Parents can make a difference. John Warder knows. He has spent much of his life serving the various communities he has lived in and hundreds of parents came together to serve him during the height of segregation. He and his wife, Bea, shared their stories at a Black History Month celebration in Sedalia earlier this week.
The event, hosted by the Sedalia-Pettis County Branch NAACP took place at the True Vine Church of God in Christ. People of all ages attended “Survival and Service.”
The Sedalia Democrat reports that Warder, the keynote speaker and local businessman, was perfect for that theme.
The oldest of five siblings, Warder attended elementary school in Kansas “at the height of segregation,” his wife Bea said during her introduction. He graduated from the University of Kansas and later served in the U.S. Army. He held a variety of jobs during his younger years, eventually running businesses and owning businesses, even becoming the chief executive officer of a bank. Throughout it all, Warder held a strong sense of community and was a member of several nonprofit boards, including the United Way.
Bea noted that his “journey has been long and fulfilling.” She has had a journey of her own–as Warder pointed out at the beginning of his remarks. Bea was one of the first students to help desegregate Sedalia’s Smith-Cotton High School.
While a common theme in Warder’s remarks was his perseverance through difficult situations, an even stronger theme was the impact a group of people can have when they come together for a common goal. As Warder said himself, “forging good relationships can help through difficult times.”
“When I was in school, I played the trumpet in fifth grade and then in junior high I played the trumpet, and then when I got to high school, all of a sudden they wouldn’t let me play in the band. My father pulled together about 100 people and they went down to see the superintendent and I don’t know what they said, because the next day, I was in the band, I was in the marching band, I was in the jazz band,” he said laughing. “That’s what strong parents coming together can do for children.”