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PNS Daily Newscast - November 17, 2017 


The Keystone oil pipeline spills big time in South Dakota; a look at the GOP tax plan and it’s impact on the most vulnerable Americans; and renewed hope for Maine’s Katahdin Woods and Waters national monument.

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Racially-Charged Debate Surrounds KC's Iconic Nichols Fountain

J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain was dedicated in 1960 and underwent a major renovation in 2014 with monies from the Miller Nichols Charitable Foundation. (Kansas City Parks & Recreation Dept.)
J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain was dedicated in 1960 and underwent a major renovation in 2014 with monies from the Miller Nichols Charitable Foundation. (Kansas City Parks & Recreation Dept.)
July 5, 2017

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Should Kansas City's iconic J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain be renamed? That's the central question being debated by residents and city officials in the wake of a Kansas City Star opinion column.

Nichols, who died in 1950, was a nationally recognized civic leader and real estate developer - but he also helped pioneer racially restrictive covenants. Kevin Gotham, author of the book "Race, Real Estate and Uneven Development,” said there's no question the covenants played a significant role in shaping the city.

“Racially restricted covenants were the major tool that the emerging real estate industry used to basically create and maintain racially segregated neighborhoods that became a hallmark of the organization of both Kansas City, Missouri, and Kansas City, Kansas,” Gotham said.

Gotham argued that changes are needed in the way the modern real estate industry is organized, and said even today, the appraisal value of a home is affected by the racial makeup of a neighborhood. While J.C. Nichols was an influential man, Gotham pointed out that he couldn't have put restrictive covenants in place on his own.

Kansas City Star columnist Steve Kraske said he's received a "cannon blast of comments" about his suggestion to rename the fountain - and 75 percent of them favor the idea.

Gotham said the Kansas City metro area wasn't always divided along racial lines. He noted that in the first half of the 20th century, things were different.

"Segregated neighborhoods were the exception rather than the rule in Kansas City,” he explained.

Gotham said he'll leave it to others to decide whether the fountain should be renamed, but he argues that J.C. Nichols is sometimes used as a scapegoat for an effort that many people were part of.

No formal actions have been initiated to rename the Nichols Fountain.

Kevin Patrick Allen, Public News Service - MO