Meet a Lucerna Author: Carolyn Kovar

My Lucerna project analyzes the flash mobs and violence at the Country Club Plaza in recent years. I look back at the legacy of the Troost Divide and racial inequality as potential causes for unrest in this central location in Kansas City. Then I analyze how the media has covered the events and how various communities have looked to amend the situation, ranging from police reforms to curfews. My research highlights flash mobs as a remarkable way of drawing attention to problems that exist in our city that would otherwise be overlooked.

Why are you interested in this topic?

My interest in this subject grew steadily as I worked on the Plaza for three and a half years. However, it was when one of my good friends, who also works on the Plaza, was in the midst of a night of a violent disturbance that I decided to research it. As I learned more, my interest grew. I began to think that the disturbances on the Plaza were caused by social problems such as racial segregation in Kansas City and were staged in an affluent area to draw media attention. I see the flash mobs as invaluable reminders of social problems, and I am passionate about changing the way they are presented.

What have been the benefits and challenges of this project?

A benefit to studying flash mobs on the Country Club Plaza has been my proximity to the events. During the months of my research, I continued to find racist comments and media portrayals, as well as continued violence, that further illustrate and prove my key arguments. Problems I have encountered in my research are primarily biased media portrayals and lack of in-depth articles and accounts on which to build my studies. Academic studies by Bill Wasik and Brian J. Houston were invaluable for my research, and I drew heavily upon them, but it would have been easier with more studies to draw upon.

What is your advice for students who are interested in publishing their work in Lucerna?

My main advice to students looking to publish in Lucerna would be to pick a good advisor. My work would not have been possible without the continued assistance of Dr. Henrietta Rix Wood of the Honors College. She walked with me through the entire process of editing and polishing my research, reading over five separate drafts. She went above and beyond the call of duty. This is an invaluable asset to anyone new, as I was, to the research and publishing process.

What are your professional plans or goals?

My research focuses on the urban problems of racial and socioeconomic inequality due to residential housing, education, and job segregation. In Spring 2019, I am working as an intern for Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II. My academic goals for the future are to complete my Master’s Degree in Public Administration or Public Policy after I graduate in December 2019. Then I would like to work either in a governmental agency focusing on urban affairs and eventually enter politics or work on the developmental board of a nonprofit trying to address the same issues I have studied.