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Kansas City Detective Headed Police Force in Liberia

UMKC Miller-Nichols Library Special Collections

By Sylvia Maria Gross


Kansas City, MO – Leon Jordan was born more than a hundred yeas ago into a prominent African American family in Kansas City. After graduating from college, Jordan became a detective in the Kansas City Police Department, and in 1947, he was chosen to reorganize the police force in the West African country of Liberia. That's a country that was founded by people freed from slavery in the United States in the 19th century.

Retired UMKC professor Robert Farnsworth is working on a biography of Jordan, and he came across a huge cache of photos, especially of Jordan's time in Liberia in the special collections of the Miller Nichols Library. Some of those photos, taken by Leon Jordan and his wife Orchid, are on display now at the Bruce R. Watkins Culture Heritage Center. Curator Terry Beaver said she organized them to show the development of the couple's relationship over time.

Beaver and Professor Robert Farnsworth show KCUR's Sylvia Maria Gross around the exhibit of photos, many of which were taken by Orchid Jordan. They include rare documentation of the inauguration of Liberian President William Tubman.

Leon Jordan came back to Kansas City and founded the black political group Freedom Inc and served in the Missouri state legislature. He was murdered in 1970 outside his tavern, the Green Duck.

This story was produced for KC Currents. To listen on your own schedule, subscribe to the KC Currents Podcast.

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