Sunday, April 6, 2008

Standin' on the corner; The 1968 Kansas City Riots, Part II

If you're ever "goin' to Kansas City", don't bother looking for the corner of 12th St. and Vine. This is all that is left of the famous area that was home to such clubs as "The Orchid Room" and "The Boulevard Club," where such entertainers as Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker performed.
During the riots of 1968, much of this historic area was burned. No efforts were made by the community at large to restore it; some say that was to punish those residents of the East Side that those in power blamed for the riots. In the early 1970's, the remaining neighborhood was torn down. There is now a park and a lonely street sign where jazz greats once sang and played.
In the 1990's , Kansas City's first African-American Mayor, Emmanual Cleaver Jr. spearheaded redevelopment of the old Jazz District, this time centered around what was left of the district at 18th and Vine. Where there once were dozens of jazz clubs, the now is only one--The BlueRoom. The Jazz District is a tourist draw, but it's struggling. Municipal Stadium, where the Monarchs once reigned triumphant, was also torn down in the early 70's, replacing it with Royals Stadium (later Kaufmann) out in the safe suburbs. Think of all that history, created by racism, then lost to it.
For more information on the '68 Riots, go here:

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