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race relations

Focus Features

Director Spike Lee’s "BlacKkKlansman," which won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival in May, is finally opening in theaters nationwide. 

Lee's co-writer is University of Kansas film professor Kevin Willmott, who spoke with KCUR's Central Standard host Gina Kaufmann about the movie, which is based on a true story.

Segment 1: Is the phrase "white people" becoming taboo?

On this episode, we explore the concept of whiteness as an identity and why some people are uncomfortable with the term.

  • Micah Kubic, author, Freedom, Inc. and Black Political Empowerment
  • Lona Davenport, program coordinator, Division of Diversity and Inclusion at UMKC

Segment 2, beginning at 33:50: How Shakespeare can help prisoners improve their social skills.

J Aeionic / Flickr

Folk singer and songwriter Danny Cox has been a fixture of the Kansas City music scene since he moved here from Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1967. Cox played at classic venues like the Vanguard Coffee House in the 1960s, and the Cowtown Ballroom in the '70s. 

And he's still performing. When Cox recently turned 75, KCUR's Fish Fry host Chuck Haddix spoke with Cox about his life and career, starting with his song "Kansas City":

Attercop311 / Wikimedia Commons

Segment 1: Kansas farmers hope to boost agricultural economy with new cash crop.

Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer in April signed off on a bill that included the Alternative Crop Research Act, which effectively allows the Kansas Department of Agriculture to oversee the cultivation of industrial hemp. Although hemp is famously difficult to maintain, both seasoned and novice Kansas farmers are eager to cash in on one of the most lucrative crops in American history.

Warren K. Leffler / United States Library of Congress

Segment 1: Kansas City, Kansas, Public Safety and Neighborhood Infrastructure Sales Tax up for renewal.

A three-eighth-cent sales tax that passed with 70 percent of the vote in 2010 has collected more than $50 million devoted to public safety and neighborhood projects in Wyandotte County. This August, voters there get to decide if the sales tax has been worth the money. The levy is set to expire in 2020 unless it is approved for renewal. Today, we discussed the projects that the tax has benefitted and if it's still the best option for the Unified Government.

Brandi Thorpe

Brandi Thorpe says her 10-year-old son D’Juan Franklin is a loving, intelligent child, who loves playing football and baseball. He's also autistic.

When Thorpe transferred him to the New Beginnings School in the Lansing, Kansas, district — a school dedicated to special education — she was hopeful that her son would get the support he needed. And, he did, up until the morning of January 17, 2017.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: State Sen. Laura Kelly makes her case in the race for Kansas governor.

In Kansas' crowded field of candidates for governor, there is a lone woman running. Today, we met Laura Kelly, the Senate Minority Whip whose district stretches along Highway 24 from Wamego to Topeka. She discussed her multi-continental childhood, her passion for education and her plans to bring the state back from the financial brink.  

Lubos Houska / Pixabay - CC

Segment 1: Implicit bias, white allyship and the Starbucks arrests.

Steven Depolo / Flickr - CC

Segment 1: Keeping kids engaged, fed and healthy during summer months.

Most students are overjoyed when summer break rolls around. But what about the families who rely on school for access to meals, health care and mentorship? Today, we learned about what local school districts are doing to minimize the downsides of students being away from the classroom during the summer months.

Paul Andrews / www.paulandrewsphotography.com

When Alvin Brooks told his father that he wanted to be a police officer, his dad’s first response was, “Why do you want to get into that mess? You know how they treat us.”

Brooks was determined. He became one of Kansas City's few black officers in 1954.

Segment 1: The National School Walkout In North Kansas City.

A check-in with our reporter, who covered today's National School Walkout from Oak Park High School.

Segment 2, beginning at 5:41: A Portrait Session with Alvin Brooks.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

On April 9, 1968, five days after the killing of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., civil unrest in response to long-standing racial tension broke out in Kansas City. But what really happened 50 years ago? Last week, KCUR hosted the panel "Reaction or Riot?: Understanding 1968 in Kansas City" for community members to share their own experiences and recollections. Today, we revisited that conversation about the ways our city has — and hasn't — changed in the last half century.

Labudde Special Collections, Miller Nichols Library/UMKC

It started with high school students.

On Tuesday, April 9, 1968, five days after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in Memphis, Tennessee, and the day of his funeral, the Kansas City, Kansas school district canceled classes.

But in Kansas City, Missouri, the school board and police department felt it would be safer to have students in class and off the streets.

Michael Ali was a student at the mostly-black Central High School.

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 in 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.

Guests:

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.

Guests:

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. 

Guests:

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. 

Guests:

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. 

Guests:

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.

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