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Preserving Our Past: Kansas City Stories of Black History

Preserving Our Past: The Story Continues

Flatland producer Catherine Hoffman is back for the second installment of her documentary series, Preserving Our Past: Kansas City Stories of Black History. Through her research and reporting, Hoffman works to uncover compelling and often untold stories of Black excellence, sacrifice and perseverance which are brought to life onscreen through historical footage and expert interviews. Featuring three topics and their impact on Kansas City, this follow-up to the 2022 original shares the importance of Kansas City's past and its influence on the present.

Flatland | Featured Stories

Black Cowboys: Then and Now

When Netflix went looking for someone to speak on the history of Black cowboys, they came to Kansas City. Local cowboy and children's author Trae Q. L. Venerable answered the call. Netflix released the Black western (or as some might call it, a western) "The Harder They Fall" in 2021.

Preserving our Past

This special focuses on the remembrance of Black history, contributions and culture in KC.

About Preserving our Past

Kansas City’s Black community has a vibrant history that includes triumphs as well as trauma.

During her time as a reporter for Flatland, Catherine Hoffman has worked to share the rich legacy of Black history in Kansas City by uncovering some of its most compelling stories. A selection of the Emmy Award-winning reporter’s stories of Black excellence, sacrifice and discrimination are brought to life on Kansas City PBS. Featuring five topics and their historical impact on Kansas City, Preserving Our Past: Kansas City Stories of Black History focuses on the remembrance of Black history, contributions and culture.

Through her research, Hoffman uncovered a racial divide in the practice of midwifery that left practitioners and mothers of color behind. She revisited the lynching of Levi Harrington in Kansas City, and the work of local organizations to shed light on past injustices. She recounted the legacy of two women from Merriam, KS, who worked tirelessly to fight to integrate South Park Elementary. She highlighted a local project focused on a systematic review of Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American and Jewish American soldiers who fought in World War I and were denied a Medal of Honor because of their race or religion. She also spoke with local leaders to understand the role and influence of the Black Church on the communities it serves.  

These legacies - remembered in living rooms, local museums and places of worship - have long gone unsung, uncelebrated or unexamined. In 2022, they bring new relevance and context to Kansas City’s history.

Catherine Hoffman covers community affairs and culture for Kansas City PBS in cooperation with Report for America. The work of our Report for America corps members is made possible, in part, through the generous support of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Flatland | Featured Stories

Meet Two Kansas Women Who Helped Integrate South Park Elementary School

These were the words of school teacher Corinthian Nutter during her legendary fight against the state of Kansas to integrate South Park Elementary School in Merriam. Nutter linked arms with white Jewish housewife Esther Brown in the 1940s to give Black children, as Brown put it, "a fair shake."

Honoring Minority Veterans, A Century Later

Dr. Emma Lapsansky-Werner knew nothing of her father's military exploits when she was a child. It wasn't until after he passed that she learned the events of Sept. 27, 1918. That evening, heavy machine gun fire shredded the Argonne Forest as American troops advanced on Germany in the final weeks of World War I.

Local Lynching Memorial Perseveres Despite Backlash

While some people in Kansas City work to acknowledge our collective past, others have been rising up to erase it. The Black Archives of Mid-America in Kansas City is collaborating with the Equal Justice Initiative to collect jars of soil from the site of every lynching in Missouri.

Local Leaders Weigh in on the Role of the Black Church

The Black church has never just been a church. Since its beginnings on the American plantation, the Black church has served as a social hall, sanctuary and command center for social change. Rather than balk at the mention of politics from the pulpit, the Black church has a tendency to grab politics by the horns and steer it in the direction of progress for its people.

Birthing Battle: Labor Pains, A KC Mother's Story

It was a sweltering summer day when Izula Jade, who was about six weeks pregnant, felt sick. This nausea and pain were familiar, like the two ectopic pregnancies she'd had before, wherein she lost her babies. So she sought help from Hakima Tafunzi Payne, a Kansas City area leader and the co-founder of Uzazi Village.

CuriousKC | Resurrecting Rattlebone Hollow

Phil Dixon was buzzing as he pulled into the parking lot of Heathwood Park. Today he's lauded as the founder of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, but this little plot of land was where he first fell in love with the sport over 50 years ago.

Twitter Space Lunch Time Conversation: Preserving Our Past

Twitter Space

Preserving Our Past Conversation with Catherine Hoffman and D. Rashaan Gilmore


Placing the history of Black Kansas Citians front and center

Flatland KC reporter Catherine Hoffman turned producer to give more context to a series of Flatland stories showing the historical impact of Black Kansas Citians. From the role of the Black church to lynching to minority veterans, Hoffman highlights "Black excellence, sacrifice, and perseverance."

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