New app aims to educate KC residents about city’s segregation through driving tour

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- If you're interested in taking a drive and learning something new, too, there's a new app you might want to download.

A new audio tour will take you through the history of segregation in Kansas City. It's called Dividing Lines and is sponsored through the Johnson County Library.

"Troost is a fairly well-known road in Kansas City, and it is kind of a dividing line between black and white and rich and poor. There are other dividing lines that exist in the city, and we kind of explore those in the tour," said co-creator Nathaniel Bozarth.

Bozarth and co-creator Christopher Cook put the project together for the library.

"A combination of google maps, and a podcast. So it will use your phone's GPS to know where you are, and then on along a route, once you hit a certain geo-trigger it will play a certain audio file," Cook said.

"We're talking about red-lining. We're talking about block-busting. We're talking about white flight. We're talking about the racially restrictive housing covenants, which took place in Leawood and Mission Hills, what is now Brookside, and we're talking about the division and kind of the division and organization of real estate throughout the city," Bozarth said.

The tour is free through the app Voicemap. It has about 30 sections, and in total it will take around 90 minutes. Both creators said the time is worth it.

"Dividing Lines is an important trip and tour to take because so many of us in this city know the present-day divisions and fears but not necessarily the whys," Cook said.

"You come away from the tour feeling emotionally drained, maybe shocked. Several people I know were really ready to take action, which is great. I hope people do take action. I hope people do use the tour as a way to start conversations with people they may not have talked about issues of race and discrimination," Bozarth said.

Bozarth and Cook hope if enough people take the tour those dividing lines can blur a little more each day.

If you want to take the Dividing Lines tour, you can download the app here. Once you download it and it gets your location, Kansas City should pull up in the menu right away.

The library suggests you pick a time that's not too busy on the road. The trip is about 24 miles long.