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civil rights

LaBudde Special Collections, Miller Nichols Library

Who in Kansas City remembers AIDS activists smashing vials of HIV-positive blood in City Hall, and abortion opponents trying to display fetuses in coffins at Planned Parenthood protests?

It was 25 years ago, so you’d have to be a certain age to remember. And you’d need to have been paying attention to the news.

The American Civil Liberties Union and its Kansas affiliate have filed suit against the Montgomery County Attorney, alleging he failed to follow state law in the use of diversion programs.

The suit was filed Friday with the Kansas Supreme Court, according to a news release from the ACLU. It requests that Montgomery County Attorney Larry Markle be required to create written diversion policies and guidelines; provide written notice of diversion programs to defendants charged in Montgomery County, and hold diversion conferences for defendants offered diversion.

Leola Montgomery is the widow of the Rev. Oliver Brown, the lead plaintiff in the 1954 landmark civil rights case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.

Montgomery, who is scheduled to be in Wichita on Saturday to receive a special award, doesn’t look one bit of 97. Nor does she act like it.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

Six weeks of protests by the Poor People’s Campaign nationwide and in Topeka aim to raise awareness of social and economic inequalities.

Translating those demonstrations into changes in state policy, says at least one analyst, will likely demand more sustained efforts.

Protesters occupied part of Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office recently and 18 people were arrested. This week, Statehouse police arrested 16 people protesting in favor of Medicaid expansion outside the office of Gov. Jeff Colyer.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Kansas governor discusses his transition to power, his election campaign, and the challenges facing his state.

Four months ago, then-Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer stepped into the position vacated by then-Gov. Sam Brownback. Today, he sat down for a wide-ranging conversation that covered school funding, the Kansas Department for Children and Families, a newly-enacted adoption statute, and his campaign to win the governorship without aggressively challenging rival Republican Kris Kobach.

Black and white image of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. surrounded by people.
U.S. National Archives

Segment 1: 50 years after its start, Martin Luther King Jr.'s movement for economic justice has been revitalized.

With his assassination in 1968, the momentum behind the then recently-launched Poor People's Campaign waned. Today, we learned about the national push to resurrect this movement and the 40-day plan for protests at statehouses across the country, including those in Topeka, Kansas, and Jefferson City, Missouri. 

Joe Carson / Courtesy of Bob Hughes Jr.

Updated 5:45 p.m., Friday: After weeks of discussing which street to name after Martin Luther King Jr., an advisory group is recommending not renaming a street at all — but the Kansas City International Airport.

Mayor Sly James clarified at a press conference Monday, if the idea is approved by City Council, the new single-terminal would be renamed, not the entire Kansas City International Airport. But, he said that doesn’t make the proposed gesture any less significant.

Kevin Young

Kansas doesn't have many opportunities to brag about being home to someone who's a mover and shaker in the national culture.

But Topeka can be proud of Kevin Young, who was named poetry editor of "The New Yorker" last year and is director of the New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Young moved to Topeka when he was nine, and spent his formative high school years in the city.

file photo / Kansas News Service

A federal judge will now review whether it’s reasonable for an ACLU legal team to charge Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach $52,000 for the time it spent asking a court to hold him in contempt.

The bill for attorneys fees and related expenses came Monday after the ACLU team won that contempt finding last month.

UMKC Theatre

The last Saturday in April was bright and warm, and the students walking around campus at the University of Missouri-Kansas City wore, along with their shorts, the confident expressions of the just-about-done. It was almost summer.

Inside the school’s Spencer Theatre, the season had already arrived, but the young people onstage were about to start something.

Cue Martha and the Vandellas: It's an invitation across the nation, a chance for folks to meet/They'll be laughing and singing, music swinging/Dancing in the street.

Paul Andrews / www.paulandrewsphotography.com

When Alvin Brooks told his father that he wanted to be a police officer, his dad’s first response was, “Why do you want to get into that mess? You know how they treat us.”

Brooks was determined. He became one of Kansas City's few black officers in 1954.

Segment 1: The National School Walkout In North Kansas City.

A check-in with our reporter, who covered today's National School Walkout from Oak Park High School.

Segment 2, beginning at 5:41: A Portrait Session with Alvin Brooks.

Three men were found guilty Wednesday of conspiring to blow up an apartment complex in western Kansas that housed Somali immigrants.

Attorneys for two of the Kansas men accused of plotting to bomb an apartment complex filled with Somali Muslim immigrants in Garden City argued their clients were bit players not interested in actually carrying out the plan.  

Attorneys defending three Kansas men accused of a bomb plot in Garden City are arguing there wouldn’t have been a plot without FBI manipulation.

Photo illustration / Kansas News Service

Younger people could carry guns even as local authorities gain new powers to take guns away in some situations. Police videos could become more available and people held in prison wrongfully could expect payments from the state.

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.

Segment 1: Community members recall memories of switching schools after riots following Martin Luther King Jr's assassination.

 After the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, two local catholic high schools, one serving a primarily white community and the other serving a primarily black community, held a year-long student exchange program. Today, we speak with a few individuals who participated in the exchange as students and discuss the profound effect it had on their lives.

Pete O'Neal

In an interview from his remote village in Tanzania, Kansas City native and self-exiled founder of the Kansas City Chapter of the Black Panthers, Lindsey “Pete” O’Neal, says he regrets some of the actions for which he's been vilified and feared.

Funeral services were held in Topeka on Thursday for civil rights icon Linda Brown, the schoolgirl at the center of the landmark Supreme Court case that declared school segregation unconstitutional.

Joe Carson/Courtesy of Bob Hughes Jr.

On Jan. 19, 1968, Chester Owens Jr., and several other Kansas City leaders posed for a photo with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in a TWA lounge. King was passing through due to a speech at Kansas State University. The men had been summoned, “really just there to make him comfortable,” as Owens put it on KCUR’s Central Standard.

Joe Carson

Segment 1: Local stories of Martin Luther King Jr.'s visit to Kansas in 1968.

Martin Luther King Jr. stopped by Kansas in January of 1968 to speak with a number of leaders from throughout Wyandotte County. Today, we hear from a couple of leaders about what that day was like and how meeting the civil rights activist influenced their lives.

  • Robert Hughes
  • Chester Owens Jr.

Segment 2, beginning at 34:49: Why we behave the way we do.

An FBI informant’s account of the investigation into an alleged bomb plot in western Kansas was called into question Tuesday.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Criminal charges in Schlitterbahn death come amid push for tighter regulations on Kansas amusement parks.

Last week, three Schlitterbahn employees were indicted on criminal charges related to a boy's death in 2016 at the Kansas City, Kansas, water park. Today, we discussed the merits of cases, and found out how state law is evolving in response to the incident.

Updated at 2:00 a.m. ET Tuesday

Linda Brown, who as a schoolgirl was at the center of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that rejected racial segregation in American schools, died in Topeka, Kan., Sunday afternoon. She was 76.

Her sister, Cheryl Brown Henderson, confirmed the death to The Topeka Capital-Journal.

Robert J. Dole Federal Courthouse

Much was at stake in the two-plus weeks in Kansas City, Kansas, federal court where Secretary of State Kris Kobach defended the strict voter registration law he spearheaded and his office’s execution of those rules.

The case holds potential national ramifications for how difficult states can make voter registration, and for shedding light on whether enough illegal ballots get cast to justify tougher proof-of-citizenship rules.

Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office

Federal prosecutors told jurors Thursday that three men charged with plotting to bomb an apartment complex and mosque in western Kansas were motivated by their hate of Muslim immigrants.

“They wanted to send the message that Muslims are not welcome here — not in Garden City, not in Kansas, not in America,” prosecutor Risa Berkower said.

Her opening statement in the Wichita trial laid out a case that only the work of federal agents stopped, the trio from carrying out a bombing the day after the Nov. 8, 2016, presidential election.

file photo / KCUR 89.3 FM

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach got a tongue lashing Tuesday from the judge who will decide whether he violated federal law by blocking tens of thousands of voter applications.

Federal Chief District Judge Julie Robinson, a George W. Bush appointee, accused Kobach of engaging in “gamesmanship” and skirting her orders.

Infrogmation of New Orleans / Wikimedia Commons

Segment 1: Monuments, memorials and public art displays require accountability, years after installation.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Former Kansas City mayoral candidate recalls facing racial and sex discrimination.

From her youth in rural Mississippi to growing up through the civil rights movement, to her eventual career in executive leadership, Janice Ellis spoke of her experiences navigating the political, corporate, and non-profit sectors as a black person, and as a woman.

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