587. Wichita, Sedgwick County (KS051)

Being the music maven (and by that, I mean “nerd”) that I am, rest assured that I chose to cherchez le obvious and roll into town to the dulcet tones of Glen Campbell. The courthouse is a modern affair, a taller courthouse for a busier city. But across the street…

…is this beautiful creature. I understand the need for more space, but I hope they use this one for more than just storage. This is the courthouse of a city of importance in a bygone era. Wichita’s importance has remained, but the times have passed by this magnificent edifice. I have trouble thinking of Wichita as “Cowtown,” because that seems more fitting for Fort Worth, but they have Learjet and their bona fides as an aviation hub are legit. To be fair though, they only reason I know about any of that is because I watched Mad Men to the end. That wasn’t important at the time as my primary concern was the strikes of lightning I could see in the clouds above. Damnable rain had been dropping on me in dribs and drabs ever since I hit Kansas and chose this moment to pour down from the heavens.

When I stumbled across this virtual, I couldn’t not claim it. In July 1958, several black teenagers, members of the NAACP, went into a local drugstore and sat at its counter, waiting to be served, which they were not. They stayed from lunch through dinner, after which they left not having been served. They came back the next day and the next day, with the same results. They caused no disturbance and broke no law, yet police were called on them to encourage them to leave. On a couple of occasions, white teens tried to rough them up, and police opted not to get involved. Even the National NAACP refused to support them, finding their tactic to be too confrontational. But they silently returned, day after day, waiting to be served. After a month, the owner decided that he was losing too much money because of this and decided to serve them. Once news had spread of what they did here, lunch counter sit ins because a standard tactic in the battle for civil rights. It wasn’t the first lunch counter protest ever, but it inspired Greensboro and so many others. And it happened right here on this spot. The drugstore is no longer here, the lot now being a pocket park between two buildings, but a signature tactic in the Civil Rights Movement began right here. How fitting that its monument is a lunch counter in bronze. It was more than worth getting a little wet for. I logged it and the rain abated on the walk back to the car. Wichita had shared a glimpse of its history, but it was time to hit the road again to make my way to…

4 thoughts on “587. Wichita, Sedgwick County (KS051)

  1. Hope to stop by one day.
    This week we did Western TN counties.
    Alexander Haley home is there who knew.
    Did the “Roots”cache the museum was closed, we were late but not sure it had been open that day.


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