Saturday, June 15, 2013

american political science: worth reading for the summary history of the urban origins of 2nd/3rd line inheritors of the civil rights movement


scribd | Kansas City andhow it is prototypical of most American cities that struggle with race, class, finance, and power issues.  Tom Pendergast is in the political boss hall of fame, corrupting everything from Kansas City's cityhall to the reputation of Harry Truman. In 1940, the Kansas City business community had had enough and rallied to change hire a new city manager and end the Pendergast machine. They hired L. P. Cookingham to lead the city out of corruption and into the enlightened era of reformed citymanagement. Cookingham distinguished himself as the American “dean” of city managers, so recognized by the American Society of Public Administration in an annual award to honor hisachievements. While this is the commonly told timeline of change and political milestones inKCMO, it is not the most pivotal.

Another civic leader, J.C. Nichols, had a much greater impact on setting into motion the traditionsthat would bring Kansas City to its “Judas” moment. J.C. Nichols founded the Urban Land Institute, which provides an annual award in his honor to recognize his achievements in the field of urbandevelopment. Nichols developed the first auto-centered shopping center in the U.S., The CountryClub Plaza, which sits today as the epitome of New Urbanism. He was the developer responsible for  platting the most successful residential real estate project in the city – the series of subdivisions to the south of the Plaza that redefined the nation's approach to housing segregation. J.C. Nicholscreated the racial covenant deed restriction to market his properties and convinced the national realestate community, including the FHA, to do the same. The impact on his hometown, Kansas City,remains to this day. Not only did it seal the fate of African-American mobility in that city, it alsodemonstrated the political power that can be harbored by the business community. Such power has been chronicled by political scholars from coast to coast. That political forebearance acted as athumb on the neck of the black community until its first black mayor, now U.S. Congressman,Emanuel Cleaver II was elected to the city's top post in 1991. Yet the divisions remain in the socialmores of Kansas City, blocking the advancement of the school district, the economy, investment, thehousing market, and on and on. It's quite a legacy for Mr. Nichols.

Kansas City remains a largely segregated city in 2010 even though racial covenants were outlawedin 1948 by the U.S. Supreme Court and equal housing became the law of the land in 1968. Today,Kansas City can be seen in stark terms courtesy of the 2000 census depicting African-Americans – clearly showing the racial divide in the city along Troost Avenue.

Since 1970, the school district board has gone through 26 different superintendents. That is not a typo – 26 superintendents in the last 40 years. Why has there been such a revolving door of staff leadership? In part, it stems from the difficult task of bothmanaging and educating a declining urban school district. Every major city in the country hassuffered the same decline in performance, revenues, and hardships dealing with an increasingly poor and ill-prepared student body. Kansas City's urban school district is no different. But the parade of superintendents in the KCMSD also is borne of the struggle to balance white vs. black power, eastvs. west dominance for control of the district and its direction, and the demand for a black ladder tothe middle class through district jobs, business contracts, and prestige. In a district that washandicapped by racial covenants that were arranged by the white business leadership, it should not be surprising that there is a zero level of trust by a segment of the black community of the intentionsof “reformers” and superintendents that seek to overhaul the district. Long fought-for gains by black leadership, parents, community residents, churches, and businesses resulted in an insulated power structure on the eastside. Just as the white leadership of Hyde Park are circling their wagons againstcrime and decline today, a segment of the black leadership on the eastside long ago circled their wagons to preserve a bastion of dignity and upward mobility. But as the old adage goes...power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

During the Civil Rights Era, Freedom, Inc. was created by eastside leaders as the political club tochampion and advocate for African-Americans in Kansas City. For many years it was the “go-to” political hub for Democratic party leaders who needed minority voters to turn out in elections. Butmore than a political lackey, Freedom, Inc. served to screen candidates, groom candidates, andadvocate for public policy and tax referendums. As minority leadership expanded on the eastside, sotoo did the number of politically minded clubs and organizations. Black ministers joined together asthe Concerned Clergy. Human Rights advocates organized as the East 23rd Street PAC and the AdHoc Group Against Crime. Vestiges of Model Cities' programs became Swope Community Builders,led by the Swope Medical group leader Frank Ellis, and the Mazuma Credit Union. Today the primary groups of black political leadership are Freedom, Inc., Concerned Clergy, Black Agenda Group, Baptist Minister's Union, Methodist Minister's Union, Urban Summit (of black electedofficials), Black United Front, and the esoteric Eggs and Enlightenment. Add to this a number of CDCs, neighborhood groups, unions, anti-gang groups, nonprofits, and redevelopment projects suchas the 18th and Vine Jazz Redevelopment District, the Jazz Museum and the Negro Leagues Baseball museum, and you have a broad spectrum of leadership and access points within the black community. No longer is there a single voice or a go-to group with whom the white community cannegotiate. Instead, there is need for real engagement, dialogue, and interaction in order to createcommunity consensus, partnerships, and progress. For those, black or white, that expect to find or have absolute power, this new dynamic is vexing.

8 comments:

CNu said...

disregard the contemporary school board politicking and the characterizations of the same. That's not a conversation I'm at liberty to enjoin here or anywhere else for that matter, suffice it to say that things did not work out as hoped/imagined by this paper's author. The value of the paper is in the succinct capsule view of what happened in Kansas City that set the mold for every other city in the U.S.. For more detail, and much more entertaining detail on that history, read Whitney Terrell's the Kings of Kings County. http://www.whitneyterrell.com/books.html

Whitney Terrell is a local hero and people-centric leader who shined a bright light on the perpetration that is the Google Fiber project http://www.kcur.org/post/google-fiber-kc-complicated-pair

We've talked about this project a little bit hereabouts http://subrealism.blogspot.com/search?q=google+fiber

arnach said...

Off Topic: HFD CNu

CNu said...

Thank you sir! Ties, socks and drawers, but the joke was on me as I got some very nice lacoste socks!

Uglyblackjohn said...

All these splinter groups only care about their own status and most of their efforts are spent trying to keep or grow such status. I'm dealing with this now, here...

CNu said...

This is what I was referring to over here http://subrealism.blogspot.com/2013/06/american-political-science-architect-of.html#comment-933009720 with my man down in FL struggling with the incumbent gatekeeping families who profited off of segregation at the height of Jim Crow and look back nostalgically on all the money they made off of a captive market which didn't have the option of spending its money elsewhere. That that mentality still exists/persists (and oh yeah, best believe there's some of that in the confederate state of Missouri too) along with the softheaded pathetic-ness of folks who never got seasoned by genuine competition and the necessity of operational competence to preserve a bastion of dignity and upward mobility. But as the old
adage goes...power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.those who could least afford the luxury of mediocrity just plain and simply wallowed in it for generations and in the process, devastated the constituents they purported to be serving.

Whether these were kids being underserved in schools by the "fake it till you make it" crowd, or, citizens being underserved by the "fake it till you make it" crowd in civic governance - it's all a big mess and hodgepodge of 2nd and 3rd line inheritors of the civil rights movement which categorically lacks the organizational and operational knowledge, skills, and ability to get its collective act together and mob deep http://uglyblackjohn.blogspot.com/2013/05/mob-deep.html

Uglyblackjohn said...

I'm having a Leukemia benefit this Sunday to make up for a benefit given by a rival club. At their event, they kept all of the proceeds. They thought of philanthropy as a hustle. My event is sponsored by other local businesses and vendors. I have to SHOW these nucka's that giving back is ones responsibility for doing well in business.

CNu said...

the truth of the matter is that dignity and upward mobility proceed from competence..., usurpation of the unearned "proceeds and trappings" is one of (no, scratch that) usurpation of the unearned offices, proceeds, and trappings of upward mobility and status is THE cardinal failing of the 2nd/3rd line inheritors of the civil rights movement http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-jesse-jackson-jr-prison,0,7868263.story

Tom said...

Wow, John, hard to even comprehend that boneheaded move by the other club. Bad for everybody. Hopefully your corrective action will not only help the sick kids but maybe help keep the resentment aimed where it belongs.

I'm trying to even picture the number of nice ladies coming home and complaining to hubby. So boneheaded. Do they think folks just leave that money lying around?? Somebody needs training.