Isn’t there just a little irony in the fact that while this country has recently celebrated the Martin Luther King holiday and the inauguration of President Obama, here in Jackson County, an African-American citizen would resort to a middle age white guy to help her seek justice? That is exactly what has happened.

Let me introduce you to Florastine C. Burr. For more than 50 years, Ms. Burr has fought for civil rights. She is one of our most recognized activists, having received awards on the local, state, and national level. She has exchanged many letters with former Senator John Danforth and Vice President Joe Biden. The State Office Building in Kansas City bears the name of her brother (Fletcher Daniels), and yet today, she is being ignored in her own community.

For the first time in her life, the civil rights newspaper, The Kansas City Call, refuses to publish her concerns, and The Kansas City Star has hesitated to print “As I see It” compositions.   

And why has Burr received this kind of treatment? Because she believes in real equality and real justice. Burr happens to be color blind in terms of race. Years ago she picketed for nine long hours against the national leader of the NAACP, Benjamin Hooks. She “wrote up” the African-American Mayor Emmanuel Cleaver of Kansas City.

She formed and spearheaded the Concerned Women for Justice and had an issue before the Missouri Supreme Court. She is tough as they come, and there is no quit in her. She called me because the very people who should be helping her are frustrating her efforts.

When Burr contacted the attorney general with “troubling information,” he declined and then “mistakenly” mailed a letter of Burr’s concerns directly to the purported criminal. Burr says the AG’s office admitted the “mistake.”

When Burr then made an appointment to see the county prosecutor, the meeting was abruptly canceled without cause. Burr has reason to suspect interference from an officer of Freedom Inc., who works for the prosecutor.

And what is so troubling that the attorney general and the county prosecutor refuse to hear? The allegations include misuse of government funds in a church development company, collecting money under false pretenses, and campaigning before the congregation from the pulpit by the governor, prosecutor, county executive and the sheriff.

I suppose if a person campaigns in church and political friends send taxpayer money to the church development fund, then it would be political suicide to investigate the matter. What if the troubling information led to a prosecutable offense? That would be a bit self-incriminating as well.

So what did the politicos do? Well, Kansas City gave the reverend a proclamation and then recommended that our Community Foundation recognize the reverend as the “citizen of the year,” which he received. Self-serving accolades no doubt.

Celebrate equality all you want, but in Burr’s words, “as long as African-Americans sound off on the misdeeds of the white power structure, and over look the misdeeds of their own, because he’s a black man, there can be no equality that Martin Luther King envisioned and we cannot have unity in these United States as President Obama called for in his inauguration speech.”