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'Prairie Diaries': Elton Lombard

Elton Lombard
Neva Grant, NPR News /
Elton Lombard

On Oct. 11, 2001, more than 5,000 Kansans recorded their daily activities and thoughts as part of a project to preserve the history of communities around their state. Morning Edition continues its weekly Prairie Diaries series with the story of Elton Lombard, an African American struggling to preserve his family's cultural identity while living in a majority white suburb of Kansas City, Mo.

"We love our neighborhood but also recognize that it will not provide us, nor our kids, with everything," Lombard says. His family is Catholic and they drive to Kansas City, Mo., to attend a church that is "much more culturally diverse than the community in which we live," he says.

Following is Lombard's "Prairie Diary":

I am a black male living in the community of Lenexa, Kan. My wife is an OB/GYN, and we have three kids -- two boys and a girl. My 9-year-old son, Nile, loves music, he loves to sing and is currently taking voice lessons. Although Nile loves playing many sports with his friends including soccer, baseball and football, the only team sport in which he participates is hockey. My 4-year-old son, Grant, loves playing with any kind of ball and/or action figure. Camille is 4 months old and is just enjoying all of the attention that new babies get in a loving household. My wife, Phaedra, and I love to participate in outdoor activities with our kids. We try to go on picnics, and ride bikes on paths in our neighborhood. I love to camp, hike, and backpack and Nile is really enjoying participating in those with me, now that he is old enough.

We are Catholic and actually drive to Kansas City, Mo., to attend a church that is much more culturally diverse than the community in which we live. We love our neighborhood and chose to live there for many reasons but also recognize that it will not provide us nor our kids with everything, including a culturally diverse neighborhood.

I have an Electrical Engineering degree from Tulane University in New Orleans. I'm currently employed by Procter and Gamble in Kansas City, Kan. The plant where I work makes all of the Dawn, Joy and Ivory dishwashing liquid for all of North America. I have worked in three different Procter and Gamble manufacturing facilities in three different cities and have had a variety of both business and technical assignments. I'm currently working in a Human Resources assignment. On October 11, I was in San Francisco in a week long Employee Relations Law Training Seminar. During this session I learned quite a bit about Labor Law and Employment Discrimination Law. In a normal day I may work on issues relating to staffing, personnel, work and organizational structure, cost and safety.

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