civil rights

Warren K. Lefler / Library of Congress

In the years following the assassination of John F. Kennedy, his brother Robert forged a path of his own on the political front. Today, we discuss the pivotal years of Bobby Kennedy's life as he grappled with the past  while working toward a future of his own.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

When Mamie Hughes first came to Kansas City, back in the early 1950s, things were a bit different than they are now.

"I used to wish I had a dollar for every time I was called n-----," says the 87-year-old.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

As a former county lawmaker, teacher, community planner, advocate and volunteer, Mamie Hughes has had a lasting impact on Kansas City. Today, we look at life of one of the metro's most dedicated activists.

Then, we meet the enthusiastic conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra, and ask what it's been like leading "America's Orchestra" for more than 20 years.

Courtesy of Sherie Randolph / sheriemrandolph.com

One day, about 20 years ago, Sherie Randolph was sitting on her couch, flipping through TV channels, when she saw something unusual.

It was footage from the 1960s or 1970s of a black woman in a cowboy hat chasing Daniel Patrick Moynihan and "calling him a racist sexist bastard," Randolph recalled.

"Of course, I knew who he was, but I didn't know who she was," Randolph told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR's Central Standard.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Every major advancement of African-Americans since the Civil War has been met and opposed by "white rage," says Carol Anderson. Today, she explains how resentful whites have looked to halt the progress of blacks through discriminatory policies, laws, intimidation and violence.

Courtesy of Sherie Randolph / sheriemrandolph.com

In the early 1900s, in a home near 18th and Vine, a young black mother made her daughter promise never to have children. That little girl became a radical feminist, who pried her way into Columbia Law School in a time when they weren't even admitting black men. Historian Sherie Randolph unearths the life and times of the late Flo Kennedy. 

Plus, an encore broadcast: One local academic on performing around the world as Zora Neale Hurston. 

Guests:

Mid-Continent Public Library / http://www.nelson-atkins.org/calendar/film-step-plaza/

You've probably driven through this cute little neighborhood between Westport and the Plaza, with its bungalows with stone porches. But you may not know that this neighborhood used to be called Steptoe — and it's where freed slaves built new lives for themselves. Hear more about this historic area and the project to collect and preserve its oral history.

Also: Remembering Latino civil rights leader Gilbert Guerrero.

Guests:

billsoPHOTO / Flickr -- CC

The Kansas City chapters of the NAACP and the SCLC are under new leadership. We sit down with the new presidents of these two organizations to hear their vision for the future of KC.

A recent New York Times article said: "Calling Peter Voulkos a ceramist is a bit like calling Jimi Hendrix a guitarist." We learn more about KC's rock star of clay.

Guests:

Courtesy - SCLC-GKC

Across the city, people celebrated the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with parades, dancing, singing and community service. 

For Rev. Dr. Vernon Howard, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City, the best way to honor that legacy is through activism.

This year, paired with a celebration of King's life, is the official launch of a campaign for a ten-year, one-eighth cent sales tax increase to benefit the city's East Side. 

On Monday, the SCLC-GKC sponsored a community forum to discuss the proposed tax increase. 

Vincent Chow / Flickr -- CC

From 60 degrees to a winter weather advisory in just a couple of days: yes, the weather here can be manic. A chat with Mike July, who recently retired from the National Weather Service office in KC, about the art of forecasting ... and about his witty social media posts.

Then, in 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. gave a surprising speech at K-State. We'll hear about the impression it left on Kansans.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

At 3 o’clock in the morning on Saturday, Alvin Sykes sent a text followed by a phone call to North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr who was still on the floor of the Senate.

He didn’t hear back, so he assumed the worst. His bill was dead.

But at 5:33 a.m. Kansas City time, Burr responded. 

“He sent a text,” Sykes told me over coffee at a Kansas City, Kansas diner.

”He said 'It just happened. Sorry it took all night, but it’s done.’”

Laura McCallister / Kansas City Public Library

In the hands of musicians like Charlie Christian, Carlos Santana, and Slash, the electric guitar has become a symbol for freedom, rebellion and rock 'n' roll. Then, find out why celebrities like Will Smith and Casey Affleck are taking new interest in the 1955 murder of Emmett Till.

With Donald Trump urging supporters to watch for instances of voter fraud, we find out how the Jackson County Election Board ensures fair and free voting. Then, a 1938 Supreme Court ruling forced the University of Missouri Law School to accept black students, or create a separate school for them. The litigant, Lloyd Gaines, disappeared soon after, but his case made history.

First, the final reactions to last night’s presidential debate from KCUR's panel of undecided voters. Then, a survivor of the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, recalls that fateful day. Finally, Brian McTavish presents his latest Weekend To-Do-List.

Gustavo Castillo / Wikimedia Commons

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing Kansas City Public Schools after a school resource officer handcuffed a second grader.

The incident happened in 2014, says ACLU of Missouri Executive Director Jeffrey Mittman, after 7-year-old Kalyb Wiley Primm began to cry in class.

Mittman says Primm had been bullied.

“He didn’t want to go with the officer, who was being scary,” Mittman says. “Instead of calming the child, instead of reassuring him, instead of finding out what was wrong, the officer yelled at him, told him to stop crying and then handcuffed him.”

Since 1983 Alfred Friendly Press has offered fellowships to journalists from developing countries and emerging markets to spend six months working at U.S. host news organizations.  Up to Date's Steve Kraske talks with three Fellows who remind us that freedom of the press is not a right to be taken for granted. 

 

Guests:

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

For Michelle Rice’s son, the problems started when he was in fourth grade at a Kansas City charter school.

“He was under the supervision of a teacher who was Caucasian,” Rice says, “and regularly, he was either in the principal’s office or sent to the computer lab.”

The more time Marquelle spent out of class, the further behind he fell, and his behavior problems escalated. Soon, he was receiving out-of-school suspensions for what Rice describes as minor infractions.

The TV series Star Trek went where no one had gone before, both in its day and in the reality it created. Now, we Earthlings are using instruments and processes originally imagined by the creator and writers of the series, while our struggles with the issues of race and ideology it addressed in the 1960s continue.

Guest:

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. 

Guest:

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.

Guest:

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.

Guests:

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. 

Guests:

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.

Guest:

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.

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