Dividing Lines: A History of Segregation in Kansas City

    Dividing lines   banner image v3crop
    Johnson county library   sunflower logo
    07 Apr 2018
    Clock 90min      Length24mi
    353 ratings

    Tourdescription About the audio tour

    Journey through the history of segregation in the Kansas City metro, primarily through its real estate. The tour is designed so that you can safely drive through the city at your own pace while hearing stories about each area you travel through.

    Nathaniel Bozarth, ethnographer and host of the “Wide Ruled” podcast, narrates this 90-minute drive, bringing in interviews from several area students and notable city figures Sid Willens, Bill Tammeus, Mamie Hughes, and Margaret May.

    “Dividing Lines” was created as a part of the Johnson County Library’s “Race Project KC.” The Library’s Civic Engagement Committee and Tanner Colby’s book “Some of My Best Friends are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America” inspired much of the ongoing work of Race Project KC. This tour was made possible by support from Johnson County Library and the Kansas Humanities Council. It was produced by Brainroot Light & Sound. Written by Nathaniel Bozarth and Christopher Cook. The tour features music from Hermon Mehari and KC Jazz LP.

    The content of this tour may contain controversial material; such statements are not an expression of library policy.

    Banner Photo: David Wilson

    Majorlandmarks Major Landmarks

    Country Club Plaza

    Startingpoint Directions to starting point

    The tour begins in the north parking lot of Shawnee Mission East High School (address below). The school has several parking lots. The correct starting point is located in the parking lot accessible from 75th Street, just west of Mission Road.

    Don’t go to any of the school’s parking lots accessed off of Mission Road, these parking lots don’t connect to the starting parking lot.

    You can use the address given below, or copy-and-paste the Geo-Pin pasted below to guide you directly to the parking lot.

    School Address:
    7500 Mission Rd, Prairie Village, KS 66208

    Google Maps Geo-Pin to Parking Lot:

    Tips Tips

    Places to stop along the way:

    The tour is best experienced in a continuous session. Therefore, no stops are recommended.

    Best time of day:

    From dawn to dusk.

    Avoiding work-days from 7:30 AM - 8:30 AM, and 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM will help you avoid heavier traffic on some sections of the tour.


    DRIVE SLOW: If your own pace is faster than the speed limit, the stories won’t fall in quite the right places. To fully be able to take in your surroundings, we recommend you drive at or below the speed limit at all times. Regardless of what you do, please OBEY ALL TRAFFIC LAWS.

    SILENCES: The great thing about VoiceMap is that we take my cues from you...well, your location at least. Because VoiceMap is location-aware, you may experience a brief silence from time to time, but don’t worry, it’s because app is just waiting for you to arrive at the next location.

    GROUPS: The tour is best experienced in a group so that the passengers can safely look at the spots we pass. If you’re driving on your own, that’s totally cool. You may, however, feel the need to pull to the side of the road from time to time. Please feel free to do so, as the road allows.

    DETOURS: If you hit any detours, follow the new route that the detour signs advise until you’re out of the construction zone. Then, when it’s safe, pull to the side of the road and refer to the mapped route on the app and use the “Previous” or “Next” buttons to get the audio back on track


    Plus Write a comment


    We just drove the route with two college age kids and it was very helpful in light of the current sensitivities... I highly recommend!

    Posted by Paul Ewing , 4 days ago

    Good job I enjoyed the tour. The route took me past two of my childhood homes. The presentation of Block Busting and Red Lining were well done, I lived in that. I also went to the KC schools during the time of desegregation. It was much more complicated than you could present in this 90 minute tour. That's probably all I ought to say.

    Posted by Anonymous Explorer , 5 days ago

    Very well done. Did the tour with my teenage daughter and it was just such a great experience.

    Posted by Julie Lander Mehnert , 9 days ago

    Very well done. Did the tour with my teenage daughter and it was just such a great experience.

    Posted by Julie Lander Mehnert , 9 days ago

    Very educational! I would love to hear an add on update with insights to both Latinx and Italian people movements and their impact on the city.

    Posted by Anonymous Explorer , about 2 months ago

    Illuminating experience just like being taken around by an informed and engaged local resident. Some glitches here and there with directions but I was always able to get back on track and it was absolutely worth it.

    Posted by ER Santana , 9 months ago

    This is a remarkable and moving — maddening — account. Anyone who doubts that reparations are due for persistent racism should take this tour.

    Posted by Anonymous Explorer , 11 months ago

    This is WELL done! Please continue sharing the truth, in order for change to take happen!

    Posted by Brian , over 1 year ago

    Sorry for the typo!

    Brian , over 1 year ago

    I really appreciate this, I learned so much. Thank you! I hope this is the first of many more to come!

    Posted by Anonymous Explorer , over 1 year ago

    This was a very powerful and sobering experience. I’m looking at this tour for potential use as an education and advocacy piece for
    the social service agency I work for in midtown. I can’t thank you enough for creating this amazing resource.

    Posted by Anonymous Explorer , almost 2 years ago
    Johnson county library   sunflower logo   

    You are more than welcome. Thank you so much for considering it for use in your own programming. If you do start using it, please let us at the Johnson County Library know - contact the Community Outreach department.

    Johnson County Route Creator , almost 2 years ago

    I took the tour yesterday and I learned a lot about how restate developers, banks, government, and every day people contributed and continue to contribute to the segregation of Kansas City, but there is hope. I would highly suggest the tour.

    Posted by Jay H , about 2 years ago
    Johnson county library   sunflower logo   

    Really glad you got a lot out of the tour.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment, and: Here's to hope.

    Johnson County Route Creator , about 2 years ago