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Geo Logic: Will Not Be Unseen/Find the Holes in the System, Wichita, Ks. refers to a 1937 map showing the extent of Wichita's "redlined" areas, encompassing about 50% of the city; overlapping most of the historic redlined area is a 2024 U.S. Housing and Urban Development map identifying areas of Wichita classified as "difficult to develop," a signifier of economic disadvantage. (https://www.huduser.gov/portal/sadda/sadda_qct.html)

Circled and numbered "hot spots" locate historic sites where civil rights lawyer Chester I. Lewis' actions impacted laws, policies, and public life in Wichita to end discrimination and segregation.

1. Wesley Hospital, 1953: Chester I. Lewis and his wife, shortly after moving to Wichita, had a baby at Wesley Hospital, 550 N. Hillside; upon seeing babies of minorities segregated from white ones, Lewis threatened a lawsuit based on an 1874 Kansas law prohibiting segregation in public accommodations. The hospital changed its policy. (Eick, 39.)

2. Riverside Pool, 1953: Lewis and John E. Pyles sued the City of Wichita for denying entry to Riverside Pool to two Black college students, resulting in desegregation of all municipal pools. Believed to be the first civil rights lawsuit filed against the City of Wichita. (Eick, 39.)

3. – 6. Additional public pools, 1953-54—The effective legacy of Lewis’s actions regarding desegregation of municipal pools, resulting in open-access to additional municipal pools built during Lewis’ civil rights era:
3. Aley Park Pool, 1803 S. Seneca St., believed 1950s;
4. Edgemoor Park Pool, 5815 E. 9th St., 1966;
5. McAdams (now McAfee) Pool at McAdams Park, 1329 E. 16th St., 1969;
6. Linwood Park Pool, 1901 S. Kansas St., 1971.

7. Lewis residence (approximate location, N. Madison Ave.), 1957—Lewis and family built a residence on N. Madison Ave. in 1957, but were unable to secure bank or FHA financing because of redlining practices: the home was outside the Black section of the city at the time (Eick, 40), though it was within the areas of the 1937 redlining and 2022 “difficult to develop” maps.

8. Dockum Drugstore Sit-In, 1958: Douglas & Broadway—“Along with the other variety stores clustered downtown on or near the corner of Douglas and Broadway…Dockum’s was one of the places to stop for a Coke and rest your feet while shopping. But if you were black, there was no resting allowed inside the stores; a Coke, once purchased, had to be consumer outside.” (Eick, 1). African-American high school and college students were organized by Chester Lewis and the local chapter of the NAACP--whose national organization at the time did not endorse sit-ins. The locals did it anyway, occupying seats at the Dockum lunch counter Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from July 9 well into August. They sat face-forward as if expecting to be served, with no other distractions or activities, for all the hours the counter was open those three days of each week. They were cursed and defamed on a regular basis, and on a few occasions left when threatened by police; on August 7, they fended off the threat of a brawl with a white student gang by calling in supporters from other community centers to outnumber the potential aggressors, then left the drugstore. The following Monday, August 11, Dockum’s agreed to serve Black customers at the lunch counter because of its extreme revenue loss during the sit-in period. The policy across the state was changed immediately. The success of the Dockum sit-in led to subsequent sit-ins in Winfield, Ks., and Oklahoma City, with the NAACP eventually changing its policy toward sit-ins and encouraging them, creating significant momentum for the burgeoning civil rights movement. (Eick, pp. 1-11.)

9. Lewis house, 1963: N Roosevelt north of WSU – neighborhood had a whites-only compact that had been ruled by the Supreme Court to be legally unenforceable; Lewis’ wife Vashti Crutcher Lewis and white friends duped the seller into believing the Lewises were white by touring the house as the “live=on maid” and then having the white couple deed the house to the Lewises after the sale (Eick, 77).

10. Brooks Intermediate 3802 E 27th N—1966

11. Mathewson Intermediate—now Chester Lewis Learning Center, 1847 N. Chautauqua (17th St west of Hillside)—1966

12. Coleman School —1544 N. Governoeur Rd. –1966

13. Brothers Grocery Stores, 1967—Lewis and others led efforts to fund the opening of two Black-owned Brothers Grocery stores in the northeast area, at 17th & Poplar and at N. 13th St. (Eick, 134).

Research for this project was largely via Gretchen Cassel Eick’s Dissent in Wichita: The Civil Rights Movement in the Midwest, 1954-72, Urbana, Chicago, and Springfield: University of Illinois Press, first paperback edition, 2008. Special thanks to Ellamonique Bacchus for recommending it.

Geo Logic: Will Not Be Unseen/Find the Holes in the System, Wichita, Ks.
Acrylic, tar, acid etch, pencil on steel
48" x 48"