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Kansas City's Stanley Banks Is Still Asking If America Is Safe

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Stanley Banks

A poem Banks wrote about the beating of Rodney King remains relevant 30 years later. "We've progressed in a terrifying way," he says.

Poet Stanley Banks recalls being stopped by police "just for being around" starting at the age of 16. He lost both his father and one brother to violence. But his grandmother's wisdom kept him on track.

Banks would come to express his emotions and thoughts around the complexity of the Black experience in Kansas City — and America — through poetry. His work has been recognized multiple times including the Langston Hughes Prize for Poetry and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship/Grant for Creative Writing.

Upon reading “America Are We Safe,” a poem from three decades ago, Banks observes: "It's kind of amazing . . . what you thought was an issue resolved years ago is still being dealt with or brought up again."

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9 a.m., my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. My email is steve@kcur.org.
Reginald David is an assistant producer with Up To Date. You can reach him at reginalddavid@kcur.org.
As senior producer of Up To Date, I want our listeners to hear familiar and new voices that shine light on the issues and challenges facing the myriad communities KCUR serves, and to expose our audiences to the wonderful and the creative in the Kansas City area. Just as important to me is an obligation to mentor the next generation of producers to ensure that the important conversations continue. Reach me at alexanderdk@kcur.org.