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9th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration

MidAmerica Nazarene University’s 9th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration will be held Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015, at 9:30 a.m., at College Church of the Nazarene at 2020 E. Sheridan in Olathe. The public is invited to join students, faculty, staff and community leaders at this free event.

The featured speaker is retired Olathe businessman and author Bob Shands, son of the late Rev. O. Norman Shands Jr. The late pastor is the recipient of MNU’s 2015 Martin Luther King Jr. Living Legacy Award. Bob Shands’ 2006 book “In My Father’s House: Lessons Learned in the Home of a Civil Rights Pioneer,” chronicles the life and influence of his father who stood for public school integration in 1950s Atlanta, Georgia. Enduring threats of violence and the potential loss of his pastorate, Rev. Shands was one of the organizers and signers of the 1957 Ministers’ Manifesto, a statement on race relations in the South. He was co-chair of the Organization Assisting Schools in September (OASIS) which was key in achieving the first day of integrated high schools in Atlanta on August 30, 1961.

MNU’s 2014-2015 Leader Scholars will be recognized at the event. MNU established the scholarship program for persons from diverse ethnicities who wish to emulate Dr. King’s passion for learning and servant leadership style. Leader Scholars are accountable for their leadership contributions on campus. 

Sponsorships are available for individuals and corporations. For questions about the event please contact Evie Kowalewski at or (913) 971-3391.

Directions to

Photo and Bio of 2015 Award Winner Rev. O. Norman Shands Jr.

Rev. Norman Shands Jr., a key figure in the peaceful desegregation of Atlanta Public Schools, took a stand for peaceful, progressive race relations at a time when his community and church congregation was reeling from social changes that would eventually result in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Enduring threats to himself and his family, discord in his congregation and pressure from denominational leaders, the pastor of Atlanta’s West End Baptist Church (1953-63) was one of 80 white Protestant ministers who signed the 1957 Ministers’ Manifesto. The Manifesto and its signers took an unpopular stand against segregation and the 1955 Georgia state law requiring funds be cut from any school system attempting to integrate.

The Manifesto was not the first time Shands took a public stand. Serving on the Social Service Commission of the Georgia Baptist Convention, Shands helped craft a controversial recommendation to the denomination backing integration in public schools which was later rejected by the church. He formed and joined in forming several organizations to promote civil discussion of racial issues and eventually served as co-chair of the Organization Assisting Schools in September (OASIS). The biracial coalition of 53 affiliate organizations succeeded in planning and carrying out a peaceful first day of desegregation in Atlanta high schools.

Rev. Shands graduated Magna Cum Laude from Mercer University in 1941. He earned a Master of Divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1944.

A US Navy chaplain from 1955-45, and a Naval Reserves chaplain from 1945-51, he became pastor of Spartanburg, South Carolina First Baptist Church in 1948. In 1963 Shands and his family moved to Kansas City where he was pastor of Calvary Baptist Church until 1970. He served in several positions at Southern Seminary from 1971-79.

Shands married Nan Catherine Land in 1938. She preceded him in death in 2004. Shands passed away at the age of 96 at the Baptist Home in Chillicothe, Missouri, Dec. 17, 2012. He is survived by his sons Robert E. Shands and Norman Clyde Shands; a daughter, Karen Shands Vaughn; six grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.


Speaker Bio: Robert (Bob) Shands

Accepting the 2015 MLK Living Legacy Award for his late father, Bob Shands is a retired businessman and author. His book, “In My Father’s House: Lessons Learned in the Home of a Civil Rights Pioneer,” chronicles the influence of his father on Bob’s life. Living in the parsonage of a civil rights “activist” taught Bob about social justice, equality and God’s love for all people.

Born January 29, 1949 in Spartanburg, South Caroling, his formative years were in spent in Atlanta, Georgia from 1953 – 1963. The family moved to Kansas City, Missouri in 1963.

Bob attended the University of Kansas and the University of Missouri at Kansas City, graduating from the latter in 1972 with a degree in Business Administration.

His business career consisted of 25 years in commercial and residential real estate in Missouri, Kansas, Florida and Georgia and 10 years in the securities industry.

Bob is a past member of the Olathe Human Relations Commission, the Olathe Public Library Foundation and the Kansas Advisory Committee to the United States Civil Rights Commission.

Bob is retired and lives in Olathe with his wife, Adriane Fulson Shands and their son, Robert Shands.

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