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Honoring Black History Month in Kansas City

Several area attractions pay tribute to the contributions of African-Americans this month and all year long. Below is list of special celebrations for the month and ongoing exhibits that commemorate KC’s black history.

Since 1976, every U.S. President has officially designated February as National Black History Month. In Kansas City, area neighborhoods like the 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District provide a who’s who of some of the greatest African-American legends in jazz and baseball. All around the city, area attractions pay tribute to the contributions of African-Americans this month and throughout the year. Below is list of special celebrations in February and on-going exhibits that commemorate KC’s black history.

Special Exhibits/Performances

Black Archives of Mid-America

  • February 25: “Mbembe Milton Smith Poetry Series”–Named after one of KC’s most outstanding African-American poets, this poetry series focuses on the work of those who use poetry as a vehicle to correct distorted depictions of African-American history or shed light on otherwise overlooked African-American figures or events. The inaugural session will feature Frank X Walker, Kentucky’s first black Poet Laureate. Reception starts at 6 p.m., followed by program at 6:30 p.m.
  • February 28: Marva Whitney Listening Party–This program will include an informal presentation of the R&B star’s life and contribution by friend and musician Eugene Smiley. The program will also include a discussion of Whitney’s memoir, God, The Devil, and James Brown and a listening party of Whitney’s music. Whitney, a Kansas City native, built a name for herself singing background vocals for King of Soul James Brown and went on to become one of funk R&B’s most revered divas. 2 p.m.

All events listed are free and will be held at The Black Archives of Mid-America.

Kansas City Public Library

This month, the Library will host a “Black History Month Book-to-Film Series.” Each program begins with introductory remarks by one of the four experts in the field: Adrienne Walker Hoard, director of UMKC’s Black Studies program; Delia Cook Gillis, director of UCM’s center for Africana Studies; Veronica N. Wilson-Tagoe, teaching professor in UMKC’s Black Studies program; and Suzetta Parks, principal at Parks & Pennington. Unless otherwise noted, receptions start at 6 p.m., and are followed by the program at 6:30 p.m. To RSVP, go to

  • February 17: “Malcom X,” Plaza Branch. Reception held at 5:30 p.m., followed by program at 6 p.m.
  • February 19: “Devil in a Blue Dress,” UMKC Miller Nichols Library
  • February 24: “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” Plaza Branch
  • February 25: “Meet The Past with Crosby Kemper III: Zora Neale Hurston”–The latest installment of the Library’s Emmy Award-winning series spotlights one of the preeminent figures of 20th century African-American literature. The presentation will be taped by KCPT for later broadcast.

National World War I Museum

  • February 19: “Birth of a Nation: Reigniting Civil Rights & America’s Civil War”–Author Dick Lehr reintroduces one of the most significant episodes in the 20th century in this lecture and discussion with moderator Dr. Delia Gillis. Free, but RSVP required. 6 p.m.
  • February 23: “True Sons of Freedom: African-American Soldiers and World War I” –Dr. Jennifer Keene, chair of the history department at Chapman University, details African-American soldiers’ experiences as civil rights activists, symbols of black manhood and veterans. This presentation is part of the University Spencer Cave Black History Month lecture. Free, but RSVP required. 7 p.m.

Events will be held at the museum in the J.C. Nichols Auditorium. For more information, go to

All Year Long

CaptureAmerican Jazz Museum

  • Located in the 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District, this is where jazz masters such as Charlie Parker, Count Basie and hundreds of others defined the sounds of the 1920s, 30s and 40s in Kansas City. The museum includes interactive exhibits and educational programs.

Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

  • Best known for his portraits of jazz performers, fellow artists and other creative individuals, Frederick James Brown created the Kemper Museum’s monumental work The History of Art” (1994/2000), a series of 110 paintings that lines the walls of Café Sebastienne. The exhibition features paintings from the Kemper Museum’s permanent collection, a significant holder of the artist’s works.

mmfMutual Musicians Foundation

  • Located in the 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District, the Foundation was originally home to the Black Musicians’ Protective Union Local 627 American Federation of Musicians. This national historic landmark hosts fierce late-night jam sessions on Fridays and Saturdays.  

National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial

  • The permanent exhibit showcases African-American men serving in cavalry, infantry, signal, medical, engineer and artillery units, as well as serving as chaplains, surveyors, truck drivers, chemists and intelligence officers and African-American women who were employed in a number of war industries, including munitions production.

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

  • The 10,000 square-foot multimedia exhibit is the world’s only museum that chronicles the history and heroes of the Negro Leagues from their origin after the Civil War to their demise in the 1960s. Later this year, the museum will celebrate its 25th anniversary on Nov. 14 with a gala.


Quindaro Ruins

  • Located on the Missouri River, Quindaro began as a boomtown and evolved into a stop on the Underground Railroad. Artifacts are on display at the Wyandotte County Museum.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

  • A new addition–“Goodnight Irene,” a Charles White painting that once belonged to legendary performer and activist Harry Belafonte–has been acquired for the permanent American collection. This acquisition highlights The Nelson’s seminal works of African-American art.
  • The museum’s acclaimed African collection comprises approximately 300 objects that are diverse in form and in media. Masks, sculptures, hair combs, headrests, textiles and vessels are among the many types of works represented; media include fiber, metal, wood, beads and clay.

Love Locks in Kansas City

locks2Kansas City is full of beautiful, romantic and delicious spots to share with your favorite person. If you’re one that likes long walks in the park, take your valentine down to Minor Park and “lock your love” in KC on the Old Red Bridge! Share in this sweet tradition that started with a single lock attached to the bridge in 2013. Today, over 400 locks hang on the bridge.

On Valentine’s Day night, the area will be lit from 6-10 p.m. so you can leave your love lock before or after a romantic dinner! Be sure and take a picture and post with the hashtags #kcparks, #redbridgelovelocks and #LoveKC!

Read more about the history of the Old Red Bridge and follow along on Twitter as @KCMOparks shares sweet tweets.

Kansas City Restaurant Week: Yelp KC Style Part II, the Latest Buzz

Only a few days of 2015 Kansas City Restaurant Week remain! Guest blogger Adam Schaumburg of Yelp Kansas City returns with his list of still-can’t-miss spots before #KCRW2015 comes to a close.

We are well into KC Restaurant Week and the buzz has cranked up to 11 for some spots around town. Once again, a big thank you to the 160 restaurants participating for providing us with a fun, explorative week in mid-January. It’s wonderful to constantly explore our city and support our own.

Now that we’re getting into the heart of Restaurant Week, reviews, conversations and opinions are starting to pile up. Are you a traditionalist who wants to go to the places you frequent, or are you branching out there to try those newbies in town? Whichever way that you prefer, you’re going to keep eating well this week.

I wanted to check back in with a few updates and to share the pulse on some of KC Restaurant Week’s can’t miss spots so far, just in case you need to make another reservation or two:

Jax_4966_FBJax Fish House & Oyster Bar (Plaza) Fresh oysters, fresh fish, fresh lobster. Those are all things you think of when you think of Kansas City, right? Maybe I should start thinking that way based off of what I’m hearing about this hip new spot on the west side of the Plaza. If you’ve already made your Restaurant Week plans and Jax Fish didn’t make the cut, I hear their happy hour is a fantastic alternative.

Q39Q39 BBQ (39th Street West) If you haven’t heard the buzz building behind Rob Magee’s Q39, you might want to claim residence beneath a rock when you file your taxes. The new kid on the block continues to establish quite a name for themselves. I’ve always wondered if KC could support another big BBQ spot in town, and judging by the rave reviews of Q39, I have my answer.

Char Bar Smoked Meats & Amusements (Westport)  For those of you who are attached to your New Year’s Resolutions, please skip over this section. You’ve been warned! There’s simply no willpower when it comes to taking lighter side Char Bar, another great new BBQ concept from James Westphal. The endless, tasty offerings help take the pressure off of choosing because you simply can’t go wrong. The early favorites are cheesy hushpuppies and a smoked burnt end sandwich topped with sausage.

LidiasLidia’s (Crossroads)  To the surprise of no one, Lidia’s is channeling Lorenzo Cain and absolutely knocking KC Restaurant Week out of the park. This Italian gem in the Freight House area of the Crossroads epitomizes reliability. Delicious reliability. Try the ravioli of wild boar, the signature tableside pasta and the coconut blondie.

Blue Moose (Prairie Village) I see you, Blue Moose. Blue Moose is the restaurant that is sporting the perfect tux, got the best haircut and is dropping witty one-liners during Restaurant Week. Their expansive menu is full of sophisticated pairings, ambitious offerings and choices for everyone. Plus, they’ve got a few locations so it makes it more likely that you’re going to be able to snag a reservation before KCRW is over.

AdamAs the Community Manager for Yelp Kansas City, Adam Schaumburg knows a thing or two about good food. Follow him on Twitter at @yelpkc, where he and some select KC social media superstars will live-tweet their lunch experience throughout Kansas City Restaurant Week 2015.

Kansas City Restaurant Week: Yelp KC Style

Over 160 restaurants are preparing special menus as locals and visitors alike prepare their palates for Kansas City Restaurant Week! Celebrating its 6th year of showcasing the wildly diverse and delicious food scene here in KC, #KCRW2015 is shaping up to be the best event yet. Guest blogger Adam Schaumburg of Yelp Kansas City takes a moment to share 5 spots that have made his most delicious, must-hit restaurant list.

Kansas City is dishing out bonuses lately. Instead of an abrupt ending to baseball season, we were treated to a bonus month of highlight reel baseball from our boys in blue. That led us into the holiday season full of lights, festivities and a handful of bonus days off of work. Perhaps best of all, right when it feels we might be in for a humdrum stretch of winter, we are in for the bonus of over 160 awesome Kansas City restaurants rolling out top-notch $15 lunches and $33 dinners during Restaurant Week. And getting out and enjoying these spots benefits local charities along the way? Double bonus!

Kansas City Restaurant Week is a time, no, it’s THE time to get out and try some of those spots you’ve bookmarked but have yet to venture out to. For me, it’s a chance to layer up and set out past the comfy confines of my neighborhood for a culinary tour of Kansas City. Our local food scene is no doubt one of our crown jewels, so here is a select list of places, both newcomers and veterans, that I’m counting down the days to try or revisit during Kansas City Restaurant Week 2015:


Trezo Mare

Trezo Mare (Briarcliff Village) An Italian restaurant that supports local farmers and feels like an adventure to go to? Count me in. I’ve yet to make the short drive up to Trezo Mare, and my mind and stomach are already battling it out over the Boulevard Chicken Salad or the Lobster Mac and Cheese.




Story (Prairie Village) The awards keep pouring in for local chef Carl Thorne-Thomson for this sophisticated, popular neighborhood restaurant. I don’t need to wait for them to make another “best of” list to try them out, it’s time for me to get in there and and try beef short ribs with potato gnocchi or the mahi mahi.




Port Fonda

Port Fonda (Westport) Ever since my first experience here, I’ve been a Port Fonda fan. Their eclectic menu is always evolving and makes each visit feel like a new experience. Whether it’s carnitas tacos, warming sopas or one of many artfully crafted margaritas, this spot is a surefire winner during Restaurant Week.


Summit Grill & Bar


Summit Grill and Bar (Waldo) I could probably live off of the starter menu alone at the new Summit Grill and Bar. Poutine and pot roast nachos? Yes please. I’m excited to correct my snacking ways and go all in with a full multi-course lunch in this cool, new spot.



JJ's Paco Shrimp

JJ’s Restaurant

JJ’s Restaurant (Plaza) A Kansas City classic is back with the support of the entire community. Owner Jimmy Frantze has done an amazing job of getting back up and running in the new, nearby spot. While some people around the country can only dream of a medium-rare, local Kansas City steak, we have that opportunity at our fingertips. I’m ready to take advantage of it and raise a glass of wine to this Kansas City institution.

Check out for all the tasty details of other participating restaurants throughout the Kansas City-metro area.

AdamAs the Community Manager for Yelp Kansas City, Adam Schaumburg knows a thing or two about good food. Follow him on Twitter at @yelpkc, where he and a some select KC social media superstars will live-tweet their lunch experience throughout Kansas City Restaurant Week 2015.


Holiday on the Hill: Strawberry Hill Museum Shines During the Holidays

There’s certainly no shortage of holiday events and celebrations throughout the Kansas City metro area. One place in particular deserves special recognition not only because it’s steeped in history, but also because it is home to some of the most beautiful holiday decorations in the city. Welcome to the Strawberry Hill Museum & Cultural Center.

photo-2Perched on a hillside in the aptly named Strawberry Hill neighborhood in downtown Kansas City, Kan., the museum is inside a Victorian home that dates back to 1887, when it was built by 21-year-old John G. Braecklein for John and Mary Scroggs. According to information provided by the museum, “it was one of the most outstanding examples of the Queen Anne style to have been erected in Kansas City, Kan.”

The Scroggs family lived in the home for 32 years, after which it was sold to the Sisters of St. Francis of Christ the King, who ran an orphanage out of the home for 69 years. In 1988, the orphanage closed its doors due to what the museum called “changing social needs.” A number of Strawberry Hill residents and other community stakeholders, led by Msgr. John W. Horvat, feared the home would eventually be destroyed, and instead created the Strawberry Hill Ethnic Cultural Society, which acquired the home and transformed it into the museum that stands today.

womens-Parlor-2014Each year, a staff of hardworking volunteers (at least one of whom has been with the museum since it opened) spends nearly a month decorating the immaculately preserved interior for the holidays. Step in the onsite chapel, for example, and marvel over a number of nativity scenes, including one that’s in miniature. Upstairs, you’ll find several bedrooms whose “inhabitants” are preparing for a Christmas celebration—you’ll almost feel like you’re intruding on a special family tradition!

A sizable portion of the museum is also dedicated to showcasing the rich ethnic heritage of the neighborhood, and during the holidays, an Ethnic Traditions exhibit highlights the festivities and celebrations of several countries and cultures. Stroll through the museum and you’ll be instantly transported to Belgium, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and the Ukraine, to name a few.

And while you’re there, be sure to stop at one of the museum’s most treasured exhibits: a bed used by Pope John Paul II during his TWA flights.

“When Msgr. John Horvat, a Catholic priest, heard that items used on the Pope’s Papal visits to the U.S. Read more

B-cycling in KC: Coffee Break

While fall and winter temps make venturing outside a chilly endeavor, a hot cup of coffee provides great incentive to do so! Kansas City B-cycle is open year-round. Guest blogger Ellen Schwartze shares a few suggested stops found along Bike Share KC’s B-Energized Coffee Tour

Scratch_07Start at my go-to workday hangout, Scratch Bakery. Their inviting space is always playing the latest music, and the cookies are worth every cent. The iced latte is my favorite in the city, but try it hot for fall, or get a cuppa local Hugo tea. I like to curl up with a book in one of the comfy chairs on the front window and pretend like I do this all day, every day.


Mildred’s Coffeehouse & Bistro

Grab a bike from 8th & Broadway (possibly the prettiest Bike Share location!) and head down to Mildred’s Coffeehouse in the Crossroads (10 minutes). I love Mildred’s so hard that I’ve had to self-impose a visit limit, otherwise I would spend myself into deliciously caffeinated oblivion. If you buy just one thing here, make it the breakfast sandwich on wheat (or on jalapeño corn bread if it’s available). You’ll be in good company all day, since Mildred’s is a popular work day hangout.


PT’s Coffee Roasters

Continue down Wyandotte to Southwest Boulevard where you’ll find sharrows painted on the street and PT’s Coffee Roasting Co. brewing warm beverages. (2 minutes. It’s really close.) It’s located in a space that was a pioneer in the revitalization of the Crossroads (then occupied by Coffee Girls). They often host local artists and have a hearty menu to pair with the coffee.


LatteLand. Soon to be Kaldi’s Coffee.

Head north-east on Southwest Boulevard, then north on Walnut to LatteLand – now operated by Kaldi’s Coffee. (You can drop the bike off at 13th & Grand or 10th & Main if you’re staying a while. 10 minutes.) It’s location in the heart of downtown provides for excellent people watching while you sip on a honey lavender latte or nom on a pastry. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you could visit their shops on the Country Club Plaza, since Bike Share just opened kiosks there, too! (So much easier than fighting for parking!)


Photo: Quay Coffee

Finally, pedal over to the quiet streets of the River Market to hang out at Quay Coffee (6 minutes). After several false starts in this space by other coffee shops, Quay’s friendly, educated staff are here to stay. They know everything about the coffee they pour, and are darn talented – with the awards to show it. (Barista Tyler Rovenstine is the regional World Barista Champion!) You’ll likely see friends and neighbors greeting each other, solidifying the neighborhood feel.

Drop the bike off at 3rd and Grand, or continue on to the next caffeinated adventure — there are so many great options in downtown KC!

EllenEllen loves #downtownkc, where she works at the Mid-America Regional Council, lives in the River Market, and plays at Kansas City Central Library. You can find her biking down to Alamo Drafthouse for a quote-along or down to the Boulevard para amigos y tacos. The way to her corazón is through Burrito Brothers’ front door. She currently blogs for KC Spokespeople, sends out random thoughts at @EllenSaysHola, and tweets #DowntownKC love for the Downtown Neighborhood Association (@dnakcmo).

Bright Lights, Kansas City

The end of November is one of the most festive times of the year in Kansas City! Brights lights are being switched on throughout the Kansas City area to celebrate the holiday season. Grab your friends, family and winter scarves and head to these exciting events!

Overland Park Mayor’s Holiday Tree Lighting –  Friday, November 21st

An evening of holiday festivities kicks off at 5:30pm A visit from Santa, bells and carolers make this a fun event to kick off the last weekend before Thanksgiving!

CaptureParkville Christmas on the River – Friday, November 21st 

This 22nd annual holiday celebration even has holiday fireworks! Enjoy live entertainment from the Park Hill School District children’s choir, delicious dining and treats and fun for the whole family.

Union Station Holiday_003_AAUnion Station Tree Lighting – Saturday, November 22nd

A full day of exciting holiday events kicks off at 10am and culminates in lighting the gorgeous Christmas tree at 5:15pm. After the tree is lit, the fun continues with Metropolitan Strings Academy Sounds and a Mini-Holiday Train for the kiddos in the Sprint Plaza.



briarcliffBriarcliff VillageSaturday, November 22nd 

Join The Village at Briarcliff as they kick off the holiday season for the 9th Annual Holiday Lighting, November 22nd from 4:30-7:30pm. This free family event features free photos with Santa, face painting, and arts and crafts. The lighting countdown begins at 7pm!

HOLIDAY_Legends_047_AA_FBLegends Outlets – Saturday, November 22nd

Legends Outlets is celebrating its 10th annual Legendary Lighting Ceremony, one of the region’s largest displays of animated lights synchronized to music. The event will feature prize giveaways and a display of synchronized lights. Santa Claus will make a special appearance to help lead the crowd in the countdown to the tree lighting. The fun kicks off at 6pm.

Zona Rosa – Wednesday, November 26th (NEW DATE!)

Zona Rosa Holiday_035_AAZona Rosa will kick off the 2014 holiday season with a special lighting ceremony to spotlight the large crowns hung above the streets. The community is invited to this FREE program including the official arrival of the holiday Fairy Princess & Santa Claus! The event will
take place before the Orange Wednesday shopping festivities!

Country Club Plaza Lights_066_AACountry Club Plaza Lighting CeremonyThursday, November 27th

A local tradition for 85 years, Plaza Lights is a 15-block holiday spectacle on the famed Country Club Plaza, featuring thousands of lights that accentuate every dome, tower and window of the Spanish-inspired shopping district.

crowncentertreeKansas City Mayor’s Christmas Tree CeremonyFriday, November 28th

The 100-foot-tall Mayor’s Christmas Tree, one of the nation’s tallest, is the centerpiece for an illuminating holiday celebration! Mayor Sly James and Sporting Kansas City’s Seth Sinovic will flip the switch to light the tree.

Our World-Class Kansas City

visitkcThe pride and excitement that carried us through Blue October with the Royals remains with us here in Kansas City. There’s a little more Royals blue in people’s wardrobes, and chatter about what we can look forward to next season flows right alongside the water-cooler conversation about the latest Chiefs win.

Here are just a few things Kansas City Royals fans can be proud of as we head into the offseason. See you all Opening Day!


Letter to the Editor, Kansas City Star

Royals treatment

I am a San Franciscan and a Giants fan who attended game six of the World Series in Kansas City. Let me just say that never in my life have I enjoyed being so terribly outnumbered and, by evening’s end, absolutely clubbed into submission. From the moment I hit the parking lot at Kauffman Stadium in my Giants gear, folks made a point to walk over, introduce themselves, welcome us to Kansas City and wish us good luck. People offered to buy us beer and brats. Most mind-bending was the woman who apologized for the lopsided score. My wife and our friends spent the better part of our flight home marveling at the generosity and warmth of the Royals fans and wondering whether we’d dropped into a parallel universe. At some point, I recall announcing to my wife that I was prepared to move to Kansas City as soon as possible. They refer to your part of the country as “flyover states.” Folks should make a point to actually drop in to Kansas City for a heaping helping of an America most people only dream about. -John Pritzker, San Francisco


“I kept my heart in Kansas City, that’s the place I love the best.”

We Thank You, Royals Fans! video via


Royal Stories: Behind the Camera Lens

Kauffman-Stadium_007_AACamera operators at The K get one of the more unique stadium views while capturing the World Series excitement! Guest blogger Diana Lambdin Meyer provides a peek behind the video camera lens at the very important work of the camera operators at Kaufffman Stadium!


BruceAs I write this, my husband is on top of the Budweiser Party Deck at Kauffman Stadium. No he’s not partying, nor should he be drinking. That’s because he should be working.

My husband, Bruce Meyer, is a television camera operator, a videographer if you will, and his camera position this October is mounted on top of the Budweiser Party Deck.  He has spent the past 25 years behind a TV camera at The K, usually behind third base near the visitor’s dugout. He is part of a tight-knit crew, literally behind-the-scenes, bringing baseball fans the best and worst of the Kansas City Royals.

This October has been as much or more fun for the TV crew as it has for the Royals and their fans.  All of these years, they have been out there in the blistering heat, pouring down rain and near-empty stands. My husband and his teammates have survived snow storms, hail storms and a rabid skunk out by the centerfield camera. They have dodged foul balls and broken bats coming their way – and sometimes the frustration of disappointed fans.

It takes about 25 people to broadcast a Royals game, depending on who the visiting team is. Read more

Royal Stories: 29 years later…

After a 29-year hiatus, the Royals return to the World Series has many reflecting on the last time our boys in blue won it all. Guest blogger Greg Franklin shares his personal experience of returning home to Kansas City just to be amongst Royal friends.

I was fast asleep in my bed when my father jostled me awake. He was full of the sort of nervous, frantic energy that made me slightly fearful for my life, like the roof was on fire. “Greg! They’re coming back!” My eyes fought through the sleep and widened. It was not over yet.

29 years ago, I ran upstairs in my pajamas with my dad to witness the Kansas City Royals fighting back to tie and eventually win in the bottom of the 9th in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series. I was 9 years old.

The next night, I got to stay up late (on a school night, no less) and watch the Royal drubbing of the St. Louis Cardinals and see our beloved Kansas City Royals win the World Series. I remember the final catch, and Saberhagen leaping into Brett’s arms, like it was yesterday. Kansas City, our peaceful little village, was the center of the universe for a minute, and it felt incredible.

29 years later, those lights are fired back up on my hometown.

training529 years later, I live in Seattle, WA. My return to Royals fandom was brought on by nostalgia for those glory years, by memories of going to games with my parents and listening to games on the radio. Early in my move to Seattle, my homesickness manifested itself in missing Denny Matthews’ warm voice, but also, missing the familiar strains of things like Price Chopper and Hy-Vee commercials. (Nostalgia latches onto strange things sometimes.) I wander around Seattle wearing a Royals cap, and I’m often greeted with “Are you REALLY a Royals fan? I’ve never actually met a Royals fan!”. I wear it as a badge of my hometown pride, and more often than not, am stopped on the street by other Kansas City ex-pats who are thrilled to see a familiar sight in foreign lands.

Read more


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