KANSAS CITY, Mo. – On Saturday morning, hundreds of people joined an anti-racism walk unlike anything Kansas City had ever seen before on Troost Avenue.
Unite KC was founded by Kansas City Royals General Manager Dayton Moore last year following the death of George Floyd.
There is a red line dividing the sidewalk along Troost that represents decades of racial segregation in Kansas City, with whites and blacks living on opposite sides.
“We wanted to rewrite that legacy and start a new chapter in our city’s history,” said CEO Ray Jarrett Unite KC.
When Kansas City first began to grow, racially restrictive housing covenants drew the line, designed to be segregated.
Shannon Benton, Unite KC Communications Manager, says the covenants have left history in the town.
“There was this division, and although those covenants are now illegal, there is a stark contrast between the blacks living on the east side and the whites living on the west side of the church.”
Hundreds of people wishing for unity stand on different sides of a field, representing the separation of the past. As the walk began, they slowly approached each other, meeting in the middle, many for the first time.
Patrick Riley is a walker who says starting a conversation is easy.
“She said she was new to Kansas City… I was born and raised in Kansas City. We’re just starting to talk about that,” Riley said.
Painter Susan agreed, that the conversation went well and easily.
“I’ve had a lot of conversations but never have you talked to a stranger and you talked.”
As people walked, the sand stream was deliberately kicked and blurred to erase it.
Moore said he enjoyed the peace that came with the event.
“It starts with being calm, listening to people, loving people and caring deeply about people and what they went through in their 1008 lives with their grandparents in previous generations. and how we can do better,” says Moore.
And Unite KC believes this can be done without God.
Pastor John Brooks of the Macedonian Baptist Church says that faith is what breaks down those barriers.
“If this is to be successful, it has to start with faith-based communities. Regardless of your dominance, any belief in God says it’s not right to be divided because of our ethnicity. “
The walk ends with the opportunity to engage with organizations in all areas of the community that promote racial unity.
“Someday won’t work out, it needs more of this and more prayers,” Brooks said.
There was a heavy police presence at the walk. Not necessarily to provide security, but to support their efforts to come together.
For those who want to find more information about the Unite KC movement, they can visit https://unitekc.org/.