Wichita African American Business History Project

Collection Summary

Title: Wichita African American Business History Project
Call Number: MS 2018-01
Size: 4.0 linear feet (4 boxes and 1 OS folder)
Acquisition: Donated by Dr. Robert E. Weems, Jr., 9-2017
Processed by: JCM, MN and AV, 11-2017
Restrictions: None
Note: Digital collection, Wichita African American Business History Project Interviews

Literary Rights

Literary rights were granted to Wichita State University. When permission is granted to examine the manuscripts, it is not an authorization to publish them. Manuscripts cannot be used for publication without regard for common law literary rights, copyright laws and the laws of libel. It is the responsibility of the researcher and his/her publisher, to obtain permission to publish. Scholars and students who eventually plan to have their work published are urged to make inquiry regarding overall restrictions on publication before initial research.

Content Note

This collection chiefly consists of interviews conducted from 2011 to 2014 by Wichita State University history professor Dr. Robert E. Weems, Jr., with 32 African Americans from Wichita recognized as entrepreneurs. Record types include oral history recordings and transcripts, release forms for interviews, biographical materials, newspaper clippings, other publications, an artifact and images.

To document how African Americans, in a variety of endeavors, established a commercial presence in Wichita, Dr. Weems asked questions tailored to each participant concerning community life, economic conditions and racial issues in addition to allowing the conversation to flow. In the project, Weems sought to uncover the motivation for business ownership, learn about successes and disappointments, discuss the impact of interstate highway I-135 on the black business community, gather reaction to a 2001 Wichita Eagle newspaper article titled "Where Did Black Business Districts Go?" and document personal experiences with the Dunbar Theater and nearby businesses.


Dr. Robert E. Weems, Jr., creator of and interviewer for the Wichita African American Business History Project, is the author of several books, co-editor of another, and has published journal articles and encyclopedia entries. At Wichita State University, he is the Willard W. Garvey Distinguished Professor of Business History. He teaches classes on African American history, African American business history, and U.S. history. He also contributes to KMUW's "Past and Present" series. Weems is the recipient of numerous fellowships and grants, including from the Andrew Mellon Foundation. His PhD is from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Detailed Description: Series Listing

Series 1 Box 1-Box 2 Interviews. This series contains oral history interviews documenting entrepreneurial experiences and accomplishments of African Americans from Wichita, consisting of transcriptions, releases and audio recordings. Arranged alphabetically by the interviewee's last name. Also included are related biographical materials and images for some interviewees. Interview transcripts prepared by Landmark Associates, Inc., Tempe Arizona; some local names and places were added to the transcripts by Special Collections. Transcripts do not strictly reproduce recorded content, and several recordings are incomplete.
Series 2 Box 3-Box 4, OS Folder 1 Supporting Material. This series contains newspaper clippings, other publications, an artifact and images. Of note are materials documenting Thunderbird Express, Inc. Bus Lines.

Detailed Description: Box and Folder Listing

Series 1 ‒ Interviews

Box 1FF 1 Robert Alford, January 31, 2012. Alford Electric.
Box 2CD 1 Robert Alford
Box 2CD 2 Robert Alford
Box 1FF 2James Arbertha, July 23, 2012. Power CDC, Dunbar Theater, Save-A-Lot grocery store.
Box 2CD 3James Arbertha
Box 1FF 3Michael Balton, February 27, 2013
Box 2CD 4Michael Balton
Box 1FF 4Wayne E. Bell, January 22, 2014. WD Enterprises. District director for SBA (Small Business Administration)
Box 2CD 5Wayne E. Bell
Box 1FF 5Dr. Val Brown and Mrs. Jo Brown, May 17, 2012. Physician (Dr.) and Wichita Board of Education member (Mrs.)
Box 2CD 6Dr. Val Brown and Mrs. Jo Brown
Box 1FF 6Jeff Bruce, November 1, 2013 Bruce Auto Service
Box 2CD 7Jeff Bruce
Box 1FF 7Gregory Cole, January 30, 2014 Good Life Company. Little Bits cookies.
Box 2CD 8Gregory Cole
Box 1FF 8Angie Franklin, October 18, 2012. Communities United Credit Union
Box 2CD 9Angie Franklin
Box 1FF 9Ed Givens, August 22, 2012
Box 2CD 10Ed Givens
Box 1FF 10Bonita Gooch, July 19, 2012. Community Voice newspaper
Box 2CD 11Bonita Gooch
Box 1FF 11U. L. "Rip" Gooch, January 26, 2012. Aero Services Inc
Box 2CD 12U. L. "Rip" Gooch
Box 1FF 12Claudette Harrison, November 19, 2012. Henry Wofford Drilling Company
Box 2CD 13Claudette Harrison
Box 1FF 13Juanita Hayes-Hill, August 29, 2013. Little Pals Daycare Center
Box 2CD 14Juanita Hayes-Hill
Box 1FF 14Cecil Holloway and Don Holloway, July 17, 2014. Holloway's Construction.
Box 2CD 15Cecil Holloway and Don Holloway
Box 1FF 15Rosie Hughes, July 9, 2012. L.K. Hughes Photography
Box 2CD 16Rosie Hughes
Box 1FF 16Anderson "Gene" Jackson, March 6, 2012. Jackson Mortuary
Box 2CD 17Anderson "Gene" Jackson
Box 1FF 17George T. Johnson, March 16, 2012. Diversified Educational Training and Manufacturing Company (DETAMC)
Box 2CD 18George T. Johnson
Box 1FF 18Christina Long, November 6, 2014. CML Collective, LLC and Urban Magnate magazine
Box 2CD 19Christina Long
Box 1FF 19Frankie Howard Mason, August 29, 2012. Citizens Funeral Home, Xavia Hightower Howard, Victoria Hightower
Box 2CD 20Frankie Howard Mason
Box 1FF 20Charles McAfee, November 9, 2011. Architect
Box 2CD 21Charles McAfee
Box 2CD 22Charles McAfee
Box 1FF 21Curtis McClinton, Sr., June 11, 2012. McClinton's Market
Box 2CD 23Curtis McClinton, Sr.
Box 1FF 22Mark McCormick, June 5, 2014. History of African Americans and their businesses in Wichita.
Box 2CD 24Mark McCormick
Box 1FF 23Donnis McPhaul. File contains only interview questions and transcription recreated from memory by interviewer Weems. Recording equipment failed during interview.
Box 1FF 24Melody McCray Miller, December 11, 2014. Millers Bar-B-Que
Box 2CD 25Melody McCray Miller
Box 1FF 25James Normore, February 16, 2012. All Occasions Event Center
Box 2CD 26James Normore
Box 1FF 26Gerald Norwood, December 22, 2012. History of African Americans and their businesses in Wichita
Box 2CD 27Gerald Norwood
Box 1FF 27Warren Pyles, August 8, 2013. Pyles Excavating and Contracting
Box 2CD 28Warren Pyles
Box 1FF 28Evelyn Rhodes, November 15, 2012. Mother Florine McCarther's and her own work for Universal Life Insurance Company
Box 2CD 29Evelyn Rhodes
Box 1FF 29Denise Curry Sherman, August 20, 2013. Veterinary practice of her father Othello Curry, LJ Plastics, Southwestern Manufacturing, Brothers Cooperative Grocery; C & C Floral and Greenhouse
Box 2CD 30Denise Curry Sherman
Box 1FF 30Vernon Smart, February 17, 2012. Smart's Palace club and restaurant, work in restaurant supply
Box 2CD 31Vernon Smart
Box 1FF 31Maaskelah Thomas, October 10, 2014. IQRAA bookstore she operated with her father Jihad Taleeb Muqtasid.
Box 2CD 32Maaskelah Thomas
Box 1FF 32Donna Wright, November 9, 2012. Rightway Consulting Inc., Mid America Minority Supplier Development Council and the Mid America Minority Business Development Council
Box 2CD 33Donna Wright

Series 2 ‒ Supporting Material

Box 3FF 1Thunderbird Express, Inc. Bus Lines. Newspaper clippings about company, 1979, 1981. Business card of James Porter, n.d. Program, Third Annual Cotillion Ball, 10-1-1977. Karen Janall Porter, daughter of James Porter, "Senior Honoree" at the ball.
Box 3FF 2Thunderbird Express Bus Lines. Photographs, 1972, n.d.
Box 3FF 3Thunderbird Express Bus Lines. City of Wichita Certificate of Appointment certifying James Porter as member of Metropolitan Transit Authority. Signed by Wichita mayor and city clerk, 4-22-1980.
Map CaseOS 1 Thunderbird Express Bus Lines. Newspaper clippings and photograph collages
Box 4 Thunderbird Express Bus Lines. Wood steering wheel trophy presented to Walter Johnson for safe driving record.
Box 3FF 4"A Review of the Economic and Cultural Problems of Wichita, Kansas" conducted for the Wichita Urban League by Dr. Warren M. Banner, Director of Research, National Urban League, January-February 1965 (photocopy)
Box 3FF 5"'Milestones,' Negro Historical Pageant" by Miss Ada Crogman, presented under auspices of Wichita Council of Churches, 3-5-1925 (photocopy)
Box 3FF 6Everybody. May, 1980. Contains various articles about Kansas and Nebraska region including "Discipline and Leadership in Black Wichita 1876-1980," pp. 31-51 (original)
Box 3FF 7Everybody. June, 1976. Contains various articles about Kansas and Nebraska region including "Wichita Phyllis Wheatley Children's Home," pp. 14-31 (original)
Box 3FF 8"The Negro in Wichita," Wichita Beacon, 7-11-1967 (photocopy)
Box 3FF 9"Minority business call for more access," Wichita Eagle-Beacon, 3-12- 1989 (photocopy)
Box 3FF 10"Integration's downside: Where did the black business districts go?," Wichita Eagle, 2-12-2001 (photocopy)
Box 3FF 11The Dawn of a New Day for the Negro, publication of the National Negro Business League, 1949 (photocopy from Charles McAfee)