From the Kansas City Monarchs African American baseball team to cartoonist Walt Disney and painter Thomas Hart Benton, the Pendergast Years were an especially rich era for artistic and cultural production that extended far beyond its famous jazz style. Learn more about the prominent people, places, and events that helped give Kansas City a distinctive identity.
When people think of Kansas City jazz in the 1920s and ‘30s, certain images come to mind: political corruption, gangster activity, and music that catered to and benefited from this type of environment. But vice and corruption were not the only elements that made the city a center of innovative music. The black middle and upper classes also supported the music and the musicians, especially at dance halls such as the Paseo Hall. And there were black organizations such as the NAACP, men’s groups like the Elks Lodge, and ladies’ groups like the 12 Charity Girls, who organized formal dances to raise funds for various institutions in the community.