Kansas’ Rich Civil Rights History

Written by Lacey Bisnett

Kansas has a rich history in the fight for civil rights. One of the most well known cases of this was Brown V Board of Education. This case was initiated by members of the local NAACP chapter in Topeka, Kansas. Thirteen parents volunteered to participate.

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site 02
Photo curtesy of JoLynne Martinez.

In the summer of 1950, they took their children to schools in their neighborhoods and attempted to enroll them for the upcoming school year. All were refused admission. The children were forced to attend one of the four schools in the city for African Americans. For most, this involved traveling some distance from their homes. These parents filed suit against the Topeka Board of Education on behalf of their twenty children. Oliver Brown, a minister, was the first parent listed in the suit, so the case came to be named after him. Three local lawyers, Charles Bledsoe, Charles Scott and John Scott, were assisted by Robert Carter and Jack Greenberg of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

The case was filed in February 1951. The U.S. District Court ruled against the plaintiffs, but placed in the record its acceptance of the psychological evidence that African American children were adversely affected by segregation. These findings later were quoted by the U.S. Supreme Court in its 1954 opinion.

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Galentine’s Day Social

Join members of the Junior League of Topeka on Saturday, February 19 from 10 a.m. – noon at Ash Boutique, 921 S. Kansas in Topeka. Socialize, shop and learn about the Junior League! Brunch hors d’ouvres will be available along with mimosas (for 21 and over only). In coordination, Junior League members will be collecting gently worn professional women’s clothing for the Center for Safety & Empowerment.

The Equality House

The Story of overcoming Hate, Prejudice and Fear

By Ashley Watson

Driving along 12th Street in Southwest Topeka, a brightly painted one-story house stands out from the mid-century homes. Most people know this house as the “Rainbow House” due to its colorful paint job reflecting the Pride flag.

Aaron Jackson, founder of Planting Peace, purchased the Equality House in 2013. Planting Peace is a global nonprofit organization. Planting Peace proclaims “Peace” as its mission stating the organization was, “founded for the purpose of spreading peace in a hurting world. Our projects focus on a range of humanitarian and environmental initiatives, including our multi-national deworming campaign; a network of orphanages and safe havens in developing countries; LGBTQ rights advocacy; Equality House and Transgender House; and rainforest conservation efforts in the Amazon.”

What is the Equality House?

The Equality House is a symbol of compassion, peace, and positive change in both the Topeka community and the world at large. Planting Peace hopes the house “serves as the resource center for all Planting Peace human rights initiatives and stands as a visual reminder of our commitment, as global citizens, to equality for all.”

It also makes quite the statement at 1200 SW Orleans St., nestled directly across from the Westboro Baptist Church hate group campus.

Visitors are welcome to the House. They are able to walk the property, take photos and help out/help themselves to veggies from the community garden. Also, if able, visitors are encouraged to donate.

What are some things the Equality House has done?

The Equality House made quite a splash when it moved to Topeka to directly combat the hatred from the neighboring Westboro Baptist Church. Travelers have come from all over to see the house and feel supported by its message.

The Equality House has hosted many events including: LGBTQ weddings, drag shows, and NoH8 photoshoots. In addition to events, the Equality House has helped to raise awareness and funds to be used for anti-bullying, to help those with HIV/AIDs, and more.

Do You Know the Red Flags?

Would you know if someone right in front of you was trapped in a trafficking situation? Know the signs.

Call for Nominations: 2022 Community Volunteer Award

The Community Volunteer Award is awarded annually to outstanding volunteers in our community. Award Winners are given the opportunity to designate a donation to their charity of choice from of the Junior League of Topeka in their name. These individuals have given selflessly of their time, hard work, and acts of kindness to our community and deserve to be recognized. 

Any new, active, or sustaining member of the Junior League of Topeka may submit a candidate.

WHO WILL YOU NOMINATE? 

Online Safety Helps Prevent Human Trafficking

Technology is one tool Traffickers use to target and groom victims of human trafficking. But teaching our kids safe Internet practices in an age appropriate way can be challenging and overwhelming. That’s where Into the Cloud™ can help! Into the Cloud™ is The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s online safety program geared toward children ages 10 and under. 

This online, animated show, uses information and data from CyberTipline reports, and focuses the content of each episode on a different topic related to online safety, “from strategies for handling cyberbullying to recognizing and reporting unsafe/inappropriate interactions and content.”  

In addition to the animated series you can find talking points and questions to guide conversations with the kids in your life. There are also resources for educators to help with consistent information on a more widespread level. So if you work with kids, take some time to check out the show together! 

January is National Slavery & Human Trafficking Prevention Month

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month in the United States (previously referred to as National Human Trafficking Awareness Month). The Defense Department defines human trafficking as a crime in which force, fraud or coercion is used to compel a person to perform labor, services or commercial sex. In 2019, Polaris, who runs the National Human Trafficking Hotline, identified 22,326 victims and survivors along with 4,384 traffickers in the US.

Lit Leaguer’s in Action

Active and Sustaining members of the Junior League of Topeka come together once a month for Lit League – the Junior League of Topeka Book Club. November’s pick: The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

Books coming up:

January: These Tangled Vines by Julianne Maclean
February: Pure Will by Kriti Pelton
March: The Guilt Trip by Sandie Jones
April: The Paper Daughters of Chinatown by Heather B Moore

December General Membership Meeting

Members of the Junior League of Topeka came together Saturday, December 5, for their December General Membership Meeting. The morning was kicked off with a presentation by Mary Boland to show stress relieving yoga stretches and lead into brunch, a presentation by Becca Spielman about the YWCA’s work followed by trivia. During the meeting, Junior League members donated books, toys and art supplies for the children’s rooms at the Center for Safety & Empowerment.

Junior League of Topeka members at the December 2021 General Membership Meeting
Brie Engelken-Parks, President, Junior League of Topeka, presents Becca Spielman, Program Director at the YWCA’s Center for Safety & Empowerment (CSE), with books, art supplies and toys for the children’s rooms at the CSE.