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2024 Primary Election

Flyer for event honoring the Neck neighborhood

Next Saturday, local families and community leaders with the city of Independence will acknowledge the painful history of one of its neighborhoods with a dedication of granite markers memorializing The Neck.

“This neighborhood was our foundation,” said Alversia Pettigrew, one of the few surviving Neck residents. “It was our beginning. It was our family. We lost a lot when it disappeared.”

The Neck Neighborhood was a home for generations of African American residents in the City of Independence, including the family of Freedom Fighter Virginia Jacobs. The Neck was established in 1877, and its borders were roughly U.S. 24, Spring, College and McCoy streets; land McCoy Park now occupies.

The homes within the Neck’s boundaries were passed through generations and represented a great portion of the family’s wealth. Roughly 125 people were displaced when the City of Independence demolished the neighborhood in the 1960’s - when the city implemented Urban Renewal programs.

On Saturday, June 15, 2024, the City of Independence will dedicate granite markers, purchased with grant money from the Health Forward Foundation, to honor those families at McCoy Park. Former Neck resident Pettigrew will speak at the event, along with several descendants of displaced Neck residents. Local city leaders who have been instrumental in recognizing the rich history nearly lost will also be at the event.

“This is the acknowledgement and recognition of the now silent people who lived and grew here in this neighborhood,” Pettigrew said. “These names represent the souls and fibers of our being. This was a thriving black neighborhood. Many of these residents served in homes of white families. We were an important part of the fabric of this community. It must not be forgotten.”

The Neck Marker dedication begins at 10 am Saturday, June 15th at the northwestern corner of McCoy Park (800 Bess Truman Parkway, Independence, Mo. 64050). Media are invited to attend. Parking is available along Bess Truman Parkway, at Mid-Continent Public Library, and the McCoy Park parking lot on N Spring Street. State, county, and city elected officials will be on-hand, as will city leaders. For more information about the Neck, check out the playlist on the City of Independence’s YouTube page, read this article with Alversia Pettigrew from the Jackson County Historical Society, or check out Pettigrew’s book Memories of a Neck Child.

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Rebecca Gannon
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rgannon@indepmo.org
816-819-9260