Rockhurst University is renovating its former community center at 5401 Troost to become the Alvin Brooks Center for Faith-Justice, fulfilling a commitment made to the long-time civil rights leader by the school’s former president.
The project was announced a year ago by Rockhurst President Emeritus the Rev. Thomas B. Curran, S.J., when he received the Henry W. Bloch Humanitarian Award from the Jewish Community Relations Bureau/American Jewish Committee, according to a release.
“At the same time, he revealed the space would be named after Alvin Brooks, a close friend and longtime icon of civil rights and civic pride in Kansas City,” the release stated.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held for the donor-funded $5.8 million project last week and it’s expected to open in late 2023 or early 2024.
The new Alvin Brooks Center will include a chapel and will be the hub for social justice and diversity-related functions at Rockhurst. It also will house the offices of KC Common Good, an anti-violence organization.
Brooks, 90, has lived most of his life in service to the city of Kansas City. He was among the first Black police officers in Kansas City, Missouri, when he joined the force in 1954, according to the release.
He worked for Kansas City’s public schools, set up City Hall’s first human relations department, was named assistant city manager, served on the Kansas City Council, and started the Ad-Hoc Group Against Crime, which continues today.
In 1999, Brooks was elected to the Kansas City Council representing the 6th District At-Large and was appointed mayor pro-tem. He was re-elected in 2003. He was an unsuccessful candidate for mayor in 2007.
It is a legacy of servant leadership that deserves recognition, Rockhurst University President Sandra Cassady, Ph.D, said in a statement.
“In his 90 years on this Earth, Mr. Brooks has provided us a powerful example of what genuine love of a community and its people can lead us to do,” she said.
“Though he was never a student, faculty or staff member here, Mr. Brooks is a consummate example of servant leadership in the Jesuit tradition.”
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