Throughout 2017, the Wichita Public Library will be conducting a series of programs designed to highlight race and ethnicity, particularly in relationship to law enforcement. All events are free and open to the public.
Art Exhibit: Black Vernacular
Artist Nathanial Donnett will present a vignette of performances exploring identity, distances in African American vernacular and art. It is a riff on an African American proverb illustrating how words cannot express meaning as fully as the actual experience.
Tuesday, September 12, 5-7:30 p.m., Ulrich Museum, Wichita State University
Open Streets ICT: The Dockum Drug Sit-in
Join the Candid Conversation partners at Chester Lewis Park for a celebration of the Dockum Drug Sit-In. Enjoy events designed to honor this important time in Wichita's history including a musical performance by ARISE from 3-4.
Sunday, September 24, Noon-4 p.m., Chester I. Lewis Reflection Square Park
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 will focus on criminal justice as it relates to incarceration rates in Kansas and Sedgwick County in particular. Learn what 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 is co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters Wichita-Metro. The room opens for those with a brown bag lunch at 11:30 a.m.; program starts at 12:00 Noon.
Tuesday, October 24, Noon-1 p.m., Central Library
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 _______!
Watch the video
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.
Watch the video
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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."
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