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KNSS Radio>Audio & Video on Demand>>ISSUES 2017 02/26/17

ISSUES 2017 02/26/17

Feb 22, 2017|

Wichita City Council member Lavonta Williams discusses Black History Month

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

This is as you Tony seventeen I've Steve Macintosh and guest is Wichita City Council member of the bottom Williams welcome to issues Tony seventeen absolutely Tokyo ms. Williams represents that which does City Council first district she's been a council members since 2007. She is a teacher she is a board member of the African American museum of Kansas here in Wichita. And February's black history about the the United States Canada and the United Kingdom. First recognized by the US government India in 1976. Ms. Williams was our guest Lester on the show during Black History Month and a and now you're back again and before we get to that I got to ask you about something else and ask you about the core X. Plan that was approved this week by the City Council. They're going to keep three pools open and the rest of them just turn him into what they call. Slash I. Slash hired gun you know what would you be where do you go now until that you do you think I'm gonna catch a deep breath look. I bet. First of I understand them and they aspect of budget and I have revenue. But coming to the City Council as a former teacher I always wanted to make sure that our young people are taking care of the thing that bothered me yesterday how one was closing parks insert closing pools in certain areas. As such as the Mike Adams pool which was very very historic within itself and it's more tour as well. And so what we're left with right now r.s three outdoor pools left in this city of Wichita. And that is to help accommodate. Over 300000 people who are not that 300000 people will slam. But when you think about it it's only three outdoor pools for the communities. So for me it's going to overload some of those schools because we have elite that will be there harvest. And college you know. It will. Over well over crowd some of those swimming pools. And that was one of the things for me obviously I looked at equity as to where those swimming pools were located. So some students in some kids will have quite a problem in getting to those three pools that are still open. And and it takes quite some family time when you when you have to get in a car get on a bus. And we don't you wanna talk about transit. And getting to those schools so I I really wish we could revisit re look at this I just a deal was not ready to go down that road just a day or two senses happened I've seen some. Pretty big push back a lot of it from people like me you probably don't you swim anymore I don't swim anymore either but. It's such an important aspect of the community and I have part of my community. That needs to learn to swim because the stigma is that we don't slam and so I would love for my community to still have that opportunity. I'm very grateful that that we're not closing all of them but one. My community in college she'll was very concerned about that as well as high and but just adding two more is really not what I wanted to city. Hi I'm sorry I can surprise you that we could do let's go back to look that who originally talking and no school. I don't recall much in our user's history books about black history that I studied. Except perhaps in relation to the civil war I assume is being taught a little more extensively today. Offer I don't think we're giving you the history topped the way it should be taught. In American history is American history. And so our young people deserve to know. Who people are and and and how far we have come. But also need to know how far we still need to go so there's so much more than George Washington Carver and there's so much more than Rosa Parks and even Dr. Martin Luther King. Junior so I really think that more African American history. Needs to be taught just a small section but you know as I look at that. All history. Hispanic history Latino history. Our young people want to see themselves. In history what did what happened in my history. And so I think that's very important but yes I would like to see African American history. Its interest you because I'm I'm a huge history book I'll of the biographies and so forth and but to my grandkids don't seem to be that it stood. My whole life that I am trying to to generate some things interest absolutely even as you look at it yesterday. Made history with that doctor Lee should Thomson. Of being appointed as the superintendent of schools Natalie issued the first female. She's the first African American female to hold that position so that is history. And kids don't understand history unless she's tells them so for her to be able. To get into that position was was quite a history making event yesterday. Slavery was an unresolved issue from the earliest days of a nation many of the founding fathers were slave holders absolutely that was it. They knew they were gonna have faced or it absolutely absolutely and you know I I really just think the more we know about each other. The more connected we can be. That at the center of the issue of free state. Was formed an 1861 Kansas. The state people from the state had a lot to do the start of that war yes you talk about them through here and Ali that went out talent that was the but you know every state Kansas that's what exactly what I was gonna say Kansas was a free state. But still as as you look at it what civil liberties that they stereo. Where we still able to enjoy even during that time. So it may have been a precinct. But sometimes free doesn't always mean free okay. It is there any record of how many. People were actually business summarily taken from their homes and African and put on these terrible ships abroad over here. You know for years and years now but. But I have had the opportunity as a matter of fact even yesterday I looked at some months photos I am that our chips to Ghana West Africa. And as we were in Ghana West Africa we visited a slave castle. This is also the same castle that our President Obama visited. And so we were able to see where female slaves were kept in one unit and the Meehan and another unit and how small that unit was. And then we were led out to the ocean. And that the war that you go out is called the door of no return. The so when we went out and opened that door you have this beautiful ocean but you still have people making their own fishing nets. You still have them chanting as they were allowed into the ocean. So for me to look at that and to realize that people were on boats stacked on top of each other in order to get to America. It it brought back a feeling that's so this is what history is. Under the best conditions. And ocean voyage at that at that time. Was a pretty iffy situation. There it is they were just taking care of very well they were absolutely not absolutely not so there there there can't be and number as to how many people were lost during those boys just. I am and if they were sick or are are passed away I'm I'm sure there was just thrown overboard. Let's talk about something more positive that India. You know most of those we think of contributions. African Americans yes we think about sports we take about entertainment figures gas. But the list obviously X into other fields of endeavor. We don't talk about as some are African American heroes and I think about it. Or I am is when I think about African American heroes they're are so many times that I think about what we have just right here in which talk. Because I think that's so important that that our community understand that history was made back in 1958. When you had a group of NAACP youth. Who decided they had had enough they wanted to go downtown and eat a hamburger engine and have a Coke. At the cafeteria. Counter so that meant they wanted to sit down right there and have their meal and in 1958 that was not to be the case. So they went together and practiced and practiced and practiced how to sit down and make this deep peaceful civilian. Because they had already decided we're gonna sit there until they serve us. We still have some of those people alive today miss Rosie Hughes who was over the youth organization NAACP. I am we have many that are still here in Wichita. And the ambassador hotel sits in that very position right now at the corner of Douglas and Broadway. But that group of teenagers. And young adults took turns sitting at the counter waiting to be served. And after several weeks. Mr. dark and said let's score on his serve them that was history making. But because it was not a violent. Civil rights issued it did not get the notoriety that that it deserved. EU also had Oklahoma who changed hands in Wichita. Because they say you you were able to be successful in your city and we want to try that and Oklahoma went back and tried the same thing. And then years later it developed into the southern states. So Wichita I had the very first civil rights it and in order to be served in downtown just docket because it was dark some joke story that time. And I she reaches amnesties as literature on North Carolina was the first to have one man. I didn't think I which outlines the first was in Wichita was the very. First now I I get are also say that that was not something that the NAACP. Wanted. Which is time to take on at that time. But under the direction of mr. Walters who was president. And those students who work these side who had decided that's what they were gonna do they follow through and it was very successful. And we are recognized in the news this Sony and African American Museum in Washington DC which I hope to see what I ago a few weeks from now about that. I don't know I now. Would you aware of racial issues as a child. You can which doubles I was born and raised at which time thought I was gonna leave after college I thought I'd only be here for a while mom but I'm still here. And I'm so grateful and so blessed to be here. But yes we recently we've we've all seen. Some types of of racism and I am mine has been wrote in the southeast are so much more then idea but. There's just so many times that you you felt the racism. Inner would stop public schools of course we went to school in our neighborhood at that time. And there was so many who felt that we didn't get the education that we were supposed to get or we weren't taught with the same quality as other students were taught. But there's so many. African Americans. Who grew up in that 672014. Zip code area. That have gone on to be very successful and so we've over we've we've proven ourselves how did you respond to. Would you do it anger frustration. And it it was it was very frustrating it was very frustrating and during my my. Coming right out of junior high school at that time. We were bussed out to what was of which which star at that time ice referring to. But still. Trying to understand all of the ethnic groups that which are heights had in store. So it was very frustrating but but as a young forcing you almost think well this is the way life is supposed to be so I have to make sure that I'm I'm in that line. But then when I came out of college. And started teaching that's when the schools were just erupting in two. Riots and chaos and that. I didn't go into the school to teach at that time. But there was a time when our schools where an under. Asked a little rocky around here it was a Little Rock feel that I'm the timeframe is and trying to figure this out. You graduated from high school in the navy had better not ask you get to look into Iraq I. I okay but you're a long time ago you were not bust or you were bused I was fassel can't. I was also blessed because Wichita heights was so far out oh into that communities so so our bus was filled with. Why does as well as black and that's because of the location. But win when that was forced busing is is when we begin to have those problems what may be I'm. Maybe several years later. Sandy unrest when there was forced busing. But you know there was there were some who thought forced busing was the way to have quality education. That there are a system that we're not welcoming all of our kids into the schools. Absolutely. You're listening to issues Tony seventeen of the Entercom radio stations are just as Wichita City Council member LaMont Williams the United States has had a two term. Black president. What impact is that and all the African American community. Well I think the African American community was the we're very proud community an end so I must say that we're very proud of of the president and his accomplishments. We feel I'm sure that we could've accomplished so much more. Had ever and one work together an aunt and to ensure that those things be done. So I'm very proud of his accomplishments proud of the things that he did proud of the fact that his roots still back to Kansas. And to Wichita so I think that they asking me who American community was very pleased with president Barack Obama's. Performance you know he's he wanted to do it one of his stated goals as he became president was. To try to bring this country together and it it was just digest just too tough. It it was stopped because you have to have everybody on the same page you know and I don't think at that time everyone was on the same page. You have talked a little bit about of course to sit in the doctor yeah some of the history here and which is that they're. Some bids and we've had two African American mayors apps and at least until at least two. African American man yet. Are you cannot mr. and price a price sweater. Absolutely and but Carl brewer about was the first elected to elect is so that that's the difference. And and whether we're very proud of that fact as well. Am I think we have quite a few first in Wichita. And and that's the kind of history that I think kids need to know about I am right now you have the first African Americans superintendent first woman. You have the first African American elected mayor first. You have the first African American police chief first he had the first African American. Fire chief mr. Blackwell first you have so naturally the palace to go first. And you even have myself. As the first woman elected at a district lines and the first woman to hold a position as the vice mayor for the city of what stock. We've talked about somebody that I have I admired for years and years and years. And that is CS first African American to. Be awarded an an Academy Award them from an Oscar yes talk about Hattie McDaniel yes the course played mammy in gone with the wind does very accomplished actors from Wichita from Wichita jitter brother who has also inaccurately. I miss the brother part but I think nobody knows and has Carla burns and color burns yes that's what about Henne those games and hating my dad really with it it was can we get a statue delegates are. Well I. Visited our red blood path. No. This is a bicycle path it was an old railroad track and that yeah and so now we have resting points which have history. And arts. That we have schools they go there that are home school kids go there and look at history so when I. When we call Carla burns. And said we want to put your picture right next to miss Hattie McDaniel she cry or I'll bet she cried so so I along that path it's it's a tremendous. Tremendous display. Leaders that have been in the city and and I know that there are still more that we need to add sports leaders business leaders. But had to make then you know and Carla burns are right there in the forefront. So I so that's that was one of my ways of leaving history to the city of which are. You know I'm very well aware that. The churches have had a huge impact. On the African American community to doctors Doctor King as. He should still is still that way is our his church is still right there in the middle and and and and vibrant and do and are. And he thinks those in our churches are right there trying to help with the civil rights movements if you. Look back and think about it in the right it's we're going on in Ferguson and and there was turmoil across the country you've had a couple of pastors at that time. Pastor campus Harding and pastor joining us Dotson who say it enough is enough we don't wanna Ferguson here. And so that was what they called this movement no Ferguson here he and at that point. The pastor said we need a town hall conversation and we field the auditorium at east high as we talked about solutions to move forward. Right now you have a group of pastors that are known as the god squad. And that was something that myself and and and vice mayor Janet Miller sorrow and in 1 of our am I a conferences. And they call the god squad and so our chief is able to call him. When there is some disruption or he's able to lean back lament group and say I need some help here and anything up there so they've been training choose to go out into the community. And help with situations that we have that arise. For instance some of the things that we're going on before our large cook out. Her past as we're very involved and our pastors were involved in that cook out. So that was a success and I think the god squad and and keeping our faith based on on hand is very import. There's just something as simple as saying hey why don't we talk to as these other people and and and try to find some common ground maybe. Maybe have a there which is very simple idea. That's exactly look pretty. That's exactly it exactly it gives them an opportunity for instance if we are shooting in an area. We'll make sure that a pastor Zimbabwe we go out to talk to the community and talk to the neighbors about what has happened in in their neighborhood. So our our churches are still involved. Could there be more yes yes but for now I I take what they're giving us clues it. The biggest challenges concerning race relations today. I think for me it's looking at the haves and the have nots. I am and that still continues to be a huge barrier. I am even in the closing of the pools. That that that was my that was my thought is I thought about closing. You'll you'll have those who will have. And you have the have nots. And it's all because of that dollar that's in between. And and so I look at that. I think we have unrest because we have community that doesn't have the businesses that will look like that we still have. Food deserts in some of our communities. And that's another economic. Dollar issue. And so we're looking at an end I held a breakfast about two weeks ago at the Boys and Girls Club. And we talked about the the funding that was coming from the Hyatt we now that. Ten million is going to go to infrastructure and that's everybody's neighborhood we know that four million is going to go to transit. To help sustainability. On efforts. And then perhaps each district will seat receive a little bit sore shoulder big breakfast we had about 75 people who came. Because I wanna ask tax payers. How should that money be spent. It was taxpayer money that built that Hyatt and I wanted to ask the taxpayers what would change the quality of life in your particular neighborhood. And what they say. I am an economic development is a right there at the top economic development and jobs. And if Wichita could do anything more I. I would say that we need to look for that large business corporation so that we have more jobs available for a community. But you know as we talk I I have to talk about jobs for our young people because that's an effort that. Mayor and I really am having conversations about and that is having 1000. Kids. Able to work during this summer so that's gonna take you businesses out there to help us out. To take on two or three young people starting at the age of 1415 and sixteen. And giving them that job opportunities over the course of. Your lifetime and it's not a terribly long life I'm. It's only seen a lot. Just who do you think Americans of engines cantons you think we're getting mean getting any better race relations. I think we are. I think we are and I think we've come a long way but waste we still have a ways to go. Because you still have people with the mentality. Of living in the past and and we have some that just can't accept the future. And I I think that we take what we have right now. We continued to move on and and look for those better times. If anything I think the young people understand. Relations a little better then some of us well seasoned. People in the community. But what does it mean. To a young person to see someone like you in a position only cure and you know you get out and as much you can I should. It was as much as I can because I really feel that if you can see it you can be it. I didn't have that when I was young I was I was not able to see that person that was as of importance to your city. I did see my physical education teacher who was African American miss many brown. And still alive right to counsel I I emulate myself after her I want it to be that physical education teacher. And then I went to high school and I met this dynamic. Native American. Teacher named Vieira hunter after whom hunter health clinic. And she was an inspiration in my life as well. And so if kids can see it they can be it. But we have to make sure that we're out and about helping kids understand some of the people that they have in their community. And I look at myself coming from a community of 67214. Where in many cases we were not. We were not expected to succeed and I was the oldest of nine kids. And so all of that combined. Could have said this is what you will probably have to accept. But I didn't except. You didn't I didn't accept it so I continue to talk to kids in schools all around telling them that you can beat this. We appreciate your time this morning. Like he's an hour at this Black History Month February into our guest. He's a witch to a City Council member of a part of williams' good good time that's all for this edition of issues Tony seventeen. Will be back next week thank you for listing I'm Steve Macintosh.

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