On April 9, 1968, students in the Kansas City, MO, school district desired to hold a march in honor of the recently assassinated Martin Luther King, Jr. The Kansas side of the city did not hold classes on that day, but the Missouri side did, and this led to tension, anger, and action by an African American population that had already been feeling the full weight of the institutionalized racism in America at the time. Students from Manual, Lincoln, Central, and Paseo High Schools marched out of school that Tuesday morning, culminating in a gathering at City Hall. While peaceful at first, these marches and gatherings soon grew restless and then violent as they spread throughout the city, with Police using mace and tear gas on marchers, widespread looting and destruction of property, and general civil unrest. After four days of these riots, the damages to the city neared four million dollars, and six people were killed. On one level, the ’68 riot was a direct reaction to specific current events, but it was also a result of long-established racial tensions in the city and the country as a whole. In this sense, it was not only an important moment in the history of Kansas City, but in our nation as well. *
The ’68 Riot Collection, housed in LaBudde Special Collections, consists of writings, interviews, images, audio and other items documenting the events surrounding April 9-13, 1968, in Kansas City.
[ *Excerpt from “It Finally Happened Here: The 1968 Riot in Kansas City, Missouri.” Joel P. Rhodes. Missouri Historical Review, April 1997 (Vol. 91, No. 3) pp. 295-315.]