Civil rights pioneers remember the pain of segregation in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Americans watched President Barack Obama as he was sworn in a second time on the same day they remembered the man who helped make it possible.
 
On Monday, Americans honored the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Local civil rights champion Dr. Julia Hill said she still cries when she watches President Obama's inaugurations and when she remembers the work of Dr. King.
      
Hill and civil rights pioneer Alvin Brooks said a day like this is emotional because they personally know the pain and tough work it has taken to help bring society, particularly Kansas City, out of desegregation.
     
Hill helped push through the city's public accommodation ordinance in 1964.

She and others got the ordinance passed after a teacher came to them and explained how the downtown department stores refused to serve her.

"She spent quite a bit of money and she'd stop and have a Coke ... and when she went to get a Coke they said 'No, we don't serve you,'" she said.

Brooks recalled the discrimination that happened in hotels and retail shops.

"If you tried on a hat or a pair of shoes, if you were a woman or a man, you bought it," she said. "You better know for sure the right size. You couldn't put it back."

Kansas City's 1964 public accommodation ordinance forced all downtown hotels, retail shops and restaurants to serve all people equally.

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