Truth or Consequences – 3 My Topeka roots

I just checked my blot to see how many mentions I have made over the last 16 years of Topeka, Kansas where I got my start. So far its 73 posts.

I had a lovely conversation with a librarian who’s husband grew up just a block from the house I remember from my elementary school years on Mulvane Street. The following day she was assigned to work in the “Topeka Room” where she was able to access some files related to local public schools and the general subject of civil rights in Topeka and sent me camera phone pictres of a dozen stories. I’ll be downloading them and reading them with great interest.

Perhaps the most interesting tidbit was about a woman who lived across the street from my house. I’m not familiar with the name Peggy Green but I’m sure my parents knew her. She wrote occasional histories for the Capital Journal. She wrote one very lengthy three page story about the old Loman Elementary School that burned down in 1900 to be replaced by the Loman Hill Elementary I began attending in 1958. It had been an integrated school but the story details the suspicions that the KKK had burned it down because of its being integrated.

I thought that was even more interesting because my Grandmother (born in 1900) attended the original Monroe school which coincidentally also burned down after her experience there. The new Monroe elementary that replaced it would become an all black elementary school and the one that Linda Brown was required to attend while walking past a much closer all white school nearer her home.

Perhaps the KKK pushed tightwad Kansasans, who no doubt resited paying to rebuild public schools, to segregate school to keep reconstruction expenses and thus taxes down. At any rate the issue of integration would no go away. Kansas decided to make it a local decision. I suspect smaller school districts that did not want to build whole schools for vanishingly small black populations allowed their schools to be integrated. As for secondary schools Kansas kept them integrated and my older family members attended Topeka High which although it had a black student population otherwise segregated sports teams and other after school activies.

I wrote a column titled The White MP who pulled black men off prosititues a while back which was directly tied to the integration of Loman Hill Elementary after the Brown decision. I made a podcast of it for those following my congressional campaign.

The reference librarian also found a story about that touches this podcast from 1963 the year my family moved north to Minnesota because my Dad made the mistake of telling his boss he shouldn’t take gifts from the insurance companies the State Insurance Commissioner regulated.

I am eager to read this because the story is about unhappy parents threatenting or complaining to the school board because of integration…..or possibly because of their fears that a black principal had just been appointed to be in charge of Loman Hill. I am eager to read more.

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