Dividing Lines

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.

Horizontal rectangular black and white copy photograph of school exterior on hill, viewed from slightly below. Three story rectangular brick building with large windows. Several bare trees. Sidewalk at right winds uphill to entrance. Handwritten in bottom margin:"SM - East."

Shawnee Mission East High School (Photo courtesy of the Johnson County Museum Collection on JoCoHistory.org)

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.

Horizontal rectangular black and white film negative of aerial view of Prairie Village. Area is primarily residential. View looks west. Roe Avenue runs left-right above the center of the image. Mission Road runs left-right along the bottom of the image. Tomahawk Road runs diagonally from the upper left to the bottom edge near the center. 71st Street runs from Mission Road to Roe Avenue to the left of the center of the image. 67th Street runs from Mission Road to the upper right corner of the image. Commercial development on Tomahawk Road near its intersection with Mission Road. Portion of airplane strut visible in top left corner.

Aerial view of Prairie Village looking west. Roe Avenue runs left-right above the center of the image. Mission Road runs left-right along the bottom of the image. Tomahawk Road runs diagonally from the upper left to the bottom edge near the center. 71st Street runs from Mission Road to Roe Avenue to the left of the center of the image. 67th Street runs from Mission Road to the upper right corner of the image. (Photo courtesy of the Johnson County Museum Collection on JoCoHistory.org)

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.

Color postcard of landscaped area along a street and stone bridge in Mission Hills. The horizontal image has a white border. The view is of a residential area. A portion of a large house is at the extreme left. The street curves near the right of the image. The house is partially obscured by trees. The stone bridge is at the right of the road and is arched over a small waterway. Flowers are in bloom at the right. The postcard was not postally used. The back has a space for the message at the left and the address and stamp at the right. Museum label: "2005.34.2" Black text in upper right corner: "PEMBROKE LANE, MISSION HILLS, KANSAS CITY, MO" Black text in lower right corner: "97996" Vertical text on the back, along left edge: "PUBLISHED BY R. B. HARNESS GREETING CARD CO., KANSAS CITY, MO." Vertical text on the back, at the center: "C. T. AMERICAN ART COLORED" above loco for "C T" "Chicago"

Postcard of Mission Hills (Photo courtesy of the Johnson County Museum collection on JoCoHistory.org)

“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.

Get more information and download the app now.

-Johnson County Library staff

 

1 Comment

Filed under Cities & Towns, Research

One response to “Dividing Lines

  1. Val Edwards

    My husband and I did this tour by car on May 3, 2020. It was educational, informative, enlightening. Also, the audio worked pretty well, it skipped fewer than 6 stops. Thanks for offering this tour to the public.

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