Robert E. Weems Jr.

History commentator

Robert E. Weems, Jr. is the Willard W. Garvey Distinguished Professor of Business History at Wichita State University.

His research specialty is African American business and economic history.

Ways to Connect

Wichita, during the mid-20th century, was a city where African Americans were blatantly discriminated against in downtown commercial spaces. For instance, black moviegoers were forced in sit in the balcony of downtown theaters.

Another form of racial bias experienced by black Wichitans during this period occurred in downtown department stores. While local African Americans were allowed to purchase products from these businesses, they were not allowed to sit and eat at their lunch counters.

 

For much of American history, gold and silver were directly linked with the country’s currency. Memories of the hyper-inflation associated with the circulation of fiat “Continental Dollars” during the Revolutionary War prompted a long-standing belief that “sound money” consisted of paper dollars linked with gold and coinage created from silver.

Horace Cort / AP

Most Americans are probably aware of the famous August 28, 1963, March on Washington where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his immortal “I Have A Dream” speech. Far fewer citizens are aware of his advocacy of a second march on Washington planned for April 1968.

The ongoing controversy surrounding Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has generated increased discussion of Trump’s flaunting of professional decorum regarding nepotism. Still, while the Trump presidency has featured a variety of unprecedented actions, his selection of family members to serve in a variety of governmental capacities is not one of them.

Despite public criticism, John Adams, the second president of the United States, named his son John Quincy Adams as the U.S. minister to Prussia and his son-in-law William Stephens Smith as a customs agent in New York.

Long before Donald Trump made profane comments about restricting the number of immigrants from certain countries to the U.S., the history of American immigration policy possessed explicit racial characteristics.

By any objective measure, Donald Trump appears headed toward being regarded as the worst president in American history. Ten months into his presidency, even with a Republican majority in the U.S. House and Senate, Trump has yet to sign any meaningful legislation into law. 

U.S. presidents have long sought to communicate with the American people on a variety of pertinent issues. With the advent of radio in the early twentieth-century, this task became much easier.

Van L. Johnson

Wichita, like many other U.S. cities during the early-to-mid twentieth century, placed restrictions on how African Americans could use municipal swimming pools. According to numerous local blacks who lived during this era, the pool at Riverside Park was especially notorious in this regard.

The fortunes of local African American swimmers improved dramatically in 1969 with the construction of a swimming pool at McAdams Park. This facility, created by the renowned black architect Charles McAfee, received a design award from the American Institute of Architects in 1970.

The year 2017 represents the 50th anniversary of the “long hot summer” of 1967. During this tumultuous period, 176 cities (including Wichita) experienced racial disturbances.

Situated between World War II and Vietnam, the Korean War is often referred to as America’s “forgotten war.” Despite its relative murkiness in the context of public consciousness, the Korean War and its aftermath is arguably America’s most fascinating recent military endeavor.

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