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Community Champion and Advocate Receives Honor

Mamie Hughes to be inducted into Starr Women’s Hall of Fame

The Starr Women’s Hall of Fame is dedicated to recognizing extraordinary Kansas City women, preserving the history of their accomplishments and inspiring women everywhere. Mamie Hughes is one of the outstanding women being honored in the 2019 class of inductees.

Hughes has made her mark on the Greater Kansas City community as a tireless champion for those oppressed by racial and gender biases and discrimination.

“For the past eight decades, she has boldly gone where others did not dare.” 
– Hon. Lisa White Hardwick, Missouri Court of Appeals

She arrived in Kansas City in 1949 as a young adult poised to make a difference. Hughes raised five children while simultaneously pursuing a teaching career, holding elective office and immersing herself in civic affairs. She was involved in several community projects, including the plan to install immediate emergency services, the establishment of the Meals on Wheels program, and the economic development of the historic 18th and Vine Jazz District, including leadership service with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. She was elected as a founding member of the Jackson County Legislature, a former chair for the Mid-America Regional Council and founding member of the Central Exchange. She serves on the Council of Advocates for the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education.

“She became an advocate and volunteer for scores of projects aimed at cutting through the racial and gender biases and discrimination,” says friend John Kurtz. “I regard Hughes as Kansas City’s own ‘godmother’ and I—as a Kansas Citian—thank God that she settled here in 1949 and has been here ever since.”

In the prologue to Hughes’ autobiography, Judge Lisa White Hardwick of the Missouri Court of Appeals wrote, “For the past eight decades, she has boldly gone where others did not dare. Her mantra is, ‘Man who says it cannot be done should get out of the way of woman who is doing it.’… Since arriving in 1949 at the age of 20, she has broadly impacted the landscape of our city in politics, education, culture and family life … Her graceful and passionate advocacy as the Ombudsman for the Bruce R. Watkins Drive brought resolution and fair treatment for thousands of inner city residents affected by the project.”

Hughes has been honored with the ATHENA Award from the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, the Hall of Fame Award from the Greater Kansas City Women’s Political Caucus and the National Medal of Honor from the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She was named to the Alumni Hall of Fame by Metropolitan Community College and among “Women Who’ve Changed the Heart of the City” by City Union Mission.

About the Starr Women’s Hall of Fame

The Starr Women’s Hall of Fame is dedicated to recognizing extraordinary Kansas City women and preserving the history of their accomplishments. These women are social reformers, volunteers, philanthropists, civic leaders, activists and educators. They are neighborhood leaders and grassroots organizers, from yesterday and today, both famous and unsung. They are movers and shakers whose tireless commitment to community has made Kansas City a better place to live.

The Hall of Fame honors their legacies by sharing their stories to encourage and inspire women everywhere. A permanent display honoring these women is open to the public on the third floor of the Miller Nichols Library at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

The Hall of Fame is named in honor of Martha Jane Phillips Starr, a legendary activist and philanthropist who blazed a trail for family issues and women’s rights. The Hall of Fame is made possible through the Starr Education Committee, Martha Jane Starr’s family and the Starr Field of Interest Fund through the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation.

Published: Mar 12, 2019

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