Revisiting Issues of Race and Society, 10 Years After

Discussion to focus on 2005 novel “The King of Kings County”

Whitney Terrell’s acclaimed 2005 novel, “The King of Kings County,” will be the focal point for a discussion of race in Kansas City, examining how recent changes in housing and education, along with downtown’s ongoing revitalization, have affected that age-old divide.

The Central Library, 14 W. 10th St., and co-sponsor KCUR-FM will host a reception on Wednesday, Sept. 9 at 6 p.m., followed at 6:30 p.m. by a discussion of Kansas City’s racial climate since the book’s publication. Joining Terrell in the conversation will be Gwen Grant, president and CEO of the Urban League of Kansas City; and Black Archives of Mid-America Manager Emiel Cleaver. Gina Kaufmann, the host of KCUR-FM’s Central Standard, will moderate; and Sylvia Maria Gross has scheduled a KCUR radio story to precede the event.

The Christian Science Monitor named “The King of Kings County” a best book of 2005. The library calls it “a landmark examination of white flight and the manipulative, prejudice-laced real estate practices that helped to segregate Kansas City.”

Although a work of fiction, Terrell’s book details the actual real estate practices and rigid social layers that contributed to white flight, leaving behind a segregated city with schools, hospitals, churches, shops and neighborhoods formed largely along color lines. Restrictive covenants regulated the sale of homes in some areas by race and religion.

Terrell is an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

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