Freedom Inc. rallies black voters

Freedom Inc., established in 1962 during the wake of the civil rights era, focuses on producing African American votes in the community and voting and promoting African American candidates for electoral positions.

The Kansas City, Mo.-based organization began its journey with a few blacks who were concerned that black people had no representation in Kansas City, said Mark Bryant, current president of Freedom Inc. Predominantly black areas were being represented by white politicians.

Bryant prides Freedom, Inc. as the longest standing political organization in the United States and one of the most successful organizations in Kansas City.

“We are involved not only in city -wide elections but we take part elections from the school board to the U.S. presidential election,” Bryant said.

Bryant said that the unity among the members is what keeps the organization together.

“We know the reason why we are here and we agree on the steps of actions that should be taken,” Bryant said.

The association produced founders who were prominent in the Kansas City political scene, such as Bruce R. Watkins, the first black Kansas City mayoral candidate in 1978;Leon Jordan, Leonard Hughes and Harold Holliday Sr.

Today, the voting rights organization holds one state senator, three state representatives, two members of the City Council and the only black county legislator in Kansas City.

In the beginning, the rights for public accommodation during the 1960s, including sit-ins, were based on physical action rather than agenda setting. The current project in Kansas City is the redistricting of zones. Freedom Inc. has made agendas to implement their plans to involve African Americans.

“We’re encouraging the creation of many districts to consist of at least 66 percent blacks. Our first plan was to get people from Freedom, Inc., state and local officials, to sit on the actual redistricting committee,” Bryant said.

“We have accomplished that. Now, we are taking part in the meetings and we discuss the reconfiguration of the districts.”