Karl Oakman

Deputy Chief at the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department

Where were you born and raised?
I was born and raised in Kansas City, Kansas.

What is your occupation?
Deputy Chief at the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department.

What is your favorite childhood memory?
My favorite childhood memory was sharing a Dairy Queen banana split every Sunday with my father. He would often say do not let challenges replace the beautiful things in life. My time with him was limited, he passed away when I was 6 years old.

What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black History Month has always been a opportunity to showcase how Black Americans have contributed to the United States. I understand the significance of Black History Month but Black History is a part of American history. American history should be celebrated all year long regardless of the skin color of the individual making the contribution.

What do you believe is the most important issue currently facing the Black community?
The most important issue facing the black community is the lack of economic opportunity. There are many factors that contribute to this issue such as poverty, education, social capital, banking, employment and criminal justice. As a community we must work together to create opportunity for young people to reach their dreams regardless of race, gender, or zip code.

When did you realize you were Black in America and what has that meant for your life?
I realized I was black in America at an early age. I grew up in a poor but diverse neighborhood. My father died when I was six-years-old and my mother passed away five years later. I learned at an early age how to adopt and depend on a diverse group of people. I formed bonds with people in the neighborhood regardless of race, culture or religion. Although it was difficult as a young boy but the skills I learned out of necessity have served me well in my life and career. This early experience taught me to keep an open mind and treat all people with respect and dignity.

Who or what is your biggest inspiration to push for change?
I have two sons ages 20 and 17 and they are my biggest inspiration for change. I love my community and hope for a crime free community full of opportunity for all.

How have you supported or contributed to the local Black community?
I have worked my entire career to uplift the community through volunteer work and mentoring young people. I have collaborated with organizations and community groups to support and expand the horizons of underserved children and communities. One of my biggest contribution is the development of youth leadership programs that encourages self-respect, initiative and community engagement.

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