Kansas City's Montgall Avenue: Black Leaders and the Street They Called Home
Just a few minutes south of the celebrated intersection of 18th and Vine streets, some of the most notable chapters in Kansas City’s Black history sprang from a single city block on Montgall Avenue.
There, in the first half of the 20th century, lived Chester Franklin, founder of one of the city’s and country’s leading African American newspapers, The Call. The publication’s trailblazing editor and civil rights standard bearer, Lucile Bluford, resided nearby. Alongside them were Edward Perry, who established the first hospital for Kansas City’s Black residents, Wheatley-Provident; and the principal and four teachers at what was then the city’s only Black high school, Lincoln High.
In a discussion of her new book Kansas City's Montgall Avenue: Black Leaders and the Street They Called Home, author Margie Carr recalls this 16-home, elm tree-lined enclave and the leaders and influencers who settled there. The 2400 block of Montgall also came to illustrate the perniciousness of racial discrimination and segregation. Residents found themselves unable to transfer wealth to the next generation, and the area today is one of the poorest in the city, many of its once-graceful houses abandoned, razed, or destroyed by fire.
Carr, who grew up in suburban Kansas City, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees and a doctorate in economic education from the University of Kansas. Now living in Lawrence, Kansas, she writes and works as a volunteer children’s advocate for the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Douglas County.