Panel reflects on black history



March 2, 2015 - 12:00 AM

A panel of local African Americans spoke at See, Hear Iola Friday in recognition of February being Black History Month. The panel consisted of Harvey Rogers, Gena Clounch, Gina Honeycutt and Phil Honeycutt. They shared  personal stories and thoughts on the significance of recognizing Black History Month.

Harvey is the fourth child of eight. His parents moved to Kansas from Oklahoma and settled in Bassett. Rogers said the community was mostly made up of blacks and Hispanics and many worked at Lehigh Cement.
His family later moved to a small house on South Walnut Street in Iola, where he was born. In 1948, he was the first black youth to participate in contact sports in Southeast Kansas.
After graduating from high school he attended Fort Scott Community College on a scholarship but the Korean War intervened. He was drafted into the Army and served two consecutive years in Korea. He was assigned as a cook in Korea and was promoted to the rank of private first class.
He was honorably discharged in 1955 and then enlisted in the Kansas Army National Guard in 1956. He was in charge of the mess section for the 195th Field Artillery Group in Iola. In 1965, he became staff sergeant and mess sergeant for the Iola unit. He was promoted to the rank of first sergeant until his retirement in 1985.
Rogers met and married his wife Beverly. They had three daughters and a son.
“During my lifetime in Iola I made a commitment to myself to work hard and take care of my family,” he said. “I worked two jobs every day.”
Rogers worked for Missouri Pacific Railroad for six years, for the U.S. Postal Service for 32 years and went then became a master electrician.
Rogers was inducted into the Kansas First Sergeant Hall of Fame in Salina. He is believed to be the first African American to be promoted to the rank of first sergeant in the Kansas Army National Guard.

Gina Honeycutt
Gina’s father was from Independence and her mother from Cherryvale. Her parents met at the University of Kansas where her father was a record holding track star. The two married and moved to Denver, Colo. After her parents passed away, Gina moved to live with her grandparents in Cherryvale.
“My family was very hard-working,” she said. “You go to church, you get an education and we didn’t really have a choice.”
She said they were never allowed to use the “race card.”
“I have experienced prejudice but I was never allowed to use that as an excuse,” she said.
She was the only African American in her class and was president of many clubs and participated in various sports. She attended Independence Community College and then transferred to Iowa State University and majored in journalism and mass communications.
She always wanted to live in a big city, but said she enjoys small town life. After marrying her husband, Phil, they moved to Iola and they have two children Joshua and Jasmine. She is the administrative assistant at the Iola Housing Authority.

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