Native American Civil Rights

This summer, KHC features daily posts about the speakers and topics in the Humanities catalog. Today’s featured presentation is “Native American Civil Rights 100 Years Ago” by Gretchen Cassel Eick.

Zitkala-Sa, c. 1920. Image from the Library of Congress.

Zitkala-Sa (Gertrude Bonnin), c. 1920. Image from the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Native Americans in the 1910s faced devastating poverty and governmental policies that favored whites who wanted water and land resources. Prevalent racial attitudes depicted Native Americans as a vanishing race that must assimilate or die out, or incompetent to manage their own resources. To combat these prejudices, the Society of American Indians lobbied Congress, promoted Native American achievements, and educated white Americans through articles and cultural performances. Gretchen Cassel Eick’s presentation discusses how activists like Charles Eastman and Zitkala-Sa (Getrude Bonnin) fought back with words and organizing to stop hostile policies and attitudes toward Native Americans.

“Most Americans know about wars between cowboys and Indians,” said Eick. “But what happened after the wars ended and America’s first people were consigned to poverty and isolation on infertile land?”

Gretchen Cassel Eick

Gretchen Cassel Eick

Gretchen Cassel Eick is an historian and professor emeritus at Friends University in Wichita. She has researched and published an article on Native American activism. Her book, Dissent in Wichita: The Civil Rights Movement in the Midwest, 1954-1972, won three awards and sparked museum exhibitions and commemorations of the 1958 Dockum Drug Store sit-in, the first successful student led sit-in in the United States that desegregated Rexall, the largest U.S. drug store chain.

You can bring Gretchen Cassel Eick’s “Native American Civil Rights 100 Years Ago” 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.

All That Jazz

This summer, KHC features daily posts about the speakers and topics in the Humanities catalog. Today’s featured presentation is “Kansas City Jazz and the Early Civil Rights Movement” by Kevin Rabas.

Famed jazz tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins (top row, right) was a member of the 1920-1921 Topeka High School Orchestra. Image from kansasmemory.org, Kansas Historical Society, Copy and Reuse Restrictions Apply.

Famed jazz tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins (top row, right) was a member of the 1920-1921 Topeka High School Orchestra. Image from kansasmemory.org, Kansas Historical Society, Copy and Reuse Restrictions Apply.

Kansas City jazz thrived on diversity: just as it melded and reshaped African and European musical traditions, it also gained energy and vitality from the talents of musicians of all races. Kevin Rabas’ Speakers Bureau presentation explores how musicians such as Charlie Parker, Coleman Hawkins, and Lester Young drew national attention to the need for racial harmony by touring with integrated bands and writing songs that advocated equal rights in the early years of the Civil Rights movement.

“Jazz helped fuel the American Civil Rights movement and affirm and exalt African American identity in a changing world,” said Rabas. “Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King said, ‘It’s no wonder that so much of the search for identity among American Negroes was championed by jazz musicians. Long before the modern essayists and scholars wrote of racial identity as a problem for the multiracial world, musicians were returning to their roots to affirm that which was stirring within their souls.'”

Kevin Rabas

Kevin Rabas

Kevin Rabas co-directs the creative writing program at Emporia State University and edits Flint Hills Review. A jazz drummer and poet, he has four books inspired by jazz including Lisa’s Flying Electric Piano, a Kansas Notable Book.

You can bring Kevin Rabas’ “Kansas City Jazz and the Early Civil Rights Movement” 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.

 

A Law’s Legacy

This summer, KHC features daily posts about the speakers and topics in the Humanities catalog. Today’s featured presentation is “Legacy of an American Indian Civil Rights Law” by Brice Obermeyer.

Blackfeet Tribe at Haskell

Blackfeet Indian Chiefs at the dedication of Haskell Stadium, Lawrence, October 1926. Image from kansasmemory.org, Kansas Historical Society, Copy and Reuse Restrictions Apply.

Many museums across the United States have human remains, funeral objects, and the sacred items of American Indians in their collections. Brice Obermeyer’s Speakers Bureau topic explores the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), a law that guaranteed American Indian tribes the right to reclaim these items in an effort to restore the humanity of these individuals. When the law took effect in 1990, museum staff, board members, and volunteers feared conflict and a loss of valuable historical artifacts. However, increased collaboration between museums and Indian tribes has been sparked by NAGPRA, which is now appropriately viewed as American Indian Civil Rights legislation.

“Repatriation does more than return and rebury human remains,” said Obermeyer. “It builds strong and collaborative relationships between tribes and museums while restoring the humanity to those individuals in the museum collections who have long been viewed as artifacts of the past.”

Brice Obermeyer

Brice Obermeyer

Brice Obermeyer is an anthropologist who specializes in American Indian ethnography and historic preservation. He also serves as the director of the Delaware Tribe’s Historic Preservation Office.

You can bring Brice Obermeyer’s “Legacy of an American Indian Civil Rights Law” 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.

 

Ladies First

This summer, KHC features daily posts about the speakers and topics in the Humanities catalog. Today’s featured presentation is “Women Rising: How Kansas Women Gained the Vote, 1859-1912” by Diane Eickhoff.

 In 1922, Emporia Gazette Editor William Allen White famously said, “When anything is going to happen in this country, it happens first in Kansas.” White’s statement easily applies to women’s suffrage in the Sunflower State. Kansas women gained the vote in 1912, eight years before Congress passed the 19th Amendment granting voting rights to all American women.

The road to suffrage was not easy. Kansas women had to overcome many obstacles, including the indifference of their own sex and the fear many had of being considered “unladylike.” Diane Eickhoff’s Speakers Bureau presentation, “Women Rising: How Kansas Women Gained the Vote, 1859-1912,” revisits the women’s suffrage campaigns of 1859, 1867, 1894, and 1912 to explore how suffragists gained the right to vote.

Diane Eickhoff

Diane Eickhoff

 

Diane Eickhoff is an independent historian, writer, and editor of education materials. Her biography of Clarina Nichols, Revolutionary Heart: The Life of Clarina Nichols and the Pioneering Crusade for Women’s Rights, was named a Kansas Notable Book in 2007.

You can attend Diane Eickhoff’s “Women Rising: How Kansas Women Gained the Vote, 1859-1912” on Saturday, August 16th in Wichita. You can also bring this topic 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.

Image: Poster for women’s suffrage meeting in WaKeeney, 1894. Image via kansasmemory.org, Kansas Historical Society, Copy and Reuse Restrictions Apply.

A Year to Remember

This summer, KHC features daily posts about the speakers and topics in the Humanities catalog. Today’s featured presentation is “1964: The Civil Rights Act, the War on Povery, and Freedom Summer” by Gretchen Cassel Eick.

President Lyndon B. Johnson addresses the nation before signing the Civil Rights Act , July 2, 1964. Photo by O.J. Rapp. Image via The LBJ Presidential Library.

President Lyndon B. Johnson addresses the nation before signing the Civil Rights Act, July 2, 1964. Photo by O.J. Rapp. Image via The LBJ Presidential Library.

2014 marks the 50th anniversaries of the landmark Civil Rights Act, the launch of President Johnson’s War on Poverty, and the Freedom Summer when young Americans worked to register voters in the South. These historic actions were met with controversy, violence, and political resistance, but the results resonated around the globe. Federal laws protecting Americans against discrimination, programs that helped lift families out of poverty, and grassroots actions that educated and empowered voters strengthened the nation. Gretchen Cassel Eick’s presentation, “1964: The Civil Rights Act, the War on Poverty, and Freedom Summer,” highlights the changes and victories of 1964, a deciding year in our nation’s history.

“Fifty years ago, Americans of African and European ancestry challenged successfully the status quo, creating a tidal wave of change that we are still feeling,” said Eick.

Gretchen Cassel Eick

Gretchen Cassel Eick

Gretchen Cassel Eick is an historian and professor emeritus at Friends University in Wichita. Her book, Dissent in Wichita: The Civil Rights Movement in the Midwest, 1954-1972, won three awards and sparked museum exhibits and commemorations of the 1958 Dockum Drug Store sit-in in Wichita, the first successful student-led sit-in.

You can attend Gretchen Cassel Eick’s “1964: The Civil Rights Act, the War on Poverty, and Freedom Summer” on Saturday, June 21 at The Kansas African American Museum in Wichita. You can also bring this topic 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.

Topeka’s Greatest Trial

This summer, KHC features daily posts about the speakers and topics in the Humanities catalog. Today’s featured presentation is “Topeka’s Greatest Trial” by D.W. Carter.

Integrated School copy

First grade class at State Street Elementary School, Topeka, 1955. Photo by John Edward Schrock. Image via kansasmemory.org, Kansas Historical Society, copy and reuse restrictions apply.

In the fall of 1950, Oliver Brown tried to enroll his 7-year-old daughter at nearby Sumner Elementary, but she was refused entrance because she was African American. D.W. Carter’s presentation, “Topeka’s Greatest Trial,” tells the local story of Brown’s involvement with the class action lawsuit and includes direct testimony from the 1951 trial that was first argued before the U.S. District Court in downtown Topeka.  Participants will engage in a discussion of events leading up to 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka Supreme Court decision that desegregated public schools across the nation.

“We often think of the Brown case in the broader context of the Civil Rights Movement,” said Carter. “But remembering the local story, which began right here in Kansas, is vitally important to our understanding of how individuals can influence change.”

SB_Carter

D.W. Carter

D. W. Carter is a historian, best-selling author, and educator specializing in military and social history. Originally from Elizabethtown, Kentucky, he was stationed at McConnell Air Force Base in 2003 and now considers himself a Kansan.

Bring D.W. Carter’s “Topeka’s Greatest Trial” 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.

At the Center of It All

This summer, KHC features daily posts about the speakers and topics in the Humanities catalog. Today’s featured presentation is “American Civil Rights from Hiawatha to Topeka” by Shawn Leigh Alexander.

walter_white_1949

NAACP Executive Secretary Walter White predicted the end of segregation during his speech at Topeka’s Memorial Hall, April 26, 1949. Image via kansasmemory.org, Kansas Historical Society, copy and reuse restrictions apply.

Kansas has a unique history at the center of the American Civil Rights struggle and the fight against racial segregation. The Civil Rights Cases of 1883 — the United States Supreme Court decision declaring the Civil Rights Act of 1875 unconstitutional and restricting the power of the federal government to enforce equal protection to African Americans  — had origins in Hiawatha, among other places. Seventy-one years later, segregation began its collapse with the Brown v. Topeka Board of Education Supreme Court decision. Shawn Leigh Alexander’s presentation explores the origins of the long history of the Civil Rights struggle in the African American experience, with a focus on educational, political, social, and economic equality.

SB_Alexander

Shawn Leigh Alexander

Shawn Leigh Alexander is an historian for African and African American Studies at the University of Kansas, where he teaches classes on 19th and 20th century African American social and intellectual history.

Bring Shawn Leigh Alexander’s “American Civil Rights from Hiawatha to Topeka”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.

Call for Topeka StoryCorps Participants

School Segregation BannedDeadline to participate: April 25, 2014
Contact: Donna Rae Pearson, Local History Librarian at Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, (785) 580-4510.

What was your graduation day like? KHC, the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site, and the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library are seeking Topeka residents for participation in the Brown v. Board StoryCorps national listening project in commemoration of the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision. Of particular interest are parents, grandparents, or other relatives of students graduating this May who have stories to share of their school days and graduation day before, during, or after the Brown v. Board of Education decision. Spaces are limited. Contact Donna Rae Pearson at (785) 580-4510 by April 25, 2014, for more information on how to participate.

On May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its first Brown v. Board of Education ruling declaring public school segregation unconstitutional. This year, May 17 coincides with graduation day in Topeka. As Topeka students prepare to don their caps and gowns, imagine the difference between graduation day this year and the one 60 years ago. The StoryCorps project will capture Topekans’ firsthand experiences and reflections about life in school before and after desegregation.

StoryCorps is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives. Interviews will be conducted at the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library and Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site May 1-3, 2014. The interviews will be archived locally and at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

The Brown v. Board StoryCorps project is a collaboration between Brown v. Board of Education, the Kansas Humanities Council, and the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library. The project is made possible with support from the Capitol Federal Foundation, Fairlawn Plaza, Security Benefit, the Greater Topeka Fund of the Topeka Community Foundation, and Westar Energy.

Image: Front page of The Topeka State Journal, May 17, 1954. Image courtesy of the Kansas Historical Society. 

Humanities Happenings – Spring 2014

spring_hum_hap_banner

Spring is here! For KHC, Spring means commemorations, oral histories, poetry, and lots and lots of humanities events.

Brown v. Board & StoryCorps

To honor the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board decision and to consider changes in Topeka’s schools since 1954, thirty-six Topekans will participate in a special StoryCorps national oral history project to document, preserve, and share their reflections, school experiences, and perspectives. The interviews will be recorded in Topeka and archived at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Interested in being part of the StoryCorps interviews? Contact Donna Rae Pearson, Local History Librarian at the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, at (785) 580-4510 ASAP.  Read more…

HomeWords

Calling all poets and poets-to-be with Kansas roots for a weekly poetry column, edited by Kansas Poet Laureate Wyatt Townley, to be published in newspapers across this great state. Read more…

Pin-Up Poetry

Celebrate April’s National Poetry Month with Pin-Up Poetry, an easy, free statewide project that encourages Kansans to write, read, and share their own poetry and the poetry of others on Pinterest. Read more…

Banner Image Credits: 1) Mrs. Hunt’s first grade class at State Street Elementary School, Topeka, January 1955. Courtesy of Kansas Historical Society. 2) Wyatt Townley. Photo by Terry Weckbaugh.

StoryCorps is Coming to Topeka

Integrated_School_KSHSMay 1-3, 2014

On May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its first Brown v. Board of Education ruling declaring public school segregation unconstitutional. This year, May 17 coincides with graduation day in Topeka. Imagine the difference.  

To honor the changes in Topeka’s schools over the past 60 years, thirty-six Topekans will participate in a special StoryCorps national oral history project to document, preserve, and share their reflections, school experiences, and perspectives. The interviews will be recorded in Topeka and archived at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

The project is a collaboration among the Kansas Humanities Council, Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site, and the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library. Interested in being part of the StoryCorps interviews? Please contact Donna Rae Pearson, Local History Librarian at the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library at (785) 580-4510 ASAP.

StoryCorps is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives. Since 2003, tens of thousands of people have participated while millions listen to weekly StoryCorps broadcasts on the radio and at storycorps.org.

The project is made possible with support from the Capitol Federal Foundation, Fairlawn Plaza, Security Benefit, the Greater Topeka Fund of the Topeka Community Foundation, and Westar Energy.

storycorps_sponsors