© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Growth and Diversity in Lee's Summit

Newly-elected Lee's Summit Councilman Allan Gray.
Newly-elected Lee's Summit Councilman Allan Gray.

By Susan Wilson and Eugenio Taboada


Lee's Summit, MO – Historians disagree whether Lee's Summit was named after Civil War General Robert E. Lee or early civic leader Pleasant Lee. But we can probably all agree that today, to steal a line from Walt Bodine, "Lee's Summit is a sudden burst of everything."

And with the growth, residents face the tensions that come along with big box development, and a more diverse population. And some long time residents are more frustrated with how the growth is being managed than newcomers.

KC Currents' Eugenio Taboada recently talked to some business owners and residents in the new commercial areas and downtown. He spoke to Julia Braighton, at the Nine Moons Gallery in downtown Lee's Summit. At the Peanut, owner Mary Crackamyer, Josh Bradley, Liz Cates, Becky Schmott and Ray. And at the new Peachtree Restaurant in Lee's Summit, manager Fred Cooley.

Now, new residents say they're drawn to Lee's Summit by its quiet, friendly, manicured neighborhoods. The town's population has grown in recent years to 90,000, and many of those new residents are African American and Latino. In last week's municipal election, Lee's Summit reached a landmark by electing its first African American city council member. KCUR's Susan Wilson spoke to Allan Gray, who's formerly the President of Kansas City's Friends of Alvin Ailey, about what it was like to move to Lee's Summit 20 years ago, which was long before many African Americans lived there.

This story was produced for KC Currents. To listen on your own schedule, subscribe to the KC Currents Podcast.

KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
Your donation helps keep nonprofit journalism free and available for everyone.