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An Artist's Perspective: Wichita Needs To Do Right By The Kansas African American Museum

Fellow Wichitans, I’m embarrassed and you should be as well.

We have allowed our city and county government to literally build a prison around the Kansas African American Museum at 601 N. Water. And there is new construction that brings the county jail even closer yet.

The museum is housed, rightfully so, in the old Calvary Baptist Church built in 1917. The African American church leaders worked evenings and weekends, apart from their jobs, to finish the fine brick church. The building, on the National Register of Historic Places, stands as a monument to human dignity and endurance.

Getting to the point, we need to pay the money, pick the building up, and move the building, and I mean now. And do the right thing by moving it onto the campus at Wichita State University where it can thrive, grow, and further educate our valuable youth.

We have been hiding from this problem. Our local government certainly has. It seems we are proud of all our museums but this one. The city only gave it a little over $16,000 last year. And we continue to spend money on fun while sidestepping this truth.

Unless we do this now and right this injustice, we will all continue to collectively crush a flower growing from a crack in the concrete.

By the way, there is a 60-page document called “Moving Historic Buildings” written by John Oden Curtis for the U.S. Department of the Interior. Our city and county government will find this most helpful.