Bernard Powell: Paving the Way

Date:February 18, 2020
Bernard Powell: Paving the Way

Bernard Powell was a civil rights activist who worked for community empowerment and investment in the Prospect corridor. Powell wanted those in the community to benefit from the investment, while outside private interested neglected and devalued the area. 

RideKC and the Prospect MAX Advisory Committee are honoring Bernard Powell as part of the Paving the Way Honor Plaque program as part of the new Prospect MAX line. You can find Powell's Honor Plaque at northbound Prospect at 27th. 

Powell was known for the slogan, “ghetto or goldmine.” Powell worked tirelessly to help those in the black community realize their full potential and see the “goldmine” their community could become.Bernard Powell joined the NAACP when he was just 13 years old and continued a life of community empowerment until his death at age 32.

In 1965, he joined Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for the historic March to Selma, Ala., and by the mid-1960s, he became the regional director of the Congress of Racial Equality. Powell and others formed the Social Action Committee of 20 (SAC20) in October 1968. The organization's early efforts aimed at teaching leadership and job training skills to black youth.

Powell received numerous honors, including “Outstanding Man of the Year” by the National Junior Chamber of Commerce and the National Jefferson Award for public service. He was also appointed to several state committees, including the Governor’s Advisory Council on Comprehensive Health Planning for Missouri and the Human Resources Corp. His life of service was cut short when he was murdered in 1979. A fountain and bronze statue of Powell was installed in Spring Valley Park at 28th and Brooklyn, across the street from his childhood home.

Bernard Powell pictured with some members of the Marching Cobra.
Image courtesy of Community Voice Kansas.