When former slaves in the South began picking up their few belongings and migrating to Kansas in 1878, it was called the “Great Exodus,” and they became known as “Exodusters.” This 30 year, large-scale black migration will be the topic of the third meeting of “The Kansas Mosaic” to be held from 2- 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 13, at the Kinsley Library.
The settlement of Nicodemus (NW of Hays) was part of this movement of westward migration. Angela Bates, a Nicodemus descendant and historian, will be the featured speaker at the March 13, meeting.
Bates is the executive director and founder of the Nicodemus Historical Society. She worked with the Nicodemus community, the National Park Service, and Senators Dole and Roberts, to help designate Nicodemus as a National Historic Site in 1996. She has presented educational programs to cultural organizations across the nation covering the history of Nicodemus, Exodusters and black towns in the West, Buffalo Soldiers, and black women in the West. She has completed a series of children books, Adventures of Nicodemus Annie, focusing on the history of Nicodemus.
Also in the day’s activities will be a character reenactment of the Reverend Daniel Hickman, a Baptist preacher who started several churches in Nicodemus and Graham and Trego Counties. The Rev. Hickman will be portrayed by the Rev. Victor Williams, an ordained Christian minister of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. He is also a Nicodemus descendent and currently a resident there. Williams has been working for the last four years with Angela Bates and the Nicodemus Group and Nicodemus Historical Society portraying the Rev. Daniel Hickman. He will be dressed in period attire to bring to life the settlement of Nicodemus and the Baptist churches in the area.
The day will end with a viewing and discussion of the short film, “Hope In the Heartland” a Kansas Humanities Council’s Turning Point: Stories of Change film. It depicts how immigrants from Latin America and Southeast Asia are sparking a renaissance of entrepreneurs and renewed cultural vitality in Ulysses today.
The last meeting for the discussion series will be a field trip to the Ellis County Historical Society Museum in Hays to learn about the Volga Germans of Ellis County. It is scheduled for April 10, with participants meeting at the museum at 2 p.m. Eminent German language scholar, Dr. William D. Keel, will be the featured speaker.
More information, suggested readings, and registration for the series is available at the library, 208 E. 8th St., by telephone (620-659-3341), and online at www.kinsleylibrary.info. A $10 registration fee covering all sessions will be charged at the door to cover museum fees and other expenses not funded by the grant. Individual sessions will cost $5 each.
The Kansas Humanities Council is a nonprofit organization that supports community- based cultural programs, serves as a financial resource through an active grant-making program, and encourages Kansans to engage in the civic and cultural life of their communities. For more information, visit www.kansashumanities.org.