Leon Dixon & Bill Grace

Founders's Corner

Leon Dixon Bill Grace

The W.E.B. DuBois Learning Center is a combination of two efforts designed to address the languishing educational situation in Greater Kansas City's African American community. Bill Grace and some friends had begun working with some of Central High School youth that had begun falling behind in their reading skills. Shortly thereafter Leon Dixon and some colleagues had begun to work with some community young people to improve their mathematical ability, in both enrichment and remediation.

Grace and friends, inspired by the book, Souls of Black Folk, by DuBois, named their effort operating out of the Paseo United Methodist Church "The W.E.B. DuBois Reading Center." Dixon and colleagues referred to their efforts, which was a Southern Leadership (SCLC) program operating out of the St. James Gregory United Methodist Church, as a "Mathematics Clinic" (based on a tutoring program he had work in at Texas Southern University).

The Rev. John L. Preciphs of Paseo UMC, along with Grace and friends, had been actively working with youth in community outreach. The Rev. Emanuel Cleaver, II of St. James Gregory UMC (who later would become the mayor of Kansas City, MO) along with Dixon and some others activist had established the Greater Kansas City Chapter of SCLC. Rev. Cleaver naturally enlisted one of his mentors, Rev. Preciphs, into SCLC. Rev. Preciphs immediately saw the need for the two educational programs to work together. That union in 1973 precipitated the name change to the "W.E.B. DuBois Learning Center" (DLC) to indicate the tutoring of a variety of academic subjects.

The DLC operates with an all-voluntary staff. And one of its telling aspects is that it is an institution structured wherein area professionals and others can donate their time and talent to support the educational aspirations of the youth in our community. Those with technical backgrounds tutor mathematics, while those with humanities backgrounds tutor reading.