Kansas City library honors civil rights activist Alvin Sykes - WFXG FOX 54 - News Now

Kansas City library honors civil rights activist Alvin Sykes

Alvin Sykes has changed state and federal civil rights laws with the help of library books. Alvin Sykes has changed state and federal civil rights laws with the help of library books.
Sykes, a self-taught human rights worker, has spent countless hours in public libraries reading and researching. Sykes, a self-taught human rights worker, has spent countless hours in public libraries reading and researching.
He has become a champion of forgotten victims, helping to reopen two civil rights cold cases.  Because of this, the Kansas City Public Library is naming him scholar in residence. He has become a champion of forgotten victims, helping to reopen two civil rights cold cases. Because of this, the Kansas City Public Library is naming him scholar in residence.
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

A metro man uses the Kansas City Public Library to right the wrongs of the past.

Alvin Sykes has changed state and federal civil rights laws with the help of library books.

Sykes, a self-taught human rights worker, has spent countless hours in public libraries reading and researching.

He has become a champion of forgotten victims, helping to reopen two civil rights cold cases.  Because of this, the Kansas City Public Library is naming him scholar in residence.

Sykes never finished high school. Instead, he took the bus to the nearest public library every day.

Books were his teachers.

"It was the curiosity that kept me coming back. It was the feeling that I would get breaking out the books," he said.

Law books were the catalyst behind what has become his life's journey.

The Kansas City native advocates for human rights locally and nationally.

"The library to me is a great equalizer. In the sense that you can get just about as much education in the library as you can in other educational forums," he said.

One of his greatest achievements was using what he learned in the library law books to become the driving force behind the Till Bill, which empowers the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate old cases of civil rights violations.

Sykes is working on legislation that would eliminate the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse in Missouri. He looks to the library as his primary source.

"Knowledge is the key to power. You need to develop a thirst for knowledge and that is very important. And realize, if you get the knowledge, you can achieve anything and everything that you want," he said.

Sykes will be sharing more of his story at the Central Library at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. The library is at 14 West 10th St. in downtown Kansas City.

If you'd like to attend, you're asked to RSVP at kclibrary.org or call 816-701-3407.

Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.). All rights reserved.

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