february, 2022

24feb12:00 pm1:00 pmVirtual EventHonoring Black History in Small-Town KansasJournal Launch Event

Event Details

Honoring Black History in Small-Town Kansas

Register below to receive your complimentary copy of the Winter 2022 Journal.

Thursday, February 24 | 12:00 – 1:00 PM

A livestream launch event (Facebook and YouTube)

The next edition of The Journal features a cover story by reporter Beccy Tanner about unique efforts to honor African American history in small-town Kansas. Register below by 5 p.m. Feb. 11 to receive your complimentary copy of the magazine and join us at noon on Feb. 24 for a free virtual discussion being live streamed on Facebook and YouTube.

Tanner’s story revisits a history of African American settlement in Kansas after the Civil War that has largely been forgotten or ignored for decades. Tens of thousands of African Americans flocked to Kansas in the decades following the Civil War, inspired by the state’s Free State legacy and encouraged by officials that included a governor named John P. St. John.

They came to be known as the Exodusters, and they were often poor farmers looking for a better life on the plains. They settled in towns such as St. John, Kansas, a Stafford County community named after the governor that helped put out the welcome mat for African American settlers.

Nearly 30 Black families came to Stafford County and, by the turn of the 20th Century, there were as many as 400 African Americans living there. But life was never easy. There was drought, endless Kansas winds, sun dust and secret organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan. Today none of the original homesteading families remain.

Aided by leadership from some atypical places in the community, about a dozen descendants of those Exodusters returned to Stafford County to establish connections with their ancestors. Tanner tells the story of the event, and how it proved emotional for both visitors as well as residents trying to come to terms with the good and bad of their local history.

The live social media discussion moderated by managing editor Chris Green will feature the following panelists:
• Rene Elmore, descendent of Exodusters
• Shelby Ronea, descendent of Exodusters
• Pastor Emanuel Gracey, descendent of Exodusters
• Jennifer Gracey Vierthaler, descendent of Exodusters
• Alice McMillan Lockridge, homecoming organizer
• Mark McCormick, director of strategic communications for the ACLU of Kansas
• Beccy Tanner, Journal contributor

Other stories in the Winter edition of The Journal focus on using public records to bring about change, a candid look at the challenges of running for office and the beginning of a hopeful era for the state’s long challenged mental health system.

Register for the 2022 Winter Journal


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The Journal remains free for KLC alumni. Would you like to make a donation of $10 to help cover the costs of creating, printing and distributing the magazine?(Required)

Do you plan to attend The Journal’s livestreamed launch on Feb. 24?(Required)


(Thursday) 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm


Virtual Event