Monday, April 15, 2013

Civil Rights Working in Kansas

The director of our museum in El Dorado writes, on April 12, 2013, inviting all to an important event in El Dorado:

Mindy Tallent
Executive Director, Butler County History Center

Presentation Explores Impact of Civil Rights Movement in Kansas

El Dorado, KS – Butler County History Center and Kansas Oil Museum will host “Civil Rights Working in Kansas,” a presentation and discussion by Gretchen Cassel Eick on April 26th, 2013 at 7 pm at the museum, located at 383 E. Central, El Dorado, KS. Members of the community are invited to attend the free program. Contact the History Center at 316.321.9333 for more information. The program is made possible by the Kansas Humanities Council.

Prior to the Civil Rights movement, employment discrimination kept African Americans confined to low-pay work, and in the southern states they were vulnerable to arrest for “vagrancy,” only to be released to businesses to “work off their fines.” Eick will discuss this type of discrimination in Kansas and how Civil Rights advocates forced state and national government agencies to alter their policies.

Gretchen Cassel Eick is an historian and professor 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, the first successful student led sit-in.

“At one time Kansas' state employment agencies openly discriminated against persons of color despite anti-discrimination laws,” Eick said. “But some Kansans organized the first successful student-led sit-ins, and a Kansan led the movement to make the NAACP address economic inequalities. How we work in Kansas today is the result of advocacy for open hiring of all qualified people regardless of ethnic background.”

“Civil Rights Working in Kansas” is part of the Kansas Humanities Council’s The Way We Worked Speakers Bureau, featuring presentations and discussions examining the theme of work and working in Kansas and how these stories help define us.

To kick off the evening, the museum is hosting a Preview Party, starting at 6 pm, featuring five new exhibits, a new website and new microfilm reader in their research library. Additionally, wine and refreshments will be served.

The Kansas Humanities Council conducts and supports community-based programs, serves as a financial resource through an active grant-making program, and encourages Kansans to engage in the civic and cultural life of their communities. For more information about KHC programs contact the Kansas Humanities Council at 785/357-0359 or visit online at

For more information about “Civil Rights Working in Kansas” contact the Butler County History Center at 316.321.9333 or visit

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