by Mary Rupert
Joe Macklin recently toured the Old Quindaro Museum at 3432 N. 29th St., Kansas City, Kansas, and wondered why he hadn’t heard about local black history while he was growing up in Wyandotte County.
Macklin, a Grammy-nominated producer whose performing name is Jo Blaq, wants his young son and other youth to know the story of the early days of Quindaro, the people who figured in the town’s history and the legacy of the Underground Railroad here.
“We don’t know about our own history,” Macklin said. For his son and other young people, “I want them to know their history.”
Quindaro, a pre-Civil War town on the Missouri River, was settled by Wyandot Indians, abolitionists, and African-Americans, and it’s important to learn about those who paved the way for today’s residents, he said.
Quindaro was named after Quindaro Nancy Brown Guthrie, a member of the Wyandot Nation who married Abelard Guthrie, the founder of the town. Quindaro translates into “bundle of sticks,” which means “in unity there is strength.” In the past 50 years information has come to light about Quindaro’s role as a stop on the Underground Railroad.
When Macklin toured the museum, he said he learned a lot about local history.
“The thing that moved me most was some chains that slaves wore,” he said. “It made them hold their heads down. It moved me.”
Also, he said he was surprised to see a picture of one of his mentors, a captain in the Fire Department, in the museum.
The Old Quindaro Museum currently needs a new roof in the worst way. In some areas, daylight can be seen through the roof. Inside the museum are artifacts and photos that tell the story of the early settlers of Quindaro, who included African-Americans, abolitionists and Wyandot Indians in the pre-Civil War era.
Macklin is producing a fundraiser show that will raise funds for the roof at 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17, at the Voo-Doo Lounge at Harrah’s Casino, North Kansas City, Missouri. The Old Quindaro Museum will receive part of the proceeds from the show.
They have raised about $1,000 to start, Macklin said, with a goal of reaching about $3,000.
Macklin was introduced to Anthony Hope, the museum’s director, by Kathy Hanis of EPlus, a public relations firm. Hanis believes the story of old Quindaro needs to be told, and that Joe Macklin was someone who could help tell it and help the museum survive.
Volunteers continue a labor of love
The Old Quindaro Museum, the only African-American museum in Wyandotte County, has been a labor of love for Anthony Hope and his late brother, Jesse Hope. Both have given a considerable amount of time to starting the museum and keeping it running.
In existence about 12 years, it was Jesse Hope’s dream, and Anthony Hope stepped up after his brother’s death to continue the museum. The Concerned Citizens for Old Quindaro, a not-for-profit, is the sponsor of the museum.
Anthony Hope pays the museum’s light bill out of his own pocket, which he says has been a strain at times. Still, he continues volunteering there, leading tours and mowing the lawn.
The city purchased the building for the museum, and after that, there has not been city funding, according to the volunteers.
The museum’s collection includes photos of early-day settlers of Quindaro and prominent residents of the area through the years.
A Western University wall is devoted to the history of the black college established in Quindaro in 1865 and continued through 1943.
Touring Old Quindaro
Anthony Hope and Corranzo Lewis give tours of the museum and the old Quindaro area by appointment, for a donation of $10.
On the tour, visitors can see the museum, and then travel down Happy Hollow Road to view a partly ruined brewery building that was on the Underground Railroad.
Then they may visit the old Quindaro Cemetery, high on a hill, where there is a view of the Missouri River.
Hope and Lewis also will tell visitors about the oldest home in the area, Quindaro Nancy Brown’s home, and visitors may go to the Quindaro Overlook to view the old port and the Missouri River.
The John Brown statue at 29th and Sewell also is on the tour. Erected in 1911, it is the oldest statue known of John Brown.
More fundraiser details
Performers at the show on Aug. 17 at Harrah’s Casino in North Kansas City, Missouri, will include Jo Blaq, host and artist; NowDaze; Kevin Chuch Boii Johnson; Kemet The Phantom; Mae C; and Eddie Moore.
For more information about the Old Quindaro Museum and ticket information for the fundraiser, visit https://www.facebook.com/ccoqmuseum/ or call
To reach Mary Rupert, editor, email firstname.lastname@example.org.