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.

Starting January 15.

League of Women Voters of California LWVC, Flickr Creative Commons

In two weeks, the nation will express its political will in the midterm elections of 2014. Unfortunately, this election cycle, similar to previous ones in American history, features discourse related to African American voter suppression.

Where Are We, Really?

Oct 7, 2014
Sue Clark (perpetualplum) / Flickr / Creative Commons

Wichitans today think of our city as part of the Midwest. Into the 1920s, however, Wichita saw itself as Southwestern, part of a region that included Texas and Oklahoma.

Cattle drives from Texas and railroad links confirmed this orientation. Promoters described the city as “Queen City of the Greater Southwest.” By 1910, Wichita saw itself as the capital of an “Empire of the Southwest,” a trade area consisting of Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle.

Elvert Barnes (perspective) / Flickr / Creative Commons

One of the talking points associated with the recent racial disturbance in Ferguson, Mo. is the enhanced militarization of contemporary municipal police forces.

This process began in the late 1960s, in the aftermath of the widespread racial disturbances of that era. Moreover, as Michelle Alexander discusses in her book The New Jim Crow, this arms build-up accelerated in the 1970s, as local law enforcement agencies across the country began a so-called “War On Drugs,” waged primarily in black and brown neighborhoods.

Public Domain

This year, Americans are observing the 200th anniversaries of events from the War of 1812, such as the burning of Washington, D.C. and the attack on Fort McHenry.

This year also marks the 200th anniversary of the Hartford Convention. Comprised of clandestine meetings held by anti-war New Englanders between December 1814 and January 1815, the Convention called for radical actions, such as the nullification of federal laws and possible secession from the union.

Jay Price / KMUW / Wichita State University

Ivanpah, in Greenwood County, is today little more than a schoolhouse. I recently gave a talk about it for the Symphony in the Flint Hills.

Dating from 1879, the community owed its origins to a sheep rancher named A.H. Thompson and a newspaperman, Frank Presbrey. A few days before I was to give my talk, a random internet search uncovered a story that made my jaw drop.

gageskidmore / Flickr / Creative Commons

On July 30, the House of Representatives passed a resolution approving of Speaker John Boehner’s proposed lawsuit against President Barack Obama. This represented the first time in U.S. history that a chamber of Congress has endorsed a lawsuit against a president.

Historically, if Congress believed a sitting president engaged in unlawful behavior, it issued “articles of impeachment.” Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton have been the most recent targets of such punitive congressional action.

New York Times (Public Domain) / Wikimedia Commons

While Europe teetered on the brink of war during the summer of 1914, the threat of escalating violence and warfare with Mexico consumed Americans’ attentions.

The relationship between the United States and Mexico began to sour in 1910 as Mexico fell into a decade-long civil war. Until 1914, the U.S. warned Mexico that it would only get involved if the fighting threatened the lives or property of Americans living in Mexico. Twice, President Taft sent troops to the border as a warning, but did not allow them to intervene in the conflict.

Fletcher Powell / KMUW

This month is Wichita State University’s 50th birthday!

On July 1, 1964, the University of Wichita officially joined the state university system. It was not an easy journey.

The University of Wichita had been municipal university since the 1920s. By the 1960s, however, many in Wichita believed that the time had come for WU to join the state university system, serving the state, not just one city.

Mike Licht / Flickr / Creative Commons

As a fan of the National Basketball Association, and as someone who does research in African American history, the recent Donald Sterling debacle reminded me that former President Dwight D. Eisenhower was correct when he stated that laws and court decisions can’t necessarily change what’s in the hearts of individuals.

Wikimedia Commons

On June 19th 1964, the Senate passed the Civil Rights Act, breaking the 83-day filibuster by Southern Democrats. While this act is recognized as a groundbreaking piece of civil rights legislation for African Americans, it also held the key to future civil rights advancements and protections for women.

Two days before the final vote, Representative Howard W. Smith, a powerful Democrat from Virginia, added sex as a protected class to Title VII, a section that prohibits discrimination by employers. Historians have been wondering about his motivations ever since.

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