Black History, News Roundup

News: Scott lynching re-examined, West Broadway plan push back

April 26, 2019 — An author retraces James T. Scott’s life, ending the silence about her family’s link to his death. Part 1. Columbia Missourian. Summary: Pat Roberts, now deceased, wrote a book about James T. Scott after she learned her aunt was the girl who accused him of attempting to rape her. This accusation by Regina Almstedt, 14, at the time, led to Scott’s murder by lynching. Roberts’ family had never discussed Scott’s murder in 1923. Roberts learned of the family connection from a 2003 series in the Columbia Missourian related to the lynching. The name of the book is “A lynching in Little Dixie: The Life and Death of James T. Scott.”

April 27, 2019 — Lifting the cloud, a detailed history of the Scott lynching. Part 2. Columbia Missourian. Summary: This part outlines why the family never discussed the lynching death of James T. Scott, why the author wrote the book, outlines what Columbia groups have done to mark and/or commemorate Scott’s death.

April 27, 2019 — In the 1990s, a play chronicled James T. Scott’s lynching for local, national audiences. Columbia Missourian. Summary: Eric Wilson and Clyde Ruffin wrote a play, “Strands,” in 1991. The play premiered in Columbia, and went on to win the 1992 Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award, and was performed as part of the American College Theatre Festival in the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

April 27, 2019 — Rezoning plan revives West Broadway issues. Columbia Daily Tribune. Summary: Local doctor Mohammad Jarbou purchased homes at 917 W. Broadway, 919 W. Broadway and 14 N. West Blvd., with plans to demolish them and redevelop the area. Columbia residents are pushing back.

Note: A Facebook page,, has been created to disseminate information about thwarting the effort to demolish the houses.

April 30, 2019 — Guest Commentary: Columbia only goes through the motions of racial reconciliation. Columbia Missourian. Summary: Author Traci Wilson-Kleekamp states the article and book were insufficient and that the article, book and 2003 series did not property address the harm to Gertrude Carter Scott, Scott’s widow. Wilson-Kleekamp’s commentary calls on the city of Columbia, the University of Missouri and the School of Medicine, where James T. Scott was employed, to do more to highlight Scott’s life. The piece also notes the Columbia Public School should have a curriculum that honors black contributions to the community.

Black History, Events, National Register of Historic Places

Grand opening of historic home of $19.5 million musician set for Sept. 18

The dedication of the home of a musician who traveled from 1880-1913 performing about 7,200 concerts is set for 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 18 at 10 N. Fourth St.

The musician earned about $19.5 million dollars in his lifetime, an amount calculated using information in the National Register of Historic Places document on the house and, a website designed to calculate value of currency.

The musician was J.W. “Blind” Boone and his story can be viewed from multiple perspectives. He overcame racism, poverty and even trickery to become a successful musician.

Even his home was nearly lost. And now, on Sunday, after years of work from volunteers and city expenditures, will be dedicated and opened to the public.

Note on the calculations: Information in the National Register of Historic Places document states he earned $150 to $600 per concert and performed about 7,200 concerts. Using $150 per concert for 7,200 concerts, his earning would have been $1.1 million. Using, a website designed to calculate value of currency, that amount would be worth $19.5 million in 2015.

News Release:

The City of Columbia has issued a press release on the event and it is reprinted here with permission:

Contact: Clyde Ruffin

President, John William “Blind” Boone Heritage Foundation


Dedication, grand opening of J.W. “Blind” Boone Home scheduled Sept. 18

COLUMBIA, MO (September 15, 2016) – On Sunday, Sept. 18 the John William “Blind” Boone Heritage Foundation will host the dedication and grand opening of the newly restored J.W. “Blind” Boone Home. The event will be held at the home, 10 N. Fourth St., from 2 to 4 p.m. with light refreshments provided after the program.

John William “Blind” Boone, born in 1864, overcame blindness, poverty, and discrimination to become a nationally famous concert pianist and composer. Boone helped to merge African-American folk music with the European classical tradition, a fusion that opened the way for ragtime, jazz, boogie-woogie and much more.

“Even before the Great Scott Joplin, Boone was busy evolving the first true ‘made in America’ genre of music: Ragtime! It became America’s gift to the world,” said Lucille Salerno, emeritus board member of the Foundation and organizer of the former Blind Boone Jazz Festival.

The home was built between 1888-1892 by John Lange Jr. as wedding present for his sister Eugenia Lange and Boone. It serves as a monument to the individual genius and generosity of Boone but it also represents the historic African-American community as a whole — its struggles and accomplishments. The home’s location on Fourth Street is one of the few physical remnants of the community African-Americans built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

“The effort to preserve Boone’s home is important, in part, because it is one of the few surviving reminders of the days when Fourth Street was the heart of Columbia’s African-American neighborhood,” said Greg Olson, a member of the Foundation. “At a time when the city, like much of the nation, was deeply segregated, Blind Boone was that rare individual who seemed to have the ability to bring together Columbia citizens of all races.”

The home was purchased by the City of Columbia in 2000 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. Renovations to the home included interior restoration, minor exterior repairs and landscaping. The project was approved by City Council on June 3, 2013 and the City portion was paid for with surplus funds from fiscal year 2012. The estimated cost for the City was $326,855 with a $16,500 donation from the John William “Blind” Boone Heritage Foundation.

The Foundation was organized in 1997; for more information, visit this link:

Black History, Churches, National Register of Historic Places, Sacred Spaces

Civil War to today reflected in Second Missionary Baptist Church

A historic building helps society recall its history, as demonstrated by this magazine article on the 150-year-history of Second Missionary Baptist Church, now at Fourth and Broadway.

Why say it is now at Fourth and Broadway? At one time, Fourth Street was called River Street for the Flat Branch waterway that now runs under Fourth Street, according to at National Register of Historic Places document that outlines the history of the adjacent J.W. “Blind” Boone home.

The article is headlined “Second Missionary Baptist Church reflects o 150 years of rich history,” and was written by Lauren Rutherford and published on April 7, 2016 in Vox magazine.

The piece explains the importance of the church: It housed and houses a community that has endured the insidious lasting harms of slavery and one that has also endured, fought and won many battles in the fight for civil rights. For example, the Rev. Clyde Ruffin helped spearhead an effort to place a tombstone at the grave of a man who was lynched in 1923. The church has been the staging ground of civil rights efforts as well.

This article demonstrates the purpose of historic buildings and how to save historic buildings. First, the purpose of historic buildings is so as a society, we are reminded of our history, good and bad. Second, saving a historic building requires that the building has a use.

Historical Homes, National Register of Historic Places, Uncategorized

J.W. “Blind” Boone historic home makes Columbia standout, boosts economy

Completing the renovation of the J.W. “Blind” Boone home at 10 N. Fourth St., got unanimous approval by the Columbia City Council on Monday, June 3, 2013.

The shell of the house was preserved, painted red and saved from termites and demolition by the purchase of the city in 2000 and subsequent work, but until last night, it needed another $326,000 to make it habitable and available for the many plans the J.W. “Blind” Boone Heritage Foundation has for it.

But perhaps the greatest plans for the house came during Second Ward Councilman Michael Trapp’s comments. He said historic structures such as the Boone home are fundamental to Columbia’s economic development, giving the city its own geographic, cultural and historic personality. “We’re not anywhere, any town,” he said during comments prior to the vote.

Trapp and others also called the home an inspiration. Boone, born in 1864 to a run away slave and U.S. Union bugler, was blinded at 6 months old, a step taken to save him from “brain fever.” Despite his handicap, Boone went on to learn to play music, later composing his own works and playing at concert halls throughout the nation, with some evidence he played internationally. He is credited with contributing to ragtime music, the forerunner of jazz, which led Anthony Stanton to note the global importance of Boone’s legacy, noting the global popularity of jazz.

The house could potentially give Columbia a bigger spot on two different maps. In presenting information on the Boone home, Columbia Parks and Recreation Director Mike Griggs said there is a movement to create a statewide music trail from St.Louis to Kansas City, and a civil rights trail, both of which would include the Boone home.

As Clyde Ruffin, president of the Heritage Board noted, Boone overcame two obstacles, disability and race. The city’s plan for the house calls for completing the interior renovations and then turning the building over to the J.W. “Blind” Boone Heritage Foundation.

Griggs noted the relationship would be like that of the city and the Boone County Historic Museum and Galleries. The city owns Maplewood, a historic home, and the surrounding park, but the facilities are managed by the Boone County Historical Society.

According to Ruffin, plans for the use of the building once it is renovated include a small display of Boone artifacts while the rest of the facility would be used for activities including instructional space.

No matter what happens in the future, the Boone home has already put Columbia on the map. The Blind Boone Ragtime Festival is held annually, this year June 10 and 11, 2013, in the Missouri Theatre. Also, the house where Boone lived from 1889 until his death in 1927 is on the National Register of Historic Places, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s stamp of approval for a nationally important site.

What historic sites in Columbia make it more than just a small college town to you, which historic place and buildings tell you Columbia is special? What historic places do you think contribute to Columbia’s economic development?

Historical Homes

Oct. 11, 2010 event to highlight J.W. “Blind” Boone Home

A scale model of a proposed statue of J.W. “Blind” Boone, an early jazz and ragtime musician, will be unveiled at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 11 at the Reynolds Alumni Center at the University of Missouri.

Tickets to the reception are available by contacting Terra Crane at

But you can see a historic view of the house at 10 N. Fourth St., by going to this website at The website includes information on Boone as well as photographs of the home and Boone playing the piano inside the home.

The proposed statue will depict Boone at the piano. It is to be installed in a Tribute Garden to be developed on the grounds of the home where he lived from 1889 until his death in 1927.

 The statue by Harry Weber was commissioned by the John William Boone Heritage Foundation, which is headed up by Clyde Ruffin, professor and chair of the Department of Theater at University of Missouri and pastor of Second Missionary Baptist Church.

Contributions for the statue and garden are being accepted at the website.