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Dockum Sit-In Memorial Design Unveiled At Kansas African American Museum Event

The Kansas African American Museum
The memorial will feature Ron Walters, a key figure in organizing the sit-in, and Arlene Ruffin (in green), one of the sit-in participants.

The design of Wichita's Dockum Sit-in Memorial was unveiled Saturday at The Kansas African American Museum's Trailblazer event.

The 1958 Dockum drug store sit-in is considered the first successful student-led sit-in the U.S.

Arlene Ruffin participated in the sit-in; she was 19 at the time. Ruffin says she's glad the event will be memorialized.

"I think it’s wonderful," Ruffin says. "Somebody asked me earlier how my feelings compare now to how they were then, and it was just young and idealism. Now, I really understand the value of it."

Steve Coen, president and CEO of the Kansas Health Foundation, says the foundation's $50,000 gift will help fund the memorial and enhance civic engagement.

"We’re thrilled," Coen says. "I would say this is one of the biggest highlights of my career at the Kansas Health Foundation."

The next step is city council approval for the site of the memorial, in front of the Ambassador Hotel on the corner of Douglas and Broadway. The goal is to have the memorial completed by next summer.


Carla Eckels is interim news director and the host of Soulsations. Follow her on Twitter @Eckels.

To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.