The story of Kansas City’s African American community in the early and mid Twentieth century is a compelling story of how racism and segregation played a significant role in the development of a thriving commercial area that spawned a robust shopping and jazz entertainment district along the 18th Street corridor centered around the 18th & Vine district.
18TH Street Lives in the memories of the elderly black residents who lived through that era and who had no choice but to accept the stinging rebuke of racism and segregation, but who went on to create their own vibrant lifestyle on their side of town, fulfilling the needs of the people.
These are the people who shopped, worked, ate at restaurants, went to beauty and barber shops, and experienced the infectious music in the nightclubs up and down 18th Street that came to be known as Kansas City style jazz, the music that was responsible for Kansas City becoming known the world over.
They are the ones, who through first hand accounts can narrate the story of how the area sustained the Black community during one of the most significant periods of Kansas City’s history in “18th Street Lives,” a historic documentary film project initiated by the Black Economic Union of Greater Kansas City that will document the rich history of Kansas City’s renown 18th & Vine district. The intent of the project is to help raise the level of awareness of people in Kansas City to the viability of revitalizing the area.