Kansas City’s Historic 18th and Vine District
A visit to Kansas City offers an opportunity to discovery the city’s distinguished African American heritage through the 18th & Vine Jazz District.
Start with the American Jazz Museum where a rotating gallery exhibit and education program complement the changing seasons of acts in the neighboring Gem Theater and Blue Room. Be sure to pose for a picture with the gigantic memorial of famous Kansas City musician Charlie Parker outside.
Next, round the bases at the Negro League Baseball Museum. Housed in the same building as the American Jazz Museum, the NLBM pays homage to the legacy of black American baseball players and the leagues they formed for themselves before they were allowed to play in the Major Leagues.
Just a little further down 18th street, at the offices of The Call, reporters keep black Kansas City residents informed of relevant news as they have every week since 1919.
For the true student of history, the Black Archives of Mid-America provides an in-depth look at the role that African Americans played in the development of the gateway to the American West. Located at the southern edge of The Parade Park, which borders the District, the Archives features digital galleries, research services, a walk-through exhibit and access to special collections that document the history and culture of African Americans in the Kansas City region.
Kansas City is the the official second home of the groundbreaking modern dance company Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. The Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey is located just one block from the archives and the museums, and offer year-round community programming.
Among these institutions are also the mainstays of jazz clubs and barbecue restaurants that have remained vibrant since the city’s inception. Travel outside of the Historic District to the campus of the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Center along the banks of Bush Creek. Named for a prominent Kansas City African American politician, activist and businessman, the Cultural Center features a resource library, three galleries and outdoor grounds for the free enjoyment of the public.