Marvin S. Robinson II has been trying for years to get some appropriate national recognition for the Quindaro Ruins. The site in Kansas City, Kansas, was originally a stop on the Underground Railroad, a network that assisted slaves in escaping to freedom.
Robinson and others have been pushing for the site to be named a national historic landmark. This week it received a slightly less prestigious designation as a national commemorative site, but Robinson says he's still happy.
“Now we’re closer than ever to follow through on (the efforts of) people who came before us,” Robinson says.
On Tuesday, Congress passed the largest public lands bill in more than a decade. Among other things, it enables the U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Park Service to enter into financial agreements to help fund the site's preservation.
Robinson says he isn’t sure what the government’s next step is but hopes that whatever is created for the land by the federal government under this new designation gives the African-American community in the area a chance to participate.
“Its individual collective esteem where people will feel good about or better about what we had the opportunity to be participants of,” says Robinson.
Michelle Tyrene Johnson is a reporter at KCUR 89.3 and part of the public radio collaborative Sharing America, covering the intersection of race, identity and culture. This initiative, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, includes reporters in Kansas City, St. Louis, Hartford, Connecticut and Portland, Oregon. She can be contacted at Michelle@kcur.org.