Wichita leaders, trailblazers honored at Kansas African American Museum

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Kansas African American Museum in Wichita honored Wichita leaders Saturday night. Some of those honored sat in on the historic 1958 Dockum Drug Store sit-in.

“When you’re 18 or 19, 20 you don’t realize the importance until years after,” said Arlene Ruffin, an original participant of the Dockum sit-ins.

Ruffin remembers her involvement with the historic sit-in over 50 years later. The protest helped change the course of segregation as well as African American history.

“It was a challenge,” explained Ruffin. “And we weren’t sure whether it would be dangerous or scary so you just go on.”

Saturday, Arlene among others, were honored for their bravery and their efforts to blaze the trail for many African American generations to come.

It was all part of A Tribute to Trailblazers Gala.

“Trailblazers used to be an exhibit where we honored people who had blazed a trail for others,” explained Mark McCormick, Kansas African American Museum Director.

Now, Trailblazers serves as the biggest fundraiser for the African American Museum. It showcases prominent individuals within the community.

Speakers at the event inspired the audience and gave them a sense of appreciation for those who have blazed a trail.

“It really inspired a lot of others particularly the ones in Oklahoma City,” said McCormick. “Ours were non-violent, although there was always a threat of violence, in Oklahoma City there was violence.”

One of the biggest engagements for the evening was the announcement for the newest piece of memorial to honor the 1958 Dockum Drugstore lunch counter sit-in.

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