Tavern to be recognized for role in civil rights history

green-duckA city council committee on Wednesday sent to the full council a measure to put the Green Duck Tavern on the city historic register.

The tavern on the northwest corner of 26th Street and Prospect Avenue played a key role in the struggle for civil rights.

It was built between 1905 and 1910 but its historical status is based on its role in the life of Leon Jordan and civil rights, said Brad Wolf of city planning and development.

He related some history to the planning and zoning committee:

Jordan served in the city police for many years, becoming the first African-American police lieutenant. He also worked training police in Liberia, before returning to Kansas City in the mid-1950s and buying the Green Duck Tavern.

He got involved in politics as a committeeman and in 1962 co-founded Freedom Inc. with his friend Bruce R. Watkins.

In 1963, they helped pass an accommodations law desegregating public facilities in the city.

Freedom operated for years out of the tavern and helped elect many African-American candidates.

Jordan was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives three times. While campaigning for a fourth term in 1970, he was killed just outside the Green Duck by three shotgun blasts.

No one went to prison for his death. A 2010 Kansas City Star article led to more police investigation and raised questions of mob involvement.

Leave a Comment