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In a show inspired by the film Hidden Figures, we hear local stories, like the story of Ed Dwight, a KCK native, came close to being the black man on a multiracial mission to the moon dreamed up by John F. Kennedy. This show has been rebroadcast, in 2020, as a tribute to the memory of NASA mathematician Katherine Goble Johnson, whose huge role in historic space launches was not well-known until Hidden Figures came out. She died this week at the age of 101. Guests: 

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.

Shannon Lockwood / Courtesy of Emily Brown

Emily Brown runs a nonprofit in the Kansas City area. She is a black woman who wears her hair naturally. In 2016, she was invited to speak at a national conference, but one of the board members pulled her aside.

"'You know, I think you’re smart,'" Brown told the story recently on KCUR's Central Standard. "'But I’m concerned, you know, that people in the room may not fully hear you because of your hair. You should consider straightening your hair, you know, before you take this trip.'"

Segment 1: Missouri looks to start opening medical marijuana dispensaries in June.

Missouri's Department of Health and Senior Services has issued licenses for 192 medical marijuana dispensaries since a voter approved initiative for medical cannabis passed in 2018. Once patients are able to start purchasing, and in some cases growing, the product, the state could look to issue more dispensary licenses based on supply and demand.

Courtesy Dee Jackson

Former KSHB-TV Channel 41 sports anchor Demetrice “Dee” Jackson has settled his race discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against the station.

Jackson’s attorneys said the matter had been “resolved,” but declined further comment.

Jackson, who is no longer employed at the station, confirmed that the case was over and that he was “pleased with the end result.”

“I’m happy it’s been resolved,” Jackson said. “That’s pretty much all I can say off the top of my head without saying too much.”

Segment 1: Kansas lawmakers are debating a bill to end hair discrimination.

The idea behind the CROWN Act is to ban employers and schools from expecting people of color to adopt "white hair norms" in the workplace and the classroom. 

Segment 1: Why the Shawnee Mission School Board authorized controversial teacher contract.

Failed contract negotiations between teachers and administrators in the Shawnee Mission School District resulted in the district's Board of Education unilaterally approving a three-year contract. Members of the school board explained some of the complexities of the situation and discussed what options remain for teachers.

Segment 1: A young Kansas City poet reads Dear White Police Officer.

Veronica Clay was one of the featured performers at the Kansas City Jazz Museum for last year's Martin Luther King Day celebration (2019). This is a rebroadcast of a conversation about the poem she read, and her experience of race in Kansas City.

  • Veronica Clay, poet and spoken word artist

Segment 2: What premature birth can teach us about being human.

KCUR 89.3

The KCUR news staff presents the State of Kansas City series as a look ahead to 2020 on topics of importance to the region. Find the State of Kansas City report on other topics in the series as they are published each weekday, Jan. 6–Jan. 20. Follow coverage on these topics at KCUR.org and on 89.3 FM throughout the year.

Diversity and inclusion is a nebulous phrase that covers a lot of territory.

In Kansas City in 2019, KCUR covered issues of race, the LGBTQ community and how school districts addressed diversity issues.

Segment 1: A winning NFL franchise puts money in the pockets of its host economy.

Kansas Citians have more to celebrate than just an exciting season for the Chiefs. One study shows when an NFL team is successful, fans in the home city are happier and more productive. That increased productivity creates an economic impact of up to $100 per capita but don't be calling the Chiefs to collect! 

Segment 1: Kansas City's journey toward greater inclusivity takes one step forward, two steps back.

The state of diversity and inclusion in Kansas City is shaping up to be one of this year's most tenuous storylines. We previewed both positive and negative issues facing marginalized communities in the metro, including diversity training for law enforcement and seemingly discriminatory legislative efforts.

Segment 1: A new kind of Women's March in Kansas City aims to include more diverse voices.

Lee's Summit R-7 Schools

Updated, 3:51 p.m. Tuesday – The Lee’s Summit school board has hired a new superintendent, David Buck.

Buck has served as superintendent for the Wright City schools, a tiny district about 40 miles west of St. Louis, since 2015. He’ll start in Lee’s Summit on July 1.

Dennis Carpenter, the district’s first black superintendent, resigned in July amid ongoing tension over diversity training for teachers and staff.

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: How to make greeting cards more diverse.

Cards are about relationships. So if none of the greeting cards on the shelf represent the person you're reaching out to, or the occasion you're celebrating, it won't feel quite right. Though recent decisions by Hallmark caused controversy, a few months ago they were making moves to make more communities feel "seen" in the greeting card aisle.

What motivates a Baptist pastor to provide AIDS education, a fitness center and other unconventional services.

Reverend Eric Williams has been at the forefront of AIDS outreach since 1991, when he held a funeral for an openly gay man after a colleague refused to do it. Today, he continues to focus his ministry on health as a way of helping his congregant achieve the "abundant life" he preaches about. Hear his story, beginning with a childhood in zipcode 64130.

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: 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: Congressman for Missouri's 5th district shares his stance on the current  impeachment inquiry.

Representative Emanuel Cleaver said constituents in Missouri's 5th District have mixed feelings on impeaching the president. Cleaver has been cautious in his calls for impeachment, but is now certain a crime was committed. Learn why he said, "It's not so much a political crime as it is a civil crime." 

Segment 1: The woman who coined 'white fragility' unpacks the meaning of the term.

Robin DiAngelo first started noticing what she now calls 'white fragility' about twenty years ago, when she worked alongside people of color as a diversity trainer. The resulting research culminated in a book that's been a New York Times Bestseller for more than a year. It's also elicited death threats.

courtesy of Natasha Ria El-Scari

When it comes to talking about sex, the accepted wisdom is that parents and kids alike would just rather not. But Kansas City poet Natasha Ria El-Scari doesn't think that's healthy.

Neither does her college-age son, who says he's benefited from his mother's openness and candor in a way his peers are missing out on.

"You need to write a book and call it the 'Mama Sutra'," he once told her. "You can thank me later."

Natasha El-Scari is out with a new book, Mama Sutra: Love and Lovemaking Advice to My Son.  She wrote it for anyone who needs understanding going into intimate relationships that they did not receive, with a focus on respect for oneself and others. In this conversation, El-Scari shares the experiences with intellect, womanhood, motherhood and community that led her to this project, and others to come.

Segment 1: A famous crossword puzzle creator makes Kansas City his home.

David Steinberg has been making crossword puzzles since he was 12, and getting them published in the New York Times since he was 14. He's just moved to Kansas City. In this conversation, he talks about sleeping on Will Shortz's couch, and other career milestones.

Segment 1: A Kansas City dance performance is a transatlantic collaboration.

Krystle Warren and Brad Cox have been musical collaborators for years, continuing to make music together across an ocean. As Warren prepares to head from Paris to Kansas City for an October performance, the two discuss their shared history and their craft.

Seg. 1: Holocaust Survivor Photos | Seg. 2: Barnstorming Tour

Sep 30, 2019

Segment 1: Kansas City is part of a global mission to collect and exhibit Holocaust survivor portraits.

Luigi Toscano wants people to look in the eyes of Holocaust survivors. His large-format photographs displayed in cities worldwide have elicited strong responses, ranging from a reunion of two former schoolmates separated by war to violent attacks in Vienna, where entire communities showed up to repair and protect the art.

Courtesy of Dee Jackson

Just over a year after he sued KSHB 41 Action News for race discrimination and retaliation, sports anchor Dee Jackson was let go with no notice.

Jackson said he was out covering a Chiefs practice on Sept. 4 when he got a call to come back to the station, where he was told his contract would not be renewed and that it was his last day. 

"That was a real punch to the gut," he told KCUR.

KCUR 89.3 / StoryCorps

KCUR is part of StoryCorps' One Small Step initiative to bring together people of differing political opinions for real conversations. This is one we've chosen to highlight.

Kevin McEvoy, who describes himself as "very conservative," wants to make sure his children grow up without prejudice against people of color. But he's admittedly unsure about how best to guide them.

Seg. 1: A KU professor is raising the bar for the standard of evidence in psychology.

A recent study reveals that a high percentage of treatments long believed to be supported by evidence don't measure up to today's standards for repeatability. What that means for the field of psychology, and why a KU professor is obsessed with learning more.

Segment 1: Making greeting cards more diverse.

Cards are about relationships. So if none of the greeting cards on the shelf represent the person you're reaching out to, or the occasion you're celebrating, it won't feel quite right. Hallmark's trying to make more communities feel "seen" in the greeting card aisle.

  • Monic Houpe, product director, Hallmark
  • Christy Moreno, editorial director, Hallmark

Segment 2: Why Kansas and Missouri astronomers are fighting to save dark skies.

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