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Experts convene to discuss race relations at Kansas City forum

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- They lived through the civil rights movement and now say it's as if someone turned back the clock.

A town hall meeting on race relations in the metro has one community leader saying conditions are as bad as before the civil rights movement. That statement came from Sister Rosemary Flanigan -- a retired professor from the metro. Flanigan was also a participant in the legendary Selma march of 1965 -- where black Americans demanded their right to vote.

A number of experts gathered for a forum on Kansas City's race relations.

Avila University conducted the town hall meeting to examine the path people of different cultural backgrounds in the metro are taking. Alvin Brooks was one of the six local leaders in attendance.

The 84-year-old is a former Kansas City police officer -- and community activist for anti-violence. Brooks says communication and respect can help further race relations.

“I hope there's no one who would come here with a bigoted, racist, homophobic mind. We need open minds. There's a lot to be done and it will take all of us doing something,” Brooks said.

Brooks says the mean-spirited election season is also driving racism in the metro. He says the fight between supporters of various political candidates is pushing people further apart.