Past and Present

Three Wichita State history professors, Drs. Robin Henry, Robert Weems, and Jay Price, will talk about Wichita history, parallels between current events and historical happenings, and how historical events got us to where we are today.

Past & Present is also available through iTunes. Listen or subscribe here.

This commentary originally aired on November 29, 2016.

The familiar verse “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” from Emma Lazarus’s 1883 poem “The New Colossus” affirms many Americans’ belief that the United States is a nation of immigrants.

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On August 6, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act. Considered one of the most effective pieces of federal legislation, this act secured nationwide minority voting rights. While previous legislation had attempted to do this, the sweeping infrastructure of federal oversight that developed through a series of “special provisions” differentiates this act.

Looking at a photograph of the west side of the Arkansas River from a century ago shows a prominent two-story railroad station just south of Douglas. This was the site of one of Wichita’s lesser known railroad connections: The Midland Valley Railroad. 

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Growing tensions between the United States and Iran have dominated news in recent weeks. The historical backdrop further validates the notion that certain actions can produce unintended consequences.

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This month, we recognize the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. For many Americans, Stonewall is the beginning of the gay liberation and civil rights movements. But like many movements, the visible moments often rest on a foundation of small, but significant, social, political, and legal challenges.

Jay Price

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, where LBGT patrons of the Stonewall Inn in New York City resisted one of many police raids on the bar. It remains a turning point in the gay rights movement.

Individual income tax returns, including those of public figures, are private information protected by law from unauthorized disclosure. But since the early 1970s, most presidential and vice presidential candidates, as well as sitting presidents and vice presidents, have released their tax returns for public scrutiny.


On May 15, 1869, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton founded the National Woman Suffrage Association. While this would seem to have been cause for celebration, the NWSA resulted from a bitter divide between abolitionists and women’s rights activists over the 15th Amendment.

Until 2016, many Wichitans knew Blake Hall at 3317 E. 17th Street as KMUW’s home. What they may not know is that the KMUW story at that spot only goes back to 1981. During the 1960s and 1970s, the intersection of 17th and Fairmount was part of a neighborhood business district, home to several establishments. 

One of the hallmarks of historic American foreign policy is the Monroe Doctrine.

In his annual message to Congress on December 2, 1823, President James Monroe declared that any attempt by a European power to control any nation in the Western Hemisphere would be viewed as a hostile act against the United States.

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