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How Kansas City helped unite the gay rights movement

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Years before the Stonewall uprising, Drew Shafer started Kansas City's first gay rights organization and published the first LGBTQ magazine in the Midwest. It was that effort, in part, that made Stonewall a turning point in the gay rights movement. Plus, how the lead industry lied to the American public for decades about the dangers of its toxic products.

Most people consider the Stonewall uprising the start of the American gay rights movement. But gay rights groups had already been around for two decades by the time New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn in June 1969 — including here in Kansas City. Powered by a group of determined volunteers and a donated printing press, Kansas City activist Drew Shafer helped create a crucial gay rights network in 1966. KCUR's Mackenzie Martin tells us the story of Kansas City's part in gay liberation from A People's History of Kansas City.

For decades, the lead industry characterized lead poisoning as a problem of poor people and minorities to protect its sales during the 20th century. In the meantime, Americans continued to be exposed to the health threat. The Midwest Newsroom’s Niara Savage spoke with John Jay College historian and professor Gerald Markowitz about how the lead industry used racial bias to divert the public's attention away from the risks of the toxin.

Kansas City Today is hosted today by Laura Ziegler. It is produced by Byron Love, Trevor Grandin and KCUR Studios and edited by Gabe Rosenberg and Lisa Rodriguez.

Contact the show at news@kcur.org. Follow KCUR on Twitter and Facebook for the latest news.

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I partner with communities to uncover the ignored or misrepresented stories by listening and letting communities help identify and shape a narrative. My work brings new voices, sounds, and an authentic sense of place to our coverage of the Kansas City region. My goal is to tell stories on the radio, online, on social media and through face to face conversations that enhance civic dialogue and provide solutions. Email me at lauraz@kcur.org and follow me on Twitter @laurazig.
Trevor Grandin is a contributing producer for KCUR Studios.