Our mission is to Stand up To Advocate for Neighborhood Diversity , equity and inclusion to right injustices against our Black neighbors and others through educating citizens, collaborating with leaders and working toward systemic changes in our communities.

What's New

What's New

2023 "I Have a Dream [Home]" Action and Celebration Event Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

[Prairie Village, Kansas, January 14, 2023] — As part of our city’s campaign to better know and welcome our diverse neighbors, STAND Up for Black Lives+ Prairie Village, the city of Prairie Village Diversity Committee, Village Church, and the Johnson County NAACP are sponsoring the second annual “I Have a Dream [Home]” Action and Celebration event honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The program will feature Dr. Ian Graves-PV Council Member, Mark Davis-Black Archives of Mid-America, Erin Royals-Geography PhD Candidate, Dr. Rodger Nishioka-Village Church, Dr. George Williams-Stand Up Black Lives, Lynda Randle-Dove Award Winning Artist, Glenn North-Award Winning Poet /Activist, the Storling Dance Theatre, the Ward Trio, and youth singer Troy Sanders.  View the "I Have a Dream Home-DR MLK JR Event" Flyer  View the "I Have a Dream Home-DR MLK JR Event" Press Release

2022 Juneteenth Freedom Celebration and Concert

[Prairie Village, Kansas, June 18, 2022] — The Juneteenth Freedom Celebration took place in Prairie Village on Saturday, June 18th at Harmon Park at 7727 Delmar from 4 PM – 8 PM. The family celebration featured a poster contest ceremony, Black-owned vendors, coloring sheets, crafts, face painting, and more, a 30-minute program beginning at 5:30 PM with Congresswoman Sharice Davis, Mayor Eric Mikkelson, League of Women Voters, and local high school students, live music from Kansas City’s own, James Ward Band will begin at 6 PM.

2022 "I Have a Dream [Home]" Action and Celebration Event Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

[Prairie Village, Kansas, February 26, 2022] — As part of our city’s campaign to better know and welcome our diverse neighbors, STAND Up for Black Lives+ Prairie Village, the city of Prairie Village Diversity Committee, Village Church, the Johnson County NAACP, Race Project KC and Shawnee Mission East High School sponsored the “I Have a Dream [Home]” Action and Celebration event honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The program featured Dr. Jacob Wagner, Associate Professor, Director of Urban Studies, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Mayor Eric Mikkelson, Dr. Rodger Nishioka, Dr. George Williams, youth singer Troy Sanders, the Race Project KC Students, and the LINC Mighty Wild Eagles Drill Team and Drumline.  PLEASE WATCH the I Have a Dream Home Action and Celebration video  on YouTube by clicking this link.

2021 JUNETEENTH Freedom Celebration and Poster Contest

June 2021-As part of our campaign to better know and welcome our neighbors, STAND Up for Black Lives+ Prairie Village partnered with the city of Prairie Village Diversity Committe and the Johnson County NAACP to hold the Juneteenth Freedom Celebration and Poster Contest: “What Juneteenth Freedom Means to America.” This historic event gave students and families an opportunity to learn together about the Juneteenth holiday, create a poster and celebrate together in Prairie Village with free fun family activities at Franklin Park on Saturday, June 19th. As someone with an African American heritage it was one of my most welcoming days in our beautiful city! PLEASE WATCH the KHSB TV-41 Action News coverage video  of our Juneteenth Freedom Celebration by clicking the picture or this link.

2021 Black History Month 50-minute Challenge

February 2021-STAND Up for Black Lives+ Prairie Village and the Johnson County NAACP presented Byron Roberson the Diversity in Law Enforcement Award as the first African American Chief of Police in Prairie Village and Johnson County. We are so excited about the progress that continues to be made in Prairie Village! You can hear from Chief Roberson, Mayor Mikkelson and others by taking the Black History Month 50-minute challenge to know your neighbor better and celebrate their successes. PLEASE WATCH the Black History Month Celebration video  by clicking the picture or this link.

This is Us

This is Us

STAND Up for Black Lives+ Prairie Village is a grassroots coalition of concerned citizens committed to the belief that diversity makes our city a better place to live by humbly seeking compassion and justice for all our neighbors.

Pictured from top to bottom and left to right: Gretchen Neis, Dr. George R. Williams, Trudy Williams, Wandra Minor, Pastor Dennis and Sherri Solis, Jamie Ledbetter Lovern, David Muhammad, Michael and Melissa Funaro, Samantha Feinberg (not pictured: Rebecca Reece and Sydney Williams)

Dr. George R. Williams, President of STAND Up for Black Lives

Prairie Village Diversity Committee Member

Prairie Village Civil Service Board

Johnson County NAACP Press and Publicity Member

Click on logo above to go to the DrGeorge.US website

Pastor Dennis Solis, First Vice President

Michael Funaro, Second Vice President

Gretchen Neis, Treasurer

Melissa Funaro, Secretary

Wandra Minor, Member Representative

Sydney Williams, Student Reprentative

Healing the Cancer of Racism and Discrimination in Prairie Village

by Dr. George Williams

Jesse Clyde (J.C.) Nichols was born in 1880 in the free state of Kansas. He transformed Kansas City by building the stunning Country Club Plaza and developing attractive tree-lined residential subdivisions where homes continue to appreciate in value nearly a century later. But for decades, Nichols perpetuated the ugly cancer of racism and discrimination that has had a long lasting effect on housing, education and the economics of African Americans in greater Kansas City. In 1948, two years before his death from a physical cancer, the Supreme Court in the Shelley Vs. Kraemer case struck down the racially restrictive housing covenants.

I moved to this community because I wanted the same thing that any other resident wants for their children, safety and education. But for nearly two decades I have been a resident of a city whose homes have these cancerous covenants and at times a climate of unwelcomeness. And while there are brief seasons the cancer is ignored as if it went into remission, horrific events like, the murder of Mr. George Floyd by law enforcement became a relapse with a vengence.

After attending a Kansas City, MO and Kansas City, KS rally together with Pastor Dennis Solis and his wife Sherri, Dennis had the ideal to do a Prairie Village rally to speak out against the injustice. He shared it with my wife Trudy and I who were eager to help organize the event. Together we were able to bring key leaders and students to the table and with the help of the adhoc team over 2,000 people attended. The sight was more beautiful than any building errected by J.C. Nichols. A city with an ugly history showed how beautiful it is when diverse people unite in sorrow, compassion and love to heal the cancer of racism and discrimination!

Educating our Citizens

Social justice education is learning and acknowledging the issues of racism and discrimination that impact our neighbors. This enables us to see, listen and understand with unconditional empathy and compassion the value of our neighbor, their issues and what we can do, which will bridge the many divides that separate us.

Collaborating with Leaders

We can learn from each other and accomplish more together. The unarmed truth needs to be brought to those in leadership of the imbalance of power and inequities that bring the harm to our neighbors. We must advocate for those oppressed over the drowning voices of an organization’s or local, state or national government’s bottom-line.

Working for Systemic Change

We must work for systemic change because social justice education is not just about learning. It is also about engaging in unrelenting humble activism to make the community around us more just and equitable. We want all our neighbors to have access to fair opportunities.

Us Doing

This section lists the events we have done as well as upcoming events.

Planning a 2022 Preparing for a Diverse City Training

How do you get ready for a city, state and nation that is becoming more diverse every day? That is what we will answer in an upcoming training titled, "Preparing for Living in a Diverse City." Social justice education is part of our mission for educating citizens. Social justice education is learning and acknowledging the issues of racism and discrimination that impact our neighbors. This enables us to see, listen and understand with empathy and compassion the value of our neighbor, their issues and what we can do, which will bridge the many divides that separate us. So please stay tuned.

Sometimes knowing what a training is NOT ABOUT is just as important as knowing what a training is ABOUT. The upcoming training has the benefit of following a host of other diversity trainings that have been developed and implemented which will allow us to improve on what has been less effective. The upcoming training is NOT ABOUT:
1. Changing personal identity: asking participants to give up who they are or their love for their own cultural identity
2. Defaming personal identity: participants feeling like the training presents their culture in an inferior or superior light
3. Judging personal biases: participants are judged as “good or evil” based on the biases they may have toward other cultures
4. Forcing the objectives: pressure the participants to change without consideration for their preferences
5. Checking off the diversity training box: Going through the motions of fulfilling a required training The upcoming trainning will be ABOUT: 1. Growth: a chance to choose to see possible blind spots, different points-of-views and giving others the benefit of the doubt in trying to understand the culture of others
2. Respect: making sure participants feel their culture is presented with equity on a level playing field with an attitude of inclusion that maintains dignity and respect
3. Openness: expanding your knowledge and awareness of the culture of other people groups
4. Understanding: knowing the origin of biases and what we can do to adjust our attitude and actions towards others
5. Potential: releasing the full potential of the benefit of the diversity of thought, relationships and opportunities

PLEASE VIEW photos and posters from the event by clicking the picture or this link.

PLEASE WATCH the KSHB-TV 41 Action News Juneteenth coverage (2 minutes) by clicking this link.

Held the June 2021 Juneteenth Freedom Celebration and Poster Contest

Juneteenth! June 19, 1865 is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. On that date, months after the Civil War ended, Union General Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas and read General Order No. 3 informing the quarter of a million African Americans who were still slaves in Texas that they were free. That December, slavery in America was formally abolished with the adoption of the 13th Amendment. Juneteenth (June 19th), also referred to as “Freedom Day” has been celebrated by African Americans for the past 156 years and today we invite you and your children to celebrate our American history!

The City of Prairie Village Diversity Committee, the Johnson County NAACP, and STAND Up for Black Lives+ Prairie Village partnered together to sponsor a JUNETEENTH Freedom Celebration Poster Contest. The goal of the contest was to provide an opportunity for children and families to learn more about JUNETEENTH, create a poster about it and join together for a city celebration this summer.The theme for the create-at-home poster contest was “What JUNETEENTH freedom means for America.”

PLEASE WATCH the Black History Month Celebration (50 minutes) by clicking the picture of this link.

Produced a February 2021 Black History Month Celebration

On Thursday, February 25th we held the city's first annual Black History Month Virtual Celebration. The city was outraged last summer with the murder of George Floyd and did something about it by participating in a march for justice. We challenged our city to take another step towards justice by taking the Black History Month 50-minute challenge. The challenge was to facilitae a Facebook Live event as a way to better know your Black neighbors and celebrate their achievements. The program was a time of history, music, poetry and song with sharing from Mayor Eric Mikkelson of Prairie Village and Johnson County’s first Black Chief of Police, Byron Roberson.

PLEASE WATCH the March and Rally video (2 minutes) by clicking the picture of this link.

Organized a June 2020 March and Rally

Stand Up organized a silent March and Rally Wednesday, June 10th, 2020 at 6:30 PM in Prairie Village, KS. Like so many others, our hearts grieved over the murder of George Floyd, and the injustices done to countless African Americans in our nation. Our purpose was to acknowledge these injustices and to call ALL American citizens and American institutions to join in the hard work that will lead us to equality for everyone. An estimated 2,000 people met-up on the grounds of the Prairie Village Community Center and silently marched to the Macy's parking lot in The Shops Of Prairie Village and particpated in the rally.

Hosted a September 2020 Forum on the Dividing Lines Tour

On Saturday, September 26, 2020 we invited residents to take the Dividing Lines tour: A History of Segregation in Kansas City sponsored by the Johnson County Library. The tour is designed so that you can safely drive through the city at your own pace while enlightening you on the stories of injustice in the areas you travel. We requested participants visit the Tour website for instructions and tour details, download the VoiceMap App and take the tour (90 mins - 2 hrs.) any time between 10 AM to 2 PM. They were then asked to join us for a live discussion on Zoom at 4 PM hosted by Melissa Funaro (graduate of SME) and Dr. George Williams (father of 03, almost 4 graduates of SME) featuring Angel Tucker from the Johnson County Library.

Hosted a November 2020 Forum on the Dividing Lines Tour

We decided to repeat the event with another featured speaker. On Saturday, November 7th from 10 to 11 AM we hosted a "Stand Up: Dividing Lines Tour Forum" on Zoom. High school parents and area students were invited to participate in this presentation and discussion. Former Shawnee Mission East teacher, David Muhammad was our featured speaker along with a panel of two Race Project KC students. Melissa Funaro (graduate of SME) was the host for Zoom.

Us Saying

This section shares important trainings, writings and videos on justice.

Juneteenth Freedom Celebration Song (4 minutes) by clicking picture of this link.

Mass Reconstruction

This song was written by George Williams for the Stand Up for Black Lives Prairie Village Juneteenth Freedom Celebration and Poster Contest on June 19th, 2021. The music borrows heavily from the song, "God is Good" by Morris Chapman. The song was performed at the Juneteenth event with Dr. George, John Robinson on the drums and John Rousseau on the bass guitar.

PLEASE WATCH Black Trauma, Black Triumph (5 minutes) by clicking picture of this link.

Black History: Black Trauma Black Triumph

What is Black History Month? It is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. This event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month.

Why is this celebration necessary? I remember my high school American History class had a very thick textbook. And yet in that textbook so few pages were devoted to Black history. There are many reasons why Black history is omitted but the end result is we are left out. And that’s why the celebration is needed.

Left out is the African American’s rich heritage in the continent of Africa, goodness of their humanity, the evil acts of their oppressors, the horror and depths of their suffering, the lack of reparations, the exploitation of their talents, their heroic perseverance and their major contributions that help make America great.

PLEASE WATCH the Justice Covenant (4 minutes) by clicking the picture or this link.

The Justice Covenant

This concise statement expresses the essence of what we believe is the common ground of what it means for us to stand up together for justice.
1. Racism is still a reality in our country. Any community that is serious about diversity must educate itself about the historical impact racism has had on people of color. Only this kind of comprehensive understanding can help us see the gravity of the challenges we face as we work to diversify our community.
2. Discrimination is not limited to color. Our primary focus is on the oppressive, unjust legacy of the racism that the African American (Black) community has endured, we also acknowledge and reject any discrimination experienced by someone because of their religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, age or disability.
3. The power of racism and discrimination is systemic. We are committed to seeking justice in the systems that shape and impact our everyday lives. We will do this through non-violence, education, advocacy and activism.
4. Justice demands that we face both our past and present failures. We believe this kind of self-awareness will lead us to better reform, restitution, diversity and shared power. It is true, we cannot change the past, but with the light from our past we can make today better.
5. We will STAND Up together. While the goal of diversity is a good one, we also know it creates its own set of challenges. Understanding this, our unity will be guided by the shared values of mutual respect, the innate dignity of every human being, and the belief in basic human rights for all.

Stand Up for Asian Lives

by George R. Williams, Ph.D.

I am one generation removed from slavery. My grandfather, George Albany Williams was born into slavery in 1864 on a plantation in Culpepper, West Virginia. His son, my father, John Morgan Williams (1917-2009) became an American Soldier. I am one generation removed from immigration, because John, my father, married my Korean mother, Yuson Kim (1929-1996) and brought her and three of my siblings, Robert, Jeanne and Morgan, back to the United States. They were stationed in Fort Riley, Kansas, a base designated for inter-racial couples before the final miscegenation laws were struck down by the Supreme Court in 1967. I’ve shared my stories of my father and my grandfather. It’s my Asian mother’s story I wish to share today.

Yuson Kim lived in poverty in Cheju-Do, Korea during the time of oppressive occupations; when Koreans were at the bottom of the hierarchy with little opportunity for wealth, health, education, employment, and even restricted access to food, a time when they too were enslaved. She lived through the horrors of both World War II and the Korean Conflict (War). Her parents died, both casualties of these wars and she, a young girl, fought to survive; losing two of her three siblings in a village bombing, a narrow escape from an early morning firing squad because of a feigned “stomach ache”, and years of survival as a sex slave (comfort woman), all the while feeding on garbage scraps others threw out, to avoid dying from hunger. She heard too many stories of a better life, in America.

So, when she married the American soldier, John, she described her marriage and her life in America as having “been saved.” She deeply loved America and the ample supply of food and freedom with no desire to return “home.” However, this new life brought new challenges. She was different. She did not speak the language well, was illiterate, (although she was fluent in Chinese, Japanese and Korean) no family, no social support, and six children (including Mary, Andrew and I). In the face of those challenges, she and John worked hard to provide for their family. They moved their family into an old Railroad boarding house on the east side of Junction City, Kansas, a city just outside the base. And although they were, by federal guidelines, below the poverty level, the only help they applied for was reduced lunches. Education was important and their children having the food and fuel to focus on their studies were their driving force.

Yuson learned to read and write, found good hard work cleaning houses and washing dishes and proudly became a U.S. citizen. She helped raise six college graduates with six master’s degrees; three of which also earned their Ph.D.’s. Her children and her children’s children have served in the military, worked for the federal and state government, have longstanding careers in the fields of medicine and education and the private sector, all with the desire to help make our country a better place to live.

Yuson suffered a lifetime of trauma in her homeland and in America, the land that she loved. And although she had never committed a crime or harmed a soul. She was often taunted for the smell of her food, her thick accent and slanted eyes and even once hit in the head with a rock thrown because of the slant of her eyes and the black baby, her baby, she carried on her back. She was blamed for the tragedies of the war with whom she was too was a victim and the war she never knew, in Vietnam. This is her story. It is our story. It is your story. It is the story of many Asian Americans.

All Humans share 99.9% of the same DNA and yet we undeniably have rich differences in what we eat and drink and wear, in the way we speak, think, look and love. Racism is Hate-ism and uses those differences to divide us and dehumanize us. Racism strips humanity of its dignity and of its power, and it is still happening today. Racism feeds our fears, fear of the loss of our life, our liberty and our power. Compassion (love) cast out fear. Compassion requires we stand up for our freedom which includes these differences. It requires power, the power of the law and the power of love and compassion. Enforce the U.S. Constitution’s privileges and protections, including the 14th Amendment of life, liberty and property and enforce the consequences of breaking these protective laws. The true enforcement for one person of difference, in turn will protect us all.

A quote often attributed to Atticus, a character in Harper Lee’s bestseller asked his daughter Scout after she makes a comment about a neighbor, “Are you proud of yourself tonight that you have insulted a total stranger whose circumstances you know nothing about?” Personal knowledge comes from personal experiences. Share your story. Share their story. Activate real American Pride. Expand your knowledge thus expanding your power to stand up for all humans. Treat all lawfully and lovingly with kindness and respect.

I exhaled with some relief

by George R. Williams, Ph.D.

Watching the trial I witnessed, the prosecution who sought to honor a man, a black man, Mr. George Flyod, an American citizen who had his life unjustly taken by a police officer. A police officer Derek Chauvin, who swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution, per the 14th Amendment, to protect all U.S. citizens against the loss of life, liberty or property without due process of the law. A police officer who became the judge, jury and executioner and murdered Mr. George Floyd on video. Officer Chauvin denied and decimated Mr. Floyds rights, including the 11th Amendment legal right to be presumed to be innocent until proven guilty of a crime.

I was holding my breath before the reading of the verdict. I was holding the concern that another man, who was an African American citizen murdered by a police officer, would have the injustice of a not-guilty verdict of the police officer added to the legacy of his tragic murder. With the reading of the verdict, I exhaled with some relief.

Yet, I still feel the grief of the death of Mr. George Floyd as he struggled to take his last breath in the video. I also feel a grief for all those unjustly murdered African American citizens at the hands of police officers, including the most recent, Mr. Duante Wright. I feel the weight of having to prove that a Black life matters to those who can’t act like it or even say it. The weight of proving that we deserve to be human, that we deserve to be alive, that we deserve to be an American citizen with all the privileges and protections of the law.

It is said that a seed must die before it grows. Justice sometimes feels dead in America. However, I feel, George Floyd’s tragic murder, the trial and the verdict has brought the potential for growing justice. I am grateful and pray this pattern of growing justice continues.

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