director of the film “Shaft” Gordon Parks and artist Janelle Monae may also be revealed as inductees.

Each will be honored with an original portrait by local artist Warren “Stylez” Harvey.

The ceremony will kick off with live music by Grammy nominated producer and artist Jo Blaq at 5 p.m., followed by the inductee ceremony and unveiling. There will also be a screening of the new documentary “Hold Your Fire” and an afterparty from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. at 2000 Vine St.

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