Fairyland Park was a popular Kansas City amusement park owned and operated by the Brancato family from 1923 to 1977. At its height in the mid-twentieth century, the park featured three roller coasters, an eight-story ferris wheel, a massive swimming pool, among other attractions. Like many public spaces in Missouri, the park employed segregationist policies, and they only admitted Black patrons at the end of the season as part of their school group days. This flyer, created by the NAACP Youth Council, advocates for the desegregation of Fairyland Park and represents the fight against racial discrimination in Kansas City’s public spaces in the early 1960s.
The Youth Council led a three-year campaign targeting the park’s Jim Crow practices. In April 1961, the group picketed the Kansas City Board of Education building to end school picnics at Fairyland. The demonstrations moved to the park’s premises that summer when protestors blocked Fairyland’s entrance with their vehicles. In June 1962, police arrested twenty-five Council members for standing at the Fairyland entrance for three hours after being refused entry. That same year, the group protested on the steps of City Hall and later publicly opposed the Kansas City Red Cross for their choice to use Fairyland’s “Crystal Pool” for training. The protests gained momentum the following summer when members of the Kansas City chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality entered the park.
The collective efforts of the NAACP Youth Council and other activist groups paid off in April 1964. In a contested referendum vote, Kansas City voters narrowly approved a public accommodations ordinance mandating public facilities, including amusement parks, desegregate. Fairyland closed its doors in 1977 following rising competition from Worlds of Fun and a wind storm that caused considerable damage to the park. The memory of Fairyland Park, however, remains as an important site in Kansas City’s civil rights history.
Creator: Youth Council National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Kansas City, Missouri Branch
Subject: Desegregation; Civil rights demonstrations; Segregation; African Americans; Amusement parks
Contributing Institution: Kansas City Public Library
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Region: Kansas City Metro