WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – In a time when Wichita was segregated, the African-American community threw a Christmas celebration at their arts and cultural hub, the Dunbar Theatre. On Saturday, a group recreated the historic Dunbar winter party complete with guests from the original 1947 party.
“Anybody who was anybody turned out at that 1947 Christmas party,” Tye McEwen, a major proponent of the Dunbar restoration project said.
Saturday evening’s party served as a fundraiser for the continued need for dollars towards the Dunbar project. Last month, the Wichita City Council voted unanimously to redirect over $600,000 in funds to the restoration project which seeks to turn the old theater into a multi-business and creative hub.
“I think this is tremendous, they’ve come a long way. They’ve struggled, it takes funding to do anything worthwhile. I’m proud of them and the battle they’ve put up,” Dr. Galyn Vesey said.
Vesey was a participant of the original Dockum Drug Store sit-in, a student-led protest to end segregation in Wichita.
The head table on Saturday evening sat the guests of honor, several members of the black community who attended the original Dunbar Christmas party.
“That was the only way we had back then to get together and celebrate. You see now…its not that way, anyone is welcome. Plenty of different races and colors here,” McEwen said.
Tickets were $7 each in honor of the 70th anniversary. Several dozen people were in attendance.