Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth Commanding General Lt. Gen. Theodore Martin presents a certificate of appreciation to Black History Month observance guest speaker Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Quinton Lucas following Lucas’ remarks and a question-and-answer session Feb. 28 in Eisenhower Auditorium at the Lewis and Clark Center. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Charlotte Richter/Staff Writer

Guest speaker Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Quinton Lucas spoke on his experiences in Kansas City as a resident and as mayor in line with his hopes for the future during the Fort Leavenworth Black History Month observance Feb. 19 in Eisenhower Auditorium at the Lewis and Clark Center.

Guest speaker Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Quinton Lucas delivers remarks during the Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth Black History Month observance Feb. 28 in Eisenhower Auditorium at the Lewis and Clark Center. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Operations Officer Derrick Robinson, Combined Arms Center-Training, introduced Lucas and the observance. Robinson said President Gerald Ford initiated the first Black History Month observance in 1976, asking Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often African Americans neglected for their accomplishments in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Robinson said Congress officially dedicated African-American History/ Black History Month in 1986.

Lucas, the 55th mayor of Kansas City, was born and raised in Kansas City and experienced frequent challenges as a child. Following high school and undergraduate studies, he attended Cornell Law School. Since 2012, Lucas has been one of the youngest tenure-track law professors in the nation at the University of Kansas Law School. His priorities as mayor include neighborhood safety, affordable and accessible housing and public transportation, and a healthier community.

Guest speaker Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Quinton Lucas delivers remarks during the Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth Black History Month observance Feb. 28 in Eisenhower Auditorium at the Lewis and Clark Center. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Lucas said the observance looks up to the heroes of Leavenworth and the nation and also acknowledges modern challenges. He said despite current events, including the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the United States faces discussions about the future of a national identity that values rugged individualism and collective action simultaneously.

“It is also collective action, but as the introduction notes, allows a boy who experienced homelessness when he was growing up, allows someone from a poor community to be able to accomplish almost anything in this country which, having traveled the world, I find unique about the American experience,” Lucas said.

He said Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. exemplified the concept of collective action, referencing King’s “Sermon on the Mount.”

“Freedom didn’t just mean freedom from the billy clubs and attack dogs, the apartheid southern United States of the time; it meant to Doctor King on his last night alive, as it does for all of us today, freedom from hurt and neglect by the policies of the nation, states and cities that sometimes fail to take into account. … Freedom means that our young brothers won’t be suspended from school at a disproportionate rate, convicted at a higher rate with longer sentences than their counterparts. And freedom means that we all live a life with the same rules, the same chance, the same forgiveness.”

Lucas shared the story of a death penalty case he worked on in the mid-2000s. He said he realized a final injustice while seeking clemency for his client, Curtis Osborne, an African-American man sentenced to death at age 17. Osborne was executed two weeks after a white convict with similar values in faith and circumstances was spared. Lucas said while the anecdote is a dramatic example, it emphasizes the double standards that can affect an individual’s lifetime.

Guest speaker Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Quinton Lucas answers a question about retaining and sustaining minorities in the community from moderator Derrick Robinson, Combined Arms Center-Training G-3, during the question-and-answer segment of the CAC and Fort Leavenworth Black History Month observance Feb. 28 in Eisenhower Auditorium at the Lewis and Clark Center. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Lucas also shared stories of his own experiences and challenges, stories he said the audience could reflect on or fight to change.

Guest speaker Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Quinton Lucas delivers remarks during the Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth Black History Month observance Feb. 28 in Eisenhower Auditorium at the Lewis and Clark Center. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

“I encourage you to never stop fighting, to build the genuine equality that Doctor King gave his life for. And by the way, genuine quality doesn’t mean sameness. It doesn’t mean everybody is the same. It doesn’t mean that everybody is going to have the same outcome, but to me it means that we have an equal open opportunity.”

Lucas said he considered asking what he can do for the community in his role, but change does not need to be prolific.

“It is instead when I’m sharing narratives or stories that I just remember — I remember the background that I had and the people who stopped and cared; the people sometimes who looked very different than me, the people who looked at the kid and saw hope and opportunity — that I need to think about so many obstacles that so many face in America and beyond, and the connection… The collective action that we all share.”

To view Lucas’s full remarks, visit CAC’s live events tab on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/100064919792897/videos/998787324375571.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

18 + six =