Michelle Tyrene Johnson | KCUR

Michelle Tyrene Johnson

Race, Identity, & Culture Reporter

Michelle is a reporter covering race, culture and identity for KCUR as part of Sharing America, collaborative reporting project with St. Louis, Missouri, Hartford, Connecticut, and Portland, Oregon.

As a fourth-generation Kansas City, Kansas native and resident, Michelle has been a newspaper reporter, an employment attorney, a diversity and inclusion speaker, a columnist and is a local and national playwright. She is an author of three books about diversity and one book about her grandmother.

Michelle received her degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and her law degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia, but bleeds red and blue all day, every day.

 

Ways to Connect

Michelle Tyrene Johnson / KCUR 89.3

This spring marks 25 years since 23rd Street in the Westside neighborhood of Kansas City, Missouri, was named after civil rights leader Cesar Chavez.

The efforts the community went through echo the current attempt by a coalition of black leaders to rename Paseo Boulevard after Martin Luther King Jr.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

On April 9, 1968, five days after the killing of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., civil unrest in response to long-standing racial tension broke out in Kansas City. But what really happened 50 years ago? Last week, KCUR hosted the panel "Reaction or Riot?: Understanding 1968 in Kansas City" for community members to share their own experiences and recollections. Today, we revisited that conversation about the ways our city has — and hasn't — changed in the last half century.

Michelle Tyrene Johnson / KCUR 89.3

The next U.S. census will happen in 2020, and it promises to reveal shifting demographics and changing communities. One neighborhood to watch is Strawberry Hill, a vibrant Kansas City, Kansas community that has long been home to immigrants from around the globe. 

Bigstock

When many black diners go out to eat, it’s not uncommon for them to question if race plays a part in the service they receive.

Turns out, that’s not paranoia.

Zach Brewster is an assistant professor of sociology at Wayne State University in Michigan. He has conducted several national research studies on the experience of dining and restaurant discrimination. In his 2015 survey of approximately 1,000 waiters and waitresses across the country, 53 percent of the participants admitted to not giving black diners their best service.

Michelle Tyrene Johnson / KCUR 89.3

Buzzing outside Flarsheim Hall on the grounds of the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus Friday morning sounded like a scourge of mosquitoes.

The drone demonstration outside the School of Computing and Engineering was intended to help university leaders announce that the Department of Defense’s Office of Naval Research had awarded the university a $7.2 million grant and a $7.7 million contract to develop countermeasures to drone threats.

The funding is the largest federal amount received by UMKC for non-health related research.

Walt Disney Studios

The latest Marvel comic film makes way for fresh conversations on race, leadership and heroism.

The superhero thriller, Black Panther, easily topped the box office in its first week receiving attention and applause for its use of a nearly all-black cast and production team. On this Screentime, we take a closer look and explore what the movie says about society's evolving perspectives on race and culture.

Micelle Tyrene Johnson / KCUR 89.3

For decades, the Wonder Hostess Thrift Shop Bakery was an institution at 30th and Troost in Midtown Kansas City. People in the neighborhood remember it from as far back as the 1970s, when it was a quick and cheap place to stop by for day-old bread and discounted baked goods.

It closed about six years ago, and a new player has taken over in that location. People can still buy food there, but it’s a far cry from the processed HoHos and Zingers they used to get from Hostess.