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A new documentary gives Kansas City civil servant Alvin Brooks the folk hero treatment

At 91 Alvin Brooks is still sharp and full of stories about his life, faith and the fight for Civil Rights in Kansas City.
Zach Perez
KCUR 89.3
At 91, Alvin Brooks is still sharp and full of stories about his life, faith and the fight for civil rights in Kansas City.

Oscar-award winning filmmaker and University of Kansas professor Kevin Willmott will premiere his new documentary, "The Heroic, True-Life Adventures of Alvin Brooks," on Wednesday at the Juneteenth Film Festival at Screenland Armour.

Alvin Brooks is Kansas City's ultimate civil servant. One of the city's first Black police officers, a former police commissioner, civil rights leader and the founder of the Ad Hoc Group Against Crime (among other roles), Brooks' contributions to Kansas City are plentiful.

And now, they're being honored in a new documentary.

"The Heroic True-Life Adventures of Alvin Brooks," written and directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Kevin Willmott, builds on Brooks' 2021 autobiography "Binding Us Together." It details his life and work through a combination of interview and animation.

The title may evoke modern superheroes, but to Willmott, "Brooks is more of a blues folk hero. He reminds me of like, John Henry. It's almost like, when you hear his stories, they're almost... they sound like tall tales."

"The Heroic True-Life Adventures of Alvin Brooks" will premiere Wednesday, June 19 at the Juneteenth Film Festival.

The showings are sold out, but the film will also screen June 24 at Screenland Armour and June 30 at the Free State Festival in Lawrence. An abridged version will also air on Kansas City PBS July 11 and 14.

  • Kevin Willmott, Oscar-winning filmmaker and KU professor
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