By Mary Hladky
Together again! For the first time since 2020, PeaceWorks KC held its annual meeting in person. On Sunday, March 5, at Simpson House, we had a full house of happy members and guests who enjoyed an overflowing table of finger foods while Jeremy Faust beautifully played the piano. We received the latest update on PeaceWorks activities. The crowd enthusiastically supported our outstanding and inspirational award winners, Kansas City’s beloved Alvin Brooks along with Darryl Burton and Lamonte McIntyre, founders of Miracle of Innocence.
Cris Mann adeptly led the meeting. Dave provided the financial report – PeaceWorks is financially sound, thanks to our dedicated membership and successful Art Fair. Henry Stoever announced he is stepping down as co-chair but will remain on the Board. Henry provided a quick overview of PeaceWorks 2022 events and accomplishments, and Ron Faust presented a new poem entitled “A Senseless War.” We voted for our leadership team and added four new Board members – Debora Demeter, Tommy Indigo, Kimmy Igla, and Breanna Crawford.
There was great fun and levity with the costumed Questionator Jim Hannah and Caped Qsader Sharon Hannah asking excellent questions and the crowd providing quick “pop up” answers. One of the questions was, “Where on the planet do you see evidence that peace works?” Some responses: “Peace is in your decision making,” “Peace is within ourselves,” “I see peace when my husband talks to the neighbor who has very different views,” “Peace is in art, music, poetry,” “I see peace in Henry Stoever,” “I see peace in those working to abolish the death penalty,”,“I see peace in this area’s Catholic Worker Houses.” WOW!
All of that was wonderful, but the very best part was listening to our speakers Alvin Brooks, Darryl Burton, and Lamonte McIntyre. They all received long standing ovations.
Ann Suellentrop awarded Alvin Brooks the Charles E. Bebb Peace Merit Award. Mr. Brooks is an extraordinary treasure in our community; he is a man of vision and courage. He has dedicated his life to building a better Kansas City and a world that is more just. His list of accomplishments is long but probably most notable is his founding of the Ad Hoc Group Against Crime, a citizen organization that brought national and international attention and accolades to Kansas City. To learn all the details about his remarkable life, read his book “Binding Us Together: A Civil Rights Activist Reflects on a Lifetime of Community and Public Service.”
Bennette Dibben awarded the Kris and Lynn Cheatum Community Peace Award to Miracle of Innocence, which was founded by the two exonerees who received the award, Darryl Burton and Lamonte McIntyre. Bennette provided a moving introduction asking us to imagine, because of manifest injustice, being sentenced at the age of 17 or 22 to life in prison or 75 years for something you didn’t do. Imagine Centurion Ministries will take your case to prove your innocence, but you wait 10 years before they can get to your case, and it takes another 8 years before you’re exonerated. Darryl Burton and Lamonte McIntyre served 47 years wrongly convicted. When you are exonerated, you are not given one penny in compensation. No housing, food, or clothing allotment. No healthcare or mental healthcare. Nothing is in place for you as an exonerated human being. Darryl Burton and Lamonte McIntyre have dedicated their lives to exonerating the innocent in MO and KS and supporting them in their new lives.
After the meeting, people stuck around to visit and left feeling energized and hopeful about all the good work being done in Kansas City and nationwide to build a better world.
–Mary Hladky is the first vice chair of PeaceWorks KC. (c) 2023, Mary Hladky, Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 4.0 International License