|Dockum Drug Store sit-in|
|Part of the Civil Rights Movement|
July 19 - August 11, 1958|
(3 weeks and 2 days)
Dockum Drug Store,|
SE corner of Douglas and Broadway,
Wichita, Kansas, United States
|Parties to the civil conflict|
The Dockum Drug Store sit-in was one of the first organized lunch counter sit-ins for the purpose of integrating segregated establishments in the United States. The protest began on July 19, 1958 in downtown Wichita, Kansas, at a Dockum Drug Store (a store in the old Rexall chain), in which protesters would sit at the counter all day until the store closed, ignoring taunts from counterprotesters. The sit-in ended three weeks later when the owner relented and agreed to serve black patrons. Though it wasn't the first sit-in, it is notable for happening before the well known 1960 Greensboro sit-ins.
Twenty-year-old Ron Walters, president of the local NAACP Youth Council, organized the Wichita protest together with his cousin Carol Parks-Hahn. Wichita was heavily segregated in the late 1950s, with schools segregated up to high school and blacks excluded from public accommodations. While working at a job in downtown Wichita, Walters went for lunch to a Woolworth's store, which would only serve blacks bagged lunches sold from one end of the lunch counter. Seeking to find a way to protest against the practice, Walters and his cousin Carol Parks-Hahn met with attorney Frank Williams, who described a sit-in by students at a California college who ended segregation at a campus restaurant by occupying it with students reading newspapers all day long. The protest was inspired by the actions of the Little Rock Nine and the earlier Montgomery Bus Boycott. The plan they developed targeted Dockum, a downtown store that was part of the national Rexall chain, which had a lunch counter that only served white customers, starting on July 19, 1958, with ten well-dressed and polite students seeking to place orders while sitting at the lunch counter. Parks-Haun ordered a Coca-Cola from a waitress, who served it to her but then pulled it back when she realized that "store policy was not to serve colored people". Students sat quietly all day at the counters, enduring taunts and threats from white customers.
After three weeks, on August 11, the manager came in and said "Serve them -- I'm losing too much money". Historian Gretchen Eick called the Dockum Drug Store sit-in as setting "a precedent that really began what would be a very significant strategy -- a strategy that would change the way business was done in the United States". Ultimately, all of the Dockum locations in Kansas were desegregated.
Though the Dockum sit-in had attracted little media attention, about a week later on August 19, 1958, in Oklahoma City a nationally recognized sit-in at the Katz Drug Store lunch counter occurred. The protest there was led by NAACP Youth Council leader Clara Luper, a local high school teacher, together with young local students, including Luper's eight-year-old daughter, who had suggested the sit-in be held. The group quickly desegregated the Katz Drug Store lunch counters. Following the Oklahoma City sit-ins, the tactic of non-violent student sit-ins spread. The widely publicized Greensboro sit-ins began more than a year later at a Woolworth's in Greensboro, North Carolina, starting on February 1, 1960, launching a wave of anti-segregation sit-ins across the South and opened a national awareness of the depth of segregation in the nation.