'68: The Kansas City Race Riots Then and Now

'68: The Kansas City Race Riots Then and Now is a product of a unique partnership between Kansas City PBS, 41 Action News and the Kansas City Public Library. It features historians, political and law enforcement leaders along with eyewitnesses to the tumultuous events playing out on Kansas City streets 50 years ago.

Frustrated with the slow pace of civil rights reforms and outraged at the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., protest turned to violence in Kansas City on April 9, 1968. The riots shocked many residents of the city, which had long been known for its lack of racial unrest despite its deep, underlying racial tensions.

Kansas City Public Library Exhibit

The "’68: Marking 50 Years of Kansas City’s Deadly Riot" exhibit opens Monday, April 9 at the Central Branch of the Kansas City Public Library.

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A Look Back at the Deadly '68 Riots

Fifty years ago this April, Kansas City experienced deadly riots that put the national spotlight on our city. They left six people dead, hundreds arrested and multiple blocks of the city in flames. Frustrated with the slow pace of civil rights reforms and outraged at the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., protesters in Kansas City took to the streets on April 9, 1968.

An Exchange of a Lifetime

Amid the riots unleashed following the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., a spark of hope quietly ignited in the center of the country. That flicker was right here, in Kansas City, where Catholic leaders launched an experiment that confronted race head-on by bringing black and white students literally face to face through a student exchange program.

1968 Kansas City Race Riots: Then & Now

The spring and summer of 1968 was a tumultuous time of civil unrest across the United States. Riots, triggered by the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. but also tied to deeply-rooted issues, erupted in more than 100 cities nationwide. Kansas City was one of them. King was killed on April 4, 1968.

Kansas City, 1968: Photos of MLK assassination protest found

During a routine inspection of donated filing cabinets, a warehouse worker at Kansas City's Surplus Exchange made a surprisingly timely discovery: around 24 photos of the April 9, 1968, protest at KCMO's City Hall following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

41 Action News