KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On Saturday morning, hundreds of people took part in an anti-racism walk unlike anything Kansas City has ever seen before on Troost Ave.
Unite KC was founded by Kansas City Royals General Manager Dayton Moore last year in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
There was a red line dividing the sidewalk along Troost representing decades of racial division in Kansas City, with white and black people living on opposite sides.
“We want to rewrite that legacy and start a new chapter in our city’s history,” Ray Jarrett Unite KC Executive Director said.
When Kansas City first began to grow, racially restrictive housing covenants drew the line, designed to segregate.
Shannon Benton, Unite KC Communications Director, said that covenants have left history in town.
“There’s been this divide and even though those covenants are now illegal, there’s still a very a stark contrast between black people living on the east side and white people living on the west side of Troost.”
Hundreds of people desiring unity stood on different sides of a field, representing the segregation of the past. As the walk began, they slowly came together, meeting in the middle, many for the first time.
Patrick Riley was a walker who said it was easy to strike up conversation.
“She said she’s new to Kansas City… I was born and raised in Kansas City. We just started talking about that,” Riley said.
Susan Painter agreed, that the conversation was nice and easy.
“I’ve had a lot of conversations but never one where you’re just paired up with a stranger and you talk.”
As everyone walked, the line of sand was intentionally kicked and blurred in an attempt to erase it.
Moore said he enjoyed the peace that comes with the event.
“It begins with calmness, listening to people, loving on people and caring deeply about people and what their experiencing in life with their grandparents in previous generations have experienced and how can we do better,” Moore said.
And Unite KC believes this can be done with God.
Macedonia Baptist Church Pastor John Brooks that faith is the thing that breaks down those barriers.
“If this thing is going to work it has to start with faith-based community. Regardless of your domination any belief in God says it’s not right to be divided because of our racial ethnicity.”
The walk ended with the opportunity to get involved with organizations in all sectors of the community that promote racial unity.
“One day isn’t going to do it it takes more of this and more prayer,” Brooks said.
Police presence was strong at the walk. Not necessarily to provide security, but to support thr effort to come together.
For those looking for more information about the Unite KC movement, they can go to https://unitekc.org/.