A Legacy of Leadership is a biographical documentary to be made by Emiel Cleaver about the life of Leon Mercer Jordan, a man whose story is not widely known. Jordan was an influential African American leader who challenged a corrupt political system in the 1960s and was considered the most powerful black man in the state of Missouri. This documentary follows his illustrious career from being appointed the first African-American police lieutenant in Kansas City, to starting the political organization Freedom Incorporated, and then his assassination in 1970. The short film also explores the legacy that Leon Jordan left on Kansas City politics.
Leon Jordan was a graduate of Lincoln High School in Kansas City and served in the United States Army. He joined the Kansas City Police Department in 1938 and became the first African American police lieutenant in the Department’s history. He went on to help train and establish a police force in Liberia.
When he returned he organized and founded Freedom Incorporated with Bruce R. Watkins and five others. Freedom Inc. would go on to become a powerful African American political organization. He would also serve in the Missouri House of Representatives for three terms and was running for re-election at the time of his assassination.
He was killed in 1970 outside of the Green Duck Tavern, a nightclub in which he owned. The murder went unsolved for 40 years until two reporters with the Kansas City Star, Glenn Rice and Mike McGraw, solved the Cold Case in 2010. A Legacy of Leadership will explore the assassination of Leon Jordan, and talk with the reporters that solved case as well as Alvin Sykes, a community activist who was instrumental in convincing the police department to complete the investigation. The documentary will use actors to reenact some the events in Leon Jordan’s Life to help tell his story and show his legacy.
There will also be an original song and music video to accompany the documentary, and Emiel will format materials to share this story in area schools and public screenings
Emiel Cleaver has more than fifteen years of experience in video production. He earned a B.A. in English Literature from Philander Smith College. After graduation, his first employment was as a Production Specialist at Metro Sports in Kansas City, Missouri, where he worked on several sports shows.
As an entrepreneur, Emiel owns his own production company, Davenport Media & Film, and has promoted concerts and organized special events. He has also directed music videos, a short film, and several mini documentaries, featuring artists ranging from hip hop group Soul Servers to jazz legend Amahad Alaaden.
Emiel also worked at the American Jazz Museum where he directed tours and videotaped jazz concerts. Combining his love of music, an appreciation of the arts, and a desire to enhance his video production skills, he returned to school to formalize his experience by earning a Dean’s Certificate from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, completing an extensive preparatory program in the University’s Film and Media Arts Department. He also completed the M.A. Liberal Studies Program with an emphasis in Film Production & Black Studies.
In 2012 Emiel released Freedom Is Now: The History of Freedom Incorporated – a critically acclaimed documentary about Freedom Incorporated, the country’s oldest African American political organization. In 2013 he produced and directed An Activist for The People a biographical documentary about Bruce R. Watkins, for the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center. He produced another documentary in 2014 called Rooted In Faith – Honoring Our Legacy Renewing Our Commitment 1859-2014 for First Baptist Church in Kansas City, Kansas.