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.
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.
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.
In 1878, the editors of the Illinois Staats-Zeitung, a German-language newspaper out of Chicago, visited Wichita and noted that the city’s population was about a third German, among them mayor and Wichita founding father Wilhelm “Dutch Bill” Greiffenstein. The visitors were impressed that there was even a fraternal “Turnverein,” or Turner’s Society, in town.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the celebrated civil rights case, Brown v. Board of Education. However, on May 3, 1954, two weeks before the Brown ruling, the Supreme Court delivered another important decision in the American Civil Rights movement.
In Hernandez v. Texas, the court declared that the 14th Amendment’s right to equal protection extended to all racial and ethnic groups. In 1951, Texas convicted an agricultural worker named Pedro Hernandez of murdering Joe Espinosa.
I recently had the privilege to lead two walking tours along Douglas Avenue. Many were amazed at how much the center of Wichita has changed.
A photograph of Douglas and Main from 1870 shows a few wood structures and tents in the middle of a grassy plain. Two years later, according to one recollection, the intersection “clanged with the noisy spurs of Texas cowboys and Mexican ranchmen” and “a brass band played from morning to far into the night on a two-story platform raised over the sidewalk.”
A historic and ongoing shortcoming of the U.S. economy is its underutilization of the entrepreneurial potential within nonwhite communities. For instance, because of this longstanding problem, in Kansas today, nonwhites make up 20 percent of the state’s population, yet only seven percent of Kansas’ businesses are minority-owned.
In the afternoon of March 25, 1911, the New York City fire department answered a call from Greenwich Village and found smoke billowing out of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory that occupied the top floors of the Asch Building.
As smoke turned to fire, a crowd gathered below to watch as the firefighters attempted to put out a fire that had grown beyond the reach of their equipment. Inside, fear and panic mounted as the largely female workforce found their escape blocked by the fire, and the doors locked by managers who thought the women took too many breaks.
Historians will always need to visit archives and libraries, although it is truly amazing how much information is available in digital form.
A few months ago, I was looking at a Sedgwick County mapping database and was surprised when a search for material on Delano turned up a document for the community of Elgin, platted in early 1871. A quick search turned up an almost identical plat for the community of Delano a few months later. Clearly, one replaced the other.