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Truth not Troost: A new effort seeks to rename Kansas City corridor over slavery ties

A Troost mural by JT Daniels.
Tommy Felts
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Startland News
A Troost mural by JT Daniels. Troost Avenue is named after Kansas City's first resident physician, who enslaved six men and women.

Chris Goode has launched a petition demanding the city change Troost Avenue — named after Dr. Benoist Troost, who owned six enslaved men and women.

Despite its widely-known street name, “Troost Avenue” does not accurately represent the small businesses, nonprofits and families along the increasingly dense Kansas City corridor, said Chris Goode.

“So many beautiful efforts take place on Troost — from The Combine to Operation Breakthrough or Urban Cafe and Rockhurst University… We are all collectively pushing for community, yet the name ‘Troost’ reflects hatred. It makes zero sense in my mind why we keep going with the way things are,” said Goode, the founder and owner of Ruby Jean’s Juicery at 3000 Troost.

Dr. Benoist Troost, for whom Troost Avenue was named, came to Kansas City in about 1847 and worked as the city’s first resident physician. An 1850 Federal Census Slave Schedule record revealed that Troost owned six enslaved men and women.

“We’ve been turning a blind eye to the very obvious fact that this man owned people; he would have loved to own me,” Goode said. “It disgusts me that we have to continue our work and plow into this land and serve our community under a name that haunts us at every turn — up and down that street.”

As a Kansas City Parks and Recreation board member, Goode launched an initiative in 2020 to remove the name JC Nichols — a local historical figure who had race restrictions in the deeds to properties he built and sold — from the fountain and parkway near the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City.

On Wednesday, June 22, Goode once again made clear it was time to make change in his city, he shared. Goode posted the petition, “TRUTH over troost,” outlining why he feels it is important to remove “Troost” as a street name. As of June 30, Goode had collected about 350 signatures.

After several years of renting the building on Troost Avenue that houses one of three Ruby Jean’s Juicery locations, Goode purchased the building earlier this year, he said — noting that his ownership is meant to represent a continual investment in the local community.

“As a stakeholder, as an investor, as a business owner, as a steward in this community, this is how I’ll use my voice,” he said. “This is how we’ll continue to spread love and health for our community. Because health isn’t just fruits and vegetables and juices. Health is holistic. It encompasses the culture that we allow to be maintained and that we desire to build. It’s what we stand for as a company.”

020918_mtj_chris_goode_of_ruby_jeans_edited.png
Michelle Tyrene Johnson
/
KCUR 89.3
Chris Goode, owner of Ruby Jean's Juicery, has launched a petition to rename Troost Avenue.

The vast majority of constituents with whom Goode has spoken agree Troost Avenue’s renaming is long overdue, he said, with only a handful of individuals resistant to change.

“[The resistance] is troubling because this should be something that’s absolute,” Goode said. “There is no opposition that makes sense — to uphold a person who allowed murder and hatred and evil, who owned people as if they were animals, there’s no reason that should remain.”

One critique Goode has heard about removing names is that in doing so, one is erasing or sanitizing history, he said. Goode ensured that the goal is never to cover up the past.

“What we seek to do is to be truthful about the history; let’s be honest about it,” Goode said. “And let’s move forward in a way that is representative of everybody, of who is here now. I’ve seen big, national media outlets come and cover the narrative of the divided city, of redlining and so on and so forth and that is part of the truth.

“But how about this? How about we shift that focus to what’s really happening on Troost today? What’s Oddly Correct Coffee doing today? What is Equal Minded Cafe doing today? Is it divided? Or have we really come together?” Goode proposed. “‘Truth’ is not a divisive word. It’s not this red line or this glorification of this divided city down this particular street.”

So, Goode landed on “Truth” as the new street name.

another_long_view_600.jpg
Laura Spencer
/
KCUR
This mural (painted by Alexander Austin) at 31st and Troost includes images of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse.

Goode’s hope is that this is the last time he has to petition for a street, park or landmark to be renamed, he said. With “Troost Avenue” holding so much attention from the Kansas City community and beyond, he views this renaming as the catalyst for all other landmarks named after those who owned people, he continued.

But it has to happen now, he noted. As Kansas City recently secured a spot as one of the 16 host cities for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, the community must unify to set the stage for upcoming global events.

“We cannot gloss over this with high profile events and brand new airports,” Goode said. “I want this to be the work that takes place preceding any of those publicly glorified events. I want to usher the world into our city, but in a place where we’ve reconciled our own wrongs.”

This story was originally published on Startland News, a fellow member of the KC Media Collective.

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