Kansas City is one of the coolest, greatest cities in America, so please tell me why we’re still immortalizing the name of a massive racist and Anti-Semite in the Plaza fountain and Parkway? This wonderful city should be a welcoming place to all, and yet, the J. C. Nichols name is right smack in the middle.
If you don’t know about J. C. Nichols, think of him as Walt Disney’s less successful but equally racist counterpart. I mean, they have a lot in common. Both are Kansas Citians, both ended up on the wrong side of history, but only one’s business is still relevant.
Nichols was instrumental in red-lining Kansas City, as KCUR pointed out:
“Real estate developer J.C. Nichols was instrumental in developing the Country Club Plaza, which still reigns as a major commercial part of Kansas City and the neighborhoods that surround the area. Some, like Tanner Colby in his book, Some of my Best Friends are Black, argue Nichols orchestrated a ‘white flight’ of sorts from the east side to his developments west of Troost by inducing “panic-selling” and blockbusting. In addition, Nichols’ restrictive covenants all but ensured blacks and Jews would not be able to move into the Country Club Plaza.”
What’s even more infuriating is that Nichols’ influence died with him. Much like planking, he hasn’t been relevant in years. So why continue to commemorate him?
If it’s due to a lack of prominent Kansas Citians to choose from, that’s a shitty excuse. We have so many wonderful folks, living and dead, who would better represent the future of Kansas City. Don’t worry, I compiled a list of my top 11. It’s not comprehensive, so please leave your suggestions in the comments.
(All images are from Wikipedia Commons unless otherwise noted)
Table of Contents
We owe Janelle the world for the release of “Tightrope.” You cannot tell me there’s a better song out there, because you’re wrong. Janelle is everything good about Kansas City. All I’m saying is, Boston City Council named October 16, 2013 “Janelle Monáe Day.” Let’s put her name on a goddam fountain because, quite frankly, we are late to the party.
I know he already has a bridge named after him, but let’s face it, this legend deserves more. You wanna know why there’s a gap in his time on the Kansas City Monarchs? Because he served in the goddam Navy during WWII. Then, in the 90’s long after retirement, he was leading the effort to establish the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM). The treasures in that museum are well worth his effort.
Not to mention, in 2006 he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Nichols could only dream of such an honor.
I know everyone likes to talk about his performance in Hotel Rwanda, but quite honestly his recent stint on SNL was a work of art. No one could have made Roach Ex Plus as funny as it was.
He’s also incredibly active in Sudan to end the genocide and co-founded the Not On Our Watch Project, an organization that utilizes resources to stop and prevent mass atrocities.
Cool Papa Bell
My one question here is when naming an area after the fastest man in baseball, do we go by his given name— James Thomas Bell —or his awesome nickname Cool Papa? I’m leaning towards Cool Papa, but am open to hearing arguments.
I know folks may say that he was hardly even on the Monarchs. Here’s my retort… who cares? He was on our team, he’s Kansas City. Simple.
He wrote a song just for the Kansas City Chiefs. How we have not given this man a statue is beyond me. And on a side note, I found out Eminem did a feature on one of his songs and guys… did you know Eminem was born in St. Joseph? Should we just make a statue of the two of them? Discuss in the comments.
There’s a lot to like about Sue Miller. For one, she earned her bachelor’s degree at 60 and her master’s at 75, proving education is never a linear journey. Following her mastectomy, she used her experience as a former model to launch a fashion show with models who had survived breast cancer. If you’re gonna rename a UMKC building, name it in honor of Sue.
It pisses me off that ASU acts like they’ve got a Cronkite monopoly. Look, Walter lived in KC until he was 10, started announcing sports on KCMO and met his wife of 65 years there! Back off, he’s ours. Also, he openly dissed Pat Robertson. That’s not relevant to the discussion at hand, but it’s important to me that you know that.
Winchell was murdered at age 21 by a fellow soldier because he was dating a transgender woman. That’s it. This relationship led to harassment that his superiors did fuck all about. It finally boiled over because the murderer was goaded by a shithead soldier and so he decided violence was the solution. His death was all because he saw a transgender woman as a human being deserving of compassion (You listening, J. K. Rowling?).
Harry S. Truman
Look, if we’re gonna insist on another white dude who made a name for himself, let’s stick it to the racists and go with Harry S. Truman. He’s proof that you can change if you actually keep an open mind. It would also piss off Nichols, because Truman was a hardcore racist, Anti-Semite who did a complete 180. Nichols should’ve done the same. You can read more about Truman’s cross over to the right side of history here.
Yes, I know there’s a statue of him. Give the man another! He altered the course of music history as we know it! He deserves every statue there is!
Alright, I know this list is full of legendary baseball players and no, I’m not sorry. I’ll end with Satchel Paige. He was pitching until he was 47, which is no small feat. He made it to the World Series. He pitched so fast it could knock your arm off. Put his name on a fountain because his career was longer than Nichols’ and infinitely better, too.
Okay, that’s my list. What famous Kansas Citian do you think should replace J. C. Racist Fuckwad’s fountain and plaza? Leave a comment!