race

Carla Eckels / KMUW

Black Kansans have received the COVID-19 vaccine at about half the rate of white Kansans.

Now, as the vaccine rollout continues, there’s been a growing effort to close that gap.

Courtesy Black Archives of Mid-America

HAYS, Kansas — On the night of Jan. 6, 1869, Luke Barnes, Lee Watkins and James Ponder sat in jail accused of shooting a white railroad worker in this northwest Kansas town.

By sunrise, the three Black men had been dragged from their cell by a mob of white townspeople and hanged from a railroad trestle over the creek that separates the town from Fort Hays, where the men were stationed in the U.S. Army. A Leavenworth newspaper reported that the town “indulged them in a dance in mid-air.”

When Vice President-elect Kamala Harris takes the oath of office on Jan. 20, she will be the first woman, first South Asian and first African American to fill the role.

But she won't be the first person of color.

That title belongs to a Kansan — Charles Curtis, member of the Kaw Nation and President Herbert Hoover's vice president.

Curtis was born in 1860 in Topeka while Kansas was still a territory, and he spent his early years living in both white and Native American communities.

 

The number of families experiencing food insecurity has hit a record due to the pandemic, and Black and Hispanic families are disproportionately affected.

 

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

The testimonials from black people about their experience on Kansas college campuses ring both familiar and fresh as protests against racism continue across the world.

Some talk about death threats riddled with racial slurs tucked in their mailboxes, about baseless confrontations with campus police, or about being told in ways both subtle and explicit that they don’t belong.

As demonstrations against police brutality and racism have rocked the world, some Kansans have protested in hopes of pushing reforms at home.

Since Memorial Day, thousands of people have attended rallies and marches across the state, from Garden City to Kansas City, protesting the deaths of George Floyd and other black people at the hands of the police.

And like many other communities in the U.S., Kansas activists and law enforcement are taking another look at policing in their communities.

LAWRENCE, Kansas — The more Kansas tests people for the coronavirus, the clearer it becomes that black Kansans are being disproportionately affected — a sobering trend that is true in communities across the U.S.

Black Kansans are three times more likely to test positive for COVID-19 than white people, and more than seven times more likely to die from the virus. Latinos are also about three times as likely to test positive for COVID-19.

The data mirrors trends seen in across U.S. cities like New York, Chicago and Detroit, as well as other states.

Kansas is on its way to becoming a majority-minority state, with white residents expected to make up less than half of the population by 2066.

A new report from the Kansas Health Institute shows that the state is quickly becoming older, more urban and more diverse.

Carla Eckels / KMUW

Sixty-four years ago, the United States Supreme Court handed down the decision to end legal segregation in the public school system as part of the Brown v. Board of Education case. A new mural is being unveiled Thursday in the Kansas Capitol in Topeka to commemorate that landmark decision.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Sit-ins and other protests over poverty and racial equality could be coming to the Kansas Statehouse, clergy and civil rights activists said Monday.

They promised to bring the same level of attention to the issues that the causes garnered when Martin Luther King Jr. championed them a half-century ago in his Poor People’s Campaign.

The effort is an updated version of King’s campaign by the same name. It emphasizes higher minimum wages, lower barriers to voting and an end to disproportionate incarceration of minorities.

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