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Past and Present

Past and Present: Illuminating Wichita's African American History


Dr. Galyn Vesey is a unique individual in the context of Wichita history. Vesey received his Ph.D. from Syracuse University and his academic career included stints at Utica College and Alabama A & M University. He not only represents “living history” but also seeks, as a scholar, to re-create an important part of Wichita’s African American historical experience.

As a teenager, Vesey was one of the participants in the legendary Dockum Drug Store “sit-in” during the summer of 1958. As a retiree, Dr. Vesey has developed what he calls the “Research on Black Wichita: 1945-1958” project. Utilizing a wide variety of source materials, including focus group methodology, individual interviews and various types of documentary evidence, Vesey is completing a manuscript that focuses upon five areas: education; socio-cultural activity; business and economic development; political activity; and religious institutions and spiritual foundations. As he states on the project’s website, his primary intent is to “assist Wichita’s Black pioneers in telling their own stories.”

Dr. Vesey’s forthcoming book on Wichita’s African American community between the years 1945-1958 represents an important compliment to Dr. Gretchen Eick’s award-winning book on the civil rights movement here. These works, coupled with my current project related to historic black entrepreneurship in Wichita, combine to more fully illuminate the historic African American experience in this city.