By: Emma Stuart
As many of you know, the month of February is Black History Month, a month dedicated to the celebration of black culture and history. The history of the Civil Rights movement is all around us even right here in Kansas City and it is important to learn about that history. Thanks to the Johnson County Library there is a free and comprehensive driving tour of the history of segregation here in Kansas City. In this tour you are taken all throughout the city. It begins at Shawnee Mission East High School, whose students come from Mission Hills Kansas (one of the most expensive zip codes in Kansas). As the tour continues, you are taken through the history of Kansas City’s development, including the founding of neighborhoods, the restrictive homeowners’ associations, and the homes of historical figures. The tour ends at the Nutter Ivanhoe Neighborhood Center off of 37th Street, which is a resource for the local community.
The tour takes about a half an hour of driving and stops in various places around KCMO and KCK. In this short amount of time you are taken through decades of history starting in the 1940s and ending in present day. Sometimes it is difficult to grasp the impact of racism in your city, but with this tour it opens your eyes to the real effects of racism when it comes to the development of a city. You are able to see nearby locations where history took place right in the city where you live. This tour was eye opening for me, because it put me in the same location of these difficult historical pastimes.
I took this tour with my family last summer and it was a learning experience for all of us. I had inklings of the racially driven actions that had led to the development of this city, but I had never seen them with my own eyes. I had never heard of them from the mouths of those who lived it. This tour is something that I think all residents of KCMO and KCK should partake in. It tells of the sordid past of this interesting city; it is necessary to look back on the misdeeds of the past to move forward to a better future.
This tour can be accessed through the link below and can be taken either using a web browser or through the VoiceMap App.