Kansas City remains one of the most segregated cities in America, with Troost Avenue serving as a de facto dividing line running north and south through the heart of the city. Journey through the history of social, physical, and economic segregation in Johnson County and Kansas City with the Dividing Lines tour on the VoiceMap app via your smartphone.
Starting at Shawnee Mission East High School, the app will direct you along a route that tells the story of segregation in our community that ends at the Ivanhoe Community Center. The tour is designed so that you can safely drive through the city at your own pace while hearing stories about each area you pass. The 90 minute tour includes insightful context and fascinating interviews from area residents and notable Kansas Citians like activist Mamie Hughes, executive director of the Ivanhoe Community Center Margaret May, author and Kansas City Star columnist Bill Tammeus, and attorney Sidney Willens.
The Dividing Lines tour guides listeners through the history of segregation in the Kansas City metro areas of Johnson County, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri. It primarily discusses segregation through the areas’ real estate and some of its most recognized landmarks. The tour courses through neighborhoods that are considered the crown jewels of the metropolitan area as well as neighborhoods that fell victim to redlining, blockbusting, and white flight. The app tour explains how and why these neighborhoods look the way they do today. It is a complex story that few people know yet continues to unfold and affects our everyday lives.
“Dividing Lines” was created as a part of the Johnson County Library’s “Race Project KC.” The Library’s Civic Engagement Committee’s “The Story of Segregation in Kansas City” bus tour and Tanner Colby’s book “Some of My Best Friends are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America” inspired much of the ongoing work of Race Project KC. This tour was made possible by support from Johnson County Library and the Kansas Humanities Council. It was produced by Brainroot Light & Sound, and written by Nathaniel Bozarth (“Wide Ruled”) and Christopher Cook. The tour features music from Hermon Mehari and KC Jazz.
The content of this tour may contain controversial material; such statements are not an expression of library policy.
-Johnson County Library staff