WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The American Legion headquarters out of the state capitol says post 273 is not abiding by eight constitutional bylaws, and for that reason, the last African American post in Kansas is in danger of closing.
“Post 273 has been around since the early 1900’s,” explained Commander William Young. “I believe we have done everything necessary to keep our doors open so this news, comes as a shock for me and the hundreds of members that attend.”
In 19 days, the post that was founded nearly 100 years ago may close for good, and Young says this will leave a lot of veterans with nowhere to call their own.
“This post was founded because we didn’t have another post to go to,” said Young. “There were other posts but the atmosphere was not welcoming, and for that reason among others, I know a lot of our members will not go to another post.”
Young says the post was contacted by the Kansas Headquarters of the American Legion in February and notified that they were not following eight bylaws that mainly pertain to internal housekeeping regulations. From this, the headquarters determined that the post would need to close its doors for good.
“Right now, we are in the process of appealing this decision,” said Young.
Currently, there are 400 members and many of them say that this post is a stronghold for African American tradition. For that reason, they plan to fight for it.
KSN reached out to the state headquarters. They did not want to comment but said the post has 19 days before it closes, if the appeal is not approved. At this point the appeal is the most critical factor in keeping the doors to post 273 open. As a past commander and one of the oldest members, Harold Burrell says closing would create a ripple effect.
“It affects the whole community because there are so many kids that look forward to having parties and Christmas and school supply giveaways,” explained Burrell. “If this place closes, I can’t even begin to imagine how it would affect this community.”
However, the current commander says the legacy of the post is something he plans to keep alive.
“I was told that I was going to be the last commander of post 273 and I am determined not to let that happen,” said Young. “I am determined that I will not let down the men and women who served and died to ensure that this post was a monument for this community.”