Fred Curls paved the way in the real estate industry and through his political involvement in the Kansas City community. In 1952, Curls took a job at a friend’s real estate agency where he learned the real estate business.
RideKC and the Prospect MAX Advisory Committee are honoring Fred Curls as part of the Paving the Way Honor Plaque program as part of the new Prospect MAX line. You can find Fred Curls' Paving the Way Honor Plaque and video biography at the southbound 31st and Prospect station on Prospect MAX.
When he started Fred Curls Realty Company, he couldn’t get a bank loan so he relied on private investors to get the firm off the ground. Curls was one of the first African-American brokers, as well as the first African- American appraiser in Kansas City, Missouri. African-Americans were not allowed to join mainstream real estate associations, so Curls hosted sales and appraising courses for them, teaching them a blueprint for success in the industry.
He was a founding member of the Kansas City Chapters of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers and the National Society of Real Estate Appraisers. In 1955, he co-founded the New Era Real Estate Association, now known as the Greater Kansas City Association of Real Estate Brokers. The association aimed to stop discrimination in the real estate profession and to give blacks access to better housing. Curls & Associates eventually become one of the largest African-American real estate companies in Missouri. In 2005, he merged his company with Jude Joseph LLC.
In 1961, Curls joined four African American civic leaders – among them Leon Jordan and Bruce R. Watkins – to start, Freedom Inc. The group worked to register more African Americans to vote and end segregation in politics, public accommodations and education. As a Freedom Inc. founder, he played an integral role in expanding the City Council to 12 members - part of an effort to open local political offices to minorities. The group also spearheaded the passage of an anti-discrimination ordinance in 1964.
New Era Real Estate Association Banquet in 1958