race relations | KCUR

race relations

David Kovaluk, St. Louis Public Radio

Talking about race and culture is hard for a lot of Kansas Citians. It’s hard everywhere in the United States where people from different backgrounds share space and resources. But when we dig into stories about our identities and how they affect our families, our politics, arts and health – it’s hard not to recognize that race, culture and identity is a central force our lives, and deserves special attention in our news coverage.

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.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: How a redrawn border influences modern Mexican-American identity

When the U.S.-Mexico border moved at the end of the Mexican-American War, more than 100,000 Mexicans suddenly found themselves living on U.S. territory. Today, we considered how this history, more than 100 years in the making, impacts modern race relations.

Courtesy of UMKC Athletics

CSU-Bakersfield men’s basketball coach Rod Barnes emerged from the locker room late last month at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City. He was seeking a familiar face, one who gave Ole Miss its first all-African-American starting five, who encouraged him to not listen to naysayers.

He was looking for former UMKC athletic director and basketball coach Lee Hunt, the man who was on the leading edge of race relations in high school and college sports during the Civil Rights Era. Barnes found him, exclaiming, “Coach! It’s good to see you.”

Public domain / United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

It may not seem like a health issue at first but Dr. Vivek Murthy, the 19th Surgeon General of the United States (and first person of Indian descent to hold the post), is very concerned about what he calls a 'loneliness epidemic.' Today, we dig into why he thinks tackling it is one of the most important things society can do.

B. Allen / VOA

It's no secret that race influences a lot of things in our lives, including how our cities are laid out. Today, urban designer Tyler Cukar explains the lasting legacy of racism and redlining that's shaped Kansas City, and how we can move toward a more racially integrated future. Then, if you remember one image from last year's Democratic National Convention, it's probably of Khizr Khan. The Gold Star father raised a lot of attention when he held up a copy of the Constitution and challenged Donald Trump to give it a read.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR 89.3

After much deliberation, members of the Country Club Congregational United Church of Christ have decided to remove "Country Club" from the church's name. 

The Brookside church prides itself on being committed to social justice and inclusivity. Which is why, says minister Chase Peeples, the name had to change.

"'Country Club' seems to connote the idea of exclusivity and wealth," he says. "That's not the Jesus I encounter when I read the gospel."

On September 15 in St. Louis, a former police officer was acquitted in the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith. We check on the protests on the other side of the state. Plus, how the MeToo campaign is affecting Kansas Citians.


What does the college campus of the future look like? An architect from a local firm sees some radically different changes.

Then: a recent article in The Kansas City Star says that the social scene here isn't inclusive of people of color. We'll hear how some young African-Americans don't feel like there's a place for them in the metro ... and how it's driving them to move elsewhere.


Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Despite decades of government assistance, violent crime continues in too many American neighborhoods. That's why Bob Woodson, founder of the Woodson Center, thinks the solution for troubled communities must come from local leaders themselves, not from the federal or state level.

This week, the University of Kansas is hosting the Black Love Symposium. We meet keynote speaker, NYU professor Pamela Newkirk, here to talk about her anthology, "A Love No Less: More Than Two Centuries of African American Love Letters."

Plus, the "first Beverly Hillbilly" got his start here in Missouri. 


Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Confederate monuments have been coming down around the country, including the one formerly on Ward Parkway in Kansas City, Missouri. But, with the current political turmoil, the scope of monuments coming in for new scrutiny is expanding fast.

The fight over Confederate statues got Bill Savage thinking about his own hometown.

In the wake of Charlottesville, and growing visibility of extremist groups like white supremacists and neo-Nazis, we ask, what does it mean to be white? 

Plus, with unprecedented flooding in Houston, we take a moment to see how prepared Kansas City is for heavy rainfall. 


The racial divide in Kansas City and across the U.S. is not just the result of individual prejudice, and developers like J.C. Nichols. We'll discuss this and more, with author Richard Rothstein, who's coming to Kansas City soon to talk about his new book, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America

Plus, is Kansas City's art scene homogenous? One outgoing artist weighs in. 


Sgt. Alicia Brand / U.S. Army

Few chemical reactions are as complicated to humans the one that elicits the feeling of love. Today, we learn about a psychobiological approach to couples therapy. Then, we discuss how racial tensions have changed in America during the Trump administration, and find out how last weekend's tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia, has affected leaders of Kansas City's diverse communities.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

An online news site that says it "holds government and mainstream media accountable" attacked an instructor at Johnson County Community College Thursday, suggesting her six-figure salary was related to her gender and race.

How are Kansas Citians reacting to the violence that erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend, and what's next?

Plus, development in the River Market has skyrocketed in recent years. The neighborhood is changing, but is it all for the better?


Public Domain / Detroit Free Press

Five decades ago, social unrest gripped cities across the country, at one point even spilling into the streets of Kansas City. Today, we find out what the "long, hot summer" of 1967 can teach us about race relations and cultural diversity in present-day America. Then, host Steve Kraske brushes up on his Shakespearean script-reading skills with veteran acting coach and director Ian Wooldridge.

Catherine Wheeler / KCUR 89.3

At the end of the 2017 legislative session, we took the podcast on the road to ask an important question: are Kansas City's communities of color being heard in Jefferson City?  

This podcast was recorded live at the Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church in Kansas City, Missouri. 

Ten years ago this month, a massive tornado nearly wiped Greensburg, Kansas off the map. KCUR's Frank Morris joins us to share how the town's efforts to rebuild became "a laboratory experiment in re-engineering the classic American small town."

Plus, a conference last month brought thousands to Kansas City to talk about "white privilege." We discuss what our local communities are doing to address and respond to the concept. 


Courtesy photo / Louis Memorial Chapel

Beth K. Smith, who died Wednesday at age 96, was out front as an activist before many women of her generation.

Smith was a civil rights and social justice pioneer in the 1960s, pushing for fair housing and taking an active role in helping to pass public accommodations in Kansas City.

She was an early advocate for women in the workplace and public life.  In 1980, she helped found the Central Exchange, which began in Crown Center as an unusual networking women’s club that received national recognition.

At 1215 South Jefferson Avenue in St. Louis, a red brick building housed a chemical plant, owned by a black man who always dreamed of running his own business on a city block full of black business owners. In a new memoir to his father, the owner of Du-Good Chemical whose dreams became a reality, Kansas City writer Lewis Diuguid takes us back to that city block where he grew up.

Plus, how a favorite childhood pastime of catching bugs became an academic career for one KU grad student. 


What is the Midwest? In a recent video, comedian Jeff Houghton played a Midwest correspondent out to solve this great mystery. The typical perception? Think Wizard of Oz, and American Gothic ... you know, that old white couple standing in front of a church with a pitchfork, and yellow brick roads.

Really though. What defines the Midwest? What are its borders, and what makes it home? 

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

It's been nearly 30 years since six Kansas City firefighters were killed in an explosion after responding to a call about a truck on fire. A few weeks ago, Bryan Sheppard, one of five sentenced to life in prison, was released, because juvenile sentencing laws have changed since the time of the then 17-year-old's conviction. We check-in with Sheppard on life after prison.

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.

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. 


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.


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.