LIBERTY — The Clay County African American Legacy managed a physically-distant 20th Annual Liberty Juneteenth Celebration Fundraiser Friday, July 24. With chairs spaced across the former Garrison School gym, friends, elected officials and honored guests sat 6 feet away from each other.

Various elected officials offered their support to the cultural center and appreciation for the nonprofit organization that has kept Black history alive. Garrison School, the only historically Black school still standing in Clay County, was established in 1877 for Liberty African American youth. Garrison will celebrate its 143rd anniversary this year.

Theresa Byrd, a CCAAL Inc. board member, also honored Mary Ann Pfeifer for her volunteer work feeding the sick and shut-in population along with senior citizens during the past five months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“She has prepared more than 500 meals,” Byrd said. “She has been doing the work of the kingdom.”

As a gift to CCAAL Inc., Jason Starr, president of the Local 249 United Auto Workers union, handed AJ Byrd, the group’s president, a $15,000 donation.

The culmination of the evening was the unveiling and dedication of a historical marker placed on the Garrison School site by the Clay County African American Legacy, The Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas City and the City of Liberty.

Cecelia Robinson, CCAAL Inc. historian, read the marker inscription of 600 words that are on the front and back of the marker, defining the history of the school through construction, segregation, desegregation and eventually as a cultural center.

"This marker represents the work of many people who want to honor our history and our community," she said. "Please drive by, hop out of the car and come up and read the words on the marker."

Southeast Editor Kellie Houx can be reached at or 389-6630.

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