Previous Special Events

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Bayard Rustin helped shape Martin Luther King Jr., and organized the historic 1963 March on Washington. Now his life partner Walter Naegle discusses Rustin’s vision, explains why his ideas are still relevant , and introduces a screening of the documentary Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin.


Thursday, February 27, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

To kick off this year’s McKinzie symposium—One Nation Under God: The Politics of America’s Religious Diversity—the University of Wisconsin’s Charles L. Cohen delivers a keynote address on the issues facing minority religions in America.

Cohen is a professor of history and religious studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and director of the Lubar Institute for the Study of the Abrahamic Religions.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Kansas City’s River Market area was known in the 1970s as River Quay, a redeveloped home to restaurants and bohemian shops—and site of a violent Mafia turf war.

The dispute left three establishments burned or blown up and several mobsters killed, devastating the district. Gary Jenkins, a local attorney and documentary filmmaker, was a Kansas City police detective at the time and part of a subsequent investigation that uncovered a multi-city mob conspiracy to skim money from Las Vegas casinos.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

John B. Judis, senior editor at The New Republic, examines the half-century of raging conflict between Jews and Arabs—a violent, costly struggle that has had catastrophic repercussions in a critical region of the world.

The fatal flaw in American policy, Judis says, can be traced back to the Truman administration. What happened between 1945 and 1949 sealed the fate of the Middle East for the remainder of the century and explains why every subsequent attempt to stabilize the area has failed—right down to George W. Bush’s unsuccessful and ill-conceived effort to win peace by holding elections among Palestinians and Barack Obama’s failed attempt to bring both sides to the negotiating table.


Monday, February 24, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Chasing Ice is a 2012 documentary about the efforts of photographer James Balog and his Extreme Ice Survey to publicize the effects of climate change. It features scenes of a glacier calving event that took place at Jakobshavn Glacier in Greenland, the largest outer-edge breakup of a glacier ever captured on film.

Balog was skeptical about the science of climate change when he began his trip north, but over the course of the documentary he became increasingly convinced that climate change is real and, in large part, man-made. Chasing Ice represents his effort to bring the story to the public.


Sunday, February 23, 2014
2:00pm @ Waldo Branch

Join Bernard Norcott-Mahany as he recounts “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” (the movie Mitty is not the real Mitty) and other stories and cartoons by James Thurber.

Thurber, a writer and cartoonist for The New Yorker from the 1920s through the 1950s, has often been compared with Mark Twain as one of America’s premier humorists. Though very funny, Thurber’s stories have a darker side as well.


Sunday, February 23, 2014
1:30pm @ Plaza Branch

A free series of films by Alfred Hitchcock who used film to explore his own neuroses and phobias, in the process revealing the psychological complexities we all share.

The birds of the air begin attacking humanity … but that’s just one of the horrors in this disturbing depiction of madness and sexuality. Hitchcock’s new find Tippi Hedren (the director was obsessed with her) and Rod Taylor play a couple whose growing love must contend not only with a rampaging Mother Nature but also with his domineering and possessive mama (Jessica Tandy).


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Americans are familiar with Civil War land battles—but much less so with the war at sea, from the development of ironclad warships and submarines to the more mundane naval blockade that created economic starvation in the South.

On the 150th anniversary of the Confederates’ loss of the CSS Hunley—which had been the first combat Submarine to sink an enemy warship—John T. Kuehn of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College examines the largely underappreciated role that naval warfare played in the Civil War. Kuehn, a former Navy aviator, is the author of two books on the Pacific theater in World War II and another on the military history of Japan.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Veteran re-enactor Charles Everett Pace brings his one man show to Kansas City to portray prominent abolitionist and social reformer Frederick Douglass.

Born enslaved in 1818, Douglass successfully escaped from bondage in 1838 and quickly rose to the front ranks of leading abolitionists, becoming the most famous black American of his day. In the years leading up to the Civil War, his incisive anti-slavery writings and mesmerizing speeches reached broad audiences in the United States and the British Isles. Following emancipation, Douglass continued to lecture and write on civil rights issues, including women’s rights and desegregation. He wrote several versions of his autobiography between 1845 and 1892.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014
6:30pm @ Plaza Branch

Well before the famous 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City sparked the modern gay rights movement, Kansas City had its own active gay rights community that was a meaningful participant in the larger national movement. Post-Stonewall, the city’s emerging gay and lesbian community strove to provide venues and services to address the growing needs of its members.

Stuart Hinds, head of the LaBudde Special Collections at the UMKC Libraries; Kevin Scharlau, History PhD. candidate at UMKC; and attorney Kay Madden hold a lively discussion of the history of LGBT advocacy in the Kansas City area.