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'local history'

Jan 14

Civil Rights and the African American Experience in Kansas

Posted to KGI Online Library on January 14, 2016 at 2:43 PM by Jason Ackermann

This week, in honor of Martin Luther King Day, KGI focuses on the experiences of African Americans in Kansas, and presents a  look back at the local effects of the Civil Rights Movement.

The late 1950s and early 1960s was a pivotal time period in the history of Civil Rights Movement, arguably culminating with the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  KGI offers a look at the activities of the Kansas Civil Rights Commission (currently called the Human Rights Commission) during this time, through both the agency newsletters and their annual reports.  Together, these documents indicate how the “big ideas” of the Civil Rights Movement translated from the national stage into local action, and how local action affected the course of national events.

Kansas Human Rights Commission - Annual Reports (1959-1989)
Kansas Human Rights Commission - Reflector Newsletter (1960-1965)

Founded in 1997, and currently under the Office of the Governor, The African American Commission serves as the governor’s liaison to the African American community in Kansas, and works to reduce disparity and inequalities for African Americans throughout Kansas.  The agency has a dual focus on community outreach and public policy that examines topics such as economic opportunity, health and safety, and educational opportunities.

Browse KGI’s holdings from the African American Affairs Commission.

The State of African Americans in Kansas, 2013
General Publications
Meeting Minutes

More information about the agency is also available at their website, https://www.kaaac.ks.gov/  

The Kansas Vocational School in Topeka provided educational opportunities for African Americans in Kansas for many years. The school emphasized vocational education for its students and became the Kansas Technical Institute in the early 1950s. Today the land on which the Kansas Vocation School was located houses The Topeka Correctional Facility on Southeast Rice Road.  The vocational school documents here juxtapose nicely with the civil rights documents above by helping to offer both a broader perspective on the depth of African American history in Kansas, and an indication of the changing perspectives on such topics as education and integration,

Kansas Vocational School, Biennial Reports
Kansas Vocational School, Student Handbooks

KGI also encourages you to explore resources hosted elsewhere on the web:

Brown v. Board of Education – Available from the United States Supreme Court Website

Thematic Time Period – Eisenhower Years, 1946-1961 – The Civil Rights Movement – Available from the Kansas Historical Society’s  Kansas Memory website

Various Documents and Images pertaining to the Civil Rights Movement in Kansas – Available from Kansas Memory