October 25, 2023 The Race Project Advisory Committee, which convened earlier this year, is overflowing with dreamers, advocates, creatives, educators, and storytellers who are gorgeously diverse, passionate, and curious about the future of Kansas City and its students. We want to share some beliefs held by our Committee members as they continue to formulate the future of Race Project KC:
Imani, a student, shares three drivers for Race Project KC’s mission: “we are the future,” “anyone can bring change,” and “everyone is valuable.”
Jason, a professor, notes that “collaboration and impactful learning experiences can be the foundation of measurable, material change in the city.”
Melisa, a recruitment coordinator, says RPKC “centers learning--and not perform[ative] knowing.”
Marquis, an assistant principal, believes that “RPKC is driven by belonging, identity, and liberation.”
Nasir, a managing editor, shares that RPKC “believes youth deserve an equal hand to adults in deciding their future [and] educating future generations will lead to reparative work."
The Committee will hold listening and discussion sessionsabout Kansas City’s and Race Project KC’s past and potential, and your experiences and hopes carry influence over the initiative's future. To watch for opportunities to particulate and stay up to date with us:
Tanner Colby's visit to the Kansas City area to discuss his book Some of My Best Friends are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America was a driving force behind the beginnings of Race Project KC, an immersive experience for students to explore their shared history through the lens of race. If you’d like a window into Race Project KC’s history, look no farther than our catalog, where we offer both physical and digital copies of Colby’s book. Colby’s book focuses on several cities across the United States where the process of integration has been fraught with obstacles, including Kansas City’s fight against housing discrimination, a Louisiana struggle for an integrated church, and more. Part investigative journalism, part social commentary, Colby’s history will be of interest to anyone who wants to learn more about Kansas City’s history as well as America’s cultural landscape and the forces that have shaped it. “In the twentieth century, Kansas City produced two uniquely American geniuses who would both forever alter the physical and cultural landscape of the country. One of these men built a magic kingdom, a fantasy world that offered nonstop, wholesome family fun and a complete escape from reality. The other one moved to Hollywood and opened a theme park.” – Tanner Colby, Some of My Best Friends are Black
Race Project KC Advisory Committee Begins Work, Including Group Dividing Lines Tour
July 28 , 2023 - The Race Project KC Advisory Committee was formed over recent months, comprised of applicants from the community who were selected based partly on their ability to provide a variety of perspectives from various dimensions of diversity, including race and ethnicity, geographic location, gender and sexual orientation, and age.The group includes students, educators, parents, business and partner organization representatives, and interested citizens from many walks of life. Now the Advisory Committee has begun its work! The Advisory Committee convened in late June for an Orientation. Now, the Committee will meet monthly. A Committee field trip is being planned for later this Summer, during which members will experience the Dividing Lines tour together.A similar, history-based segregation bus tour was the first experience the Race Project KC initiative offered to students almost 10 years ago.
The segregation tour has remained a central component of Race Project KC, even as its form has developed over time. What began as a private experience led by our resident experts first became widely available through openly shared paper directions and historical notes. Partners helped develop that into the Dividing Lines app, a narrated audio tour for everyone. The app was followed by the creation of an interactive, 360-degree virtual video version of the tour for anyone to watch from anywhere.
Dividing Lines is a tour of the Kansas City area’s history of racially restrictive covenants, redlining, and blockbusting: how they created residential segregation and continue to have far-reaching impacts.The tour is designed so that you can watch or safely drive through the city at your own pace while hearing stories about each area you travel through. It includes interviews from several area students and notable city figures Sid Willens, Bill Tammeus, Mamie Hughes, and Margaret May.
This tour was made possible by support from Johnson County Library and the Kansas Humanities Council. It was produced by Brainroot Light & Sound. Written by Nathaniel Bozarth and Christopher Cook, and narrated by Bozarth, ethnographer and host of the “Wide Ruled” podcast. The tour features music from Hermon Mehari and KC Jazz LP.
You can join the Advisory Committee in taking the Dividing Lines tour, either by driving and using the app, or virtually from anywhere. We’re excited to share our process with you as our Advisory Committee begins shaping the future of Race Project KC. To stay up to date with us, you can:
Race Project KC Advisory Committee to Convene in June
June 16 , 2023 - Race Project KC received 90 applications for its Advisory Committee, which will steer the initiative’s direction in the coming years.
The Race Project KC Team spent several full days reviewing applications. The candidates were reviewed for various dimensions of diversity including race and ethnicity, geographic location, gender and sexual orientation, and age. From the applicants, 25 candidates have been identified and all applicants will be contacted by June 23. The accepted candidates will convene for an Orientation on the evening of June 27. After that, the Committee will meet on a monthly basis. Late Summer the Committee will also gather to take the Dividing Lines tour together. You can take the Dividing Lines tour as well, either by driving and using the app, or virtually from anywhere.
We’re excited to share our process with you as our Advisory Committee begins shaping the future of Race Project KC. To stay up to date with us, you can:
June 7, 2023 - Race Project KC is an annual immersive social justice initiative, coordinated by Johnson County Library. The program’s goal has been to help students cross dividing lines, build connections, and better understand each other and our shared history.
Johnson County Library and our funding partner, the Kauffman Foundation, are looking for ways we can expand this program beyond its current limits. To this end, we are recruiting an advisory committee to help us explore and strategize RPKC's next iteration. The Race Project KC Advisory Committee will consist of a combination of members from the community, including students, teachers, parents, administrators, business partners, and other leaders who will help steer the direction of the Race Project KC initiative and provide valuable feedback.
This will be a 2-year (virtual and/or in-person) process for which the Advisory Committee will be paid a monthly base stipend of approximately $300. The Advisory Committee will consist of approximately 24 members that will:
Define the “what” and “who” of Race Project KC
Identify who will the responsible party for Race Project KC
Steer the community engagement process
The Race Project team held Information Sessions virtually & in person in mid-May. The deadline to submit applications was May 31st, 2023. The RPKC team will review applications June 1st, 2nd, & 7th and communicate further details the week of June 12th.
May 9, 2023 - Race Project KC started as an annual immersive social justice initiative for students in grades 9 through 12 in the Kansas City metro area. Established by Johnson County Library, Race Project KC emerged after author Tanner Colby's 2014 visits to our area to talk about his book Some of My Best Friends are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America. Local educators and Library staff were inspired to develop experiences for area teens. The program’s goal has been to help students cross dividing lines, build connections, and better understand each other and our shared history through the lens of race.
In the years 2015-2022, our focus was workshops for high school students. We have always wanted to do more, and our community has always desired more—to include more schools and more experiences, not just for high schoolers, but for all ages. We paused all activities for the 2022-2023 school year to take time to lay the foundation for this new growth.
We are now launching the next phase of building an expanded Race Project KC with your help. Johnson County Library has spearheaded the formation of a team to begin the work of reshaping Race Project KC. We are excited to announce a partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art to explore the future of Race Project KC and how we can grow our capacity. Our first goal is to create an Advisory Committee who will steer this next iteration of the initiative.
Later this month, we’ll put out a call for candidates for the Advisory Committee. You can watch for that announcement and other ways to become involved here: