By Trae Venerable
Former Kansas City police officer, councilman, and mayor pro tempore, author Alvin Brooks released a new book entitled “Binding Us Together: A Civil Rights Activist Reflects on a Lifetime of Community and Public Service” on February 18.
“I wanted to get this book written to get the history out there,” says Brooks.
Intended to challenge readers on how they can make a difference in their community, Brooks hopes people will, “read and learn.”
Born May 3, 1932 in North Little Rock, Arkansas to Thomascine Gilder and Wilbur Herring, Brooks was soon adopted by Estelle and Cluster Brooks – relocating to the Kansas City area. Brooks attended Dunbar Elementary School, R.T. Coles Vocational High School and Lincoln Junior College – receiving a Bachelor of Arts in history and government in 1959. Brooks went on to earn his master’s degree in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1973.
In 1977, Brooks founded the community organization AdHoc Group Against Crime in response to violent crimes in the urban core. Shortly after, Brooks became the director of the organization.
His decades of experience in civil rights, violence prevention, religious tolerance and criminal justice advocacy led President George H.W. Bush to appoint him to the President’s National Drug Advisory Council – where he served a three-year term – and Governor Jay Nixon to appoint him to the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners – serving as president for two years.
Recently named the 2019 Kansas Citian of the Year by the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and recipient of the Harry S. Truman Award for Public Service, Brooks today – at 88 years of age – also holds the titles of father, husband, friend, and colleague.
Dedicated to his faith, Brooks hopes to be remembered as, “a strong, determined, and dedicated African American. I want to be known for how I cared and loved all of God’s children,” he said.
Publishers Andrews McMeel tout the book as “A heartfelt, inspiring narrative….that is engaging, funny and tragic.” Eye catching chapter titles such as “My Daddy Killed a White Man” and “I Start School at Six and Avoid Circumcision” reflect Brooks’ engaging storytelling ability.
Co-hosted by Rain Day Books, the Kansas City Public Library held a livestream kickoff event for Brooks and his book. “A Conversation” featured Alvin L. Brooks and Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas on its YouTube channel.