It Finally Happened Here

Dates: 
Friday, April 20, 2018 to Saturday, April 20, 2019
Location: 
A rising tide of urban rioting in the Vietnam era finally engulfed Kansas City on April 9, 1968. For four days following the funeral of Martin Luther King Jr., the city’s predominately African-American East Side joined nearly 300 other U.S. cities in the ’60s in seeing long-simmering racial unrest erupt into violence on the streets. The toll here was high: six dead, at least 78 confirmed injured, and close to $4 million in damages and other losses.

A special Library exhibit, It Finally Happened Here, looks back at that tumultuous episode in the city’s history and the effectiveness of efforts – up to today – to address its causes.

The exhibit, now on display at the downtown Central Library, will move to different Library locations throughout the year. Images and research materials were drawn from the collections of the State Historical Society of Missouri-Kansas City Research Center, LaBudde Special Collections at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, The Kansas City Call, The Kansas City Star, and the Library’s Missouri Valley Special Collections. Southeast Missouri State University history professor Joel Rhodes led the research, with contributions from Derek Donovan of The Star, Rachel Forester of the SHSMO, Kelly McEniry of the LaBudde Special Collections, and Donna Stewart of The Call.

The project follows the March 26, 2018 program Strife in the Streets: Kansas City Remembers 1968, which the Library co-presented with KSHB-41 Action News and KCPT-Kansas City PBS.