Visions of America
Crosby Kemper III
Crosby Kemper III, who served nearly 15 years as executive director of the Kansas City Public Library, returns to discuss his latest project: a PBS-produced video series on historical sites across our country that symbolize the spirit of its independence. Among them: KC’s 18th & Vine Jazz District.
The three-part series, Visions of America: All Stories, All People, All Places, also spotlights the Wing Luke Museum in Seattle, the only pan-Asian, community-based museum in the U.S.; and the Freedom Tower (or Torre de la Libertad) in Miami, which served in the 1960s and ’70s as a crucial help center for Cuban refugees fleeing communism and political persecution.
The 18th & Vine Jazz District, of course, is a vibrant center for Black history and culture in Kansas City.
Kemper discusses the series’ creation and production and shares some favorite locations that did not make the short list of selections.
Kemper oversaw the Library from 2005 to the end of 2019, when he received a presidential appointment to head the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) in Washington, D.C. He concludes a four-year term this year.
He and IMLS partnered with PBS Books on the Visions of America series, which explores “the places, people, and stories that have contributed to the America we live in today.” It heralds the 250th anniversary of the United States’ founding, to be celebrated in 2026.
The Library presentation is livestreamed at youtube.com/kclibrary (for which no RSVP is necessary).