Past and Present

Three Wichita State history professors, Drs. Robin Henry, Robert Weems, and Jay Price, will talk about Wichita history, parallels between current events and historical happenings, and how historical events got us to where we are today.

Past & Present is also available through iTunes. Listen or subscribe here.

This commentary originally aired on April 19, 2016.

When does a current event become history? As a historian of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this transition has already occurred for the subject matter of my work. While new research can deepen my understanding of people, places, and events, very rarely does the historical landscape seismically shift under my feet.

During the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln believed that dissenters remaining within loyal states posed a threat to the Union. 

There is a lot of conversation these days about keeping young people in Wichita. While well meaning, these sentiments miss a critical feature. Many local kids grow up to do well in their own community but many others move away. That is true for all cities, not just Wichita.

The Tariff Act of 1789, signed by President George Washington on July 4, sought to solve two problems of the early United States. This legislation, which called for import duties on foreign produced products, first and foremost, provided a revenue stream for the federal government. For instance, in 1790, 99.9 percent of federal revenue came from the recently instituted tariffs. Second, tariffs were viewed as a mechanism that would allow the young America to build an industrial base with reduced competition from foreign companies.

Photograph by Carol Friedman

Nina Simone, nicknamed the High Priestess of Soul, was an American jazz and blues musician of the late twentieth century. Born Eunice Waymon on Feb. 21, 1933, she moved to New York and then Philadelphia to study classical piano, before transforming herself into a nightclub performer and jazz vocalist. While she is mostly known for her illustrious musical career, she also became an outspoken advocate for civil rights. Simone used her music to discuss her views and her rage at the injustice of racism and segregation.

history.com

A new exhibit at the Kansas African American Museum tells the story of Barack Obama and the Kansas roots of his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham. Although he grew up in Hawai’i, the young Barack was close to his grandparents, who told him of their upbringings in the oil fields of Peru, El Dorado, and Augusta. This exhibit celebrates these connections to the Sunflower State.

The first 100 days of a new U.S. presidential administration provide an important vantage point to assess how effective (or ineffective) the nation’s chief executive will be.

On January 20th, Donald Trump will be sworn in as President of the United States. While the Constitution only stipulates that the president make an “oath or affirmation,” the inauguration is so significant that there have only been four out-going presidents who did not attend the inauguration of their successor, in all cases, their bitter, political rival.

A recent road trip included a visit to Roswell, New Mexico.  I welcomed a chance to see the place that turned an event from 1947 into a cottage industry involving UFOs and aliens.

An important characteristic of 2016 holiday shopping is consumers’ ever-increasing use of the internet to make gift purchases. A century ago, American consumers also utilized an alternative to shopping in brick and mortar stores.

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