|1949: Revisiting the Trojans & the Ramblers
PANEL DISCUSSION►October 15, 2009
|Mark Elliott, AM 580 WIBW, moderator
Henry "Hank" Alberg, Class of 1949, Trojan
Jack Alexander, Class of 1949, Rambler
Bill Bunten, Topeka mayor, Class of 1948, Trojan
Donald Redmon, Class of 1947, Rambler
Richard Ridley, Class of 1947, Rambler
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Since America's founding fathers penned the words "We the People...," debate has raged over who is "we." The truth is, the meaning has evolved just as the meaning of freedom has continually redefined itself in this "Land of the Free." Kansans have had their place in the enduring struggle for freedom. Topeka was thrust into the national spotlight and played a vital role as "we" became more equal, more free.
Just prior to the 1954 landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Oliver L. Brown, et. al. v. Board of Education of Topeka, et. al., Topekans of all colors enjoyed excellent educational opportunities, but the setting remained askew. Topeka's high school was integrated, but elementary schools were not. While most sports teams and other activities at Topeka High were integrated, basketball was not. Trojans were white and Ramblers were black. Was this truly separate but equal? Players described their experiences, leaving the audience to decide.
The Shawnee County Historical Society has been committed to promoting the awareness of our local heritage as a way of encouraging historic preservation. The SCHS continues to celebrate our rich and vibrant history as local people and events have had a profound impact on the national stage.
The John Ritchie House is a model of historic preservation and gives the society a vehicle to promote public awareness of this distinctive heritage. The connection, both geographically and historically, to Brown v. Board of Education Nation Historic Site, makes the Ritchie House an invaluable tool for relaying the civil rights struggles of Shawnee County and its place in the context of the nation's struggle for equality. This is why "Freedom's Pathway" is such an appropriate name for the sites linked by this trail, taking us not only from place to place, but from era to era as we continue to discover the progress of our ancestors.
The dialogue begun here will continue as others share their experiences and memories so that our children and grandchildren may better understand the world they inherit.
| Part of healing is understanding and claiming our collective voices. The event last Thursday provided the opportunity to claim voices and make a difference in a quiet, respectful manner. It was an inspiration to see those men on the panel come together under the Trojan banner." —Bill Moore
Topeka & Shawnee County, Kansas