Sylvia Maria Gross

Reporter, Producer & Co-Host of KC Currents

Sylvia Maria Gross co-hosts and produces KC Currents, an award-winning weekly news magazine that covers news and culture in Kansas City’s diverse communities. Her stories have aired nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Marketplace, The World and Studio 360. Gross grew up in New York City, Brazil and the suburbs of Washington, DC. She studied English at Yale University, and then spent a year researching arts education in Brazil on a Fulbright grant. When she returned from Brazil, she taught middle school math and English while completing a master's degree in journalism at Columbia University in New York City. She reported in New York about education and culture before moving to Kansas City in 2004.

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KCUR News
11:34 am
Mon December 20, 2010

KC Area Becoming Less Segregated Than In 2000

Kansas City, MO – For decades, Kansas City has been known as a city sharply segregated by race, most dramatically along Troost Avenue. But new data suggests that's changing, at least among blacks and whites.

The 2000 census showed that Kansas City was the 16th most segregated major city in the US, but new estimates from the US Census Bureau's American Community Survey indicate that we've dropped to 28th.

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KCUR News
5:32 pm
Fri December 10, 2010

Naismith's Basketball Rules Bought for $4.3 Million by KU Grad

Kansas City, MO – Looks like the University of Kansas may become home to the original typewritten rules of basketball. The game was invented by James Naismith in Massachusetts in 1892, six years before he became a KU professor and basketball coach.

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KCUR News
12:15 pm
Mon December 6, 2010

Missouri Supreme Court Considers Fate of Adopted Son of Guatemalan Immigrant

Encarnacion Bail Romero is awaiting a judgment from the Missouri Supreme Court. Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR.

Carthage, MO – This month, the Missouri Supreme Court is expected to make a ruling in an unusual case, which will decide the future of a 4-year old boy. The court's ruling - whatever it is - will break some hearts.

Carlos is the US-born son of a Guatemalan immigrant, who was detained in a raid at poultry processing plant in Southwest Missouri in 2007. While his mother was caught up in the legal system, Carlos was adopted by an American family.

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KC Currents
9:54 am
Fri November 19, 2010

Church Opens Fitness Center to Combat Health Problems

Fitness technician Derek Wilson leads a workout for children in the Calvary after-school program. Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR.

Kansas City, MO – Reverend Eric Williams of Calvary Temple Baptist Church in midtown has worked for a long time on health issues in the African American community. A few years ago, he says he was tired of seeing people suffering and dying from health problems related to obesity and lack of exercise. So his church formed a non-profit and eventually built a gym right next door. The Calvary Community Wellness Center opened in 2008.

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KC Currents
12:34 am
Wed November 3, 2010

Longtime OP Mayor Becomes JoCo Chair

Overland Park, KS – Longtime Overland Park Mayor Ed Eilert unseated Johnson County Commission Chair Annabeth Surbaugh, 52 to 47. Surbaugh has served on the commission for almost 20 years.

A few dozen supporters cheered when Commissioner Eilert announced the final results. They were gathered at the Doubletree Hotel in Overland Park. Eilert said he plans to take the county in a new direction, and will react more aggressively to the changing economy.

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KC Currents
1:26 pm
Fri October 15, 2010

Missouri Senate Candidates Face Off in KC

Kansas City, MO – Click here to listen to the entire debate.

Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan took the offensive in yesterday's debate against Congressman Roy Blunt, organized by KCPT. The exchange was the only televised debate in one of the country's more competitive senate races.

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KCUR News
6:23 pm
Mon September 27, 2010

KCMSD Awarded 13.6 Million for Teacher Merit Pay

Superintendent John Covington announces the federal grant. Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR.

Kansas City, MO – The United States Department of Education awarded the Kansas City Missouri School District $13.6 million for a new merit pay program for teachers. Officials say the district's proposal was one of the top five in the country.

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KC Currents
2:51 pm
Mon September 27, 2010

Beyond the Murder: Leon Jordan's Legacy in Kansas City

Kansas City, MO – This summer, Kansas City police re-opened an unsolved murder case from 1970. Leon Jordan was a pioneering local politician and civil rights leader. 40 years after he was gunned down outside the bar he owned, Jordan's murder remains one of the most vexing mysteries in Kansas City history.

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KCUR News
2:46 pm
Wed September 22, 2010

Redistricting Committee Will Present Two Alternatives to KCMO Council

Kansas City, MO – Kansas City Missouri's redistricting committee members decided they will choose two maps to present to the city council in its final meeting tomorrow. Yesterday's meeting brought out strong support for keeping some district boundaries intact.

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KCUR Arts
11:16 am
Thu September 16, 2010

Gao Brothers Exhibit At The Kemper Museum

Mao's Guilt, 2009

When the Gao brothers show some of their more controversial art in Beijing, they have to keep the location secret, and notify their guests at the last minute via social media. But their upcoming exhibit at Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art is completely above ground.

Kansas City, MO – This will be the Gao brothers' first museum exhibit in the United States, and one of the most complicated that the Kemper Museum has ever taken on. KCUR's Sylvia Maria Gross spoke to Gao Zhen, Gao Qiang and curators about the show.

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KC Currents
12:34 pm
Mon September 13, 2010

Police Reopen 40-year-old Unsolved Murder of Political Leader Leon Jordan

Kansas City, MO – This summer, Kansas City Missouri police re-opened an unsolved murder case from 40 years ago. The victim was one of their own: former police lieutenant and state representative Leon Jordan. Jordan was gunned down outside his tavern on July 15, 1970.

Jordan was a key figure in the local civil rights movement, and helped consolidate black political power in Kansas City.

Over the years, there's been many theories about who killed Leon Jordan, and some concern that dredging up the case could tarnish his legacy.

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KC Currents
3:11 pm
Tue September 7, 2010

Redistricting Explained

Kansas City, MO – The latest battle raging in Kansas City's council chambers has been over district boundaries. According to the charter, the city is supposed to re-draw the district map after every three general elections, which means about every 12 years, or whenever the population shifts dramatically. KCUR's Sylvia Maria Gross and Steve Bell talk about what's at stake.

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KC Currents
1:44 pm
Mon August 30, 2010

Theologian John Swomley's Legacy Extends from Civil Rights to the Philippines

Kansas City, MO – A Kansas City theologian died last week who had a far-reaching impact on the history of the 20th century. John Swomley was a long-time professor at the St. Paul School of Theology. His writings about non-violence and reconciliation influenced the strategies of the civil rights movement, the integration of the military, and the People Power Revolution in the Philippines, among other major world events.

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KCUR News
12:59 am
Wed August 4, 2010

Crystal Williams Defeats Jackson County Chair Henry Rizzo

Crystal Williams at her election party at Mike's Tavern.
Photo by Anthonia Akitunde.

Most Jackson County legislators will return to their seats after last night's primaries, with the exception of the legislature's chair.

Newcomer Crystal Williams defeated incumbent Henry Rizzo 50 to 43 in the second district at-large. Williams said she thinks people were ready for a change.

"The discussions that I had with the people of Jackson County about openness and transparency in county government is something that really resonated with folks," Williams said.

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Jackson County
4:10 pm
Sun August 1, 2010

Tuesday's Primary May Shift Power Dynamic In Jackson County

Primaries for the Jackson County Legislature don't usually draw enough much money or attention to even run ads. But no Republicans are running this year for the at-large seats, so those races will be decided by voters on Tuesday, August 3, and the races have become pretty contentious.

The candidates hear this question a lot: "So . . .what does the Jackson County Legislature do, exactly . . . besides collect property taxes?"

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Election Coverage
12:07 pm
Fri July 30, 2010

The Midwest Democracy Project / Key Legislative Primary Battles

Kansas City, MO – The papers and airwaves are filled with stories about a few big battles for hotly contested congressional seats or spots in the Senate. But how is a voter supposed to know what's on their local ballot? Or what exactly that county ballot issue is about? Or how two seemingly similar state house candidates of the same party line up on the issues?

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KCUR News
2:56 pm
Mon July 26, 2010

Questions Linger After Last Weekend's Highway Collapse

They don't call it the \"Grandview Triangle\" for nothing.

Kansas City, MO – A hundred-foot section of westbound highway 470 collapsed last weekend and miraculously, no one was injured. This week, the Missouri Department of Transportation looked into the disaster, and already signed a contract for rebuilding that portion of the highway. KCUR's Dan Verbeck followed this story last week. He gave KCUR's Sylvia Maria Gross the lowdown.

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KCUR News
12:42 pm
Mon July 19, 2010

Fallout From The NAACP's Tea Party Resolution

Reverend Al Sharpton, NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous and Reverend Jesse Jackson. Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR.

Kansas City, MO – Last week, NAACP delegates debated and voted on a resolution calling the Tea Party movement to repudiate "racist elements." But convention attendees seemed to disagree on whether the issue should be the Tea Party's central agenda, or just fringe members.

KCUR's Sylvia Maria Gross brings you voices from the convention, including NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous and Reverend Al Sharpton. She also speaks to Brendan Steinhauser, of Freedomworks, a group that helps organizes local Tea Party groups.

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KCUR News
6:48 pm
Wed July 14, 2010

Civil Rights Leaders Downplay NAACP Tea Party Resolution

Reverend Al Sharpton, NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous and Reverend Jesse Jackson. Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR.

Kansas City, MO – At the NAACP convention yesterday, Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson tried to shift the conversation away from alleged racism in the Tea Party movement.

Tuesday's vote to condemn the so-called "racist elements" of the Tea Party movement elicited a firestorm of criticism from Tea Party supporters. They denied the charge and said the NAACP's resolution is racially divisive. At a press conference yesterday, Reverend Al Sharpton said the problem isn't racist individuals or signs at rallies.

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KC Currents
9:31 am
Wed July 14, 2010

Unemployment Rates Soar For African Americans

Job seekers at the NAACP career fair. Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR.

Kansas City, MO – The NAACP wraps up its national convention in Bartle Hall today. The group's resolution condemning racism in the Tea Party movement on Tuesday drew widespread attention. But one of the most pressing issues discussed at the convention hasn't generated as many headlines.

Leaders of the long-standing civil rights organization are trying to tackle the nation's dismal unemployment rate. As KCUR's Sylvia Maria Gross reports, the situation is even worse for African Americans.

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KCUR News
9:16 am
Tue July 13, 2010

NAACP Condemns Racism In Tea Party Movement

Kansas City, MO – NAACP delegates voted yesterday to repudiate racism in the Tea Party movement. The organization's national convention is in Kansas City this week.

The resolution says that tea party members have engaged in explicitly racist behavior during protests and rallies - using offensive language and threatening public officials, particularly African Americans. NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous said Tea Party leaders need to take a stand.

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KCUR News
6:43 pm
Mon July 12, 2010

First Lady Brings Health Campaign To Kansas City

Photo by Daniel Barber / KCUR.

Kansas City, MO – First Lady Michelle Obama brought her campaign to combat childhood obesity to Kansas City today. She delivered the keynote address at the national NAACP convention, which is in town this week.

Michelle Obama said obesity is a national epidemic. One in every three children in the United States is overweight. And like other problems, she said it's hitting the African American community particularly hard.

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KC Currents
3:36 pm
Mon July 12, 2010

President Hopes To Influence Missouri Senate Race

At his third event in one day in Kansas City, President Obama said he was hot and took off his jacket. He came to support the Democratic candidate for Senate in Missouri, Robin Carnahan (left). Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR.

Kansas City, MO – President Barack Obama was in Kansas City this week, for the first time since he was elected. The latest Rasmussen poll shows the President has the lowest approval rating on the issue of the economy since he took office.

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KCUR News
6:49 pm
Thu July 8, 2010

Obama Stumps For Carnahan In Downtown KC

At his third event in one day in Kansas City, President Obama said he was hot and took off his jacket. He came to support the Democratic candidate for Senate in Missouri, Robin Carnahan (left). Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR.

Kansas City, MO – President Barack Obama came to Kansas City today to stump for Senate hopeful Robin Carnahan. After visiting a local electric car plant, he attended a thousand-dollar-a-plate fundraiser at the downtown Marriott, and then went next door to the Folly Theater for what was billed as a "grassroots" rally.

President Obama lost the state of Missouri in the 2008 election by just a few thousand votes. Still, Democrats are hoping his support will help Secretary of State Robin Carnahan defeat longtime 7th district Congressman Roy Blunt, formerly the minority whip.

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KC Currents
1:18 pm
Tue July 6, 2010

Reports Of Sewage Spills On The Rise

Last week, more than 160,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled out of a broken pipe in Grandview, and into Longview Lake. Courtesy of jacksongov.org.

Kansas City, MO – This spring and summer, an alarming number of sewage spills are threatening local waterways. Millions of gallons of human waste have poured into rivers and lakes. And it's unclear if this is business as usual, and the public just didn't know about it before.

What's changed is that the city and the state are now reporting these spills more consistently. To understand the situation better, KCUR's Sylvia Maria Gross caught up with journalist Karen Dillon, who covers the environmental beat for The Kansas City Star.

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KCUR News
5:47 pm
Fri July 2, 2010

Johnson County Museum Acquires White Haven Sign

Overland Park, KS – The iconic White Haven Motor Lodge sign on Metcalf Avenue is staying in Johnson County, after the motel finished auctioning off all of its property today.

The Johnson County Museum had the highest bid - $5500. The only other bidder was a museum in Indiana. Johnson County Museum Director Mindi Love says many Kansas Citians have fond memories of the motel and sign, and wanted to see it stay in the community. And she says the sign also has historical significance.

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Music
10:07 am
Tue June 29, 2010

Spanish and Latin American Art Music

Genaro Mendez and Julio Alexis Munoz rehearse Del Cabello Mas Sutil by Fernando Obradors. Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR.

A KU music professor teams up with a Spanish vocal coach and master pianist to plan the second Festival of Spanish and Latin American Art Music in Kansas.

Lawrence, KS – Note: This interview first aired in March 2010

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KCUR News
10:10 am
Tue June 22, 2010

New Summer Job Opportunities For Some KC Teens

Kansas City, MO – About 4,800 young people whose families are on public assistance will get jobs throughout Missouri this summer. Governor Jay Nixon and Congressman Emanuel Cleaver kicked off a federally-funded jobs program this afternoon, while fresh concrete was laid in front of a house for a walkway.

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KC Currents
2:38 pm
Mon May 24, 2010

Rockhurst Student Faces Deportation

Kansas City, Mo. – The movement for immigrants' rights has been held back by the fact that many illegal immigrants are reluctant to advocate openly for their cause. But this week, a small group of young immigrants, some of whom are undocumented, began a high-stakes campaign of civil disobedience.

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