KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Nichols family, descendants of famous Kansas City developer J.C. Nichols, has publicly endorsed changing the name of the fountain and parkway named after their relative, which has fueled debate over racism since the protests over the death of George Floyd.
The family and the Miller Nichols Charitable Foundation released a joint statement, saying that taking J.C. Nichols’ name off of the landmarks would be for the greater good.
“We have a great passion for the Kansas City spirit, and for the people in every corner of our community who bring it to life,” Foundation President Kay Callison stated. “It is important to each of us that we publicly endorse the name change for the greater good of the City we love.”
The Country Club Plaza is known for its Spanish architecture, fountains and sculptures. Much of what remains today has been inspired by J.C. Nichols, who’s developments ranged across the city.
However, Nichols also took part in redlining, a practice that keeps minorities in certain parts of town away from people who are white. Minorities were largely forced to live east of Troost, driving them into neighborhoods where banks wouldn’t loan money at reasonable rates.
As Black Lives Matters protests rose up against the killing of unarmed minorities, especially George Floyd in Minneapolis, Kansas Citians quickly re-evaluated the name associated with the Plaza, where many protests took place.
A virtual town hall on June 24 prompted a big response, where dozens of residents spoke up about the idea of removing the Nichols name.
“This is a defining moment for our City,” Mark Callison, grandson of Miller Nichols, said in the statement. “Our family stands squarely behind the spirit of diversity, equality and social justice that has taken hold in our region and in our nation.
The foundation will present a check to the City of Fountains Foundation for $100,000 for the continued maintenance and support of the fountain.
In an email, foundation communication strategist Melinda Tiemeyer said the foundation hoped the endorsement would provide perspective in the conversation. There will be no further comment.