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The Race Project KC Student Symposium is a day-long event that provides high school students with the opportunity to explore racism – it’s effects and potential solutions - using their minds, their hearts and their feet. Students from diverse schools and experiences will come together to reflect on Kansas City’s racial history, discuss racial equity and explore their own agency as they interact with local community change agents.
The 2019 event features best-selling authors:
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me, The Beautiful Struggle, We Were Eight Years in Power) is the distinguished writer in residence at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute and winner of the 2015 National Book Award.
  • Jacqueline Woodson (Brown Girl Dreaming, Harbor Me, Each Kindness, and more) is the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and winner of many awards including the 2014 National Book Award and the Coretta Scott King Award.
  • Tanner Colby’s book, Some of My Best Friends Are Black, The Strange Story of Integration in America was nominated for the 2013 Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Non-fiction. He has been working with Race Project KC since its inception and his book is an important part of the students’ education about the history of race in Kansas City, and in America, since the Civil Rights Movement.

Session Registration
Please register for sessions you would like to attend by Sunday, April 21 and avoid signing up for the same session twice in a row. If you are not registered on that date, you will be randomly assigned workshops for the day. (So pick them yourself and have way more fun!)

Photo Disclaimer: The Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center is a public building, by attending this event you agree that your image may be used for promotional purposes by Johnson County Library, Johnson County Parks and Recreation and their partners.

Johnson County Library and its board members, officers and employees may disclaim any responsibility for the content of workshops offered by third party facilitators; they are not an expression of Library policy.
avatar for Tanner Colby

Tanner Colby

After writing a biography of Chris Farley and a biography of John Belushi, Tanner Colby knew that if he didn't want to be known only as the guy who writes about dead fat comedians, his next project had better be very different. At the same time, he and his friends were watching the candidacy of Barack Obama and he realized that he was spending a lot of time talking about the exciting possibility of the first black president, yet he, inexplicably, knew very few black people. He began to wonder why, 50 years after the civil rights movement, this could be true for himself, and for most of the liberal, white 30 somethings he hung around with. His book, Some of My Best Friends are Black, the Strange Story of Integration in America, is a personal survey of the places people spend most of their time - at school, in neighborhoods, at church and at work. He goes back to his own high school to find out why he hadn't made black friends as a teenager, he studies Kansas City neighborhoods to find out why cities are designed to be divided by race. He tries to find out why Martin Luther King called “Sunday Morning at 11:00 the most segregated hour of Christian America " and explores what happens when Madison Avenue decides to create separate ad agencies to sell stuff to white people and to black people. This book is well researched and filled with historical facts about race in America. It's also fast paced and showcases Colby's slightly sarcastic sense of humor.

My Moderators Sessions

Thursday, April 25

12:00pm CDT