Monday, January 19, 2015

"A Reporter’s Chronicle of ‘Black Tuesday’"

In April of 1968, riots erupted in thirty seven cities across the United States following the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Most everywhere the riots began April 4th, the day of Dr. King's murder.  But for Kansas City, MO it was a different story.  Riots in Kansas City fell on April 9th, the day of Dr. King's funeral. Highschool students walked out of class and marched to Kansas City Hall in protest of the city's unwillingness to give the day off school.  These students, gathered peacefully on the steps of city hall, were dispersed with tear gas grenades by police.  News of the incident sparked city-wide riots.  The national guard was called in and a curfew was instituted.

This helps me appreciate the importance of having a day to celebrate the memory of Dr. King and the non-violent social justice movement he championed.

Below I have scanned and transcribed a first hand account of the student protest of April 9th 1968 and the events leading up to the Kansas City riot.  It was written by Ora E. Myers for The Call, a Kansas City weekly newspaper.  It is one of the most passionate pieces of journalisim I have read.

A Reporter’s Chronicle of ‘Black Tuesday’
by Ora E. Myers
The Call K.C. MO. Week of April 19 to 25, 1968, p 14

For most Kansas Citians arising on the morning of Tuesday, April 9, the day had one major significance; it was the day of the funeral and burial of Dr. Martin Luther King in Atlanta, Ga.

For others, a virtual community of high school age persons, there was this, of course, but also resentment that schools had not been closed for the day.

All Kansas Citians, before the day was to end, were to be robbed of their feelings of comfort and security in the matter of racial violence, a fate which this city had largely escaped until then.

Students at five junior and senior high schools in the Negro community began walking out of their classes shortly after the beginning of the school day.  Many of them rode in cars, the others walked to join students at other schools, until their numbers swelled to from 1,000 to 1,5000, a noisy, shouting group.  The schools were Lincoln junior and senior; Central junior and senior, and Manual high and vocations.

Policemen began swarming into the area near Central junior and senior high schools at Linwood and Indiana where all the students had gathered, before 9 o’clock.

Students attempting to move away from the school, west on 33rd St., stopped, filling the width of a half-block, and more when they saw police cars blocking the intersection at 33rd St. and Benton Blvd.

Appeal to Students

The mass returned to the Central campus, where numerous clergymen, civil rights leaders, two professional athletes, and other adults tried to channel the feelings of the group into an organized memorial tribute to Dr. King, whose funeral services had just begun.  Herman Johnson, president of Metropolitan NAACP Council and Rev. A. L. Johnson, Council for United Action were among those seen moving and talking frantically, attempting to direct the students.

Lee Vertis Swinton, former NAACP president, sat in a car speaking from loudspeaking equipment.

Curtis McClinton, and Otis Taylor, professional athletes, who were originally to speak at a memorial assembly planned for that morning, also moved here and there, attempting to be heard.

Negro policemen moved about here and there, talking steadily, “Let’s cool it,” they said, and other statements.  White officers sat in police cars nearby.

Use Tear Gas

The remnants of control over the crowd began deteriorating rapidly as one student, a boy, stumbled away from the window of a police car, blinded by the chemical squirted in his eyes.  It had not been possible to see what had happened before this, but the stumbling boy and the angry reaction of the crowd came quickly into focus.
Students then began hurling angry challenges and profanity at police officers and many of the other adults present.

Efforts to contain the crowd on the Central campus became futile as what had started out as a memorial march became one of protest against “the man” and all the ills of “the system.”

In another hour, the crowd, on its way to tell “the man,” had reached the area of 18th and Paseo, gathering momentum in feeling and additional marchers as it progressed.

Mayor Joins March

Mayor Ilus W. Davis stood on a police car a block away, in front of De La Salle high school surrounded on the car roof by others who had assumed leadership.  On the grass and street nearby, for perhaps 150 feet in any direction, the students waited impatiently.

The mayor, unsuccessful in attempts to hold the attention of the crowd, soon stopped trying to speak, and others tried to appeal for calm, among them the Rev. E. Woody Hall of Bethel A.M.E. church.

None was so successful in getting attention as a young man named Lee Bohanon, better known as “Leebo,” who taunted, “Is the mayor ashamed of City Hall?  Let him speak to us down there.”

Go To City Hall

The students began moving off in the downtown direction, and a quick leadership conference ended with the mayor, arm in arm with Negro leaders, leading the march which proceded across Truman Rd, and out the southeast freeway into the downtown area, finally ending on the steps and in the street in front of City Hall.

Once again Mayor Davis began speaking, asking students of first Lincoln, then Manual, and Central to identify themselves by raising their hands.  The students obliged with enthusiasm and cheering.  The mayor then shared with them the information that he too had attended Central, and graduated from there.

“I can remember,” he said, “when City Hall, the police department, the fire department, all were white.  But over the years I’ve also seen many changes take place.”

The mayor went on to list some of the progress in the hiring of Negros, giving the percentage of Negroes now employed in City Hall as of 30 per cent, and saying that the city government and all of Kansas City now wants to be proud of the city.  His remarks had little positive effect on the crowd.

Others, Bruce Watkins, clerk of Jackson County circuit court; Alvin Brooks, former chairman of CORE; Everett Oneal, vice-president, Chamber of Commerce; Curtis McClinton and Otis Taylor, Kansas City Chiefs players, and others all tried reasoning and appealing with the group.

In addition, numerous students were given or took the opportunity to address the crowd, some exhorting them to demand their rights “now.” The speaker used makeshift devices until a public address system was hastily assembled and set up by a city employee.

Guard Entrance

Approximately 30 uniformed policemen guarded the entrance of the City Hall, on the 12th St. side, one of them Negro.  Other policemen were at surrounding locations, heavily concentrated.  Activities at City Hall virtually ceased as employees looked out of windows.  Passerby stopped to look and listen, swelling the crowd to 2,000 or more persons.

First one then another person, using the microphone, continued trying to speak to the students, but, often than not, were shouted down by rebuttals from the crowd.

Lee Bohanon, addressing the group several times, said at one point, “If I thought that I could go down here to Heizbertg’s and break a window and get rich, I’d do it, I’d riot,” but, he continued, he knew it wouldn’t end there, because he would end up being killed, and perhaps other innocent persons, too.

More than an hour had passed and the student’ increasing restlessness was evidenced by the explosion of three cherry bombs on the first landing of the City Hall steps.

A definite let-up in the tension occurred when the voice of John L Frazier, disc jockey for KPRE radio station suddenly camoe over the microphone.  He, like the mayor, began by asking each school to show their hands.  Again they responded enthusiastically. His remarks, urging peaceful action, ended with the statement, “I want you to come on out to Holy Name, and we are going to play records, and you can get in free, and dance ‘till the sun goes down.”

A cheer went up as most of the crowd seemed to relax for the first time in hours, and many of the youth began to move immediately.  Others moved away more slowly and still others remained at the microphone, yelling at the students to stay where they were, but unsuccessfully.

The dense congregation on the City Hall steps had slowly begun thinning, and small groups moved east on 12th St.

More Tear Gas

Suddenly four muted explosions sounded from 12th street in front of City Hall, followed by smoke and fumes arching up and over the heads of the people who began frantically rushing to get away.

Running pell mell up the grassy slopes and over and through the ornate water fountains that decorate the front of City Hall, the students scattered, many coving east of the building.  Seemingly, none of them attempted to enter City Hall.  Those who did, mainly adults standing near the doors at the time, rushed through the line of officers, coughing, and holding their eyes.

Once inside, several city employees helped the distressed persons, offering tissues or moisturized paper towels, and advising them not to rub their eyes.

Herman Johnson, was half carried in, in a state of near collapse.  When he began to recover he stated bitterly that that was the third time during the morning that he had been near and directly affected by tear gas explosions.

“I’ve been with those kids all morning,” he said, “talking to them. They were just about to get calmed down.  That tear gas was the greatest mistake they ever made.”

The same opinion was voiced by most of the 15 or more persons who filled the information office on the first floor, several of whom paced the floor, wringing their hands, in seeming frustration.

Councilman Weeps

City Councilman G. Lawrence Blankinship wept openly, repeating again and again, “They didn’t have to do that.”

The first floor lobby gradually began to grow quiet, with many expressing, in hushed tones, their fears for what the remainder of the day would bring.

Mounting Disorder

The events for the remainder of Tuesday, April 9, have become history, much to grief of most Kansas Citians.

Fear spread like a pall over the city as groups of Negro youth piled in cars, or assembled on cars began yelling “Black Power.” Cars sped up and down ghetto streets, horns blaring, lights on, even during the daylight, with their passengers leaning out of windows or over convertible doors, with arms raised and fists clenched in a menacing gesture.

By twilight, and the late afternoon news, an 8 o’clock curfew and liquor store and gas station closing had been announced.

By 7 o’clock, when it was dark, the burglary and looting had begun.  Policemen, rushed about frantically within the ghetto, answering dispatches and burglar alarms, many times apparently unable to cope with the situation for lack of manpower.

Before daylight returned, one man, Maynard Gough, had been killed in a reported burglary of a liquor store, and 200 or more break-ins of businesses had occurred, much of it accompanied by looting.

And so began Kansas City’s nightmare.
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Monday, August 27, 2012

Mystery Fredenburg Craft: Mystery Revealed

Earlier this summer, I showcased a mystery craft (see previous post) which my Grandma had given me to complete. "Solve the craft puzzle and stay in the Haunted Castle overnight without leaving, and you get the diamonds which have been hidden inside the castle for decades," she said over iced tea and snacks.

Well, mystery revealed! Its an "over blouse", though I'm not really sure what that is.
Now I just have to stay in the Haunted Castle.

Added bonus! John Acquadro has been inspired to pen a novel about the subject, which you can see the cover now and read about later. 

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mystery Fredenburg Craft

My Grandma, pictured below, recently gave me a mystery craft project.  It is something she started 40 (50?) years ago but didn't get around to finishing.  I'm not sure what its going to look like in the end, but I'm sure it will have the world renowned Fredenburg Style that we've all grown to know and love!
There are several cut fabric pieces, shiny blue buttons and pattern instructions. The kicker is that there is no illustration of the final product. What will it look like?

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Photo Essay

This is a long overdue notice, but my dad and I have co-authored a photo essay, published in an the academic journal Consilience: The Journal of Sustainable Development in the beginning of this year. Who knew!?

Armed with our joint knowledge of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta waterway, we managed to convince editors that our photo essay was easy-on-the-eyes and an easy read!

Briefly, The Sacramento - San Joaquin Delta is the roughly 800,000 area where the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers meet before entering San Francisco Bay.  The article details the current state of water scarcity in the Delta and also lays out good water practices that the currently exist in the waterway.  Efforts to control flooding and also water allocation to neighboring areas mold the current structure of the vast waterway and may influence its future state.   

For the full essay with more photos and more detail click here. 

Also worth mentioning! For the uninitiated, I have been taking photos of the Delta for some time, and you can check out a summary of those here. Or the whole shebang here

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

New James Rabbit Band Video, Jamie As Starlet

"Ghost In Grey" by James Rabbit from Young Pasta on Vimeo.

Jamie makes his farmer's debut in James Rabbit's latest hit video! Watch the video and learn the secrets of Jamie's constant enthusiasm as well as James Rabbit's hidden agenda.

James Rabbit is not a person, but a band that comes from the Crystal Palace, 107 Blackburn Street Santa Cruz California.  Go there and they will make you tea!  Jamie has performed with them for many years, bringing spirit, noises, dancing and sometimes lighting or software!  But if ever James Rabbit could be one person it is John Tyler Martin!  He started the band when he was in high-school, playing and recording with his brother in a room at his mom's house in Fresno California!  Conner Martin is an amazing drummer and is Tyler's married brother!  He's super strong and when he's playing the drums he's like a very precise animal with powerful empathy and excellent nutritional advice!  At times James Rabbit is like a music school with 18 performers.  Good thing they have Max Bennett-Parker who can lead everyone in vocal warmups around the kitchen island before we play a house show!  His strong and beautiful voice charms audiences when he acts in musicals and is A Whole New World at karaoke!  Plus he can play those keys!  Drew Stoeckel, aka Young Pasta is the mastermind who directed this video!  He also plays the bass, engineers and masters the sound and has a visual association with auditory sensation.  Dylan McKeever, Michael Rekevics, Spencer Owen, Dorota, Richard... ... ...  There are so many more people in the James Rabbit Band it calls for ellipses of ellipses of ellipsis!

"Candles" by James Rabbit from Young Pasta on Vimeo.

Even with James Rabbit in California and Jamie in New York, there is a way that James Rabbit songs make ideas come true, and the whole United States becomes a trans-continental home town with couches in every city, every state for us to sleep on.  I very much enjoyed last year's tour and look forward to another one this summer!  Coast to Coast and Heart to Heart.

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Competition

We have really been getting into the holiday spirit this year, and you know what that means: bad - spirited decorating competition with our neighbors!

Several weeks ago, we decorated our front door, in the way in which we normally do, by adding decorations on top of our previous year's decorations, in order to equally celebrate all holidays that have come before (please take note of the Halloween pumpkin, 2010's Thanksgiving turkeys, and Valentines day hearts. So festive in every way!)

All was going swimmingly until our next door neighbors decided to up the ante and compete directly with us for holiday cheer.  Clearly they are looking for a mean-spirited competition on the fourth floor for best holiday decorations. Jamie says that they are just trying to join in the fun, but I don't buy it! Next-door single mom and two small children are trying to one up us this holiday season, and I'm ready to fight for the title of best holiday door decorations!

Stay tuned for when I make the pug-with-lights-on that I saw the other day stand gaurd in front of our door as a sort of a holiday watchdog. 

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Video: Mega Bog Pays a Visit

Some friends from the Pacific Northwest paid us a visit! The charming band Mega Bog toured the nation and stopped by our neck of the woods to enjoy our fabulous company and play a show in Manhattan.  It was great to meet them in the flesh and hang out with them for a bit. Mega Bog played a great show at the Cake Shop and Jamie has co-created a great video about it!

Mega Bog "Throat MTN" at Cake Shop, NYC from Jamie Burkart on Vimeo.

They stayed with us for the night and enjoyed a few Apartment Activities!

For a little context, in the spring of last year, Jamie went on tour with James Rabbit and iji (members of which rearrange to be Mega Bog).  They hit all the hotspots throughout the West and Middle West, and terrorized groups of young people. (See below)

Mega Bog in NYC:
Erin Birgy (Mega Bog, bandcamp + Wizards of the Ghost <- Tape Label She Runs)
Zach Burba (iji, bandcamp)
Shelby Turner (Sundance Kids, bandcamp)

On tour with Kusikia.

On their way east they played in Kansas City and we talked about it here.
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