WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – There is new hope for American Legion Post 273 here in Wichita. This post is the last of three African-American posts in the state of Kansas so when they received a letter to close from Topeka last month, they say they were shocked.
“We have been here since 1920,” said Post 273’s commander, William Young. “I refuse to be the last commander of post 273; there’s just too much history here.”
Young tells us the letter from Topeka stated that they were not following housekeeping rules set by American Legion and they had 19 days until their doors would close. This was now over a month ago. The post appealed the decision and that appeal was sent to American Legion’s national headquarters in Indianapolis. Monday morning, headquarters responded that the legion would remain open and the appeal would be presented in front of the entire committee at the national convention in August.
“Well, like I said before my dear, we are still here and plan to continue to be here,” said Young. “But now, we have a bigger problem.”
With the recent scare of the post closing, Young says members have stop coming in to the post and ultimately stopped paying their membership dues.
“We can fight whatever is legally happening with the post — we can fight those things but the lack of members attending our post, those things we can’t fight,” explained Young.
Young tells us there have been over 100 members that have stopped paying their dues in the last 30 days.
“We had five members in the house on Friday night at 12 o clock. We can not continue to run this post and continue to pay our obligations without the membership support,” said Young.
The commander has received an out-pooring of support from former commanders of posts that closed in Topeka and Lawrence. Locally, the NAACP chapter also has announced they too would be supporting the legion during this time.
“There was some hint of discrimination in the letter that was presented to the legion last month and ultimately, that’s what we are about; protecting any and everyone from discrimination. ” explained NAACP President, Larry Burkes. “Going back all the way to World War I through present time, this has been a place where they have been able to come and be part of the community and this is something that they should have. They earned this through their service to this country.”