Home Grown Connections

This summer, KHC features daily posts about the speakers and topics in the Humanities catalog. Today’s featured presentation is “Writers Growing Up Black in Kansas” by John Edgar Tidwell.

Gordon Parks directs a scene from the 1969 film "The Learning Tree," based on his book of the same name.  Image courtesy of KansasMemory, Kansas Historical Society, Copy and Reuse Restrictions Apply.

Gordon Parks, left, directs a scene from the 1969 film “The Learning Tree,” based on his book of the same name.
Image courtesy of KansasMemory, Kansas Historical Society, Copy and Reuse Restrictions Apply.

“The celebrity that has come to Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz is richly deserved,” says KHC scholar John Edgar Tidwell. “Its iconic status as the most acclaimed book and film representing Kansas life and values, however, made me wonder whether any other books or authors might deserve similar recognition.

“This talk seeks to answer that question by exploring the Kansas connections of three writers who were distinguished in their own right: Langston Hughes, Gordon Parks, and Frank Marshall Davis.

Hughes, Parks, and Davis were all shaped by life in Kansas, a land full of uncertainty and contradictions for African Americans. Each of these writers developed his remarkable literary talents and learned how to succeed against the odds. Tidwell’s Speakers Bureau presentation, “Writers Growing Up Black in Kansas,” explores the work and creative processes underlying selected works by these three literary giants.

John Edgar Tidwell

John Edgar Tidwell

John Edgar Tidwell is a professor of English at the University of Kansas. His research specialties are African American and American literatures with particular expertise in the work of the multi-talented Langston Hughes, Kansas-born poet-journalist Frank Marshall Davis, and the “Harlem” Renaissance.

You can bring John Edgar Tidwell’s “Writers Growing Up Black in Kansas” or one of the other presentations in the Humanities catalog to your community for FREE with a Resource Center Support Grant. It’s quick and easy! Visit the Speakers Bureau page to get started or contact Leslie Von Holten, director of programs, at leslie(at)kansashumanities.org for more information.