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.


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.

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.


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.

Sharing Joy

By: Lacey Bisnett

December brings one of my favorite seasonal activities, no it’s not gifts, snow, or family gatherings… I get my coat and gloves on and… wait for the drama to unfold about the latest holiday cup from Starbucks. Yup, that’s right, I’m always entertained each year by the outrage over a festive cup. Why the outrage? Simply put, I think people are often afraid that by accommodating other celebrations are we lessening our personal favorite one. Someone says “Happy Holidays” and there is outrage that there is a war on Christmas. Someone says “Merry Christmas” and another is quick to report they don’t celebrate. This month, let’s all learn to share in JOY of whatever each of us celebrates. If I know you celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yule, or Christmas, I’ll be sure to wish you well when those holidays come up this season. In turn, I’ll happily accept all greeting from all holidays you acknowledge and celebrate. My family celebrates THREE different holidays in December: Chalica, Winter Solstice, and Christmas. Let’s take some time this month to learn about all the different celebrations that people in the Topeka area engage in! In fact, you can get a sampling of many by attending Peace: A Multicultural Holiday Evening in town on December 15th. Details HERE.

YWCA Supply Drive

Members of the Junior League of Topeka are collecting Books, Art Supplies and Toys for the YWCA’s Center for Safety & Empowerment guests.
To donate contact the Junior League at email@jltopeka.org.