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Racism in Kansas City: A Short History

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  87 ratings  ·  22 reviews
RACISM IN KANSAS CITY: A SHORT HISTORY BY G.S. GRIFFIN FOREWORD BY ALVIN BROOKS Anti-black racism still infects American society. African Americans are more likely than whites to be killed by police, to be pulled over, arrested, imprisoned, and executed. They are more likely to be turned down for a job or offered a bad home loan than equally qualified whites. The killing o ...more
Paperback, 274 pages
Published September 14th 2015 by Chandler Lake Books (first published September 7th 2015)
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Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, nonfiction
overall a very powerful narrative about the history of black/white race relations in KC. everyone from the KC area should read this, ESPECIALLY people from Johnson County. speaking as someone who grew up in Johnson County, race was barely talked about in my communities, much less the racial history of the very streets we were walking. it's so important to realize that places you see as normal/unremarkable have a history deeply tied to race, and that by living in this community, you are deeply ti ...more
Annelissa Taylor
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
First and foremost I would like to say that the time and effort put into this book definitely shows. The research is admirable and sound and it is woven together in a way that paints a clear picture of where Kansas City came from and where we stand to this day.

As someone studying urban planning I highly recommend this to anyone interested in the field to gain perspective and for a look at what you are walking into, not just in Kansas City but any large city in the United States. Griffin does a
Allyson Todd
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book helped me walk through my own ignorance, gave me a deeper hatred of racism, and changed the way that I drive through Kansas City. I feel informed and helped by this book. I'm sure it was difficult to find credible sources, but there were a few parts that raise more questions than answers for me, which may be a good thing, but overall, it was worth the read! ...more
Jan 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
"Progress will continue, as always, with ordinary people working together to eradicate racism and poverty in their communities using all the tools of the past, from petitions and peaceful protests to strikes and civil disobedience."

TLDR: Great short history I recommend to anyone in Missouri/Kansas, but particularly to Kansas Citians

I'm so glad I happened upon this book at the bookstore. It definitely is a short history (200ish pages aside from the lengthy notes). I learned a lot of things for t
Annie Windholz
Aug 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you live in Kansas City, put this book on hold at your local library immediately. It is exactly what I needed to read upon moving back to Kansas City. Frankly, I wish every city had such a book to tell the local history of racism, and highlight how it still persists today.
“History is not defined by the steady march of progress. There are years of progress and years of regress, depending on how many individuals in a community actively promote equality and justice, and oppose subjugation and vi
Jacob Williams
Nov 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An enlightening look at local history that provides helpful context for understanding the present. At <200 pages it doesn't take long to read. Well worth checking out. ...more
Jerry Smith
Sep 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: race, 2020-read, history
Although this book is likely to attract a limited readership due to its narrow geographic focus, the themes that resonate throughout are depressing familiar to anyone who has bothered to look at the history of race in this country. I have lived in KC for 15 years. I live to the South on the city, in Missouri but close to the lily white areas of Leawood and Overland Park. However, I work with the homeless in the city so I frequently travel downtown and through and within many of the areas discuss ...more
Ronni Kurtz
Jan 03, 2017 rated it liked it
I'm not sure I've worked through a book that was so hard for me to read. At one point I had to put the book down from feeling overly emotional while being in a public place. This book will and should stir up strong emotions in the reader. I found the breakdown of historic periods to be helpful as well as Griffin's consistent filling in the reader as to the present day location of historic landmarks. As a resident of Kansas City, I'd recommend this work to any who are interested in this vital top ...more
Jul 26, 2020 rated it liked it
The research is extremely sobering and shameful.. It is organized chronologically which is fine, but this book really needed a better editor to better organize the information. In some places there are whole paragraphs just recounting (horrible) happenings without without connecting to the larger story. Veteran Kansas City activist Alvin Brooks writes the foreword for this book and states it is written by a “young white ‘suburbanite,” and some of the language feels outdated and inappropriate in ...more
Nov 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A necessary read for anyone in and around the Kansas City area, or anyone who wants to better understand how slavery and racism continue to impact the outcomes of a community for generations. this reads much like a historical account and timeline of Kansas City, Missouri since its establishment to modern-day (2015). Can be dry in parts, like some historical books, but provides a depth of personal accounts and testimonies of Kanas Citians at different points throughout history. I learned much abo ...more
Erica Hopwood
Aug 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
A quick read, but certainly not an easy one. This book thought me a lot about slavery and systemic racism that wasn’t a part of any of my history textbooks. I found myself constantly bringing up a maps app to orient myself with locations described. There are also a few specific people and incidents I’ve bookmarked to learn more about later.
It was hard to read the stark truths about my beloved hometown, but much of what I read that covers my time living there rang true to what I saw and knew.

Jan 10, 2021 rated it liked it
You can definitely tell Griffin did a lot of research for this book. It's a relatively short read, but there are a lot of facts and data included. This book could stand to have a good edit to included updated verbiage - the term "blacks" is used frequently instead of "Black people" or "Black Americans." The writing is sometimes a little hard to follow considering it is supposed to follow a timeline, but jumps around in time and subject matter quite often. Considering Griffin is white, I do feel ...more
Oct 07, 2019 rated it liked it
It started well with a detailed history of slavery in the area, and the post-Civil War era. It was good to learn about the race riots of 1968. The second half of the book was not as good. Other than detailing the struggles of the school district, it is mostly a laundry list of racist incidents that have hit the local news. The author was not willing to admit that racism has decreased since the 60s, and he said it was only made more subtle. Also, he quotes comments from online articles about the ...more
Lisa Miller
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I checked this out of the library, stumbling across it while looking for something else. I suspect it is not easily acquired. The author is white, and he knows how to research. The book is just what it says - a short history. He did a good job hitting the main points. A detailed history could span volumes. He and I agree that racism is currently a major issue in our city, and his book clarifies many of the contributing factors. If you don't know how you got to where you are, how do you begin to ...more
Dec 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Learned about this book at a local event.

Feb 18, 2021 rated it liked it
Interesting and well- researched... organization is lacking
Luke Martin
Dec 28, 2020 rated it liked it
This was a good and enlightening list of some of the ways race has permeated life in the Kansas City metro, but it leaves something to be desired in the way of narrative.
Blair Broll
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A must read for midwesterners. A great history lesson, and a very clear break down of institutionalized racism.
kevin Pate
Oct 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Possibly the most well researched and written book I have read.
Brutally honest and deeply moving.
A must read for anyone, regardless of geography.
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Full of interesting facts and history. This book was better than I expected. For those outside of Kansas City you should read a book like this about wherever you reside. White supremacy and racism is not just a national truth, it is a local one as well. Kansas Citians for years pretended they were somehow different, this book explodes that myth.
Nov 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
The facts and detailed events in this book all show the long history of racial injustice and racial dynamics in Kansas City. As a Kansas City native, this book has been enlightening and educational. A must read for all wanting to have social equality in our society.
Charles & Tammy Beeghley
Good look back and the reality of today.

This is a very informative book. The author tends to drift, but it worth a read for anyone interested in history or the background of Kansas City.
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Jan 10, 2020
Brenna McLeod
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Mar 20, 2021
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Jan 22, 2021
Mari Rydings
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Dec 18, 2020
kara joy
rated it it was amazing
Apr 12, 2017
Kim Liles
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Jul 23, 2020
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Jul 13, 2017
rated it it was ok
Jan 31, 2018
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G.S. Griffin is an activist writer in Kansas City, cofounder of the Kansas City chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, co-founder of a cooperative to support progressive causes and candidates and works in political advocacy at Communities Creating Opportunity.

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