Leon Jordan

LaBudde Special Collections, Miller Nichols Library / University of Missouri-Kansas City

He was murdered almost 50 years ago, so fewer Kansas Citians these days might know the name Leon Jordan. But he was one of Kansas City's most important civil rights leaders, and at one point his homicide was the Kansas City Police Department's oldest cold case.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Kansas City playwright uses murders of Leon Jordan and James Townsend as inspiration to connect 1960s civil rights movements to today's.

In the long history of Kansas City's Green Duck Lounge, two of its owners, both considered icons in the community, were each was shot dead, one in 1970 and the other in 2015. The murders are the basis for a new work, which couples the civil rights activities of the 60s to those of today.

Freedom, Inc.

Feb 9, 2016

We explore the history and influence of the Kansas City political organization Freedom, Inc., one of the oldest African American political organizations in the country, and take a look at the relevance of the group in elections today.

Guests:

  • Micah Kubic, author, Freedom, Inc. and Black Political Empowerment
  • Emiel Cleaver, producer, Freedom Is Now
  • Shalonn "Kiki" Curls, Missouri State Senator

Laura Spencer / KCUR

Nearly 70 buildings were demolished on Kansas City’s east side to make room for a new police station and state-of-the-art crime lab. The $74 million Leon Mercer Jordan Campus, funded by a city public safety tax and bonds, opened to the public with tours of the facility at 2640 Prospect Avenue on Tuesday. 

Courtesy of LaBudde Special Collections / UMKC

Three years ago, Kansas City police re-opened one of the most vexing cold cases in local history. It was the 1970 murder of politician and civil rights leader Leon Jordan. The case was re-opened after an investigation by Kansas City Star reporters Mike McGraw and Glenn Rice.  McGraw told us what one of the original detectives told him about the 40-year-old case.

“'I can’t remember a case with less info, more blind alleys, more possible motives, and more possible suspects than the Leon Jordan murder,'” said McGraw, quoting detective Lloyd DeGraffenreid. 

Courtesy of LaBudde Special Collections, UMKC.

Kansas City has now had two African American mayors and black elected officials in city, county and state government. But this progress did not happen by chance. 

Kansas City, MO – For the past few months, KC Currents has been following the recently re-opened murder case of Leon Jordan. He helped found Kansas City's African American political organization Freedom, Incorporated. In his role at Freedom, he paved the way for the first African Americans to be elected to the city council and the Missouri State Assembly, himself becoming a representative in 1964. And Jordan was instrumental in the passage of a 1962 public accommodations ordinance, which outlawed segregation 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.

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.

photo courtesy aaregistry.com

The unsolved 1970 murder of Kansas City black political leader Leon Jordan is back in the hands of a detective squad. And KCUR has learned of new developments that might enhance chances of solving the murder after all these years. It revolves around crime lab science being done in Topeka. KCUR's Dan Verbeck has the story.