In April 2021, Jewell announced the establishment of a Racial Reconciliation Commission to find and express both a historical and moral truth about the racial history of the institution.
Initial research regarding the slaveholding of the College’s founders and the influence of those founders on the early decades of the College has been compiled by Dr. Andy Pratt, dean emeritus of the Chapel, and Dr. Chris Wilkins, associate professor of history, as well as by Dr. Wilkins’ students. This research is not only regarded as pivotal to the Jewell community, but will provide insights into regional history, serving as a bridge to critical conversations around race.
Dr. Elizabeth MacLeod Walls, president, and Dr. Rodney Smith, vice president for access and engagement, have established a Racial Reconciliation Commission, with the aim of “guiding the communication of these findings to various audiences and to help shape Jewell’s next steps in an intentional way.”
The Commission includes broad representation across campus groups and organizations throughout Kansas City. These Commission is tasked with asking difficult questions and identifying broad communications opportunities for 1) sharing the research findings and 2) recommending actionable items for Jewell.
“William Jewell College has a deep passion for and commitment to the shared prosperity initiative throughout the Kansas City region, and our history is a critical piece of this conversation,” said Jewell President Dr. MacLeod Walls. “With the launch of purposeful, institution-wide inclusivity efforts more than two years ago,” she continued, “Jewell has made significant strides in welcoming diverse students and employees and in looking at all of our policies and practices—price and access in particular—through an equity lens. We are eager to build upon this momentum with the launching of the Commission.”
The work of the Commission will include a report to the president with key findings and recommendations in the next academic year. The report will be published on this web page and will become a key part of the Jewell story moving forward.
“The work of the Commission will explore Jewell’s racial history,” noted Dr. Rodney Smith. “The Commission will serve as the spear-heading body of this work, coming together to analyze the arc of time from William Jewell’s founding to today, and become the driving force in creating change for good. I’m encouraged by Jewell’s commitment to this research, and for asking critical questions and furthering conversations about race.”
Jewell’s research will be preserved and made available to the public at the Black Archives of Mid-America Kansas City, ensuring ongoing opportunities for public education and dialogue.
“We are pleased to support the efforts of William Jewell College and the Racial Reconciliation Commission,” said Dr. Carmaletta Williams, executive director of the Black Archives. “Their work is in alignment with the Archives’ mission to honor our community heritage and catalyze public awareness and will become an important part of our collection at the Archives.”
- Dr. Rodney Smith, Commission Chair and Vice President for Access and Engagement
- Dr. Donna Gardner, Chair of the Education Department
- Brynesha Griffin-Bey, Student Representative
- Moses Harper, Assistant Football Coach
- Marcus Jones, Student and Treasurer of the Black Student Alliance
- Dr. Anthony Maglione, Director of Choral Studies
- Chris McCabe, Head Men’s Basketball Coach
- Mark Mathes, Distinguished Alumnus and Liberty Historian
- Hayley Michael, Student Participant in “Slavery, Memory, and Justice” Course
- Clark Morris, Vice President for Advancement
- Hunter O’Connor, Student and Kappa Alpha Order Number One
- Keith Pence, William Jewell College Trustee
- Dr. Andy Pratt, Dean Emeritus of the Chapel
- Eileen Houston-Stewart, William Jewell Trustee Emerita and Alumna
- Dr. Vernon Howard, Distinguished Alumnus and President, Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City
- Dr. Cecelia Robinson, Professor Emerita and Historian of Clay County African American Legacy, Inc.
Advisors to the Commission
- Vincent Paul Gauthier — Kansas City Community Advisor
- Dr. David Sallee, President Emeritus of William Jewell College — Liberty Community Advisor
- Dr. Carmaletta Williams and The Black Archives of Mid-America Kansas City — Research Advisor