An NEH Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshop hosted by the Spencer Museum of Art

Chester Owens, BS

Sumner High School alumnus
Civil Rights Activist
Primary office:


Chester Owens is a community leader, statesman, civil activist, business professional, humanitarian, and Kansas City historian. Mr. Owens is a Sumner High School alumnus and has been actively collecting articles and artifacts pertaining to Sumner High since graduating. He donated these items to the school to help establish the Sumner High School Alumni Room, which was later named in his honor. He will lead our visit to the Alumni Room and participate in an panel discussion with fellow Sumner alumni so we can learn about their personal experiences with school segregation in Kansas. 

Mr. Owens was the first African American in the twentieth century voted to the Kansas City, KS City Council in 1983 and served as the Chairman of the Labor and Industry Committee of the NAACP. He has received numerous awards throughout his lifetime for his civil rights and community service work including the NAACP Civil Rights Award, the Friends of Yates Black Man of Distinction Award, the Kansas City, Kansas Leadership Award, the Dr. E. A. Freeman Living Legends Award and the United Way Volunteer of the Year among others.


BS, Pittsburgh State University

Dates of Workshop Sessions

Session I: June 18-24, 2017 

Session II: July 9-15, 2017

Contact Information

Cassandra Mesick Braun, Project Co-Director: | 785-864-6794

Celka StraughnProject Co-Director: | 785-864-0136

Sydney PurselProject Intern: | 785-864-5253

The University of Kansas
Spencer Museum of Art
1301 Mississippi Street
Lawrence, KS 66045  | 785-864-4710

Spencer Museum of Art University of Kansas

One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times
KU Today