NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Mark McCormick, no stranger to Bethel College, will be on campus March 2 to share his new book.
McCormick has been executive director of The Kansas African American Museum (TKAAM) in Wichita since 2009. He last spoke at Bethel a year-and-a-half ago as part of the Anabaptist Communicators Conference hosted on campus.
He will speak in convocation at 11 a.m. March 2 in Krehbiel Auditorium in Luyken Fine Arts Center. At 6 that evening, he will sign copies of his book (which will be available for sale) in the Mantz Library lounge.
McCormick’s book, Some Were Paupers, Some Were Kings: Dispatches from Kansas, is a collection of his newspaper columns written over the past 20 years. Blue Cedar Press published the book, released last fall.
The book is divided into four thematic sections in which, said Sarah Bagby, book reviewer for KMUW-FM Wichita Public Radio, “each powerful essay stands alone as a commentary about senseless lack of caring and moments of grace and humanity. Taken as a whole, this is a social history that defines and contextualizes life in Wichita.”
Section 1 includes pieces such as “Are These Guys Felons Because They’re White?,” written after the trial of Westar executives Douglas Lake and David Wittig.
Section 2 profiles individuals who have important life lessons to teach even while operating under the radar, such as Wendy Glick, who was executive director of The Lord’s Diner in Wichita for nearly a decade, and Danielle Morris, whose father died while he was in the work-release detention center.
Section 3 is about people who managed to “rise above” – for example, football legend and Wichita native Barry Sanders’ grade-school teacher Val Cheatum.
The final section comprises columns about systems that fail children and young adults, such as “Let’s Not Rely on Kids to Catch Predators” and “Michael Vick: Character vs. Consequence.”
“If it is a reporter’s job to tell you what happens, it’s a columnist’s job to tell you what it means,” wrote nationally syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. about Some Were Paupers, “to plumb the news and nonsense of daily life and distill from it that nugget of wisdom that tells you something you didn’t already know or takes something you thought you knew and forces you to see it with different eyes.
“In his years as a columnist for the Wichita Eagle, Mark E. McCormick fit that definition to the proverbial tee. He was an inventive writer and a thoughtful seeker of truth. You came away just a little bit better for having read him.”
McCormick, a Wichita native, graduated from the University of Kansas in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism/news and editorial. He then went to work for the Louisville Courier-Journal from 1990-95, including three years as religion writer, covering religious institutions, trends and leaders.
He came home to work at the Wichita Eagle in 1995, where he started out as a general assignment reporter, covering race, gender and family issues. Over the years, he served as Communities team leader; day news editor and Enterprise team leader; Crime and Safety team leader; and, starting in March 2004, Metro columnist and Editorial Board employee representative, writing weekly columns on local issues and contributing to board discussions and endorsements.
McCormick has received more than 20 state, regional and national awards and honors, including a first-place award from the Kansas Press Association for “Best Columns,” two gold medals from the Kansas City Press Club and five Wichita Eagle Knight-Ridder Excellence Awards. Poynter Online named him “one of the nation’s best unheralded columnists.”
Community honors have included the Champion of Respect Award from the Wichita/Sedgwick County Domestic Abuse/Sexual Assault Coalition, the Greater Wichita Business and Professional Women’s first “Man of the Year” award and the Golden Eagle Award from Sigma Gamma Rho “for influential civic and social standing.”
McCormick is credited with helping Wichita State University acquire the works of writer, photographer and filmmaker Gordon Parks. McCormick co-wrote, with his lifelong friend Sanders, the New York Times bestseller Barry Sanders Now You See Him. . .His Story in His Own Words (Emmis Books 2003).
McCormick also served as communications director for the Kansas Leadership Center for nearly three years, before starting his current position at TKAAM, and is currently on the national board of the Association of African American Museums.
Bethel College ranks at No. 1 in College Consensus’ ranking of Kansas colleges and universities, and is the only Kansas private college listed in the Forbes.com analysis of top colleges and universities, the Washington Monthly National Universities-Liberal Arts section and the National Liberal Arts College category of U.S. News & World Report, all for 2017-18. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu.
Bethel College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, age, gender, sexual orientation, parental or marital status, gender identity, gender expression, medical or genetic information, ethnic or national origins, citizenship status, veteran or military status or disability. E-mail questions to TitleIXCoordinator@bethelks.edu.