race relations

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. 

Guests:

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. 

Guests:

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. 

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:

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.

How an Argentinean Catholic boy grew up to be a gay Jewish rabbi, and what brought him to the Midwest. Rabbi Javier Cattapan shares his journey and responds to the recent vandalism at the Kansas City public library, which included a red swastika and racist slur.

Also, in an encore broadcast, KU professor David Roediger, a leading scholar of "white studies," joins us to critically explore what it means to be white.

Guests:

Thomas Leuthard / Flickr-CC

Media critic Jay Rosen has been writing about evidence-based vs. accusation-driven journalism for years. Rosen joins us, along with a few local thinkers, in conversation about what's at stake for journalism, and what's next, as we head into a Trump presidency.

An Israeli artist who got his start doing aerial photography for the military — and has an exhibit opening in KC — talks about surveillance, trauma and expression.

Plus, a local author writes about trying to connect with a neighbor in a new anthology about inequality in America.

Guests:

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Each year in the fall, nearly 1,700 people enjoy Ailey II modern dance performances presented by the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey. But besides being the official second home of the famed New York-based Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the local organization has another year-round mission: to create social change by encouraging diversity.

Kansas Citians love their Chiefs. But the game of football has been harshly criticized, for the slew of injuries and the enduring mentality that causes them. We hear from a few people working to change the game, including one UMKC professor who has designed a new football helmet.

Also, ahead of an event at the Black Archives of Mid-America, a local historical tour guide shares stories of the late Felix Payne, an influential man who transformed the political identity of black Kansas Citians in the early 20th-century.

First, Ambassador Allan Katz examines the diminishing role of civility in politics, and what might be done to reverse it. Then, the story of Forsyth County, Georgia, which became a "white county" in 1912, after a campaign of violence and intimidation against its black inhabitants. This week's Local Listen features Brody Buster's One Man Band.

Are conversations about race actually changing things? Many people of color say that talking with white people about race and racism isn't getting anywhere.

Guest:

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Speaking at a campaign stop in Lee’s Summit Friday, Missouri Republican gubernatorial hopeful Eric Greitens tried to position himself as more qualified than his Democratic opponent to lead on race relations.

“If you’re happy with Ferguson, you can vote for Chris Koster,” Greitens told the packed room. “If you’re happy with what you’re seeing at the University of Missouri, you can vote for Chris Koster.”

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

 

“Because of this game, for the first time in a long time, people weren’t uncomfortable with my presence.”

That's the title of a popular post on the social network news site Reddit that was voted to the top of the page about Pokemon Go, a newly released augmented reality game for mobile phones. It was written by Marcellus King, a 40-year-old black man living in Johnson County, Kansas.

 

SURJ KC / Facebook

Alice Chamberlain admits it's often uncomfortable for white people to talk about prejudice, white privilege and institutional racism.

That's why she's excited. 

On Monday, more than 300 people — most of them white, like her  — showed up at St. Mark Hope and Peace Lutheran Church in Kansas City to have a conversation about just those topics. 

Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay has been invited to the White House to participate in an event focused on community policing.