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Dorothy L. Thompson Lecture Series

Bob Knight

Mayor Bob Knight, "Undoing Racism"

In 1979, Bob Knight was concerned about taxes and the way City government was running.  He ran for a seat on the Wichita City Council.  21 years later, Bob Knight is serving his seventh term as Wichita Mayor.  He holds the distinction of being the first Mayor elected by popular vote in more than 70 years and the top vote-getter in Wichita's 130 year history.

Mayor Knight is also President of the National League of Cities for 2000.  NLC is the nation's oldest and largest organization of municipal governments, representing more than 1,600 cities and towns, as well as 49 state municipal associations.  As NLC President, Mayor Knight has launched a national initiative focusing on racism.

In announcing the national effort to promote racial justice, Mayor Knight said, "I am altogether aware that, as a nation, we are loathe to confront each other on the issue of race.  We are afraid of tapping into pent-up frustration, anger, resentment, and pain.  Even when we are not aware of harboring such feelings ourselves, our tendency is to hope they will someday fade away.

Mayor Knight believes public policy has spiritual and moral implications.  He also believes the race issue goes to the heart of measuring our righteousness and justice as a society and as a nation.

"We have so much to learn and unlearn and many wounds to heal, but we have so much to lose if we don't.  It is my sincere hope that each of us, through our individual and collective efforts, can leave behind a legacy of renewal in the cities we represent.  I look forward to working with you as we strive to build inclusive communities within which all people will feel respected and valued."

In his work with the National League of Cities, Mayor Knight has served on the NLC Board of directors and Advisory Council, as co-chair of the NLC Election '96 Task Force, and as co-chair of a NLC Task Force on Municipal Bonds.  He has served on the NLC Policy Steering Committee on Finance, Administration and Intergovernmental Relations, including an appointment as vice chair of the committee, and hosted a special NLC Diversity in Governance Conference in Wichita in 1997.

Mayor Knight has also served as Kansas Secretary of Commerce and Housing under Governor Joan Finney and as President of the League of Kansas Municipalities.

In addition to this local government service in Wichita, Mayor Knight is executive director of the Kansas Aviation Museum.  He has drawn upon an extensive background in investment banking to run a financial consulting firm and has also served as executive-in-residence at Friends University in Wichita.

Mayor Knight is a graduate of Wichita State University and has served two terms as trustee.  He has also been a member of the Southwestern College Board, the State Fellowship of Christian Athletes Board, and other community service organizations' boards.  He served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves and received an honorable discharge.

He is married to Jane Knight, and they have three daughters.

Undoing Racism

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