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Candid Conversations

Wichita Public Library

Contact: Cynthia Berner,
Type of Initiative: Inclusion/Tolerance
Community Partners: Wichita Police Dept., Urban League of KS, Wichita Public Schools Safety & Security, ARISE, NAACP Youth Council


Candid Conversations (Feb-Oct 2017) is a project with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Kansas Humanities Council. The purpose is to stimulate a community conversation about race and ethnicity, particularly as it pertains to law enforcement. Goals are: (1) Citizens will learn more about race and how it functions in society; (2) Citizens will learn more about how policing affects minority communities; (3) Citizens will be invited to share stories about race in their lives and learn from dialogue; and (4) Community members of color will share their stories of Wichita’s racial history, to be filmed, shown, and preserved for future generations (fall 2017).

Programming includes:

  • Dissent in Wichita – sharing research about Wichita’s role in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s & 60s
  • Mining the Trust Gap – Dr. Jeannine Bell from Maurer School of Law (Indiana Univ. Bloomington) will talk about Americans’ views of police behavior is changing, particularly since Ferguson
  • Youth Engagement Day – a day for high school students to learn more about criminal justice from Dr. Jeannine Bell at a conference on the WSU campus, sponsored by USD 259 & Crime Commission
  • Racial Profiling: Views of Kansas Citizens and Police Perceptions (2-part lecture) – by Kansas researcher Michael Birzer, including a panel discussion with reactions by Chief of Police Gordon Ramsay and diverse members of the community
  • Voting Rights and Race – Micah Kubic from the ACLU of Kansas will talk about how changes to voting rights have racial implications and may have a negative impacts on civil rights in communities of color
  • Officers of Color – a panel discussion of officers of various races and genders to talk about the dichotomy
  • Cracking the Codes – a 3-hour facilitated film discussion on race using the documentary “Cracking the Codes”
  • Book discussions – Between the World and Me (Coates); The New Jim Crow (Alexander); Citizen (Rankine)
  • Film Discussions – “Race: The Power of an Illusion” (3 parts); “Dawn of Day” (the Underground Railroad in Kansas, shown as an outdoor film at night, pre-Juneteenth)
  • “Art for Your Ears” concert in the park, featuring music of social justice & inclusion, with the Police Dept., the community, and college students, hosted by the Ulrich Museum