The Lawrence 1970 Project

The Lawrence 1970 Project The Lawrence 1970 Project is a community-wide endeavor to mark and commemorate the tumultuous events of 50 years ago in Lawrence, Kansas.
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Operating as usual

"What a long strange trip it's been!" The pandemic put a dent in our plans to hold in-person events commemorating 1970, ...
12/31/2020

"What a long strange trip it's been!" The pandemic put a dent in our plans to hold in-person events commemorating 1970, but we hope to do so in 2021. Have a groovy new year, guys and gals! (Photo by John Gary Brown.)

RIVER CITY OUTLAWS! On November 10, 1970, the CBS program "60 Minutes" aired "The Kansas Marijuana Harvest." Reporter Mi...
11/14/2020

RIVER CITY OUTLAWS! On November 10, 1970, the CBS program "60 Minutes" aired "The Kansas Marijuana Harvest." Reporter Mike Wallace came to Lawrence and interviewed participants in the town's thriving counterculture and drug trade, who called themselves River City Outlaws. The segment was not aired again until 2018, when the Watkins Museum of History played it to a packed house.

Following the historic 2020 election returns? Did you know that 1970 was also an important election year for Democrats? ...
11/07/2020

Following the historic 2020 election returns? Did you know that 1970 was also an important election year for Democrats? Here in Kansas, the party made their first strong showing in 12 years.

Have you seen The Trial of the Chicago 7? The real trial caused protests in Lawrence in 1970, and one of the defendants,...
10/18/2020
Aaron Sorkin’s New Film Is the Right Story for This Moment

Have you seen The Trial of the Chicago 7? The real trial caused protests in Lawrence in 1970, and one of the defendants, Abbie Hoffman, provoked lots of ire when he spoke at KU on April 24!

Netflix's “The Trial of the Chicago 7” is a departure for the writer and director, who often indulges in misty-eyed idealism for American institutions.

Congratulations to KU’s African and African-American Studies on the department’s 50th anniversary!
09/12/2020
KU’s Department of African and African-American Studies celebrates 50 year anniversary during pivotal time in history

Congratulations to KU’s African and African-American Studies on the department’s 50th anniversary!

Fifty years ago, the University of Kansas was uniquely positioned at the beginning of the initial push in the United States to create educational programs dedicated to studying the history and impact of the experiences of Black people. While the first Black studies program at a university was formed...

Big news! At last night's session, the Lawrence City Commission approved creating historical markers for Tiger Dowdell a...
09/02/2020
Lawrence City Commission approves creating historical markers for police killings of two young men in 1970

Big news! At last night's session, the Lawrence City Commission approved creating historical markers for Tiger Dowdell and Nick Rice. Read about it here.

City leaders have voted to move forward with the creation of historical markers to commemorate two young men who were killed in confrontations with police during racial and political unrest in the summer of 1970. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission voted unanimously to creat...

08/22/2020
The Forgotten Bow Tie

Five years ago, KU graduate student Allen Sanders created an absorbing documentary about the turmoil that rocked the university in 1970. You can view it here.

"The Forgotten Bow Tie." A story about America in 1970; Lawrence, KS, the University of Kansas, it’s struggles, the students and the powers that were.

08/22/2020
www2.ljworld.com

The Historic Resources Commission has called for markers observing the killings of Rick Dowdell and Nick Rice. Read about it here:

Chris Rice invites the public to his August 20 program at the South Park gazebo detailing his groundbreaking research in...
08/06/2020

Chris Rice invites the public to his August 20 program at the South Park gazebo detailing his groundbreaking research into the death of his brother Nick in 1970.

Today marks the 50th anniversary of a second death during the painful summer of 1970.
07/20/2020

Today marks the 50th anniversary of a second death during the painful summer of 1970.

Outrage following the killing of Rick "Tiger" Dowdell on July 16 led to days of protests and violent skirmishes between students and police. On the night of July 20, 1970 Nick Rice, a white KU student, was shot and killed by Lawrence police..

For more information behind Lawrence’s "Days of Rage," visit: https://watkinsmuseumexhibit.wixsite.com/daysofrage

R.I.P. to the great John Lewis.
07/18/2020
John Lewis, civil rights icon and congressman, dies at 80

R.I.P. to the great John Lewis.

Lewis was the last survivor of the Big Six civil rights activists, led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. He was best known for leading 600 protesters in the 1965 Bloody Sunday march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama.

A thought-provoking post from BLACK Lawrence about the police shootings in July 1970.
07/17/2020

A thought-provoking post from BLACK Lawrence about the police shootings in July 1970.

Today BLACK Lawrence reflects upon the life of Rick “Tiger” Dowdell & his family here in Lawrence, KS.

50 years ago on July 16th, 1970, Dowdell was shot to death by the Lawrence Police Department near the Afro House. The Afro House was located near downtown, close to where The Percolator currently stands. He was 19 years old & attended KU at the time he was murdered.

An 18-year-old KU engineering student, Harry Nicholas “Nick” Rice, was also shot & killed in the days shortly after. Both students were shot in the back of the head by Lawrence police. 26-year-old KU graduate student Merton R. Olds was shot (but survived) on the night Rice was murdered.

These 50 years later, our country still isn’t unified on the concept that police shouldn’t be enabled to murder civilians or use excessive force with unquestioned discretion. We have a police culture of intimidation & vigilante retribution which lacks accountability. All of which certainly strengthens the long-held rhetoric & methods offered by Dr. Angela Davis over the past several decades.

In my (Alex Kimball Williams) 2018 article titled “We Don’t Need Police”, I challenge the facade that the police supposedly provide safety. Like many others, I point out that our police & civil laws originated from Greek & Roman laws designed to control enslaved & lower class people.

I wrote, “We’ve been conditioned to believe we need police & prisons so badly that it’s worth the frequent loss of Black lives.”

However, Dowdell’s loss can't simply serve as a repeated, symbolic lesson about police brutality & the constant, lethal targeting of Black & Brown people. Nor about the lack of our Black right to organize, protest, run away, eat ice cream in our living room, sleep in our bed or walk home with a bag of Skittles. He was & is more than that.

While it certainly can be a wake-up call to those who were previously unaware- of Dowdell’s murder, or the lynching of 3 Black men at the bridge, or the 2018 shooting (& fortunate survival) of Akira Lewis in downtown Lawrence- it’s also about a whole Black person possessing innate potential, apart from what the Lawrence Police Department thought & attempted to make of him that fateful night.

Today we honor the Dowdell family by continuing to tell his story unapologetically & saying his name: Rick “Tiger” Dowdell.

If you’re interested to know more about the events of 1970, here’s a few articles to check out:

https://www2.ljworld.com/news/2002/jul/16/violence_racism_marked/

http://www.lawrence.com/news/1970/jul/21/leawood-youth-killed-monday-flareup/

https://kuhistory.ku.edu/articles/long-weekend-long-hot-summer

And a video sent to us by Dr. Bill Tuttle, produced by Dr. Shawn Alexander, both of KU: https://mediahub.ku.edu/media/Commemoration+for+Rick+%22Tiger%22+Dowdell/0_ov4u9q0m

Caption info. for photo: From LJWorld, 2002.
"Black and white youths gather for a rally in front of Strong Hall at Kansas University in this file photo from December 1970. Some participants carried posters of Rick Dowdell, who was killed that July."

A post by BLACK Lawrence about a Black elder who remembers the civil rights struggle in Lawrence.
07/16/2020

A post by BLACK Lawrence about a Black elder who remembers the civil rights struggle in Lawrence.

It shouldn’t be a surprise when we say that Black Uprisings and Black Liberation are not something new. Black people have been resisting since the day we were stolen from our homes in Africa, and we have never stopped.

What does seem to bear repeating, is that Black resistance takes place every single place that Black people exist.

However, when protests and uprisings occur, media attention is most often focused on those parts of the Black community where the largest concentration of Black people exist. Living in Lawrence, Kansas today, it is clear that Black people are fighting injustice and resisting oppression as Black people everywhere else are, even if it doesn’t get national attention.

The Black Power Movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s also had its expression here in Lawrence, Kansas. There was great upheaval from the campus of KU to downtown integration efforts and beyond. In 2019, BLACK Lawrence member Tai Amri Spann-Ryan coordinated an effort to bring some of these stories to life through the organization Epicenter (East Lawrence People’s Intercultural Center). Modeled after Black Kansas historian Richard Pitts, he coordinated an audio tour featuring underground stories of 20th and 21st Century Lawrence freedom fighters and movements for justice.

Today, for the In The Know Series, we feature his favorite interview of Lawrence elder Brenda Nunez, who talks about Black struggle in Lawrence and the community built around Afro House. The interview is conducted by Connie Fiorella Fitzpatrick, Lawrence muralista and Epicenter co-founder.

To listen to the interview, follow this link: https://soundcloud.com/eastside-peoples-intercultural-center/brenda-n-walking-tour-interview-connie-2

To experience the audio tour in its entirety, follow this link: https://geotourist.com/tours/2955

#blacklawrence #intheknow #tigerdowdell #afrohouse #lfk #blackleaders #blacklivesmatter #blackpower #blackpowermovement #epicenter #audiotour #lp1970

Tune in to Timeline Radio - 1320 KLWN this Monday as Clenece Hills interviews Stephen Dowdell, brother of Tiger Dowdell,...
07/15/2020
Clenece

Tune in to Timeline Radio - 1320 KLWN this Monday as Clenece Hills interviews Stephen Dowdell, brother of Tiger Dowdell, and Will Hickox of the Watkins Museum about the summer of 1970!

Stephen Dowdell, brother of Tiger, will be my guest on Timeline Radio, Monday morning, July 20th, 9:05 a.m. We will visit about the summer of 1970 in Lawrence, along with Will Hickox of the Watkins Community Museum of History. www.klwn.com

This post by BLACK Lawrence discusses the turmoil of July 1970.
07/09/2020

This post by BLACK Lawrence discusses the turmoil of July 1970.

As an undergrad at Haskell, I remember visiting the Watkins Museum of History's archives. Their openness to sharing their collections & research with community members, particularly marginalized community members, is something many museums could learn from!

The Watkins Museum of History has "provided programs and public events, educational resources and activities, and changing exhibits that explore the heritage of Douglas County and connect the past with issues that affect our communities today. The Watkins is rich in resources to help researchers uncover their family history or learn more about the place where they live."

How fitting that the Watkins Museum of History possesses so much history in its brick & mortar, too. Built it 1885-1888, the building once housed a bank- remnants of which the Museum has taken great care to continue showcasing. Today, you can check out the original teller stations on display, among many interesting architectural vestiges throughout the building.

The building was also home of our town's City Hall until 1970. The structure was "considered one of the most magnificent buildings west of the Mississippi River at the time of its construction."

We certainly hope you'll check out the Watkins Museum when they tentatively reopen on July 21st. Also feel free to engage with their website & social media pages for virtual content from their amazing team.

Here's a Woke Wednesday fact taken from the Watkins Museum's research around local Black history:
Did you know that Lawrence experienced a major social uprising in the Spring & Summer of 1970? The Watkins Museum has programming dedicated to commemorating the 50th anniversary of these 1970 events.

Residents were angry with the Vietnam War efforts, as were many across the US. They became aggravated about the police shooting death of Rick "Tiger" Dowdell, a Black KU student, & the police shooting death of white KU student Harry Nicholas Rice. In one week, when it's the 50th anniversary of Dowdell's unjust murder, we're releasing more extensive material about these particular events.

Lawrence High School also experienced a walk-out related to students & families disgruntled with a curriculum lacking Black history. KU Memorial Union was literally set ablaze, emergency curfews were enacted, & local race relations were incredibly tense in ways "not seen in Lawrence since the Civil War."

More from a poignant book by Rusty L. Monhollon, containing points paralleling today's issues, "Some Lawrencians, however [...] saw the town's predicament as a matter of law and order, respect for property, and the decline in moral authority and standards". Very interesting to witness the same privileged sentiments repeat themselves 50 years later!

Thank you Watkins Museum of History for helping provide us with research & promotion in our series!

Two KU scholars sent this open letter to the university's leadership, in which they draw parallels between the violent e...
07/08/2020
Open Letter to Chancellor Girod and Provost Bichelmeyer – The Project on the History of Black Writing

Two KU scholars sent this open letter to the university's leadership, in which they draw parallels between the violent events of July 1970 and racial strife 50 years later. What do all of you think? Are there parallels?

Uncategorized Open Letter to Chancellor Girod and Provost Bichelmeyer Posted June 19, 2020June 19, 2020 Mona Ahmed https://www.kuendowment.org/Your-Gift/George-Floyd-Memorial-Scholarship-Fund Dear Doug and Barb, The above announcement was recently brought to our attention. Because the solicitation o...

Tune in to Timeline Radio - 1320 KLWN on July 20 to hear an interview with Stephen Dowdell about the tumultuous events o...
07/07/2020
Clenece

Tune in to Timeline Radio - 1320 KLWN on July 20 to hear an interview with Stephen Dowdell about the tumultuous events of 50 years ago.

Stephen Dowdell, brother of Tiger, will be my guest on Timeline Radio, Monday morning, July 20th, 9:05 a.m. We will visit about the summer of 1970 in Lawrence, along with Will Hickox of the Watkins Community Museum of History. www.klwn.com

06/27/2020
Watkins Museum of History

The Watkins Museum hosted a live video tour of "Days of Rage: The 1970 Curfew." Check it out!

Opening a new exhibit! Final Friday at the Watkins! LIVE!!

The Lawrence 1970 Project is excited to partner with BLACK Lawrence on this groovy new project. Check it out!
06/19/2020

The Lawrence 1970 Project is excited to partner with BLACK Lawrence on this groovy new project. Check it out!

BLACK Lawrence presents "In the Know", a Black educational series brought to life by our collective's writers, educators, researchers, musicians, photographers, & more.

Our month-long series explores Black art, health & history via daily posts, videos, performances, & conversations. We'll discuss Black health disparities, examine events in local Black history, introduce you to Black artists in your neighborhood, & offer reflections on contemporary events!

The series content can be found on our Facebook & Instagram pages. Check out our new Instagram page @BLACKLawrenceKS ✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿

You can also find this content through the outlets of our amazing partners, sponsors & collaborators- KU Sawyer Seminar: Chronic Conditions, Spencer Museum of Art, Black Lives Matter- LFK, the Juneteenth Planning Committee, Watkins Museum of History, The Lawrence 1970 Project, United Way for Douglas County & Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health.

We hope this series validates Black experiences & provides radical joy & knowledge for Black Lawrencians & beyond.

#BlackLivesMatter is about more than our loss of life- it's also about the lives we lead, the histories we've paved, the art we create, & much more.

Please stay tuned for posts & events related to our series! ✨

St. Luke AME Church is an important part of our community and history. In these difficult times, we can all lend them a ...
06/04/2020
Help Restore St. Luke AME Stained Glass Windows organized by John Sebelius

St. Luke AME Church is an important part of our community and history. In these difficult times, we can all lend them a hand by donating to their stained glass window restoration!

St. Luke AME Church is not just a church. For the town of Lawrence and t… John Sebelius needs your support for Help Restore St. Luke AME Stained Glass Windows

The Class of 1970 was unable to hold their 50th reunion this year, but our friends at University of Kansas Libraries sco...
05/19/2020
Gold Medal Club 1970 · KU Libraries Exhibits

The Class of 1970 was unable to hold their 50th reunion this year, but our friends at University of Kansas Libraries scoured their archives to create this groovy online exhibit about that incredible year on the Hill. Check it out!

Congratulations to the Class of 1970 from each of us at the University of Kansas Libraries. In your honor, enjoy a digital exhibition of memorabilia from your time on the KU campus. With a variety of photographs and digitized materials from the University Archives, located in Kenneth Spencer Researc...

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How Local History Informs the Present

The Lawrence 1970 Project is a community-wide endeavor to mark, commemorate, and illuminate the tumultuous events of 50 years ago, which deeply affected Lawrence, Kansas. Through a timeline and events listing, project partners will bring people together to remember and explore issues of race, civil rights, war, feminism, and the counterculture that touched off a painful, but in some ways liberating, year in Lawrence.

The Watkins Museum of History oversees and moderates the social media platforms related to the Lawrence 1970 Project. We welcome and encourage your comments and posts. A friendly reminder that communications and interactions must be respectful and non-discriminatory, promoting civil discourse. The Watkins Museum of History and partners in the Lawrence 1970 Project are not responsible for any comments that are posted. In addition, we reserve the right to remove any posts or comments that are inappropriate and/or discriminatory and to block any individuals that act in inappropriate and/or discriminatory ways. We also do not permit messages selling products or promoting commercial, political or other ventures.

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Readers here might be interested in this novel. Here's a review by Jay Cooper who worked as KU student radio announcer before going on to KC radio fame: "When I started reading Then and Now I was nearly overcome with how Attwood recreated the experience of being a student at Kansas in the mid-to-late '60's. For transparency reasons I will admit to have known Randy since he arrived in Lawrence and shared a dorm room with Kiely, but, if I hadn't felt strongly about his work, I just wouldn't write anything about it. So, I am trying to go back to my journalism roots and remain objective. I think he would rather have it that way. "Attwood captured people whom I knew and places that I had been. He captured the conversations where we solved all of the world's problems. He activated my sense memories of sounds, of smells, of sights. I thought he either had a great memory, or had always been taking notes (but I don't remember him carrying a pad.) "Then I realized that Attwood writes fiction. He created the characters, the dialogue, the sets and the details. Like any writer he must have a storehouse of base information from which he fashions the details, then he does research. When he has finished it is true art."
July 16, 1970 in Lawrence KS... (excerpt from "So This Is America...." by By R. Monhollon
July 16, 1970 in Lawrence KS... (excerpt from "So This Is America...." by By R. Monhollon