WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Exploration Place, in collaboration with The Kansas African American Museum, is celebrating Black History Month with a large-scale outdoor display.
Every night during the month of February, African American scientists will be displayed on its’ island building, with a new scientist being featured every week.
The displays will be freely viewable from the Arkansas riverfront path, identified in a recent survey as the busiest pedestrian and bicycle pathway in Wichita, according to Exploration Place.
Exploration Place says visitors can also view the displays inside on Thursday nights when the museum is open until 8 p.m. Admission is not required to view the display from the Exploration Place promenade.
“Visitors are encouraged to visit the display, take and share photos, and use the opportunity to recognize the positive impact of African American scientists on society,” Exploration Place says. “Guests are also invited to stay to watch the nightly 7 p.m. Ring of Fire lighting at the Keeper of the Plains and view 12 riverfront banners featuring a selection of women in STEM careers.”
The African American scientists will be displayed as follows:
Junius Groves (1859 – 1925)
Junius Groves was a farmer and entrepreneur who was born into slavery and became known as the “Potato King of the World” by optimizing potato growth methods in Edwardsville, Kansas.
Groves will be displayed from Wednesday, Feb. 1, through Tuesday, Feb. 7.
Raychelle Burks is an associate professor of chemistry at American University and an award-winning science communicator who has appeared regularly on TV, film, podcasts and in print.
Burks will be displayed from Wednesday, Feb. 8, through Tuesday, Feb. 14.
Ken Carter is a professor, clinical psychologist and interim dean of Oxford College of Emory University who studies the lifestyle, psychology and neuroscience behind thrill-seeking behavior.
Carter will be displayed from Wednesday, Feb. 15, through Tuesday, Feb. 21.
June Bacon-Bercey (1928 -2019)
June Bacon-Bercey was a native Wichitan and atmospheric scientist who was the first African American woman to earn a meteorology degree, as well as the first to forecast weather on television.
Bacon-Bercey will be displayed from Wednesday, Feb. 22, through Tuesday, Feb. 28.
“Our goal is to increase appreciation for African Americans’ contributions to STEM,” Exploration Place’s President and CEO Adam Smith said.
According to The Kansas African American Museum’s Executive Director, Denise Sherman, Bacon-Bercey was honored as a 2022 Trailblazer and has a permanent display at the museum.
“Our mission is to make the African American experience resonant to every Kansan,” Sherman said. “This outdoor exhibit is a natural partnership between two organizations where education and discovery are key elements to learning.”
Burks and Carter are contemporary scientists.
“Our individual and collective humanity is best served when we work to make STEM spaces equitable and inclusive so that we have the freedom to pursue our curiosity and bask in wonder of the worlds around us,” said American University’s Burks.
Emory University’s Carter says, “It’s an honor to be included among the highly accomplished
individuals featured in this year’s Exploration Place display. I hope each display brings some well-deserved recognition to the vast contributions African Americans have made — and will continue to make — to all disciplines of science around the country and world.”
To see what else Exploration Place has to offer, visit its website.
To learn more about The Kansas African American Museum, click here.