WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — For Kaye Monk-Morgan, discovering she had been chosen to be this year’s Riverfest Admiral came as a complete shock.
“The number of, of Wichitans who’ve approached me and said ‘Oh my God, it’s so time,’ or, ‘Oh, it’s so exciting, I’m so proud of you’ has really been inspirational,” Monk-Morgan said.
Out of 49 Riverfest admirals, Monk-Morgan is the first Black woman and the second person of color to hold the rank. The third-generation North High grad made the official announcement at her alma mater last March.
“And so that was my opportunity to say thanks to folks in USD 259 and Wichita Public Schools that poured into me and so many others,” Monk-Morgan said.
Her schedule has proven jam-packed, starting with the famous Admiral’s Breakfast.
“[It was] an opportunity to sit amongst my new peers and look out into an audience of folks who care about our community,” Monk-Morgan said.
Other big events she emceed include the Tot Trot and the Cardboard Boat Regatta.
“I don’t know if anyone’s ever seen a two-year-old run a race, but it is the most hilarious thing in the world,” Monk-Morgan said. “And to see the STEM minds of those young people working [the boats] and how you know the physics of how things float—very exciting. I got a little geeked out by that.”
Monk-Morgan says riding atop the Windwagon during last week’s Sundown Parade was a life-changing experience.
“The number of older African-American women that looked up and said, ‘Oh my God, it’s a girl!’ or ‘That’s a Black woman up there.’ I didn’t expect it from my elders. I literally almost came to tears,” Monk-Morgan said.
Monk-Morgan says she hopes her legacy will inspire many more future admirals just like her.
“I often say that it’s really cool to be the first, but it’s even better if there’s a second, and a third, and a fourth. Service in this role to me is an extension of what we do here at KLC (Kansas Leadership Center) civic engagement. The only way we get representation and the only we get the world that we want is if we work for it,” Monk-Morgan said.