Alvin Brooks - 2009 Alumnus of the Year
Experience influences life's work
Regardless of your class, race, ethnicity or religion, there is a man in Kansas City who will fight for you and for all that is just and fair. Brooks is a champion of justice whose love of his community has defined his life. A true man of the people, Brooks' role in Kansas City over the past half-century has led him down paths of public service, civil rights and urban progress. He has served as a Kansas City police officer, councilman and mayor protem. Since 1977, his community organization, Ad Hoc Group Against Crime, has been dedicated to shaping a safer city for all who live here. It is for his tireless efforts for his community and unending commitment to his alma mater, that he has been chosen Alumnus of the Year.
Alvin Brooks (B.A. '59, M.A. '73, College of Arts and Sciences) recalls how, at age 10, he accidentally walked into The Kansas City Club, an elite business and social club then open to white men only, to pay his family's electric bill. Rather than a receipt, Brooks got a lesson in the difficulties African-Americans faced in the 1940s as he was called derogatory names.
"Over time, I began to understand through my parents and own experiences the difference in this country of ours as it relates to race and opportunities," he says.
Brooks has spent the subsequent years investing his time in shaping a safer and more just Kansas City. Being a prominent face in the community is a lifestyle he says has its rewards in the changes he has seen since the days of his youth.
"If you have a social consciousness about you, you want to feel that you’re doing this not only for yourself," Brooks says. "You're doing it for others so that they won’t have to end up suffering through the same kind of embarrassment, disenfranchisement, belittlement and berating merely because of the color of their skin, religion, sexual orientation or gender. It’s for all of us."
His role in Kansas City during the past half-century has led him down paths of public service, civil rights and urban progress. Brooks has served as a Kansas City police officer, councilman and mayor pro-tem, and he founded the community organization Ad Hoc Group Against Crime. For this and more, he is honored as the 2009 UMKC Alumnus of the Year.
"I get a lot more out of helping folks than I get out of being helped. I think it's a calling for me. It's a mission," Brooks says. "Many times when you help people, you never get a thank you. But you don't do it for that reason anyway. You do it because you know it's the right thing to do."
Of the thousands of alumni who call UMKC home, 16 are selected each year for special recognition. These alumni -- one from each school and four campus-wide --are graduates who are distinguished by their personal and professional contributions in health care, education, law, business, science and the arts. They are some of the University's best ambassadors: volunteers, donors and community builders leading exemplary lives of service. Visit the Alumni and Friends web page to read about all of these extraordinary 2009 Alumni Award winners.
Posted: April 13, 2009