Political activist Curtis McClinton was born in Braggs, Oklahoma, in 1913. He credits his father with exposing him at a young age to ideas of community and responsibility. The political rallies and courtroom proceedings McClinton attended as a young boy ignited within him an awareness of democracy, change and civic participation. McClinton experienced first hand the inequitable conditions of segregated schooling. He attended a segregated elementary school in Poteau and graduated from the segregated Manuel Training High School in Muskogee, Oklahoma. McClinton continued his education at Langston University, receiving his B.A. in Education in 1937.
Soon after moving to Wichita, Kansas in 1943, McClinton began his political career. He served one term as the President of Wichita's NAACP chapter before pursuing a political career. In 1956, McClinton was elected to Kansas' House of Representatives. During his first of two terms, McClinton worked to pass a public accommodations law for the state of Kansas to ensure equal treatment for all races in public places, such as restaurants, hotels and other businesses. McClinton also holds the honor of being Kansas' first African American state senator, tirelessly working throughout his 1964-1968 term to combat social inequities.
McClinton was an active member of a group called Urban Housing Management and Development Council. The Kansas African American Museum selected McClinton as one of the recipients of its Doris Kerr Larkins Heritage Award. This honor is presented in recognition of outstanding service to the community.
Curtis McClinton was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 28, 2002.
Curtis McClinton passed away on June 27, 2012.