Strife in the Streets: Kansas City Remembers 1968

Presented By
Emanuel Cleaver II, Sly James, Alvin Brooks, Clarence Gibson, Linda Spence, Joel P. Rhodes, Nick Haines

Frustrated with the slow pace of civil rights reforms and outraged at the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., protesters in Kansas City took to the streets on April 9, 1968. The four subsequent days of civil unrest shocked many in a city known for its lack of racial violence despite deep, underlying tensions. Six people – all African-Americans – died, some 20 more were hospitalized, and arrests totaled nearly 300. A three-block area of Prospect Avenue was bombed out and burned down.

The Library, in collaboration with KCPT-Kansas City PBS and KSHB-41 Action News, examines the indelible episode and its aftermath in a two-pronged event marking its 50th anniversary. First is the premiere screening of the new documentary short '68: The Kansas City Race Riots, Then and Now, co-produced by KSHB and KCPT. Then, a panel discussion featuring Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II, Mayor Sly James, and former city council member and longtime community activist Alvin Brooks addresses the lessons learned from the violent chapter of history, from the role of policing to the value of protest. 

Joining Cleaver and Brooks on the panel: Clarence Gibson, the last Kansas City police officer at the time of the unrest who remains on the force; Linda Spence, a Central High School student in 1968; and Southeast Missouri State University historian Joel Rhodes, who has extensively researched the episode. KCPT’s Nick Haines moderates.

'68: The Kansas City Race Riots Then and Now 

Visit the KSHB-41 Action News project website, which features video of the 30-minute documentary and other resources.

Visit the project website

Watch the KCPT-Kansas City PBS special highlighting the panel discussion below or click here.

KCPT – Kansas City PBS Facebook livestream:


Strife in the Streets: Kansas City Remembers 1968

Date & Location
Reception: 6 pm