Joan Taylor Newby was born in Atchison, Kansas on June 28, 1937. She passed at 2:01am February 2, 2018. She was raised in the loving, spiritual home of Helen and Wesley Taylor. She attended Atchison public schools. In her elementary school years, she was proud to say she attended the African America Lincoln Elementary School through the 8th grade. After graduating from Atchison High School, she attended Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. As a music major, she had a starring role in the musical “Archy and Mehitabel.” After graduating from Kansas State, her first job was teaching vocal music in the Wichita Public Schools. There she married Robert Newby. From this union, two daughters were born, Bukeka Bosede Blakemore of Overland Park, Kansas and Makeda Liana Hawk of Kansas City, Mo.
Joan and Robert moved to Michigan in 1961. For several years, Joan commuted to Highland Park and/or Flint because the Pontiac Schools had their one quota of black vocal music teachers. Observing the 1963 March on Washington was life changing experience for Joan and the generation of young black professionals in Pontiac. She was active in the local NAACP and the resulting grassroots organization, The Progressive Action Committee for Equality (PACE). Another important turning point that was a part of her lived experience was being in attendance at Malcolm X’s first presentation of his 1964 “the Ballot or the Bullet” speech in Detroit at King Solomon Baptist Church on April 5th.
In a move to Battle Creek, she organized and supervised a community-controlled head start program sponsored by the local poverty program independent of the public schools. Her activism continued. It was in this same spirit that she joined the faculty at Nairobi College (East Palo, California) where she organized the Nairobi Singers (a musical group that toured the Bay Area) and obtained her Master’s degree with an emphasis in Public Relations and Photography.
When she returned to Michigan in 1974, she joined the administration of Daniel T. Murphy, Oakland County Executive, as his Community and Minority Affairs Director. While in that position, she spearheaded Oakland County Michigan’s first battered women’s shelter and created a program for high school seniors to tour and learn about county government. She was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Pontiac Osteopathic Hospital. As a part of the Murphy administration, she played a key role in securing Super Bowl XVI Championship at the Pontiac Silverdome. Finally, Joan was a representative to the Black Women’s Broadcasting Conference. She traveled to Geneva, Switzerland, representing the City of Pontiac as a delegate to an international exposition. After her appointment ended in the 1990’s, Joan returned to teaching music in Pontiac Public Schools. In 2002, Joan relocated to Kansas City, Missouri to be closer to her Kansas roots and continued her career as a music teacher.
When it came to her spiritual side, Joan was raised in Atchison’s Second Christian Church, Disciples of Christ. During the height of the rebellions, she found her spirituality was fused into her African heritage and politics as a member of Detroit’s Shrine of the Black Madonna. In the early ‘80s, her spiritual support was Unity in Pontiac. Michigan. After moving to Kansas City she attended Unity on the Plaza, Unity Southeast, Unity of North Kansas City and, sang on special occasions at Unity Church of Overland Park. Kansas. In 2008 her affiliation and devotion returned to the Christian Church Disciples of Christ, and she became a member of Country Club Christian Church, singing joyfully in the choir.
She was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the Links, the Oakland County (Michigan) and Jackson County (Missouri) Chapters, and Les Dames of Oakland County (Michigan).
Perhaps her greatest testament to the legacy of her life is the book of poems she published entitled Butterfies are Free through Xlibris Publishing. The book was released in June 2017 and is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble digital retail stores. https://www.amazon.com/
Joan is survived by her two daughters, Bukeka Bosede, her husband Eugene Blakemore of Overland Park, Ks and Makeda Liana and her husband Peter Hawk of Kansas City, Mo., her sister Joyce Rosalind Taylor of Livermore, Ca, and brother William Wesley Taylor, his wife Susan of Washington, D.C., two grandsons Delbert Shoals, Jr. and Robert Taylor Hawk (Robbie), one step grandson Delasalle Blakemore, two Great-grand children Greisyn Tayte, and Khyezin Zeiyne as well as a number of nieces and nephews, Sheria Johnson, Nia, Roya, and Sammy Rashidchi, Terra and Ben Shepherd, Reverend Leslie Taylor and Reverend Lataunya Bynum, Jeffrey Taylor, and Leila Taylor.
Visitation and funeral service will be held on Saturday, February 10, 2018 at Country Club Christian Church 6101 Ward Parkway Kansas City, Missouri 64113. The family will greet friends with a visitation beginning at 10:00 am and the Funeral Service will follow at 11:00 am. A luncheon will follow at 1pm at Unity Southeast at 3421 E. Meyer Blvd, Kansas City, MO 64132