Visions of America: Discovering 18th & Vine in Kansas City – Stories of African American History and Culture

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Program Description:

18th & Vine has been the heart and soul of the African American community in Kansas City, bolstering the American dream of freedom and equality. A vibrant center of African American culture, it is the home to important historic sites like the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) and the American Jazz Museum.

NLBM was founded to keep the stories alive of its players and how they fought the barriers of segregation in Major League Baseball, including Jackie Robinson. Learning about the important role of the Negro Leagues Baseball in our nation’s favorite pastime, explore the museum and hear insights about renowned players like Satchel Paige and others. Next, visit the American Jazz Museum, highlighting the remarkable role of jazz in Kansas City fostering a thriving community as the art form matured.

Institute of Museum and Library Services Crosby Kemper leads conversations discussing the importance of this vibrant center for Black history and culture with NLBM President Bob Kendrick, American Jazz Museum’s Muriel Boyd, and authors and experts Joe Posnanski, Arnold Rampersad, and Chuck Haddix.

Lastly, Crosby visits Gates Bar-B-Q for some quintessential Kansas City food and talks to owner Ollie Gates, Sr. and Congressman Emanuel Cleaver about 18th & Vine and its recent comeback.

About Visions of America

Visions of America – All Stories, All People, All Places, hosted by Institute of Museum and Library Services Director Crosby Kemper, explores our great nation and uses its diverse collection of museums, libraries and historians both familiar and new to tell some of the lesser-known stories that have flown under the radar in our shared legacy of American Independents. Over the course of 3 half-hour episodes in its first season, the program journeys to different historical sites throughout the nation for conversations that will tell the engaging but sometimes hidden stories that resonate with where we are at as a nation today. and maybe give some insight and inspiration on how we got here. But history doesn’t just exist in a museum. Each episode will also venture out into the cities these institutions call home to delve further into what makes each of these communities so important to our national identity, all with the help of local historians who know the stories of their community better than anyone.

Guest Biographies:

Arnold Rampersad, Professor Emeritus at Stanford University

Arnold Rampersad is Professor Emeritus in the Department of English at Stanford University. He has published several essays and books, including the two-volume Life of Langston Hughes; Jackie Robinson: A Biography; and Ralph Ellison: A Biography. A former MacArthur Foundation fellow, he is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.

Chuck Haddix, Director of Marr Sound Archives

Chuck Haddix is the director of the Marr Sound Archives, a collection of 350,000 historic sound recordings housed in the Miller Nichols Library at the University of Missouri–Kansas City. Haddix also teaches Kansas City jazz history at the Kansas City Art Institute. Over the years, Haddix has contributed to a wide variety of theatrical, recording, video and film projects including “Cronkite Remembers” a biography of Walter Cronkite, Robert Altman’s “Kansas City” and Merchant-Ivory’s “Mr. and Mrs. Bridge.” He is the coauthor of Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime to Bebop–A History for Oxford University Press and author of Bird: The Life and Music of Charlie Parker for the University of Illinois Press.

Muriel Boyd, Humanitarian

Muriel Boyd is a passionate person who seeks to see the best in the lives of everyone around her. Over the years, this passion has led Boyd to a number of paid and voluntary positions in the Kansas City region and internationally, such as BSF International and with patrons and visitors at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art and the American Jazz Museum. Upon Boyd’s retirement with the Social Security Administrative Office, she was directed to dedicate her time and skills to humanitarian work in Bangladesh for 8 years, as well as twice to Brazil and to other service opportunities stateside.

Bob Kendrick, President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

Bob Kendrick was named President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) in March 2011. Kendrick is responsible for the museum’s day-to-day operations and the development and implementation of strategies to advance the mission of the 501 c3, not-for-profit organization. Kendrick has been responsible for the creation of several signature museum educational programs and events including the Hall of Game which annually honors former Major League Baseball greats who played the game in the spirit and signature style of the Negro Leagues. And while he doesn’t fashion himself to be a historian, Kendrick has become one of the leading authorities on the topic of Negro Leagues Baseball history and its connection to issues relating to sports, race and diversity. He has been a contributing writer for “Ebony Magazine” and the national Urban League’s “Opportunity Magazine.”

Joe Posnanski, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

Joe Posnanski is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of seven books, including bestsellers “Why We Love Baseball”, “The Baseball 100” and “Paterno”. He has been named National Sportswriter of the Year by five different organizations. He writes at and currently lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with his family.

Ollie Gates, Sr., Owner of Gates Bar-B-Q

Ollie Gates, Sr. is a Black businessman and restauranteur, known widely for the Gates Bar-B-Q restaurants that have contributed to Kansas City’s reputation for quality barbecue. After graduating from Lincoln High School in 1949, Gates first attended Maryland State College before returning to Lincoln University and earning a degree in engineering. After serving two years in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, he was discharged as a 1st Lieutenant. After his father’s death in 1960, Gates took over the running of the family barbecue business, expanding to several locations across the Kansas City metro area. He is also credited with a strong push to modernize the restaurant, standardizing customer service and kitchen practices, even starting a barbecue university he named “Rib Tech”. Gates Bar-B-Q eventually became one of Kansas City’s most famous barbecue restaurants. In 2021 Gates was inducted into the American Royal Barbecue Hall of Fame.

Emanuel Cleaver II, Congressman, Missouri’s Fifth District

Emanuel Cleaver II is now serving his tenth term representing Missouri’s Fifth Congressional District, the home district of President Harry Truman. He is a member of the House Committee on Financial Services; Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance; member of Subcommittee on Capital Markets; and member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission. Having served for twelve years on the city council of Missouri’s largest municipality, Kansas City, Cleaver was elected as the city’s first African American Mayor in 1991. During his eight-year stint in the Office of the Mayor, Cleaver distinguished himself as an economic development activist and an unapologetic redevelopment craftsman. Additionally, his municipal stewardship includes the 18th and Vine Redevelopment, a new American Royal, the establishment of a Family Division of the Municipal Court, and the reconstruction and beautification of Brush Creek.

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