Martin Luther King Jr. | KCUR

Martin Luther King Jr.

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. 

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Finding the best way to memorialize Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Kansas City.

Many in Kansas City agree there should be something here to memorialize the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The question is, what? Following suggestions The Paseo be renamed (or 39th Street or 63rd) Mayor Sly James appointed an advisory group to recommend how best to proceed. Today, we spoke with the co-chair of that panel, which recommended attaching Dr. King's name to a yet-to-be-built terminal at the airport.

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.

Segment 1: What should we consider when naming a street after Martin Luther King, Jr.?

Kansas City is one of the few cities in the country that doesn't have an MLK Boulevard. A discussion on the movement to rename The Paseo after Martin Luther King, Jr.

Jacqee Gafford / Facebook

The widows may have bonded so strongly because their husbands had been murdered within five years of each other. Or perhaps they were drawn together by the weight of tending to their husbands’ legacies.

Whatever speculation yields, only Coretta Scott King, Myrlie Evers and Betty Shabazz knew why they became and remained friends long after their children were grown.

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.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

There seem to be two competing groups in Kansas City when it comes to deciding how to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

A petition drive, backed by Democratic U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, seeks to rename The Paseo, an iconic Kansas City boulevard, after the slain civil rights leader.

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.

Labudde Special Collections, Miller Nichols Library/UMKC

It started with high school students.

On Tuesday, April 9, 1968, five days after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in Memphis, Tennessee, and the day of his funeral, the Kansas City, Kansas school district canceled classes.

But in Kansas City, Missouri, the school board and police department felt it would be safer to have students in class and off the streets.

Michael Ali was a student at the mostly-black Central High School.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: New mayor and CEO of Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, says he's tapped into family's "longstanding commitment to the community." 

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Nearly 900 streets in the U.S. are named for Martin Luther King Jr. But there's not one in Kansas City.

Several prominent, local black political and religious leaders want to change that by renaming The Paseo to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, but say they've been met with bureaucratic resistance. So, they want to take the fight to the ballot box.

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.

LaBudde Special Collections, Miller Nichols Library / UMKC

The photographs tell a story in themselves: images that feel familiar because we recognize our city in the background, and all too familiar because we still see agitated people, most of them black, fleeing through clouds of tear gas or standing alone in front of police lines.

But the photographs don't tell nearly enough of the story. That's because the images in the 1968 Riot Collection at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Library don't have enough information.

CTUCC / Flickr - CC

On this holiday commemorating Martin Luther King Jr., Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. offers his thoughts on the slain civil rights leader, and critiques President Donald Trump's recent tributes to Dr. King and Rosa Parks.

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. 

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com/

Mark Bedell faces a big challenge; leading Kansas City Public Schools back to full accreditation. Today, the superintendent talks about his first sixth months on the job, and his plans to improve grades and raise graduation rates. Then, jazz icon Ramsey Lewis explains how he's using his piano to commemorate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Kansas Memory

On April 4, 1968, the radio and TV crackled with awful news: Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.

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.

Fibonacci Blue / Flickr - CC

From the Standing Rock protests to the European migrant crisis, we explore the stories of faith and values that made headlines in the last year. Then, we meet a community activist who has spent decades working on behalf of urban neighborhoods in Kansas City.

Kyle Palmer / KCUR 89.3

Volunteers began gathering early Monday morning at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Kansas City, Kansas. 

They braved icy roads and single-digit temperatures but none doubted the reason they were there. 

"This is one of the biggest celebrations of the year," said Frank Lavender, a lead organizer for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Motorcade/March for Hunger. "It gives us the opportunity to make the community aware of the all the people who need food. We use this day to get the word out."

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR

On this edition of Up to Date, poet Nikki Giovanni talks about Ferguson, Bill Cosby, and reflects on the terrible incident that occurred on her campus at Virginia Tech in 2007. On the subject of Martin Luther King, Jr., she told Steve Kraske, "That voice has carried across the earth." 

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. 

New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "Mountaintop" speech from Memphis is famous for its ending and because he was assassinated the next day. However, much of the speech doesn't receive a lot of attention today. 

Looking Back At The March On Washington

Feb 27, 2013
U.S. Information Agency Press and Publications Service

One of the most iconic moments of the Civil Rights Movement was Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which took place during the 1963 March on Washington.

How The Civil Rights Movement Evolved

Feb 20, 2013

What started as a few protests and sit-ins evolved into the Civil Rights movement, but how did that happen?

MLK's Spiritual & Intellectual Father

May 15, 2012

We may see Martin Luther King, Jr., as the father of the civil rights movement, but history teaches us that the 'family' around movements has its roots in previous generations.

Are We There Yet? Working Towards a Dream

Jan 16, 2012
flickr/ChellieL

What would the great Dr. King think of our country today? Are we living his dream?

Not quite, according to some.

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we'll talk with folks working everyday for their idea of social and economic equality.