Students took a lead role in Dockum lunch counter sit-in in summer of 1958

 
  • The 1958 protest returns to the spotlight with coverage from NBC's morning show, hosted by Wichita native Sheinelle Jones.
  • Several University of Wichita students participated in the sit-in at the whites-only lunch counter in downtown Wichita.
  • The sit-in is recognized as the one of the leading events of the Civil Rights Movement and the first of its kind led by students.

The Dockum Drug Store sit-in of 1958 is attracting new attention during Black History Month, in part thanks to NBC’s “Today” and Wichita native Sheinelle Jones.

Several University of Wichita students participated in the sit-in, which is increasingly recognized as a landmark event in the Civil Rights Movement. NBC’s “Today” featured the events in a recent broadcast.

“They couldn’t sit in there to eat or drink,” said Dr. Marché Fleming-Randle, vice president and chief diversity office for Wichita State University’s Military, Veterans and First Responders. “They were the first, and that’s the most important piece for us to remember.”

Galyn Vesey, Carol Parks Hahn, Lequetta (Glass) Diggs, Robert Newby, Ron Walters, president of the local NAACP Youth Council, were among the students who participated in the sit-in, according to a story in The Shocker, Wichita State’s alumni publication.

Fleming-Randle has worked to recognize those students, some of whom have spoken at classes on campus.

“I wanted to make sure Wichita State’s name was embedded into this history,” she said. “I, too, carry history. And I got that history only because of the Dockum sit-in, only because of Dr. King, Maya Angelou, people who came before me.”

In 2006, the national NAACP organization, according to KMUW, recognized the three-week sit-in as the first youth-led lunch counter sit-in of the civil rights movement. In 1960, sit-ins became a common practice in the South, as the movement grew and became a focus of media reports.

In 2018, the Wichita branch of the NAACP celebrated the people who participated in the sit-in with a march from A. Price Woodard Park to Chester I. Lewis Reflection Square Park, near the site of the event. Lewis was president of the NAACP branch in 1958.

Wichita State University’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion presented each participant a certificate of appreciation.

The Enlightener Courtesy of KMUW and The Enlightener.
The Enlightener covered the 1958 sit-in at a time when Wichita's prominent media outlets largely ignored the story.

Links:

NBC Today (2021)

The Dockum Drug Store sit-in in Wichita charted new territory in the battle for civil rights. 

The Wichita Eagle (2021)

She’s a proud one-time Wichitan and a 1996 graduate of Heights High School.

But still, says Sheinelle Jones — the co-host of NBC’s News’ third hour of “Today” — until a couple of weeks ago, she’d never heard about the famous Dockum Drug Store sit-in that happened in her hometown in 1958.

The Shocker

They were determined. Prepared. Well-dressed and polite. Patient beyond their years. Most of all, they were focused on change. Almost 62 years ago now, a group of African-American youth and young adults, members of Wichita’s NAACP Youth Council, stood up together — or rather sat down — in peaceful protest of segregation in Wichita.

KMUW (2018)

This year is the 60th anniversary of the first successful student-led sit-in of the modern civil rights movement. And it didn’t happen in the South, but rather in the heart of the Midwest: in Wichita.

It was 1958, and 20-year-old Ron Walters and his cousin, 19-year-old Carol Parks Hahn, decided something had to be done about the whites-only lunch counters in Wichita.

The Community Voice (2018)

In recognition of the 60th Anniversary of what has now been officially recognized as the first successful lunch counter sit-in in America, Wichitans gathered to honor participants of the Dockum sit-in.

From July 19 to Aug. 11, 1958, a group of Wichita Branch NAACP youth decided to act to bring about change.

KMUW (2006)

In July of 1958, Carol Parks-Haun, 19, and her cousin Ron Walters, 20, decided to protest restaurants which denied services to blacks in Wichita. At the time both were leaders in the local NAACP Youth Council. Walters and Parks-Haun organized a sit-in at Dockum Drugstore -- a popular eatery with a soda fountain.