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Kansas

Singleton, Benjamin "Pap" (1809-1892)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West

 

Sources: 
Nell Irvine Painter, Exodusters: Black Migration to Kansas after Reconstruction (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 1976); Quintard Taylor, In Search of the Racial Frontier: African Americans in the American West 1528-1900 (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1998); "The "Exodusters" Movement" in The African-American Mosaic: A Library of Congress Resource Guide to the Study of Black History & Culture,  http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/african/afam009.html; Lin Frederickson, "He Was Once a Slave" on the Kansas Memory Blog of the Kansas Historical Society, http://www.kansasmemory.org/blog/post/73490075
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Matthews, William Dominick (ca. 1833-ca. 1910)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain

 

William Matthews first comes into historical view at the outbreak of the Civil War. A black freeman from birth and a “prominent citizen” of Leavenworth, Kansas, he had arrived in Leavenworth in 1856 and established a successful boarding house.  Shortly after the War began he was appointed Superintendent of Contrabands by the Kansas Emancipation League and charged with helping escaped slaves who were coming to Kansas in large numbers. 

After receiving a specific promise from Senator James H. Lane of an officer’s commission, Matthews raised a company of 80 blacks, mostly escaped slaves. After he served several months as a captain, in early 1863 the War Department rejected Matthews’ commission. The War Department was unwilling to have black officers commanding combat troops (even though over 180,000 African Americans were to serve in the U.S. military).  Immediately, twenty-one regimental officers --all white-- endorsed a memo to Senator Lane in support of Captain Matthews. Ultimately, Matthews received a commission as a lieutenant in the Independent Kansas Colored Battery and saw combat along the Missouri River, at Reeder Farm near Sherwood, Missouri, and Cabin Creek and Honey Springs in Indian Territory. The regiment also performed garrison, engineer and escort duty. Little is known of Matthews’ life after the Civil War.

 

 

Sources: 
Maj. Michael E. Carter, USAF. "First Kansas Colored Volunteers: Contributions of Black Union Soldiers in the Trans-Mississippi West." M.A. Thesis, Webster University, 2000; Benjamin Quarles, The Negro in the Civil War (Boston: Little, Brown, 1953).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

McCabe, Edward P. (1850-1920)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Edward P. McCabe was an African American politician and businessman most notable for his promotion of black settlement in Oklahoma and Kansas. Born in 1850 in Troy, New York, McCabe would attend school until his father’s death when he left school to support his family as a clerk on Wall Street. In 1872, he earned a job as a clerk in Chicago. Two years later, McCabe left Chicago for Kansas and arrived in the growing black community of Nicodemus in 1878.

In Nicodemus, McCabe established himself as an attorney and land agent. When Graham County was established in 1880, McCabe was appointed temporary clerk and officially elected as county clerk the next year. In 1882, he successfully stood as the Republican candidate for state auditor, a victory which made him the most important black office holder outside of the south. However, as Nicodemus’s fortunes reversed and the town began to hemorrhage residents, McCabe left first for Washington and then for Oklahoma.

Sources: 
Quintard Taylor, In Search of the Racial Frontier: African Americans in the American West 1528-1990 (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1998); William Loren Katz, Black People Who Made the Old West (Trenton: Africa World Press, 1992).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Montana State University

Hughes, Langston (1902-1967)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Sources: 
Faith Berry, Langston Hughes: Before and Beyond Harlem (Westport, Ct.: L. Hill, 1983); Nathan Huggins, Harlem Renaissance (New York: Oxford University Press, 1971); Arnold Rampersad, The Life of Langston Hughes 2 vols. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986-88).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Boston College

Truth, Sojourner, Isabella Baumfree (ca. 1791-1883)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Sources: 
Olive Gilbert and Frances Titus, Narrative of Sojourner Truth; A Bondswoman of Olden Time, Emancipated by the New York Legislature in the Early Part of the Present Century; with a History of her Labors and Correspondence Drawn from her “Book of Life” (1875); Carleton Mabee, Sojourner Truth: Slave, Prophet, Legend (1993); Nell Irvin Painter, Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol (1996), Priscilla Pope-Levison, Turn the Pulpit Loose: Two Centuries of American Women Evangelists (2004).
Affiliation: 
Seattle Pacific University

Obama, Barack, Jr. (1961- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Barack Obama is the 44th President of the United States and the first African American to occupy the White House.  Obama was born August 4, 1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii. His father, Barack Obama Sr., was a Kenyan graduate student studying in the United States and his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, a white American from Wichita, Kansas.  The two were married on February 2, 1961 in Maui, Hawaii.  In 1971, when he was ten, Obama’s mother, who had remarried and was living in Indonesia, sent him to Honolulu, Hawaii to live with his maternal grandparents Madelyn and Stanley Dunham for several years, where he attended Punahou, a prestigious preparatory school.  Obama was admitted on a scholarship with the assistance of his grandparents.

Sources: 
Barack Obama, Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance (New York: Times Books, 1995); Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream (New York: Crown Publishers, 2006); Barack Obama, US Senator for Illinois, http://obama.senate.gov/ ; Mike Dorning and Jim Tankersley, Chicago Tribune, “Obama Redraws Map with the Resounding Win,” November 5, 2008, p.2-3; Chicago Sun-Times, “A Dream Fulfilled,” November 5, 2008, p. 2A; The Times, “Landslide,” November 5, 2008, 2A,3A; James A. Thurber, ed., Obama in Office (Boulder, Colorado: Paradigm Publishers, 2011) .
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Waller, John Lewis (1850-1907)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West

Sources: 
Randall Bennett Wood, A Black Odyssey: John Lewis Waller and the Promise of American Life, 1878-1900 (Lawrence: Regents Press of Kansas, 1981); Clay Smith Jr., Emancipation: The Making of the Black Lawyer 1844-1944 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999); "John Waller" in  Kansapedia, the Kansas Historical Society. May 2009, http://www.kshs.org/kansapedia/john-waller/12232.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Parks, Gordon (1912-2006)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
On November 30, 1912, in Fort Scott, Kansas, Sarah and Andrew Parks welcomed their fifteenth child, Gordon Roger Alexander Buchanan Parks, into their home. Though struggling against poverty and racism in Fort Scott, young Gordon was nurtured there. His mother was especially influential, and her early lessons sustained him throughout his remarkable life. Because of Parks’s vast intellectual and artistic accomplishments, he was described as a “Renaissance man.” He accomplished many firsts, including the distinction of being the first black photographer at Vogue, Glamour, and Life magazines. He worked at Life for nearly 25 years and completed over 300 assignments. He was a documentary and fashion photographer; a film director, writer, producer; a poet, novelist, essayist; and a composer. Among his notable films are Shaft and The Learning Tree.

Though largely self-taught, he received over fifty honorary doctorates. Parks’s life was a paradox: he was as comfortable modeling a Brooks Brothers suit in New York as he was wearing his western hat and cowboy boots on the Kansas prairie. He moved with the same ease in the modest Washington, D.C. home of Ella Watson, African American charwoman whose image became the famous American Gothic, as he did on the Italian island of Stromboli with actor Ingrid Bergman. Parks’s humanity was evident in his life’s work, as is epitomized in the amazing Flavio de Silva story.
Sources: 
John Edgar Tidwell “Gordon Parks and the Unending Quest for Self-fulfillment,” in Virgil W. Dean, ed., John Brown to Bob Dole: Movers and Shakers in Kansas History; http://www.pdngallery.com/legends/parks
Affiliation: 
University of Kansas

Fletcher, Arthur (1924-2005)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Arthur Fletcher is perhaps best known as the Father of Affirmative Action for his authorship of the Revised Philadelphia Plan, which required federal government contractors to hire ethnic minorities.

Sources: 
Author interview of Arthur Fletcher (Washington, June 4, 2003); Arthur Fletcher, The Silent Sellout: Government Betrayal of Blacks to the Craft Unions (New York: Third Press, 1974); Kevin Merida, “The Firm Founder of Affirmative Action,” The Washington Post (June 13, 1995, p. C1); Michelle O'Donnell, “Arthur Fletcher, G.O.P. Adviser, Dies at 80,” The New York Times (July 14, 2005, p. C17).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Johnson, Jack (1878-1946)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Jack Johnson, the first African American and first Texan to win the heavyweight boxing championship of the world, was born the second of six children to Henry and Tiny Johnson in Galveston on March 31, 1878.  His parents were former slaves.  To help support his family, Jack Johnson left school in the fifth grade to work on the dock in his port city hometown.  In the 1890s Johnson began boxing as a teenager in "battles royal" matches where white spectators watched black men fight and at the end of the contest tossed money at the winner.

Johnson turned professional in 1897 but four years later he was arrested and jailed because boxing was at that time a criminal sport in Texas.  After his release from jail he left Texas to pursue the title of “Negro” heavyweight boxing champion. Although he made a good living as a boxer, Johnson for six years sought a title fight with the white heavyweight champion, James J. Jeffries.  Jeffries denied Johnson and other African American boxers a shot at his title and he retired undefeated in 1904. 

Sources: 
Jack Johnson, Jack Johnson is a Dandy (New York: Chelsea House, 1969); Al-Tony Gilmore, "Bad Nigger!" The National Impact of Jack Johnson (Port Washington: Kennikat Press, 1975); Thomas R. Hietala, The Fight of the Century: Jack Johnson, Joe Louis and the Struggle for Racial Equality (Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 2002); http://www.pbs.org/unforgivableblackness/about/.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Berea College

Davis, Frank Marshall (1905–1987)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
(Image Courtesy of John Edgar Tidwell)

Frank Marshall Davis rose to prominence as a poet and journalist during the Depression and the Second World War.  Prior to his departure for the Territory of Hawaii in 1948, he found himself the subject of adulation by many readers but also the target of careful scrutiny by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the House Un-American Activities Committee.  Part of the reason for these diverging, oppositional interests was his social realist poetry.  Poetry for him became an alternative mode of expression, one that provided release from the “objectivity” demanded by the medium of journalism.  It enabled him to respond “subjectively” to a world of racial discrimination, labor inequity, differential politics, and so much more that burdened and stifled one’s very humanity.  As a result, manifested in his poetry is a profound celebration of the self, characteristically revealed in robust statements of urban themes, a fierce social consciousness, a strong declamatory voice, and an almost rabid race pride.  Given American racial dynamics during this period, Davis’s verse, in some ways, was appropriate for its day and time.  Arguably, it mig

Sources: 
Frank Marshall Davis, Livin' the Blues: Memoirs of a Black Journalist and Poet, [John Edgar Tidwell, editor] (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1992).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Kansas

Johnson, Willard, Sr. (1901-1969)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
(Image Courtesy Willard Johnson, Jr.)
Willard Johnson, bacteriologist, science educator, business proprietor, was born in Leavenworth Kansas, the third of the eleven children of Joseph Johnson and Hattie McClanahan. Taught by his high school’s founder, Blanche Kelso Bruce, nephew of the Reconstruction era Senator of the same name, he was the first in his family to go to college. Johnson attended Kansas University (KU), where he joined the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. In 1922, he was admitted to the Kansas University Medical School. Probably the second African American ever admitted, Willard struggled through nearly three years of medical course work but did not transfer to a black medical school to finish as KU required at the time.

Willard Johnson was awarded his Bachelor’s at KU in 1924 and then taught biological science courses at Rust College in Mississippi. In 1928 he completed a year of graduate work in bacteriology at the University of Chicago. In 1929, he joined the faculty of Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial College in Nashville where he and his bride, Dorothy N. Stovall, of Humboldt, Kansas, had their first son, Richard E. He headed the Biology Department and taught zoology, comparative vertebrate anatomy, physiology, botany, hygiene and bacteriology. In 1932 he did further graduate study at Emporia State College in Kansas.

Sources: 
Willard Johnson Family Papers in the possession of the author; The Kansas Collection of The Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas; Kansas City Call, May 7, 1937, October 28, 1938; Amber Reagan-Kendrick, “Ninety Years of Struggle and Success: African American History at the University of Kansas, 1870-1960,” (doctoral dissertation, University of Kansas, 2004).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Jessye, Eva (1895-1992)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Eva Jessye was a pioneer in the world of African American music and is recognized as the first black woman to receive international distinction as a choral director. She was born in Coffeyville, Kansas on January 20, 1895 to Albert and Julia Jessye, but was raised by various relatives after her parents’ separation. Influenced by the singing of her great-grandmother and great-aunt, Jessye developed an early love of traditional Negro spirituals. At the age of thirteen, she attended Western University in Kansas City, Kansas where she studied poetry and oratory. In addition to singing in Western’s concert choir, she gained experience coaching several male and female student choral groups.
Sources: 
R. Marie Griffith and Barbara Dianne Savage, eds., Women and Religion in the African Diaspora: Knowledge, Power, and Performance (Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 2006); Darlene Clark Hine, ed., Black Women in America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005); Jeffrey Lehman, ed., The African American Almanac (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2003); Eileen Southern, The Music of Black Americans: A History (New York: W.W. Norton, 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Moten, Etta (1901-2004)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Etta Moten, a multifaceted pioneer in the world of entertainment, was born in Weimar, Texas in 1901. She was raised as the only child of her parents, Freeman Moten, a Methodist minister, and his wife Ida Mae Norman. In 1915, Rev. Moten moved to Kansas City where Etta Moten began singing in church choirs.  

Moten married one of her school teachers at the age of 17 and had three children. She divorced her husband in 1924 and asked her parents to care for her children while she went on to attend the University of Kansas to study voice and drama. While at the University of Kansas, Moten briefly joined the Eva Jessy Choir in New York before her ambitions lead her to Hollywood where she immediately embarked upon a film career that enabled her to parlay her vocal and dramatic skills in a dignified manner.

Moten made her film debut as a widow (who sang the song My Forgotten Man) in the 1933 movie The Gold Diggers. The same year, she appeared in her sophomore and final film entitled Flying Down to Rio in which her moving vocal performance of The Carioca received positive reviews. Although she did not receive billing for subsequent film roles, Moten was one of the first singers to be employed as a dub for the voices of several other leading actresses, including Barbara Stanwyck and Ginger Rogers.

Sources: 

Joy B. Kinnon, “Etta at 100: Etta Moten Barnett, Pioneer Actress,
Singer and Activist Celebrates Centennial,” Ebony (December 2001); Joy
B. Kinnon, “A Diva for All Times,” Ebony (March 2004); Anonymous, "KU
Fine Arts Dean Connects with Alumna Etta Moten Barnett," Collage 2:1
(Spring 2000);  Stephen Bourne, “Etta Moten: Actress Who Broke the
Stereotype for Black Women in Hollywood,” The Independent (London),
January 7, 2004.

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Peterson, Lieutenant General Frank E., Jr. (1932- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Lieutenant General Frank E. Peterson Jr., the first black general in the U.S. Marine Corps, was born in 1932 in Topeka, Kansas. He earned his Bachelor of Science in 1967. He received a Master’s in International Affairs in 1973. Both degrees came from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He also attended the Amphibious Warfare School in Quantico, Virginia and the National War College in Washington, D.C.

Frank Peterson joined the Navy as an electronics technician in 1952. Motivated by the story of Jesse Brown, the Army aviator who was shot down and killed over North Korea, Peterson applied for and was accepted into the Naval Aviation Cadet Corps. In 1952 Peterson completed his training with the Corps and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps.  He became the first black pilot in the Marine Corps.  

Sources: 

Henry E. Dabbs, Black Brass: Black Generals and Admirals in the Armed
Forces of the United States
(Charlottesville, Virginia: Howell Press,
1997); Jessie Carney Smith, Black Firsts (Canton, Michigan: Visible Ink
Press, 2003); Jonathan Sutherland, African-Americans at War (Santa
Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2004).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Sayers, Gale Eugene (1943 - )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 

Gale Sayers and Al Silverman, I Am Third (New York: Viking Press, 1970); George Sullivan, Power Football: The Greatest Running Backs (New York: Atheneum, 2001); "Gale Sayers: Pro Football's Rambling Rookie," Ebony 21: 3 (1966): 70-76.; The Topeka Capital-Journal, August 31, 2009; http://www.answers.com/topic/gale-sayers

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Brewer, Carl (1957-- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Carl Brewer, mayor of Wichita, Kansas, is a native of that city. Brewer, who was born in 1957, is the first African American to be elected as the mayor of the largest city in Kansas.  He previously served on the Wichita City Council from 2001 to 2007. Brewer is the second African American to hold the post of Mayor.  A. Price Woodard served as mayor from April 14, 1970 to April 13, 1971.

Brewer was raised in Wichita, and attended North High, where he graduated in 1975. After high school, he attended Friends University, also located in Wichita. Prior to serving on the city council, Brewer was employed as a Spirit Operations Manager for Boeing aerospace manufacturing, a Manufacture Engineer for Cessna aviation, and as a Captain for the Kansas Army National Guard. Brewer is also a member of multiple organizations, including the Arkansas Valley Masonic Lodge, the African American Catholic Council, the National Guard Association, and the Boeing Management Association.

Carl Brewer began serving on the Wichita City Council in 2001, representing District 1. He is a member of many governmental associations: the National League of Cities Board of Directors, the National Black Caucus, the Regional Economic Area Partnership (REAP), and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, to name a few. 

Sources: 
http://www.wichita.gov/Government/CityCouncil/Mayor/; Chris Moon, "Brewer Easily Defeats Mayans for Mayor," Wichita Business Journal, April 4, 2007, p. 1.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Turner, Joseph Vernon ["Big Joe"] (1911-1985)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Big Joe Turner, known by many as the “Boss of the Blues,” was born Joseph Vernon in Kansas City, Missouri, on May 18, 1911. Turner is considered a major contributor to the development of the sound of Kansas City Jazz, and the early development of Rock n’ Roll. Drawing from Blues music vocal traditions, Turner’s style earned him the nickname of a “Blues Shouter,” with his resonant voice enabling him to cross over into Jazz, Rock n’ Roll and Rhythm & Blues.

Turner and his musical partner, pianist Pete Johnson, were discovered by record producer John Hammond at the Sunset Café in Kansas City in 1936. Later that same year, Hammond brought Turner and Johnson to New York, where they played for several months at the nightclub, The Famous Door. In 1938 Turner and Johnson returned to New York and were part of Hammond’s first “Spirituals to Swing” concert. The duo was well-received by the public, and in late 1938 Turner and Johnson made their first recordings, "Roll 'Em Pete" and "Goin' Away Blues" for Vocalion Studios.
Sources: 
Frank Driggs and Chuck Haddix, Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime to Bebop–A History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005); Terry Currier, “Big Joe Turner,” BluesNotes (October 2002), in http://www.cascadeblues.org/History/BigJoeTurner.htm ; Arthur and Murray Kempton, “Big Joe Turner, The Holler of a Mountain Jack” in Pete Welding & Toby Byron, eds., Bluesland: Portrait of Twelve Major American Blues Masters (New York: Penguin Books, 1991).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Burgess, Franklin D. (1935-2010)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History in the West

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Franklin D. Burgess's remarkable life as a star basketball player at Gonzaga University and a Federal Judge in Western Washington earned him the description "a legend on two courts."  Franklin Burgess was born on March 9, 1935 in Eudora, Arkansas. Raised with seven siblings, he completed high school there and after graduation enrolled in Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical & Normal College in 1953.   After one year, Burgess enlisted in the Air Force and remained in the service from 1954 to 1958.  While in the Air Force Burgess began to make a name on the basketball court and attracted attention from many leading college basketball programs such as the University of Kansas and the University of Southern California.  

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Watkins, Dr. Levi, Jr. (1944- )

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Courtesy of Johns Hopkins University
Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. is a cardiac surgeon who, in 1980, performed the first implantation of an automatic defibrillator into a human heart. He is currently a professor of cardiac surgery and associate dean at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.
Sources: 
Carl Schoettler, “Memories of King's lessons Protégé: Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. once benefited firsthand from the teachings of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.” (The Baltimore Sun, January 15 1997); “Footprint Through Time: Levi Watkins Jr.” (PBS: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/partners/legacy/l_colleagues_watkins.html)
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Sydney, Australia

First Kansas Colored Infantry (1862-1865)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Battle Flag of the First Kansas Colored Infantry
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The First Kansas Colored Infantry Regiment was established through the efforts of James H. Lane, the U.S. Senator from Kansas from 1861 to 1866. As Kansas joined the Union on the eve of the Civil War in 1861, Lane recruited African-Americans to fight against the Confederacy. He called for all able-bodied African-American males between the ages of 18 and 45 to join what he termed “The First Kansas Colored Infantry of the Liberating Army.” If his recruitment tactics did not mobilize volunteers, he would resort to paying for seized Missouri slaves who were brought to Kansas.  

Joining the Infantry, however, had its benefits. African-Americans who joined were promised $10.00 per month as well as improved conditions, including clothing, rations, and adequate quarters. Also black enlistees and their immediate families were issued certificates of freedom. By 1862, the 600 enlistees of the First Kansas Colored Infantry were organized in Bourbon County near Fort Lincoln.

Sources: 
Kansas Historical Society, First Kansas Colored Infantry, June 2010, http://www.kshs.org/kansapedia/first-kansas-colored-infantry/12052; Quintard Taylor, In Search of the Racial Frontier: African Americans in the American West, 1528-1990  (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1998).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

10th Cavalry Regiment (1866--1944)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The 10th Cavalry was one of the original six regiments of the regular army set aside for black enlisted men.  These were authorized by Congress in the act of July 28, 1866 reorganizing the army for post-Civil War service, mainly against native peoples in the West.  Colonel Benjamin Grierson, a music teacher with no pre-Civil War military experience, was the 10th’s first commander.  Grierson distinguished himself by leading a daring cavalry raid into Mississippi during General Grant’s Vicksburg campaign of 1863.   The regiment was organized at Fort Leavenworth and later Fort Riley, Kansas, with the last company assembled and in the field by October 1867.  It served under Grierson for more than twenty years, until his promotion to be brigadier general in November 1888.

The 10th served against the Cheyenne in Kansas at the end of the 1860s, then against the Kiowa and Comanche in Indian Territory, and in the Apache campaigns of the early 1880s.  It was involved in the pursuit of Geronimo in 1886, but did not take part in his capture.  Its only Medal of Honor recipient in the West, Sergeant William McBryar, received his award for 1890 operations against Apaches who resisted confinement to a reservation.  Nine of the 10th’s seventeen fatalities came against the Apache.
Sources: 
Edward L. N. Glass, The History of the Tenth Cavalry, 1866-1921 (Fort Collins, CO;  Old Army Press, 1972); Frank N. Schubert, On the Trail of the Buffalo Soldier:  Biographies of African Americans in the U.S. Army, 1866-1917 (Wilmington, DE:  Scholarly Resources, 1995).

Kansas Emancipation League (1862)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History in the West
Image Ownership: Public Domain

The Kansas Emancipation League’s primary goal was “to bring about emancipation throughout the whole land.” It was initiated at the First Baptist Church in Leavenworth, Kansas in 1862. It also pledged to “support the war until its successful termination,” put an end to the interstate slave trade, protect fugitive slaves from kidnappers who wanted to return them to bondage, and prevent states in rebellion from being reorganized into the Union except on the condition of supporting Emancipation. The League’s bold goal of emancipation was announced during the second year of the Civil War when preserving the Union was central and freeing slaves was still hotly debated.

Sources: 
Pearl T. Ponce, Kansas’s War: The Civil War in Documents (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2011); Rita Napier, Kansas and the West (Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2003); The Liberator (Boston, MA, 1831-1865).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

The Kansas City Monarchs (1920-1965)

Vignette Type: 
Organizations
History Type: 
African American History
"Image Ownership: Public Domain"
The Kansas City (Missouri) Monarchs were the most prominent baseball team to play in the Negro Leagues. Formed in 1920, they were also the longest-running team in the Leagues, disbanding in 1965. Many famous players were on the Monarchs roster, including the hall of fame pitcher Satchel Paige, and the man responsible for breaking the color barrier in major league baseball, Jackie Robinson. The Kansas City Monarchs won several championships, including the first Negro League World Series in 1924.


Formed in 1920 by owner J.L. Wilkinson, a white businessman who had formerly played baseball but who turned to team management after an injury, the Kansas City Monarchs grew out of the old All Nations barnstorming team that crisscrossed the American Midwest just before World War I.  Other players came from the 25th Infantry Wreckers, an all-black baseball team recruited into the U.S. Army primarily for their playing abilities.  

Sources: 
Janet Bruce, The Kansas City Monarchs: Champions of Black Baseball (Lawrence, KS:
University of Kansas, 1985); James “joe” Green and and John Holway, "I Was Satchel's Catcher," The Journal of Popular Culture 6:1 (1972).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

From Memphis and Mogadishu: The History of African Americans in Martin Luther King County, Washington, 1858-2014

In the extended article that appears below historians Daudi Abe and Quintard Taylor explore the history of African Americans in Martin Luther King County from 1858 to 2014.  They analyze the forces which encouraged people of African ancestry to settle in the county and discuss the rapid political, social, and economic changes that its black residents have faced since the first arrival, Manuel Lopes, came to the county in 1858.

With 119,801 people of African ancestry in a total population of 1,931,249 people, Martin Luther King, Jr. County is the most populous county in the state of Washington and is home to 29% of the state’s inhabitants and half of Washington’s black population.  It is also the only county in the United States named after the 20th Century civil rights icon.  

1854

Timeline Type: 
AA
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
Bleeding Kansas is an outgrowth of the controversy over the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Between 1854 and 1858 armed groups of pro- and anti-slavery factions often funded and sponsored by organizations in the North and South, compete for control of Kansas Territory, initiating waves of violence that killed 55 people. Bleeding Kansas was seen as a preview of the U.S. Civil War.

1877

Timeline Type: 
AA
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
In July, 30 African American settlers from Kentucky establish the town of Nicodemus in western Kansas. This is the first of hundreds of all or mostly black towns created in the West.

1879-1880

Timeline Type: 
AA
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
Approximately six thousand African Americans leave Louisiana and Mississippi counties along the Mississippi River for Kansas in what will be known as the Exodus. Henry Adams and Benjamin "Pap" Singleton were two of the major leaders of the Exodus.

1541

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1492-1600
Timeline Entry Description: 
Persons of African ancestry accompany the expedition of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado from Mexico City to what is now central Kansas. Some Africans remain behind in Kansas and New Mexico.

1852

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
Clement Shattio, a white farmer and his free black wife, Ann Davis Shattio, are the first residents of Topeka, Kansas Territory.

1854

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
Bleeding Kansas is an outgrowth of the controversy over the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Between 1854 and 1858 armed groups of pro- and anti-slavery factions, often funded and sponsored by organizations in the North and South, compete for control of Kansas Territory, initiating waves of violence that kill 55 people. Bleeding Kansas becomes a preview of the U.S. Civil War.

1862

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
The Kansas Emancipation League is founded in February by black and white abolitionists meeting at the First Colored Baptist Church in Leavenworth.

1862

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
On October 17, the First Kansas Colored Infantry Regiment is organized at Fort Lincoln in Bourbon County, Kansas.

1863

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
In October twenty three delegates representing approximately seven thousand black Kansans gather in Leavenworth for the first Kansas State Colored Convention.

1865

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
Twelve thousand African Americans reside in Kansas, comprising 9 percent of the state's population. Only 627 blacks were in the territory at the time of the Census of 1860.

1867

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
In November, white male voters in Kansas overwhelmingly reject efforts by both black males and all women to obtain the ballot. Black suffrage fails by 19,421 to 10,438 while women's suffrage is defeated by 19,857 to 10,070.

1868

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
Beginning with the cattle drive of William G. Butler that summer, African American cowboys will participate for the next two decades in trail drives from central Texas to the railheads at Abilene, Dodge City, Denver, Cheyenne and other central plains towns.

1877

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
Early in the year six African American men led by W.H. Smith and Benjamin Carr found the Nicodemus Town Company which plans an agricultural colony west of the 100th meridian near the Kansas frontier. On July, 30 African American settlers from Kentucky arrive to establish the town of Nicodemus. This is the first of hundreds of all or mostly black western towns.

1878

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
Edward McCabe, formerly of Chicago, arrives in Nicodemus advertising himself as an attorney and land agent. In April 1880 Kansas Governor John P. St. John appoints McCabe first clerk of newly organized Graham County. In November 1881, he is elected to a full term as county clerk.

1878

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
William L. Eagleson founds the Colored Citizen, the first black newspaper in Topeka.

1878

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
Benjamin Pap Singleton leads his first group of Tennessee emigrants to Kansas. The party of 200 settlers establish the Dunlop Colony on the east bank of the Neosho River in Morris County.

1879-1880

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
Approximately six thousand African Americans leave Louisiana and Mississippi counties along the Mississippi River for Kansas in what will be known as the Exodus. In response to the Exodus, Kansas Governor John P. St. John creates the Kansas Freedmen's Relief Association (KFRA) to provide assistance for the mostly destitute refugees. The Association receives nationwide support including donations from pre-Civil War abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison who leads fundraising efforts in Boston and from Philip D. Armour, the Chicago meat packer.

1879

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
African American parents in Topeka begin a campaign to desegregate the local schools. They receive a setback in 1890 when the Kansas Supreme Court in Reynolds v. Board of Education of Topeka decides the state's school segregation law is constitutional. Their multigenerational efforts continue until Brown v. Board of Education in 1954.

1879

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
In November L. W. Winn is the first African American elected to the Kansas State Senate.

1882

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
Edward P. McCabe of Nicodemus is elected the state auditor of Kansas at the age of thirty-two. He is the first African American elected to a statewide office outside the South.

1886

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
Young George Washington Carver homesteads 160 acres in Ness County, Kansas for two years before leaving the area to continue his education at Iowa State University.

1889

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
Edward McCabe creates the Oklahoma Immigrant Association, headquartered in Topeka, to encourage African American migration from the South to the new Territory. McCabe and his wife Sarah arrive in Oklahoma in April 1890 and help found Langston City, which they name after Virginia Congressman John Mercer Langston.

1891

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
President Benjamin Harrison appoints Topeka attorney and political activist John L. Waller as U.S Consul to Madagascar.

1895

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
The Kansas Industrial and Educational Institute is founded as a kindergarten, sewing school and reading room by Elizabeth Reddick and Edward Stephens, two African American elementary school teachers in Topeka. The Institute will eventually become, after the endorsement of Booker T. Washington and a substantial donation from Andrew Carnegie, a major facility for the teaching of industrial arts and scientific agriculture to black Kansans. In 1919 the state of Kansas assumes control of the facility and renames it the Kansas Vocational Institute.

1900

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1801-1900
Timeline Entry Description: 
Black women's clubs in Kansas create the first statewide federation in the west. By 1925, similar federations exist in Colorado (1903), Texas and Nebraska (1905), California (1906), Oklahoma (1910), Oregon and Montana (1912), Arizona (1915), Washington (1917), New Mexico (1923) and Wyoming (1925).

1951

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1901-2000
Timeline Entry Description: 
On February 28, thirteen African American families in Topeka, Kansas file a lawsuit against the local school board for its policies that permit racially segregated schools. The case will eventually be known as Brown v. Board of Education.

1958

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
1901-2000
Timeline Entry Description: 
On July 19, Ronald Walters, a Wichita State College freshman and president of the Wichita NAACP Youth Council, leads the city's first sit-in demonstration. The group protests Dockum Drugstore's ban on black customers using the lunch counter. The protest ends a few days later when the drugstore officials promise to end the discriminatory policy.

1990

Timeline Type: 
AA
Timeline Era: 
1901-2000
Timeline Entry Description: 
Carole Ann-Marie Gist of Detroit, Michigan becomes the first African American to win the Miss USA pageant.

2007

Timeline Type: 
AAW
Timeline Era: 
2001-
Timeline Entry Description: 
Carl Brewer becomes the first African American elected mayor of Wichita, Kansas.
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