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On a hot summer evening in 1958, a group of African American students in Wichita, Kansas, quietly entered Dockum's Drug Store and sat down at the whites-only lunch counter. This was the beginning of the first sustained, successful student sit-in of the modern civil rights movement, instigated in violation of the national NAACP's instructions. Dissent in Wichita traces the c On a hot summer evening in 1958, a group of African American students in Wichita, Kansas, quietly entered Dockum's Drug Store and sat down at the whites-only lunch counter. This was the beginning of the first sustained, successful student sit-in of the modern civil rights movement, instigated in violation of the national NAACP's instructions. Dissent in Wichita traces the contours of race relations and black activism in this unexpected locus of the civil rights movement. Based on interviews with more than eighty participants in and observers of Wichita's civil rights struggles, this powerful study hones in on the work of black and white local activists, setting their efforts in the context of anticommunism, FBI operations against black nationalists, and the civil rights policies of administrations from Eisenhower through Nixon. Through her close study of events in Wichita, Eick reveals the civil rights movement as a national, not a southern, phenomenon. She focuses particularly on Chester I. Lewis, Jr., a key figure in the local as well as the national NAACP. Lewis initiated one of the earliest investigations of de facto school desegregation by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare and successfully challenged employment discrimination in the nation's largest aircraft industries.   Dissent in Wichita offers a moving account of the efforts of Lewis, Vivian Parks, Anna Jane Michener, and other courageous individuals to fight segregation and discrimination in employment, public accommodations, housing, and schools. This volume also offers the first extended examination of the Young Turks, a radical movement to democratize and broaden the agenda of the NAACP for which Lewis provided critical leadership.   Through a close study of personalities and local politics in Wichita over two decades, Eick demonstrates how the tenor of black activism and white response changed as economic disparities increased and divisions within the black community intensified. Her analysis, enriched by the words and experiences of men and women who were there, offers new insights into the civil rights movement as a whole and into the complex interplay between local and national events.  


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On a hot summer evening in 1958, a group of African American students in Wichita, Kansas, quietly entered Dockum's Drug Store and sat down at the whites-only lunch counter. This was the beginning of the first sustained, successful student sit-in of the modern civil rights movement, instigated in violation of the national NAACP's instructions. Dissent in Wichita traces the c On a hot summer evening in 1958, a group of African American students in Wichita, Kansas, quietly entered Dockum's Drug Store and sat down at the whites-only lunch counter. This was the beginning of the first sustained, successful student sit-in of the modern civil rights movement, instigated in violation of the national NAACP's instructions. Dissent in Wichita traces the contours of race relations and black activism in this unexpected locus of the civil rights movement. Based on interviews with more than eighty participants in and observers of Wichita's civil rights struggles, this powerful study hones in on the work of black and white local activists, setting their efforts in the context of anticommunism, FBI operations against black nationalists, and the civil rights policies of administrations from Eisenhower through Nixon. Through her close study of events in Wichita, Eick reveals the civil rights movement as a national, not a southern, phenomenon. She focuses particularly on Chester I. Lewis, Jr., a key figure in the local as well as the national NAACP. Lewis initiated one of the earliest investigations of de facto school desegregation by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare and successfully challenged employment discrimination in the nation's largest aircraft industries.   Dissent in Wichita offers a moving account of the efforts of Lewis, Vivian Parks, Anna Jane Michener, and other courageous individuals to fight segregation and discrimination in employment, public accommodations, housing, and schools. This volume also offers the first extended examination of the Young Turks, a radical movement to democratize and broaden the agenda of the NAACP for which Lewis provided critical leadership.   Through a close study of personalities and local politics in Wichita over two decades, Eick demonstrates how the tenor of black activism and white response changed as economic disparities increased and divisions within the black community intensified. Her analysis, enriched by the words and experiences of men and women who were there, offers new insights into the civil rights movement as a whole and into the complex interplay between local and national events.  

33 review for Dissent in Wichita: The Civil Rights Movement in the Midwest, 1954-72

  1. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Figueiredo

    I grew up in Wichita and went to East High School, so I figured "Dissent in Wichita" would boost my understanding of my hometown's history. Sadly, local history is undertaught. While we had a Kansas History unit in middle school, I heard no more than a mention of the Dockum Drug Store sit-in, which presaged the famous Greensboro sit-in by a few years. Eick's book is heavily researched and stitches together all the little-discussed stories of civil rights in Wichita in the 1960s and early 1970s. I grew up in Wichita and went to East High School, so I figured "Dissent in Wichita" would boost my understanding of my hometown's history. Sadly, local history is undertaught. While we had a Kansas History unit in middle school, I heard no more than a mention of the Dockum Drug Store sit-in, which presaged the famous Greensboro sit-in by a few years. Eick's book is heavily researched and stitches together all the little-discussed stories of civil rights in Wichita in the 1960s and early 1970s. Through the life of Chester Lewis, local NAACP leader (who later became disillusioned with the organization) and others, you see how the civil rights movement effectively created change. Undoubtedly, the federal government provided an important lever, evident in the Wichita school desegregation case, where federal funds were on the line. But also, a local sense of organization is crucial. Lewis and others mounted the Dockum sit-in during a time in which the national NAACP remained opposed to such defiant direct action. Its success of course inspired a nationwide wave of sit-ins and their adoption as a widespread tactic, but Chester Lewis, Vivian Parks, Jo Gardenhire, and others were behind the push in Wichita. Eick does a great job displaying the linkages that made it all run, the dense network of community groups and strong social capital that made such advances possible. While these worked to an extent, the 1960s brought about (visible through the Young Turks) a more class-based analysis that butted heads with more traditional groups. The disillusionment was spurred in part by halfway concessions. While in response to the 1967 riots, the city of Wichita formed neighborhood patrols, invested in community policing efforts, and listened to activists, by 1968 they cracked down hard on demonstrators and engaged in the prosecution of the Wichita Nine. The uneven pace of developments disappointed many activists. Emerging from this book, I see a more prominent historical role for the interplay between moderate and radical activism, revealed through the author's nuanced perspective. At one point, Eick notes Wichita as a microcosm, albeit one with a more complex and subtle history of racial tension. At one point, Kansas was considered progressive on the issue, passing (toothless but still existing) anti-discrimination laws in the 1870s. However, by the 1920s the KKK was ascendant in Wichita. While measures to desegregate schools were passed by conservative members of the school board, they also were no more than symbolic, inadequate for sure. While segregation was less than in the South, Southern attitudes percolated in Wichita due to the populations who migrated there. While government was often reluctant, there was a decent amount of Black representation compared to other cities (including a Black Republican mayor). Here, Eick recognizes the need for further research while providing important lessons for historians and justice advocates today. An enlightening read about the history of my hometown. Bravo.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Grant Overstake

  3. 5 out of 5

    Chris Young

  4. 5 out of 5

    Betsey Goering

  5. 4 out of 5

    Oliver Morrison

  6. 4 out of 5

    Gretchen Eick

  7. 5 out of 5

    Roxanne

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Burger

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Demonic

  10. 5 out of 5

    Larry Young

  11. 5 out of 5

    Paul Kitchen

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dave McIntire

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tyler

  14. 5 out of 5

    Gretchen Eick

  15. 5 out of 5

    Chris Pepper

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mollie

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dan Rapson

  18. 5 out of 5

    Emily

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nichelle

  20. 4 out of 5

    Zack

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tinesha Powers

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Alexander

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    Andrew Howard

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Hansgen

  25. 4 out of 5

    Julia Winegeart

  26. 4 out of 5

    Drymph

  27. 5 out of 5

    Brooke Luce

  28. 4 out of 5

    BrandyLee

  29. 4 out of 5

    Izz

  30. 5 out of 5

    Taylor Wagstaff

  31. 5 out of 5

    Jeff McCloud

  32. 5 out of 5

    Sandra Carlo

  33. 5 out of 5

    Maggie

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