In 1982, an anonymous letter was sent to all property and landowners in the township known as the Old Quindaro community. It expressed a desire for a “Special Use” permit to be issued to Browning Ferris Industries to build and operate a sanitary landfill. This triggered an alarm throughout the entire community. During this period, it was discovered that a Landmark Commission meeting was to be held in order to approve the “Special Use” permit. The community responded to this meeting en masse, and outnumbered the usual attendees by over twenty to one. The attendance was so overwhelming that the “Special Use” permit was tabled to a later meeting.
In 1983, the Landmark Commission relented and finally failed to approve the permit. However, the Kansas City, Kansas Commission, consisting of the Mayor and two other commissioners, approved the permit.
At that point, a group of neighborhood residents met to discuss the problem facing their community. This meeting ultimately spawned “The Concerned Citizens for Old Quindaro”. At that time a board was formed that was eventually recognized as the original “Board of Directors” for The Concerned Citizens for Old Quindaro. The members were Jesse Hope, Chairman, Accie Taylor, Vice Chairman, J.C. Clark, Secretary, and Kay Moore, Treasurer. This group along with several other community members has evolved into the group that survives today.
Fundraisers were given in order to generate revenue, and ultimately enough was raised to retain an attorney, Grover Hankins, of The Basil North Law Firm. The attorney then filed a lawsuit against the city of Kansas City, Kansas, alleging they were arbitrary and capricious in their decision to grant the “Special Use” permit, and it was totally unfair to the people of Quindaro. During this time, the group was also able to establish Quindaro as an historical district. The subsequent trial, that was held in 1982, was lost by the petitioners, but provided an archeological study in 1984 that unearthed the footings of the original “Quindaro Township”. This enabled the group to protect certain areas, such as Quindaro Park, the cemetery, the ruins and other outlying properties. The findings also caused many other groups to be formed who ultimately became significantly involved in this effort.
Today, this group has been instrumental in establishing the “Abandoned Cemetery Act”, as well as not only thwarting the landfill, but also helping to identify a significant portion of the original township as an historical district, refurbishing the cemetery as well as adding an historical marker and a committal plaza to the project. To help eliminate illegal dumping in the area a gate was put up in 1982 by the Concerned Citizens, designed and manufactured by the late Archie Lyons. This effort has helped to maintain and preserve the original landscape as it existed even before it was settled in the 1850′s.
This effort by a small group of citizens determined to not allow their neighborhood to be turned into a trash dump is proof that you must remain committed to ideas and projects that are significant to the preservation, historical and cultural awareness, educational value and overall importance of the African American Community of Quindaro to the history and evolutionary development of Kansas as well as the United States of America.
We have been given a choice, allow this small yet meaningful bit of the past to be forgotten, or become part of the history by becoming “Caretakers”, and ensure that future generations will know the truth and be able to enjoy this rich heritage.