WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – On Saturday, the City of Wichita held a ribbon cutting for the Chester I. Lewis Reflection Square Park, along with a continental breakfast.

The event began at 10 a.m. with speakers and entertainment. At 11:20 a.m., the artists and architect provided a tour of the park.

Those in attendance will be able to hear from artists Ellamonique Baccus and Matthew Mazzotta, members of the Lewis family and other community partners, donors and local performers.

“This is a living legacy to my father that will stand here for years to come, and I just couldn’t be more proud, more honored that the city of Wichita would spend money and other people would contribute money to create a living legacy of Chester Lewis,” said Brenda Davis, Chester Lewis’s daughter.

The park is located at 205 E. Douglas Ave. Parking is available along side streets and parking garages. To view parking locations, the City recommends using Downtown Wichita’s Get Around map.

Chester I. Lewis (Courtesy: City of Wichita)

Chester I. Lewis

Lewis was born in Hutchinson in 1929. He would grow up to become a local Civil Rights leader who served on the legal team that argued the landmark 1954 Brown v. Topeka Board of Education case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

He also became president of the Wichita chapter of the NAACP and provided guidance to the local NAACP Youth Council during the first successful series of student sit-ins at the Dockum Drug Store in 1958.

The statue that represents the Dockum sit-in was donated by the Richard Devore family and installed in the park in 2002. The statute has been moved to a storage facility until it is ready to be installed at Finlay Ross Park.

Park revitalization

In July 2020, Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple announced that Wichita Park & Recreation was partnering with a design firm, art consultant, and artists to reimagine Chester I. Lewis Reflection Square Park.

In January 2021, the City of Wichita, along with the project’s art consultant, Mulberry Creative, announced that they were encouraging Kansas-based artists to apply for a chance to work on the redesign project. The selected artists would work alongside Mulberry Creative’s art consultants, Anthony Joiner and Elizabeth Stevenson.

The park will also serve as a secondary entry plaza for the Kansas Health Science Center – Kansas College of Osteopathic Medicine.