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The Kansas African American Museum Links Wichita's Civil Rights History To Selma

Carla Eckels

The Kansas African American Museum held a community discussion on Wednesday about a civil rights trail tour taken by Wichitans to Alabama. The summer trip yielded Kansas ties.

The diverse group went to historic sites in Birmingham, Selma and Montgomery. Museum Director Mark McCormick says the group's tour of Selma included a Wichita dimension: A monument, featured in last year's Selma movie, is dedicated to Wichita Rev. James Reeb, a martyr of the civil rights movement.

Credit KMUW file photo
Mark McCormick in a 2014 photo.

McCormick says a Recall drugstore in Selma links back to Wichita’s 1958 Dockum Drugstore sit-in.

"When the owner of the Dockum Drugstore, which was a part of the Rexall chain, finally said, 'Go ahead and serve them, I’m losing too much business,' a Wichita attorney named Chester Lewis pressed them and pressed them until the company said, 'We're going to integrate all of our lunch counters nationwide,'" McCormick says. “So here we are in Selma, there’s a monument to a Wichita and around the corner there’s a Recall drugstore that was liberated by teenagers here in Wichita.”

The museum will wrap up their community discussion on the southern civil rights tour in September.

Carla Eckels is Director of Organizational Culture at KMUW. She produces and hosts the R&B and gospel show Soulsations and brings stories of race and culture to The Range with the monthly segment In the Mix. Carla was inducted into The Kansas African American Museum's Trailblazers Hall of Fame in 2020 for her work in broadcast/journalism.