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Diversity and Inclusion

Black and Indigenous Activist Kansas

Black and Indigenous Activist Kansas
Engagement: Introductory             

Kansas's legacy of fighting for civil rights and social justice runs deeper than Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka. Though little known, Kansas was a key player in the move to protect Indigenous peoples' remains from tourism and exploitation. The fight to end the theft and exploitation of Native remains and cultural artifacts at the "Salina Burial Pit" became a critical part of the 1990 Supreme Court ruling known as the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. In another almost forgotten event, African American activism in Coffeyville, Kansas not only prevented the lynching of an African American man, but also organized and brought down school segregation in high schools in their community a full thirty years before Brown vs. Board of Education. This session will introduce audience members to these stories to foster discussion on ways in which social justice and activism have shaped and continue to shape our state.


Dr. Mary KohnDr. Mary Kohn (she/her/hers)
Director of the Chapman Center
Associate Professor of English

Mary Kohn is an Associate Professor in the English Department and director of the Chapman Center for Rural Studies. Her work focuses on the intersection of language, place, ethnicity, and identity. Her forthcoming book, African American Language: Language Development from Infancy through Adulthood will be available through Cambridge University Press in fall 2020. This work tracks language change over twenty years for over sixty seven African American youth, examining such issues as how segregation impacts language, the ways in which adolescent identity help shape language change, and why young adults either turn away from the ways they spoke as teens, or continue using novel speech forms. Her previous book, The Way I Communicate Changes but How I Talk Don't, is available through Duke University Press.



Dr. Lisa Tatonetti

Dr. Lisa Tatonetti (she/her/hers)
Full Professor of English 

Lisa Tatonetti is a settler scholar who studies and publishes on queer Indigenous literatures and teaches in the English Department. She's a founding member of K-State's Indigenous Faculty and Staff Alliance, co-editor of Sovereign Erotics, an award-winning collection of Two-Spirit creative work, and author of The Queerness of Native American Literature, which won the 2015 Thomas J. Lyons Book Award and is on the ALA 2016 Over the Rainbow Recommended Reading List. Her book Indigenous Knowledges Written by the Body: Female, Two-Spirit, and Non-Cis Masculinities will be published in fall 2021 with University of Minnesota.