civil rights

Gaining prominence first as Lieutenant Sulu on Star Trek, George Takei's fame has spread off the stage, too. On this edition of Up To Date, Takei talks about his work advocating for social justice and how he maintains such a deft social media presence.

George Takei will appear at Planet Comicon Kansas City at Bartle Hall on May 21 and 22. For more information, or to buy passes, visit the Planet Comicon website.

Last week, students from Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy in Johnson County, Kansas and University Academy in Kansas City, Missouri boarded a bus for a Civil Rights Tour of the South. What they found were new relationships and a surprising shared history. 

Guests:

  • Jazmyne Smith is a junior at University Academy.
  • Amanda Sokol is a sophomore at Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy.
Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library

The now-infamous Stonewall Riots in 1969 -- when gay people fought back against a police raid on a popular gay bar in Greenwich Village, New York --  is widely viewed as a major turning point in United States gay history, a moment that defined and established the gay and lesbian rights movement as we know it today.

But the real foundational moment may have been a quiet meeting here in Kansas City. It flew under most people's radar at the time, and remains a relatively unknown historical event even today.

Paper dolls have been popular toys for children for centuries, but the black versions of these toys often depict racial stereotypes that reflect how society viewed African Americans. 

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In February of 1966, three years before the infamous Stonewall riots, a meeting in Kansas City  brought together the people who would become the leaders of the gay rights movement for the first time ever. A look back, on the 50th anniversary of that event.

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Courtesy Photo / The Gordon Parks Foundation

Kansas-born civil rights photographer Gordon Parks had a consistent message through the years, according to his great niece.

“The power of choosing a weapon, shooting a camera proved to be more powerful than shooting a gun,” Robin Hickman said of her uncle during an interview this week with Gina Kaufmann, host of KCUR’s Central Standard.  

Wikipedia, Creative Commons

Photographer Gordon Parks was one of the first African Americans to show white America what discrimination looked like to people of color. But his story begins in poverty and obscurity, in Fort Scott, Kansas. A window into his life, his beliefs and his work, based on conversations with those who knew him.

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On a day set aside for commemorating Martin Luther King, Jr., we revisit a conversation with a local civil rights activist: Nelson "Fuzzy" Thompson, who died on January 11, 2014. Along with the Mutual Musicians Foundation's Anita Dixon, he discusses the fight for racial equality here in Kansas City.

Guests:

  • Reverend Nelson "Fuzzy" Thompson, The Southern Christian Leadership Conference
  • Anita Dixon, The Mutual Musicians Foundation
U.S. Civil Rights Commission

The Kansas voter ID law will be the subject of  a U.S. Civil Rights Commission committee hearing next month.

The Kansas voter ID law is one of most restrictive in the country.

Pushed by Secretary of State Kris Kobach, it demands voters not only have photo ID but they prove they are American citizens.

The Kansas Advisory Committee to the Civil Rights Commission has discussed for about a year whether the law has suppressed voter turnout in minority communities.

Now a hearing has been set for 9:00 a.m. , January 28, at the Topeka Public Library.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

A white police officer with his arm around the neck of a black man. Officers standing in a line, wearing helmets and carrying rifles. These images are not from photographs taken this year or last year – as you might guess – but during the Civil Rights movement many decades ago. 

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, like many museums, maps out exhibitions in advance – often years ahead.

He stood alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. in the fight for civil rights, yet the name Bayard Rustin remains largely unknown. We hear the story of this important figure in history. 

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The Equal Rights Amendment has one of the longest sagas in U.S. Congressional history. Passed in 1972 but never ratified, advocates continue to pursue strategies for its enactment.

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Jessica Neuwirth is the founder of the ERA Coalition, which has over 50 member organizations. She is the author of Equal Means Equal: Why the Time for an Equal Rights Amendment Is Now.

The LGBT community has won a battle on marriage equality but workplace, education and other discrimination problems continue. We find out from a panel of local LGBT leaders what challenges remain.

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With the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage, some county clerks have refused to issue marriage licenses, citing religious beliefs. The Ethics Professors discuss performing government duties that conflict with one's faith. Plus, is it okay to break the law in the name of a just cause?

Guests: 

Flatland KC

As the movement for equal rights grew during WWII, an internal struggle was underway among black publications to see who would be the voice of African Americans. 

In 1941, representatives from black publications around the nation gathered to form The National Negro Publishers Association, now called the National Newspaper Publishers Association, of which The Kansas City Call was a founding member.

The Call, Kansas City's prominent black newspaperwas established in 1919 by Chester A. Franklin. Its managing editor was Lucile Bluford.

At the same time people were taking to the streets and marching for civil rights in the 1960s, a few men were fighting to end racism simply by going to work — for NASA. On this edition of Up To Date, we learn about the contributions of the first African-Americans to the space program and to the struggle for civil equality. 

Guests:

Paul Andrews

The first time Danny Cox visited Kansas City, it was not a pleasant experience.

It was 1963, a year before the Civil Rights Act banned racial discrimination in public places, and Cox was a nationally touring musician arriving for a show. When he walked in the door at the Muehelbach Hotel, the clerk told him that black people couldn't stay at the Muehelbach.

Though the word he used for "black people" was not quite so polite.

Most of Cox's fellow musicians and road crew were white, but they refused to stay in a place where their vocalist wasn't welcome.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Leaders from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and other civil rights groups in Kansas City are promising that the city's annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations will continue in the absence of The Rev. Nelson "Fuzzy" Thompson.

Thompson was laid to rest Saturday, just two days before MLK Day. The long-time civil rights activist had a big hand in organizing Kansas City's events honoring the life and work of King. 

For nearly 50 years, the Rev. Nelson "Fuzzy" Thompson fought for civil rights in America and abroad. Thompson was a follower of Martin Luther King Jr. and a major proponent of nonviolent protest. 

Thompson was laid to rest Saturday, just two days before Martin Luther King Day. We caught up with those who knew Thompson best at his memorial service. 

Voices:

Reverend Nelson “Fuzzy” Thompson, one of Kansas City’s leading civil rights leaders, died last weekend. Thompson was a long time president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City. For years, he helped stage the annual citywide commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of the largest such celebrations in the nation.

Royal Photography LLC

Services for Rev. Nelson "Fuzzy" Thompson have been scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 17. Visitation will be from 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. The funeral will be at 1:00 p.m. at St. James United Methodist Church, 5540 Wayne Ave., Kansas City.

A giant of Kansas City's civil rights movement and an outspoken — often controversial — crusader against racism and discrimination has died.  

The Rev. Nelson "Fuzzy" Thompson passed away early Sunday. He was 70 years old. 

Willis Ryder Arnold / St. Louis Public Radio

On Monday night, the people of Ferguson, Mo., learned that the white police officer who shot and killed a black teenager in August would not be indicted. After a period of stunned silence, chaos erupted between protestors and police, who showed up on the scene before violence broke out. How do residents feel, faced with immediate struggles and a national spotlight? Is it possible for the events in Ferguson to give rise to a new chapter in the history of race and justice in America?

Guests:

Western Historical Manuscript Collection

  Festering tensions reach a boiling point, erupting into a stand-off between police and the African-American community. This basic scenario has played out in Kansas City, Mo., Lawrence, Kan., St. Louis, Ill. and now Ferguson, Mo.

Guests:

Western Historical Manuscript Collection

The social unrest in Ferguson, Mo., following the police shooting of Michael Brown has sparked national conversations about issues stemming from racial and socioeconomic tension. But this isn't the first time these issues have reached a fever pitch.

Wikimedia -- CC

Wednesday marked the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

As a country, we’ve since made progress on equal protections laws — not as much as some would’ve hoped — and new issues have emerged.

This week, we took to the airwaves and social media and asked: What are today’s biggest challenges for civil rights?

Discrimination based on race remains a hot-button issue, according to your answers.

Matt Herron

Thursday's Up to Date brings the never before told story of powerful events witnessed by five young photographers during the momentous summer of 1964 in the segregated South. Guest host Brian Ellison talks with Matt Herron, one of the photographers and author of Mississippi Eyes: The Story and Photography of the Southern Documentary Project, "the only book to provide a firsthand account of what it was actually like to photograph the civil rights struggle in the Deep South."

Peter Pettus

July 2nd is the 50th anniversary of The Civil Rights Act of 1964. This historic piece of legislation outlawed race based discrimination, enfranchised voter registration rights, and desegregated businesses, public spaces, and schools.

On Wednesday's Central Standard, Rev. Nelson "Fuzzy" Thompson and Anita Dixon share their unique first hand experiences with the Civil Rights Movement in and around Kansas City, then and now.

File photo / KCUR

As Kansas Citians gear up for a holiday weekend celebrating the United States’ Independence Day, civil rights advocates also are commemorating another event in our country’s history.

Fifty years ago this week, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law, ending, among other things, the existence of “whites only” bathrooms and drinking fountains.

A lot has changed since 1964.

We want to know what civil rights issues the United States and Kansas City still face today.

maryfrancesberry.com

For four decades, Mary Frances Berry has been a civil rights activist. Famously fired from the US Civil Rights Commission before being rehired by President Reagan, she’s gone on to chair the commission, serve as the first woman and African American to be chancellor of the University of Colorado, and teach legal history at the University of Pennsylvania.

naacp.org

Former NAACP national chair Julian Bond was part of the original Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

In the second part of Monday's Up to Date, we talk with him about his involvement in civil rights and how it’s still relevant in today’s climate. We also get his impressions of Obama’s presidency. 

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