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Bruce R Watkins Center Often Empty

By Ty Chandler


Kansas City, MO – The founders of the Bruce R Watkins Cultural Heritage Center had high expectations of what the center would mean to Kansas City. Their goal was to create a place to commemorate African American achievements and culture. They named it after a local pioneer: Kansas City's first black city councilman, Bruce R Watkins. But 18 years later, has it lived up to their goal?

It was a Wednesday afternoon when I stopped by the Bruce R Watkins Cultural Heritage Center. Besides staff and volunteers, I was the only one there. The guard on duty, one of the center's two employees, asked me to sign the guestbook. He said, "We want people to know that people come here." So I signed my name then I noticed the last signature in the book was four days old.

Sonny Gibson is a board member for the Friends of Bruce R. Watkin's Cultural Heritage Center. Gibson has been with the center from the very beginning, and he desperately wants to see it move beyond its infancy. The board hopes to raise five million dollars in the next five years. Gibson thinks they can jumpstart their fundraising efforts by leaning on the nearly three hundred black organizations that use the center for meetings and events currently they just collect small donations from those groups. A banquet is also planned for later this year.

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