robw home
project director bio
socio cultural
STAFF button


ROBW Staff makes strides in Renewing Interest in Local Black History. Key community events giving recoginition to the project between 2009 and 2011:

Kansas State University Discovery Dr King Recording - video
K-State Recovers Speech
Great Grant News Release #1
Great Grant News Release #2
Great Grant News Release #3
Great Grant News Release #4
Class to teach research methods, explore Wichita’s Black history
Wichita Monrovians
Kansas State Collegian - Recording Bring Back History




Published on (

K-State recovers lost MLK speech

By By Emily Vietti
Created Jan 14 2011 - 9:15am
Wichita man had off-air copy of King's KSU speech

MANHATTAN — When Kansas State University archivist Tony Crawford answered his ringing phone last year, he didn’ t expect it would lead to him hearing Martin Luther King Jr.’s voice.

“A man in Wichita, Gerald Norwood, called to see if I was interested in a program from Martin Luther King’s funeral or a copy of King’s ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail,’” Crawford said. “We got to talking, and when I mentioned that we didn’t have any audio from King’s speech at K-State in 1968, he said, ‘I think I know someone who does.’”

Enter Galyn Vesey, the project director of the Research on Black Wichita, or ROBW, project.

“I wasn’t sure about the playing quality of the old reel-to-reel tape, but I could certainly understand why it was of interest to Kansas State,” Vesey said. “I had no idea that the university didn’t have copies of the audio in its archives until Gerald Norwood called to tell me.”

On Jan. 19, 1968, Martin Luther King came to K-State to deliver the convocation speech “The Future of Integration.” King was assassinated in Memphis less than three months later.

Vesey was working for the city of Wichita in January 1968. He heard the speech, broadcast live from K-State, on the radio in Wichita. He says as a student of history, he was enthralled.

“I listened to Dr. King’s message, which was superb as usual,” Vesey said. “Shortly thereafter, I called KFH radio in Wichita and asked if I could get a copy. In those days when I heard a great speech, if there was any chance at all to acquire it, I did so. The net result was that I received two reel-to-reel tapes of Dr. King’s message.”

Vesey has had the tapes in his personal library since 1968. But when the tape is played at K-State’s MLK Fellowship Luncheon Thursday, Jan. 27, it will be the first time in more than 40 years that the speech is heard again at the university.

No one is 100-percent sure how the original audio of the speech from the K-State radio station disappeared, though Crawford has a theory.

“The whereabouts of the tape has always been a mystery, a missing piece of history and King’s legacy here at K-State,” Crawford said. “Recently I had a lightbulb moment that maybe it had been destroyed in the fire.”

Crawford is referring to a Dec. 13, 1968, fire that gutted Nichols Hall. The act of arson is believed to have been the work of anti-war protestors. The home of the music department at the time, Nichols Hall also housed the university radio station, KSAC, and the student-run station, KSDB. Crawford surmises that any audio recording of King’s speech that had been saved may have been lost then.

“Thanks to Galyn Vesey, the missing artifact can be put in place in the K-State archives in Hale Library,” said Lori Goetsch, dean of K-State libraries.

“For years I’ve been saying that it’s mind-boggling that there wasn’t a recording of the event,” said Myra Gordon, associate provost for diversity and dual career development. “Even though it was in the ‘60s it was incomprehensible to me that it wouldn’t have been recorded in some way. We’ve been blessed by the revelations of more information and more artifacts that help tell the whole story of Dr. King’s historic visit to K-State, now including this tape.”

Source URL:



Great Grant News Release #1 !
June 4, 2009


The Community Voice
P.O. Box 20804
Wichita, KS 67208
Tel # (316) 681-1155

LOCAL BLACK HISTORY RESEARCH: Armed with additional community partners and funding – study planners look forward to second project year

Reminded of project achievements during its initial year, ROBW (Research on Black Wichita) planners are optimistic about the project’s prospects for the second year. Under the direction of Galyn A. Vesey, PhD., Project Director, ROBW staff: offered an undergraduate history course on Black Wichita during the spring term of 2009 at Bethel College, North Newton, KS; was approved for four local foundation grants to study the history of Black Wichita; and ROBW staff reinforced interest in and awareness of the importance of local Black history. For instance, under the direction of a retired professor from Kansas University, student volunteers from Wichita State University have explored the Negro Star, the Wichita Eagle and the Wichita Beacon for newspaper articles relevant to five critical topics to the ROBW project (see project website:, and ultimately, to a book publication on the Black experience in Wichita, KS. Ironically, interest in the stuff of local history has been viewed historically as the province of the well-heeled, the leadership elites or those with some stake in the community (e.g., business operators and/or landowners). ROBW student volunteers from Bethel College and Wichita State University have shown this not to be the case. Paraphrased comments of Bethel student volunteers help to illustrate this point:

…Being in the Black Wichita class was beneficial for me because I was unaware of what life was like for Black Wichitans during the 1940s and 1950s…

…This class was beneficial because it educated me on the history and culture of Blacks in Wichita…

…I didn’t know that Blacks who lived in Wichita had a culture…

…When I think of Kansas or Wichita, I don’t think of Black people…

…I learned that people can stand up for what they believe is right and just…

…Coming from a town where racial prejudice wasn’t visible (because no ethnic minorities lived in my community), I would say that this course broadened my understanding of a problem that I didn’t know exist…

…I believe that this course was a great opportunity that most students don’t get to experience…

…I learned about a different type of history (recent) that happened in my own backyard…

ROBW funding during its second project year will be provided, primarily, by a Recognition Grant awarded by the Kansas Health Foundation in the amount of $25,000.00. The applicant organization administering the grant is the Tabernacle Baptist Church where Rev. Lincoln E. Montgomery is the Senior Pastor. The Kansas Health Foundation grant is for one year- May 15, 2009 – May 15, 2010.

For additional information, contact:

Galyn A. Vesey, Ph.D.
Project Director ROBW
P.O. Box 20034
Wichita, KS 67208-1034
Tel #: (316) 685-1174


Great Grant News Release #2

Date: Friday – 5 June 2009
From: Vesey, Galyn
To: ROBW Staff / Contact List
Subj: Still Yet! More Great News

We are pleased to announce that ROBW is the successful recipient of a research grant from Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation in the amount of $1,000.00. We are also grateful that Hope Street Youth Development has consented to serve as our applicant organization for the Enterprise award. This means that during the initial project year, we have applied for and we have been approved for four (4) foundation grants! Take a bow ROBW staff and volunteers! I am grateful to you all for your continuous hard work, creative energy, competent performance, and for your unflagging determination. While project year #2 will be challenging, we shall remain optimistic as we press forward.

Galyn A. Vesey, PhD.
Project Director ROBW



Great Grant News Release #3

December 22, 2008

Dr. Galyn Vesey
P.O. Box 20034
Wichita, KS 67208


Re: KHC Grant


Dear Galyn,

It is my pleasure to inform you that the Kansas Humanities Council has approved funding for the McCormick School Museum's project, Separate Is Not Equal: Research on Wichita Public Schools. The Council approved a total award of $3,500.00.

Within the next few weeks you will be receiving your grant packet, which will include:

The grant period will begin on January 1, 2009 and KHC-funded project activities may commence any time after that date. Please contact KHC Grants Manager Ruth Madell if you have any questions after receiving these materials.

Congratulations on a successful proposal. We look forward to working with you on this exciting project.


Daniel Carey-Whalen
Director of Programs


Great Grant News Release #4


May 15, 2009

Reverend Lincoln E. Montgomery
Senior Pastor
Tabernacle Baptist Church
1817 N. Volutsia
Wichita, Kansas 67214

RE: Grant

Dear Reverend Montgomery:

On behalf of the Kansas Health Foundation Board of directors, I am pleased to inform you that your Recognition Grant request to fund the "Research on Black Wichita (ROBW): 1945-1958" project has been approved. The Kansas Health Foundation agrees to provide $25,000.00 to fund this project. A check for this amount in enclosed.

By accepting this grant and cashing the enclosed check, you specifically agree that:

(a) grant monies will be used as identified in your Recognition Grant application to the Kansas Health Foundation
(b) all financial and other records relating to the Project will be made available on request;
(c) any sums not used for the purposes of the Project will be returned;
(d) this grant does not create principal-agent relationship of any type.

Enclosed with this letter you will find a listing of the Recognition Grant recipients for this grant cycle. As a Recognition Grant recipient, you are invited to attend the annual conference for grantees that will be held on April 6-7, 2010, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Wichita. The purpose of this two-day conference is to provide information and resources to support your efforts and allow you to connect with other non-profit organizations throughout the state. Included will be several skill-building workshops, with topics ranging from an overview of strategic communications planning, volunteer management, leadership, fund-raising and donor development, to board development. Additional information and registration materials will be sent to you in early January, but please mark your calendars now with the above dates.

Please refer to the previously referenced grant number on all future correspondence regarding this grant. All questions or comments regarding your grant program or project content should be directed to Carolyn Williams, Kansas Health Foundation Program Officer. Finally, please send copies of any press releases to the attention of Chase Willhite, Kansas Health Foundation Communications Officer.



Steve Coen
President and CEO




Class to teach research methods, explore Wichita’s Black history

November 6, 2008

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College students will have a chance this spring to help give the gift of history to Wichita’s Black community.

Under the supervision of Wichita social scientist Galyn Vesey, an adjunct instructor at Bethel, students will contribute to the Research on Black Wichita project, which Vesey directs, by collecting data through document searches and other research methods. The specific time period in question is 1945-58.

“An underlying theme here is that history is socially interrelated by both people and ideas,” Vesey says. “We feel differently about ourselves when we find out how and why things happen, or why they may not. We take action, or we don’t, based on our knowledge of history.”

The period from 1945-58 was “the segregation era” in Wichita and there is little documentation on Wichita’s Black community at that time, Vesey says. Research on Black Wichita (ROBW) has a goal of bringing to life the areas in the city where most Black businesses and organizations thrived, which will require going through boxes of documents from archives, cemeteries and possibly even the Hutchinson salt mines, where municipal records are stored.

When Vesey took on ROBW, he says, people said to him, “This is massive. Do you know what you’ve gotten yourself into?”

“I can’t speak enough volumes about John Sheriff [Bethel executive vice president for institutional development] and his support for me personally and professionally,” Vesey says. “It was his idea to have a class.”

The course Black Wichita: 1945-1958 is designed as a collaborative-inquiry seminar for undergraduate students and is also aimed at members of the community interested in historical research. Vesey and his assistant, Sarah Price, a graduate student in public history at Wichita State University, have designed the course to be 10 percent lecture, 40 percent discussion and the rest lab – primary materials research for ROBW.

Vesey’s hope for the class is to go beyond giving students hands-on research experience while getting some help with ROBW. “A basic principle of education that doesn’t ever get old is [to give students the chance] to learn about different people without giving up the strengths they have,” he says. “This project is not about lambasting white people. It will only focus on race and racism, in a direct or explicit sense, as it is necessary. I want to dwell on the strengths and what was accomplished [by the Black community in Wichita] in spite of poverty and segregation.

“For example, how many people know that there was an all-black professional baseball team in Wichita [in the 1920s]? That shows what can happen even in the worst times. It helps me feel different about myself and what we can accomplish as a people.”

He also hopes to bring recognition to the many unsung heroes and heroines of Black Wichita history. As part of the sit-in at Dockum Drug in Wichita in 1958, the first organized sit-in for the purpose of integrating a segregated business establishment, Vesey says he has been enjoying the 50-year anniversary recognition.

“It’s nice to be recognized for one’s accomplishments,” he says, “but there were so many others who were part of the history of Black Wichita [whose names aren’t known]. For example, there were adults who organized social activities for young people and who ended up instilling values like the importance of education, community and faith in God. There are a lot of people, many of whom are deceased now, who were never recognized for their unselfish roles in the community as volunteers or as mentors, or perhaps as someone who simply encouraged local youth.”

Though it is several years down the road, the tangible product of ROBW is intended to be a book that Bethel College will help publish.

“I hope that the research for this class, and ultimately the book, will renew interest in local Black history as well as pride in the Black community and our accomplishments as a people,” Vesey says. “People who get national recognition all came from a local community and there are people who mentored and nurtured them along the way.

“We can all – not just me – leave something for Wichita that is perhaps more valuable than money: a sense of who we are as a people.”

Black Wichita: 1945-1958 will meet Tuesday and Thursday afternoons beginning Feb. 3, 2009. To learn more about Research on Black Wichita (ROBW), see the project’s Web site at For more information about the class, contact Dr. Vesey at 316-685-1174 or E-mail: For questions about enrollment, call the Bethel College Office of Admissions, 1-800-522-1887 ext. 230 or 316-284-5230 or e-mail

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and was the only Kansas private college to be ranked in’s listing of “America’s Best Colleges” for 2008. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at

Source: Bethel College. (2008). Institutional Communications, North Newton, KS.



Wichita Monrovians

The Wichita Monrovians (1922) were an all-Black professional baseball team named for the capital city of Monrovia, Liberia on the continent of Western Africa.  Not only did the Monrovian organization have its own baseball park (located at 12th and Mosley streets), it used its enormous success on the ball field (regularly defeating both Black and white teams) and at the box office to help raise funds for the *Phyllis Wheatley Children’s Home (Wichita).  Wichita, like most of this society, was a predominantly racially segregated environment for well over half of the Twentieth Century.  An important exception to this statement is the fact that a Ku Klux Klan baseball team, known as the Wichita Klan Number 6, played the Wichita Monrovians in June of 1925.  The final score was Wichita Monrovians 10 and the Wichita Klan Number 6 8.  The fact that the game was played at all could have far reaching implications for this research.  At least the ROBW investigators think so!  We believe that the story of the Wichita Monrovians, the First Kansas Colored Infantry and other important self-initiatives (strength perspectives) such as these could possibly have useful educational, sociocultural, economic, political, and spiritual implications for this investigation.  Please see this website periodically as the ROBW evolves.

 Sources: Pendleton, J. (1997/Summer).  Jim Crow strikes out: Interracial baseball in Wichita, Kansas 1920 – 1935.  Kansas History, 20, 86-101; Dreifort, J.E. (Editor). (2001). Baseball history from outside the lines: A reader.  University of Nebraska Press: Lincoln, NE.

* Note: Several sources indicate that the poet's first name is spelled "Phillis" after the slave ship The Phillis on which she arrived in America. The children's home in Wichita, Kansas spells Phyllis with a "y" as cited. (update 9/26/2008)