Event Video

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  • Kansas City civil rights activist Alvin Sykes and former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn discuss their roles in the ground-breaking cold-case bill of 2008. Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, initially opposed it; but Sykes convinced him to change his mind, opening the door to passage.
    The Power of Dialogue: How It Led to the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act
    Thursday, July 23, 2015
    Central Library

    Kansas City civil rights activist Alvin Sykes first encountered former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn in 2007, when Coburn was stalling the Sykes-backed Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act.

    Sykes sought and got a meeting. The two men talked. And Coburn dropped his opposition, opening the door to the Till Bill’s passage in September 2008. He paid tribute to Sykes as a difference-maker on the Senate floor.

    Coburn left office at the end of last year. He and Sykes, who educated himself and still does much of his research in local libraries, recall their history and Sykes’ lifelong work in a public discussion moderated by Library Director Crosby Kemper III. The event is part of the Library’s Scholar-in-Residence Lecture Series.

  • On the heels of the announcement of a new 800-room Hyatt hotel that officials hope will boost Kansas City’s convention prospects, Heywood T. Sanders discusses his book on how a nationwide surge in convention- related development has delivered only limited returns.
    Convention Center Follies - Heywood T. Sanders
    Wednesday, July 22, 2015
    Central Library

    Can a recently announced, 800-room Hyatt hotel, scheduled to open in 2018, boost Kansas City’s convention prospects when it opens? The city has invested heavily in its downtown convention center – from Bartle Hall’s $144 million expansion in the 1990s to a $150 million upgrade completed in 2007 – and yet business has lagged.

    Heywood T. Sanders, one of the country’s foremost experts on urban development, notes that KC is not alone. In a discussion of his book, Convention Center Follies: Politics, Power, and Public Investment in American Cities, he notes a nationwide surge in convention center development in the past two decades amid promises of new jobs, private development, and tax revenues. In Boston, Orlando, and elsewhere, the returns have similarly been limited. So why does the building continue?

    Sanders is a professor of public administration at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

  • Marking the 75th anniversary of France’s fall to Nazi Germany in May and June 1940, Mark Gerges of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth examines what led to the defeat and the myths that still surround it.
    The Fall of France - Mark Gerges
    Tuesday, June 30, 2015
    Central Library

    Nazi Germany’s defeat of France in May and June 1940 stunned the world. How could the French, the dominant military power of the First World War, collapse so rapidly in the opening stages of World War II? Was it Germany’s boldness, advanced tank technology, and modern doctrine? Or did France’s internal societal weaknesses lead to the Third Republic’s humiliating end?

    Marking the 75th anniversary of the fall of France, Mark Gerges of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth examines the key military actions of this critical period as well as the myths that continue to surround this momentous French defeat.

  • In a discussion of his new book Popular Economics: What the Rolling Stones, Downton Abbey, and LeBron James Can Teach You About Economics, Forbes magazine’s John Tamny takes a comprehensible, real-world look at how money works – and how he says it should work.
    Popular Economics - John Tamny
    Thursday, June 25, 2015
    Central Library

    Economics needn’t be shrouded in byzantine theory and mathematical formulas. In a discussion of his new book Popular Economics: What the Rolling Stones, Downton Abbey, and LeBron James Can Teach You About Economics, Forbes magazine editor John Tamny takes a clear, comprehensible, real-world look at how money works – and how he says it should work.

    Tamny, also managing editor of the website RealClearMarkets and a senior economic advisor to the Toreador Research and Trading investment management firm, draws from movies, sports, pop culture, and marquee businesses. The Rolling Stones, football’s Dallas Cowboys, and celebutante Paris Hilton are examples of good and bad tax policy. The Godfather, Gone with the Wind, and The Sopranos illustrate the downside of antitrust regulation.

  • Richard Barbuto of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth discusses Napoleon’s agonizing defeat at Waterloo – the leaders and followers, the myths and the legends, and the maelstrom of combat 200 years ago today.
    At Waterloo Napoleon Did Surrender - Richard Barbuto
    Thursday, June 18, 2015
    Central Library

    Two hundred years ago today, on a sodden Belgian field, one of the greatest conquerors of all time went down to agonizing and ultimate defeat. All that remained was “La Gloire,” the intangible exhilaration shared by all who participated and survived.

    Napoleon Bonaparte, by dint of relentless focus and ambition, abetted by unmatched talent, once had crowned himself emperor of France. His military and political genius was manifest throughout Europe and, indeed, the world. But hubris proved a fatal flaw.

    Richard Barbuto of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth discusses the leaders and followers, the myths and the legends, and the swirling maelstrom of combat that marked Napoleon’s Waterloo.

  • Closing the Civil War Sesquicentennial series, historians Terry L. Beckenbaugh and Ethan S. Rafuse of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth assess how the North prevailed and why the Civil War remains so compelling today.
    Why the North Won and Why It All Matters
    Tuesday, May 26, 2015
    Central Library

    After four of the bloodiest years of warfare in its history, peace finally had come to the United States in May 1865. For two glorious days, Washington, D.C., residents watched as the mighty Union armies that had compelled the surrender of the Confederacy’s main forces marched down Pennsylvania Avenue in triumph. “The rebels,” Ulysses S. Grant proclaimed a few weeks earlier, “are our countrymen again.”

    Historians Terry L. Beckenbaugh and Ethan S. Rafuse of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth close the Library’s Civil War Sesquicentennial series with a discussion of how the North prevailed and the South lay broken and defeated, what the four years of fighting left unresolved, and why the Civil War remains so compelling 150 years after the final shots were fired.

  • Parkville, Missouri, author Tom Rafiner discusses the long, dark, post-Civil War shadow cast by the 1863 edict known as “Order No. 11,” which mandated the evacuation of non-rural residents in three western Missouri counties. Healing in its aftermath took decades.
    Legacy of Order No. 11: Missouri's Burnt District, 1865-1870 - Tom Rafiner
    Sunday, May 17, 2015
    Central Library

    By the time of Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, the land and people of western Missouri had suffered as much as any during the Civil War. The 1863 edict known as “Order No. 11”—forcing the evacuation of all non-rural residents of three western counties including Jackson—and the Federal army that carried it out had depopulated those counties, devastated homes and farms, and left deep scars.

    Focusing on families and communities, Parkville, Missouri, author Tom Rafiner examines the scene that greeted returning residents after the Civil War on the Western Border ended. The “burnt district” took decades to heal, casting a long, dark shadow on postwar Missouri.

  • University of Kansas historian Theodore A. Wilson examines the impact of service in World War II on a succession of presidents – from Truman to George H.W. Bush – and what a lack of wartime experience might mean for 21st-century commanders-in-chief.
    A Defining Moment: The “Greatest Generation” in the White House
    Tuesday, May 5, 2015
    Plaza Branch

    Among our “greatest generation” was a succession of U.S. presidents who were informed and defined by World War II. Harry Truman, who oversaw the end of the war, credited his combat experience in World War I for his success in the Oval Office. Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush all served in World War II.

    Theodore A. Wilson, emeritus professor of history at the University of Kansas, examines the impact of their experiences and the fact that, today, the connection between wartime service and the presidency is severed. If it is within the crucible of combat that great leaders are made, will 21st-century commanders-in-chief have the “right stuff?”

  • Nearing the end of the 10th anniversary year of the opening of Kansas City’s downtown Central Library, educator and technology expert John Palfrey discusses his new book and the assertion that libraries – while still essential – must embrace a digital future to survive.
    BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google
    Wednesday, April 8, 2015
    Central Library

    The importance of libraries continues to grow. More than book repositories, they can serve as bulwarks against some of the most critical challenges of our age: unequal access to education, jobs, and information.

    Yet educator and technology expert John Palfrey maintains they’re imperiled and must evolve. The world is rapidly modernizing. Government funding is dwindling.

    Nearing the end of the 10th anniversary year of the opening of Kansas City’s elegant downtown Central Library, the head of Massachusetts’ esteemed Phillips Academy discusses his soon-to-be released book, BiblioTech, and suggests changes he says are vital to libraries’ survival. He urges them to move toward a digital future as quickly as possible—converting print material and ensuring that born-digital items are publicly available online—while continuing to fill their vital, longtime role as public spaces.

  • Launching a new series, War Stories: World War II Remembered, Time magazine editor-at-large David Von Drehle interviews three of Kansas City’s most recognizable veterans of the six-year conflict: civic giants Henry Bloch, Edward T. Matheny Jr., and Bill Dunn Sr.
    When Kansas City Went to War - Henry Bloch, Edward T. Matheny Jr., Bill Dunn Sr.
    Wednesday, March 25, 2015
    Plaza Branch

    For the Greatest Generation, memories of World War II replay as vividly as motion picture newsreels. Whether they parachuted into France or joined an assembly line, virtually every American—every Kansas Citian—went to war.

    Launching a new series, War Stories: World War II Remembered, Time magazine editor-at-large David Von Drehle interviews three of the city’s most recognizable veterans of the six-year conflict. Civic giants Henry Bloch, Edward T. Matheny Jr., and Bill Dunn Sr. were barely out of their teens when they rallied to the cry of “Remember Pearl Harbor." Now, 70 years after the war's end, they share their personal stories and reflect on the leadership of President Harry S. Truman, their hometown commander-in-chief.