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Mexican American activist’s fight to integrate KCK public schools highlighted in local production

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Posted at 11:21 AM, May 20, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Many think of school as an everyday commodity, but for Hispanic Americans in Kansas City, Kansas, in the early 1900s, it was unreachable.

Saturnino Alvarado, whose family lived in the Argentine neighborhood of KCK, was the pioneer who fought to change that.

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Sunday night, a dramatic reading of the locally produced play "A Father's Poder" highlighted Alvarado's fight.

In the 1920s, Alvarado battled the school board to admit his children and other Mexican immigrant students to the all-white Argentine High School. He won.

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Alvarado's granddaughter, renowned Mexican folkloric dance teacher Rose Marie Mendez, was in attendance Sunday.

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"They made it all the way to Washington, D.C., only to find out that it was not placed into law," Mendez said. "After that, when they came back into Kansas City, the doors opened."

Alvarado also became a well-known civil rights activist. Argentine Middle School named its auditorium after Alvarado in 2003.

Gary Enrique Bradly-Lopez, the playwright, said "A Father's Poder" will have three fully staged productions in August.