Kansas City History | KCUR

Kansas City History

Suzanne Hogan and Crysta Henthorne / KCUR 89.3

Listen to this episode of A People's History Of Kansas City, a new podcast from KCUR 89.3. For more stories like this one, subscribe on Apple Podcasts, SpotifyGoogle Play and Stitcher.

It was 1956 in Kansas City. Leila Cohoon had just left her job at a salon to find some new shoes for Easter on the Country Club Plaza.

And then she saw an object in the window of an antique store that would change her life. A little woven wreath in a gold frame — hair art.

Leila's Hair Museum

Mar 12, 2020

A cosmetologist becomes obsessed with the Victorian tradition of hair art, and amasses the world's largest collection in Independence, Missouri. Each of these art pieces is woven with human hair, often in memory of loved ones and friends. Leila's Hair Museum has revived the art and launched a 21st century tradition of hair jewelry.

Segment 1: How Title IX applies to transgender students.

With the background of a couple of court cases currently in progress, a KU law professor has created a guide for using Title IX to protect transgender students from discrimination in schools. 

Courtesy of the Missouri Valley Room / Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri

The oldest continuously-operating Latino services center in the United States is right here in Kansas City. 101 years ago, the Guadalupe Center was established to "Americanize" Mexicans who had moved here to work on the railroads. But over the course of a century, Latinos transformed the organization, and Kansas City.

Courtesy of the Missouri Valley Room / Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri

As the widening coronavirus outbreak stokes fears of a worldwide pandemic, it’s worth remembering that the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic may have started in Kansas. And it hit Kansas City particularly hard.

Lessons from that time still resonate today.

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

In February 1920, the owners of eight independently owned black baseball teams met in Kansas City at the Paseo YMCA and the Negro National League was born. It was not the first all-black baseball league, but it's the one that modernized the negro leagues and it was the last before integration.

The Negro Leagues Baseball centennial is being celebrated this year all over the country. But if it weren't for a Kansas City man who grew up in the same neighborhood as a handful of former players for the Kansas City Monarchs, we might not even know this history.

Phil Dixon is more than an expert on the Negro Leagues. He's an ambassador for stories that might've been lost without him. 

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues, we're taking some time to get to know one of the people who knows more about its history and players than anyone else. Before Phil Dixon was the author of nine books and a cross-country traveler, he was just a kid playing baseball in segregated Kansas City, Kansas obsessed with baseball cards.

Many early, unique dialects of German are preserved in communities in small towns in Missouri and Kansas. But they're endangered. Meet a handful of linguistic diehards in Cole Camp, Missouri, and hear about their valiant efforts to save their immigrant history. 

Segment 1: What does it mean to be presidential?

Imagine a world in which campaigning for president was considered beneath the dignity of the office. That world used to be the United States! It's also one of the many takeaways from a recently published book from the University Press of Kansas that looks into how the office of the president has evolved in America's history. 

J.E. Miller / Courtesy of Missouri Valley Room, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri.

Segment 1: How Missouri is dealing with opioids.

After House Bill 188 died in the Senate last year, Missouri became the only state without a database to detect abuse. We're now starting to see some improvements, but it still remains a prevalant issue in the state.

Crysta Henthorne / KCUR 89.3

Listen to this episode of A People's History Of Kansas City, a new podcast from KCUR 89.3. For more stories like this one, subscribe on Apple Podcasts, SpotifyGoogle Play or Stitcher.

In the center of downtown Kansas City, Kansas, between the public library and government buildings just off Minnesota Avenue, sits a two-acre cemetery.

The sign reads "Huron Indian Cemetery," but it’s also known as the Wyandot National Burying Ground and has long been a sacred place for members of the Wyandot Nation.

Segment 1: MU and other universities are tracking attendance through a cellphone app.

Developed by a former Mizzou basketball coach, SpotterEDU has been used by MU to track attendance for student athletes for years and now they're expanding its use. MU says students can opt out if they're uncomfortable, but people across the country are concerned by the trend.

Jackson County (Missouri) Historical Society Archives

Back in 1970, Ilus Davis was the mayor of Kansas City, Missouri. The mob was a force to be reckoned with. The suburbs were booming. Paul Rudd was still in diapers. And the Chiefs won a Super Bowl.

KCUR's Suzanne Hogan brings you tales of the everyday heroes, renegades and visionaries who shaped Kansas City and the region. If these stories aren't told, they're in danger of fading into the past. The first episode drops February 6.

Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Play

Segment 1: The link between sports and social justice is stronger than some people think.

The fight to end discrimination against black folks is ongoing, and Harry Edwards, who has spent the majority of his life as an activist and leader in the world of sports, says there are no final victories in such a dynamic struggle. From Muhammad Ali to Colin Kaepernick, he has played a role in some of the greatest stories in athletics and activism. 

Associated Press

In their last Super Bowl appearance half a century ago, the Kansas City Chiefs achieved an upset in more ways than one.

Not only did they defeat the favored Minnesota Vikings 23-7, the game marked the first big break in law enforcement’s longstanding efforts to bring down the Kansas City mob.

File photo by Julie Denesha

Kansas City journalist and bon vivant Charles Ferruzza, known to newspaper and radio audiences for his restaurant reviews that were infused with a deep knowledge of the city’s history and idiosyncrasies of its high- and low-society denizens, died early Tuesday. He was 62.

A frequent guest on KCUR’s Central Standard food critics panel, Ferruzza’s role as a radio personality dated back to the days of The Walt Bodine Show.

"I clicked with Kansas City right away," Ferruzza told KCUR's Gina Kaufmann.

Courtesy Photo
Chouteaufountain.org

Kansas City likes to call itself the City of Fountains, but only two of approximately 200 fountains are north of the Missouri River. For years this has rankled northland officials and neighborhood leaders who have felt the entryways to their communities lacked inviting art and monuments.

Civic, neighborhood and political leaders hope that will change with The Francois Chouteau & Native Americans Heritage Fountain, currently scheduled to be completed in 2021.

Segment 1: Media bias and covering assassination in Iraq

Our Media Critics discussed early coverage of a top Iranian commander's assasination, and how continuing coverage could influence public opinion. The critics also discussed how both journalists and news consumers can manage their own personal biases.

Segment 1: 2019 highlights from the religion beat

From Paris and Christchurch to St. Louis, Missouri, storylines on religion and faith took us around the world over the last year. We reviewed those with the most impact, including the evangelical embrace of President Donald Trump's policies.

They're both from Kansas City's East Side, but the couple met at a conference in Cincinnati. Ever since they've been dreaming of making things happen for their community. Their plans for a new neighborhood on a vacant lot are so ambitious that just getting a shovel in the ground to start building would be an achievement of national significance.

  • Ebony Edwards, CEO, Movement KC
  • Daniel Edwards, architect, Movement KC

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

In 1991, when Reverend Eric Williams was new to his ministry, he was asked to perform a funeral for a young man who'd died of AIDS. The parents wanted to honor their son with a church service. Their own pastor had refused. 

An unspoken rule exists among clergy that pastors don't agree to things their colleagues have refused to do, but Williams couldn't stop thinking about the young man's family. The reckoning Williams experienced on the night of that phone call is still shaping Kansas City's approach to AIDS intervention, not to mention his work as a pastor.

Segment 1: What we understand the kids' meal to be and what it could be.

A lot of kids' meals are overpriced hot dogs or grilled cheese, but some restaurants do actually serve kids' menus that emphasize the strengths of the cuisine they serve. Plus, tips for introducing kids to new foods from a self-proclaimed lunch lady.

The life story of a Kansas City folk musician and civil rights icon.

From freedom songs to commercial jingles ("the grass pad's high on grass"), Danny Cox has been a reconigzable Kansas City voice for decades. But his introduction to the city was also an introduction to our history with segregation and racism. This show originally aired in 2015.

  • Danny Cox, musician

Segment 1: He came to Kansas City as the youngest concertmaster in the country in the 1950s; he died this year, leaving a poweful legacy behind.

Segment 1: Kansas City does have something named for Martin Luther King, Junior.

A month after Martin Luther King's name was voted off of a major boulevard, a cleaning effort is underway at a long-neglected park named after the civil rights icon. The park's been dedicated to King since 1978.

Segment 1: If Kansas City wants to go green, we have to drive less. Can we do it?

Transportation is the biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, with most of that coming from cars and trucks, but how realistic is it to expect people to break up with their cars in a city that was built for the automobile?

Courtesy of the family

Boston Daniels was chief of the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department for only one year.

But he is remembered not only as the city’s first black police chief, but for distinguishing himself as a cop who worked his way up through the ranks over 25 years.

“It is safe to say there has never been another police chief quite like Boston Daniels,” the Kansas City Kansan wrote in an editorial on May 17, 1971, marking Daniels' retirement.

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