Candid Conversations

In 2017, the Wichita Public Library conducted a series of programs designed to highlight race and ethnicity, particularly in relationship to law enforcement.

Archived Presentations

For your convenience, events have been recorded and archived on the Library's YouTube channel. Some events cannot be archived due to unavailability of video or copyright restrictions.

All Past Events

Civil Rights in Wichita

Dr. Gretchen Eick, a history professor at Friends University who researched and wrote the book Dissent in Wichita, discussed Wichita's important role in the civil rights movement.

Watch the video

Mining the Trust Gap: Ferguson and Americans' Changing Views of Police Behavior

From incarceration statistics to public opinion on police behavior, there has long been a wide gap between white & black Americans. Using a range of sources including interviews & public opinion data, this talk explored views of police processes of different racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Racial Profiling: How do minorities experience what they believe to be racial profiling?

Dr. Michael Birzer, a Professor of Criminal Justice at Wichita State University, presented the findings of nearly five years of racial profiling that laid the groundwork for his book Racial Profiling: They Stopped Me Because I’m _______!

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Police on Racial Profiling: In Their Own Words

What do Kansas police officers think about allegations of racial profiling, and what needs to be done to resolve the controversy? Dr. Michael Birzer presented findings of his research that examined Kansas police officers' perspectives on racial profiling. Following the presentation, Chief of Police Gordon Ramsay and a diverse panel of community representatives discussed the study and answered questions.

Watch Dr. Birzer's presentation

Watch the panel discussion

Voting Rights and Racial Justice

The right to vote is a core freedom in America. However, developments in the electoral process have had an effect on voters, and those changes have racial implications. Micah Kubic, head of the Kansas American Civil Liberties Union, spoke about matters of voting rights on race.

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Cracking the Codes Film Discussion

From director Shakti Butler comes a new film that asks America to talk about the causes and consequences of systemic inequity. Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity features moving stories from racial justice leaders.

Officers of Color Panel Discussion

A diverse array of police officers who know the challenges of being part of the community and part of the Wichita Police Department joined us for a candid conversation about topics such as how their race and ethnicity create opportunities, and whether they feel special pressures from the community they serve.

Film Discussion: Race: The Difference Between Us

The concept of race is much more complicated than it seems on the surface. Where did the idea of race come from? Is there a biological basis for the differences we observe? Part one of the acclaimed PBS documentary series, Race: The Power of an Illusion, covers how we think about race and challenge our longstanding notions of personal differences. A facilitated discussion followed the film.

Book Discussion: Between the World & Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates's book is a heartfelt look at America and its history through the lens of a black man raised in a nation that has systematically devalued people of color. The book is written as a letter to Coates's 15-year-old son to prepare him for the realities and risks of living in America as a person of color. Powerful and hard-hitting, its message is both timely and eye-opening.

Outdoor Film: Dawn of Day: The Underground Railroad in Kansas

In honor of Wichita's Juneteenth Celebration, Wichita State University's Duerksen Amphitheater hosted an outdoor, after-dark showing of Dawn of Day: The Underground Railroad in Kansas. This historical documentary covers the Underground Railroad in Kansas that brings to light Wabaunsee County's unsung heroes who traversed one of the most turbulent times in our nation's history. Faith, family, and politics united a community of neighbors who lived and died to ensure Kansas was a free state. Rusty Earl, filmmaker from Manhattan, discussed the making of the film.

Film Discussion: Race: The Story We Tell

While people have always had ways of stigmatizing others on the grounds of language, custom, class, and religion, it wasn't until the founding of the United States that the idea of "race" took hold. Since its inception, racial differences have been used to justify conquest, domination, and inherent inferiority of non-whites. This 2nd part of the PBS documentary Race: The Power of an Illusion offers historical context to better understand systemic racism and how it undermines American society and prevents us from realizing the American dream of "equal justice for all." A facilitated discussion followed the film.

Book Discussion: The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

Legal scholar Michelle Alexander looks at the American judicial system and how it targets black males, resulting in a de facto form of slavery and never-ending second class status for its victims. Is justice truly colorblind when the race of the individual determines the likelihood of a prison sentence?

Film Discussion: Race: The House We Live In

The final part of our 3-part series, Race: The Power of an Illusion, examines the concept of "whiteness" and how that characteristic offers privileges that seem nearly invisible to those who benefit. Which nationalities and immigrants were granted the privilege of "whiteness" and what advantages did that convey? When opportunity is not equal, it results in a wealth gap that cannot be explained by educational achievement, graduation rates, or other factors. A facilitated discussion followed the film.

Book Discussion: Writings on the Wall by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is best known for his years as a leading basketball player in the NBA. More recently he has turned social commentator and writer. In this book, he tackles the issue of race in America with insight from his experiences as an athlete, a parent, a Muslim, and a black man. These essays not only demonstrate the persistence of racial inequality today, but offer his thoughts on solutions to some of the issues that plague us.

Film Screening: 13th

The 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolished slavery in the U.S. This film examines the way that America's prison system has become another form of slavery for American minority populations. From the profitability of prison labor to the development of private prisons, Ava DuVernay's documentary makes clear that the impact of our nation's laws, sentencing, and imprisonment have disproportionately affected communities of color. The Boston Globe called this film "one of the best movies of 2016."

Art Exhibit: Black Vernacular

Artist Nathanial Donnett presented a vignette of performances exploring identity, distances in African American vernacular and art. It was a riff on an African American proverb illustrating how words cannot express meaning as fully as the actual experience.

Open Streets ICT: The Dockum Drug Sit-in

The Candid Conversation partners were at Chester Lewis Park for a celebration of the Dockum Drug Sit-In. Events designed to honor this important time in Wichita's history included a musical performance by ARISE from 3-4.

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Tallgrass Film Festival: Black Cop

Tallgrass Film Festival joined Candid Conversations in presenting two screenings of Black Cop (2017, 1 hour 30 min.), directed by Cory Bowles. A black cop is pushed to the edge after his colleagues profile him while off-duty. In this hyper-active satire, he figures out a way to take out his frustration... at work.

Tallgrass Film Festival: Whose Streets?

Tallgrass Film Festival joied Candid Conversations in presenting Whose Streets? (2017, runtime 1 hour 30 min.), a documentary feature directed by Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis. The film is an unflinching look at the Ferguson uprising told by the activists and leaders who live and breathe this movement for justice.

Tallgrass Film Festival: For Ahkeem

Tallgrass Film Festival joied with Candid Conversations in offering a documentary film showing of For Ahkeem. After a school fight lands Daje Shelton in a court-supervised alternative high school, she's determined to turn things around and make a better future for herself, despite challenges both personally and in society. The film was directed by Jeremy S. Levine and Landon Von Soest in 2017. Runtime is 1 hour and 30 minutes. Following the film showing, there was a Candid Conversations panel discussion over this film and two other race-related films: Black Cop and Whose Streets?.

Tuesday Topics: Criminal Justice

As of December 31, 2015, the Kansas prison population was 9,857. Incarceration rates are growing and disproportionately affect people of color. This month's Tuesday Topics focused on criminal justice as it relates to incarceration rates in Kansas and Sedgwick County in particular. The presentation included the factors contribute to the large numbers of prisoners, what is being done to reduce these numbers, and what measures are in place to ensure that there is equal justice for all. This program was co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters Wichita-Metro.


Partner Organizations

This program made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Kansas Humanities Council. Candid Conversations is a collaboration with the following groups:

KMUW 89.1 Public Radio is media sponsor for Candid Converstions. For more information, go to
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