As many of you know, our foundation office is located on the corner of 18th and Prospect Street in Kansas City, Mo. As I drive to work every morning I purposefully drive through various neighborhoods that are adjacent to our office. The 64127 zip code where our office is located has one of the highest crime rates in the city, high foreclosure rates, high drug use and low owner occupancy rates. As you drive, you’ll see many people waiting in lines at bus stops, boarded up old buildings and homes, no full service grocery stores and an abudance of liquor stores and fast food restaurants. Unfortunately, people are shot in this neighborhood on a somewhat regular basis.
Hard working, church going, law abiding people who live in this part of the city will tell you that the living and economic conditions are getting worse year by year. With the revitalization of our downtown — only a few blocks away — many people thought that east of Troost Street would benefit from this economic development. It simply has not happen. Thanks to the efforts of Buck O’Neil and many generous donors the historic and magnificent Negro League Baseball Museum was built several years ago, but the entire 18th and Vine area has not made much progress since.
When neighborhoods and the people who live in this zip code have no hope that their living and economic conditions will improve, gang activity, crime, violence and poverty related conditions flourish.
It doesn’t have to be this way. As a community, we must work toward quality educational and training opportunities and good paying jobs with health benefits that are needed to provide hope for a better life for those in this important neighborhood of our city.