News Release 019

Black History brochure recognizes Missourians who made a difference

Volume 39-019 (For Immediate Release)
For more information: 573-751-1010

JEFFERSON CITY, MO., FEB. 4, 2011 – Throughout Missouri's history, there have been individuals who made major contributions to our state and the lives of the people around them. A brochure about 18 of these African-American leaders is now available free of charge to help recognize February as Black History Month.

“Just Ordinary People: A Few of Missouri's Finest” highlights these individuals and their achievements. Some of the names may be familiar – baseball legend Satchel Paige; musician William “Count” Basie; and author and performer Maya Angelou. Others may not be as well known – Joseph Penny, founder of the black township Pennytown; author Langston Hughes; and businessman Hiram Young. Working individually and with others, they enhanced the quality of life for those around them and all Missourians.

Several of the individuals profiled began their lives as slaves. Well known figures include York, the body servant of William Clark on the 1804 Lewis and Clark Expedition, and Dred Scott, whose case was a landmark in the pro-slavery and anti-slavery struggle. Other individuals born into slavery, such as James Milton Turner, John Berry Meachum and Nathan Young, obtained their freedom and excelled in the fields of business and education.

This year marks the beginning of the Civil War sesquicentennial. To learn more about this important part of our history and the individuals involved, visit the exhibits in the Missouri State Museum on the first floor of the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City.

The brochure is one of many ways Missouri state parks and historic sites recognize Black History Month. For information on state parks and historic sites, go to

To receive your free copy of “Just Ordinary People,” contact Missouri State Parks by phone at 800-334-6946, by e-mail at, or visit the Missouri State museum tour desk located on the first floor of the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City.