Arthur A. Benson II (1944- ) Papers (KC250)
For nearly a century prior to the landmark case of "Brown vs. The Board of Education (1954)", the State and Defendant School Districts were racially segregated in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Local schools were provided for whites, but not for blacks. The residential neighborhoods were racially segregated by explicit force of state judicial and administrative decree, FHA home subsidy regulations, and HUD-funded local public housing and relocation practices.
Attorney Arthur A. Benson's clients felt that since 1954, the Kansas City metropolitan and suburban school districts consistently refrained from reversing these segregating policies, and in the 1980's they went to court to argue their case. This collection contains materials from these cases.
The September 1984 order on liability resulted from a fact-finding hearing. The district court found that, for a century before "Brown", the Kansas City School District had acted discriminatorily by limiting the locations of schools for blacks to the central city, while distributing schools for whites throughout the greater metropolitan area. This, in turn, effected the patterns of residential development and the composition of inner city neighborhoods. Furthermore, the district court determined that the state continued to have a significant segregating effect in the Kansas City area.
Although the September 1984 final order on liability found evidence of such continuing discrimination, Benson's clients felt that the district court did little to reverse those conditions. The correction of this formed the crux of their appeals:
After the determination of liability in 1984, the case proceeded into its remedy phase. Attached to the inventory is a general chronology of the case from 1977 until 1995.
The Papers consist of legal records, documents and working papers related to the Kansas City Desegregation case, circa 1975. They have been left in the order that they were used by the legal firm in order to maintain the integrity of the collection.
This collection is divided into two parts: ready reference materials, and primary sources. The ready reference materials consist of index-lists, descriptions, and summaries of the primary documents used in the case and can be used to gain summary type information about a topic, and also to get a short description, or listing, of the primary sources. For example, the ready reference exhibit index gives exhibit descriptions. Those descriptions correspond with the actual exhibits found in the primary sources.
The second part of the collection, the primary sources, contain the actual, unedited materials used in the case, i.e. the complete depositions and the exhibits themselves. Again, for a more in-depth, item-by-item listing of the primary sources, use the index-lists found in the ready reference materials.
A third series consists of newspaper and magazine articles relating to the Kansas City desegregation case and the Kansas City School District. The articles come from a variety of local, state, and national sources. They have been microfilmed and are arranged chronologically, divided by the month and year of publication. Generally the articles are from the Kansas City Times, the Kansas City Star, the Kansas City Call, and Kansas City Globe, though other state, national, and international articles are represented. These clippings illustrate the intricacies of public school policy and politics at work.
ca. 600 cubic foot
© WHMC-KC, University of Missouri
Monday, March 27, 2006
Western Historical Manuscript Collection-Kansas City
(816) 235-1543 WHMCKC@umkc.edu