Black History In Kansas City, Kansas: How Downtown Was Desegregated

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Chester Owens Jr. remembers bucking the laws of Jim Crow that said a black man had no right to eat where and when he wanted.

In 1952, one of those places was a restaurant at Kresge’s department store on Minnesota Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas.

“If I can go to Korea and die, I should be able to eat in the restaurant,” Owens recalls thinking. “So I put on my uniform and went up to S.S. Kresge and sat on a stool, the third stool … (The waitress) looked at me and went and asked the lady who was in charge, who was African-American, ‘Should I serve him?’ And she said yes, and they served me.”

Now 85 years old, Owens says he was confused why more people didn’t push back as he did. He went back  to Korea to serve his country and when he came home, it only amplified his view on the impact of activism. Check out the full story.

By Michelle Tyrene Johnson, KCUR


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