Designed by Johnson County Library staff and community partners.
Kansas City remains one of the most segregated cities in America, with a dividing line, Troost Avenue, running north and south through the heart of the city. KC Segregation Tours are a journey through the history of segregation in the Kansas City metro area, primarily through its real estate and some of its most recognized landmarks.
The tours journey 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 guides explain how and why which neighborhoods became which. It is a complex story that continues to unfold today.
The tours are designed so that you can safely drive through the city at your own pace while hearing stories about each area you travel through. You can experience them one of three ways:
Download the PDF of the Story of Segregation Tour that Race Project KC students take as one of their key experiences. Driving Directions and Discussion Questions are included.
Download the Dividing Lines app on Android or iOS and be guided through the tour by an audio narration. The 90-minute drive includes interviews from several area students and notable city figures Sid Willens, Bill Tammeus, Mamie Hughes, and Margaret May.
View the Dividing Linesvirtual driving tour, an interactive, 360-degree video with narration, interviews, and supplemental material. Experience 90 minutes of views and history without leaving home.
By highlighting the history of segregation in Kansas City, Dividing Lines sheds light on the governmental policies and individual actions which decimated Black neighborhoods all over the United States. Each option tells a different version of the same story, emphasizing different facts and sights. It is not repetitive to enjoy them all.
The Truth About Troost - Made by Race Project KC students - "Troost is a place where people in Kansas City don't go, unless you live there. Tanner Colby, author of Some of My Best friends are Black, gives an in depth explanation why segregation in the housing industry in Kansas City has portrayed Troost as a dividing line between the middle class and poverty, white and black people, and what needs to be done to integrate communities not only surrounding Kansas City, but in other major cities what still deal with racial segregation."
Building the Troost Wall: Structural Racism in Kansas City - Featuring Nathaniel Bozarth, narrator of the Dividing Lines app tour - "For Challenge 6, 'Get Uncomfortable,' I decided to go to KC and eat at a fancy place on the Plaza (uncomfortable for me) and then walk with Nathaniel Bozarth to a place on Prospect Ave for a second meal (even more uncomfortable). Along the way we explore the making of the Troost Wall and the history of structural racism in KC."
Land of Opportunity - Kansas City PBS special telling the story of integration in the Santa Fe Place neighborhood as one example in the fight for housing rights across America following the Great Depression.
The Disturbing History of the Suburbs - An episode of the Adam Ruins Everything series that succinctly presents the history of redlining and discriminatory housing practices and how they created the segregated world we have today, including segregated schools.
Government Redlining - An introduction to the real estate and lending practices that led to the segregation of U.S. neighborhoods.
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. . . . In the South, Jim Crow was just the law. In Kansas City, [real estate developer] J.C. Nichols turned it into a product. Then he packaged it, commodified it, and sold it. Whiteness was no longer just an inflated social status. Now it was worth cash money. . . . Between 1908 and 1948, racial covenants were used to exclude [blacks] from 62 percent of all new housing developments in Jackson County, Missouri (home of Kansas City proper). During that same period, racial covenants had excluded them from 96 percent of all new housing developments in Johnson County, Kansas. And between 1934 and 1962, the Federal Housing Authority backed mortgages for more than 77,000 homes in the Kansas City area; less than 1 percent of those loans went to blacks. ~Tanner Colby, Some of My Best Friends Are Black
"Reckoning with Racism in Johnson County" - A three-part series by the Shawnee Mission Post that delves into the racial landscape of Johnson County. (A JoCoLibrary card is needed to access these links.) Part 1: A History of Exclusion - A look at the historical factors that created our current situation. Part 2: An Attempt to Integrate - Some of the activists and historical figures who worked to change the county's racial make-up. Part 3: An Enduring Struggle - Current efforts to address past wrongs and create a more equitable environment.
We Are Wyandotte - Home of the H.E.A.T. Report that uncovers health inequities based on place of residence in Wyandotte County, with connections to historical redlining practices, a video series, related comics, and more.
Housing Segregation and the Birth of Johnson County - A short article and video from United Community Services (UCS) of Johnson County, with links to sources and resources for delving deeper. Talks both about the past and current segregation, and it impacts health equity.
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art School Tours - "School tours are interactive gallery experiences led by skilled docents offering learner-centered activities and open-ended discussion inspired by works of art. School tours are designed for students from preschool through college."
Literacy KC's Adventure App - Explore (either in-person or "virtually" from anywhere in the world) 30 landmarks of Black History in Kansas City. Each stop has narrative audio describing its history, with the narration provided by prominent members of Kansas City's Black community (including a few celebrity cameos.) After you listen to the audio, you can play a short trivia game for that location to earn points. Post a selfie to the Selfie Wall to earn even more points! For Android and for Apple.
2019 State of Black Kansas City - Urban Education: Still Separate and Unequal - From the Urban League of Greater Kansas City. "Provides an in-depth look into the prevailing issues that undergird the socioeconomic gaps between blacks and whites in Greater Kansas City. In addition to a special collection of essays and op-eds that spotlight urban education issues, this report includes the Black/White and Hispanic/White Equality Indexes. The equality indices were created to capture empirical evidence of African-American and Latinx progress in economics, health, education, social justice, and civic engagement."
Self-Guided Curriculum: Race, Racism, and the American Experience - From the University of Missouri. "This guide is an invitation to do challenging and necessary inner work to disarm our preconceived notions. It will require that you cultivate a practice grounded in self-reflection and an understanding of your role as a life-long learner. We hope you study, journal, reflect, and if possible, engage in dialogue and deliberation with your unit colleagues about what you are reading and exploring in this guide for the next 10 days. Every day is designed around a specific topic with resources and activities structured in four steps: Learn, Reflect, Take Actions, and Explore some more." See also their Resources for Identity Education.
How Red Lines Built White Wealth: A Lesson on Housing Segregation in the 20th Century - Teaching Activity. By Ursula Wolfe-Rocca. The mixer role play is based on Richard Rothstein’s The Color of Law, which shows in exacting detail how government policies segregated every major city in the United States with dire consequences for African Americans. From the Zinn Education Project, which "promotes and supports the teaching of people’s history in classrooms across the country. For more than ten years, it has introduced students to a more accurate, complex, and engaging understanding of history than is found in traditional textbooks and curricula. The website offers free, downloadable lessons and articles organized by theme, time period, and grade level. Based on the approach to history highlighted in Howard Zinn’s best-selling book A People’s History of the United States, their teaching materials emphasize the role of working people, women, people of color, and organized social movements in shaping history."
Structural Racism: A Maynard Institute Case Study by Brenda Payton - This report is designed as a tool for journalists and researchers. It includes links to more than 260 studies that, since 2010, have found racial disparities in all aspects of American society. Most of the sections include examples of institutions and initiatives working to solve the problem. Many of the studies can serve as a launching point for journalists to investigate the specific issue in their communities. The resources are grouped by topic: Structural Racism, COVID-19, Criminal Justice, Police, Disenfranchisement, Education, School Discipline, Teachers and Racial Disparity, Employment, Health, Environmental Racial Disparities, Healthy Food, Housing, Lending, Banking, and Wealth.
Redlining and Neighborhood Health - This project from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition offers side-by-side maps of over 140 U.S. cities, comparing redlining designations from the 1930s to current health outcomes. The interactive maps allow visitors to see how neighborhoods defined by federal policy in the past suffer today not only from reduced wealth and greater poverty, but from lower life expectancy and higher incidence of chronic diseases that are risk factors for poor outcomes from COVID-19.
Teaching Tolerance - "Teaching Tolerance provides free resources to educators—teachers, administrators, counselors and other practitioners—who work with children from kindergarten through high school. Educators use the materials to supplement the curriculum, to inform their practices, and to create civil and inclusive school communities where children are respected, valued and welcome participants. The program emphasizes social justice and anti-bias. The anti-bias approach encourages children and young people to challenge prejudice and learn how to be agents of change in their own lives. Their Social Justice Standards show how anti-bias education works through the four domains of identity, diversity, justice and action."
65 Resources for Racial and Health Equity - From Teach.com. These articles, toolkits, research pieces and other materials provide information about issues facing Black Americans, indigenous communities, and other minority groups, and offer strategies for taking action to advance racial equity across society—particularly in healthcare.
The 1619 Project: Pulitzer Center Education Programming - "The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are." In the Pulitzer Center's curriculum "you will find reading guides, activities, and other resources to bring The 1619 Project into your classroom."
Mission US - "Mission US engages young people in the study of transformational moments in American history. Each mission consists of an interactive narrative game and curriculum materials aligned to national standards. The games immerse players in rich, historical settings and empower them to make choices that illuminate how ordinary people experienced the past. The educator’s guides provide a wealth of resources and activities for teachers and students that show the broader social, political, and economic context of events and perspectives featured in the game."