THE STORY OF OUR BEGINNING
As Kansas City prepared to celebrate the U. S. Bicentennial in 1976, an idea was born which eventually led to the appointment of the Mayor’s Ethnic Enrichment Commission. In order to focus public attention on the area’s rich cultural heritage, Charles B. Wheeler, Mayor of Kansas City during the Bicentennial year, formed the Ethnic Heritage Committee. That Committee planned an Ethnic Bicentennial Parade, presented ethnic menus at local restaurants and compiled a written history of contributions made to Kansas City’s growth by various ethnic groups. The latter project won national recognition from the United States Bicentennial Association.
The committee took a step towards permanency in 1978 when two members of the Naturalization Council, Madalyne Brock and Marion Trozzolo, urged the formation of the Ethnic Enrichment Committee. Carl DiCapo and John Duncan served as co-chairs of the committee three years. During that period, the group hosted its first Ethnic Enrichment Festival at the Liberty Memorial.
The festival drew the attention of Mayor Richard Berkley and City Councilman Victor Swyden who introduced a resolution to the City Council in 1980, creating the Mayor’s Ethnic Enrichment Commission. Carl DiCapo, John and Carol Duncan, Leonard Pryor, Chet Ellis, Bob Blue, and Louise Birt are the Commission’s founders.
The Ethnic Enrichment Commission aspires to foster understanding and apprecia-tion of cultural diversity, to preserve Ethnic heritage, to encourage Ethnic identity, and to coordinate and facilitate Ethnic programs.
The Ethnic Enrichment Commission will carry out its Mission by promoting and participating in the annual Ethnic Enrichment Festival, the Diplomatic Ball, the American Royal Parade, and various outreach opportunities throughout the area, as well as by seeking new membership and awarding an annual scholarship.