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Dockum sit-in film to premiere at Bethel’s MLK Day celebration

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – The world premiere of a locally produced documentary on the Dockum Drug Store sit-in will cap a day-long observation at Bethel College of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, Monday, Jan. 19.

At 7 p.m. in the Fine Arts Center's Krehbiel Auditorium will be the first-ever public showing of The Dockum Sit-In: A Legacy of Courage, an original documentary produced by KPTS Channel 8, Wichita’s public television station. (The documentary airs on KPTS Thursday, Feb. 5, at 7 p.m.) Producers Stacey Jenkins and Gabe Juhnke will be on hand at Bethel for a question-and-answer period after the film, along with Jesse Huxman, KPTS director of content, and Sarah Price, a graduate student in public history at Wichita State University who has worked closely with Galyn Vesey, a social scientist from Wichita and adjunct faculty member at Bethel College who was part of the sit-in.

Vesey and other Dockum sit-in participants from the south central Kansas region have been invited to attend the Bethel screening as special guests.

In the summer of 1958, two dozen young people from the Wichita Branch NAACP Youth Council staged what would become the first successful student-led sit-in of the American civil rights movement. By August 11, 1958 – nearly two years before the more famous Woolworth sit-in in Greensboro, N.C. – they had desegregated the Dockum Drug Store lunch counter and all Rexall Drug Stores throughout the state of Kansas, and the movement had gained a powerful new weapon in the fight for equal accommodations.

The new film, just under 60 minutes long, documents the Dockum sit-in with first-hand accounts from participants. KPTS production staff periodically develops films on local and state issues and topics. “This story came to our attention after the Sedgwick County Historical Society [got a grant] to record oral histories with the sit-in participants,” says Huxman. “We provided studio/recording services for the grant. After listening to these moving first-person recollections, we felt like this was a story we needed to finish.”

Interterm classes are cancelled at Bethel College on Jan. 19 to allow students and faculty to participate in the special events that begin at 11 a.m. with a service of worship and celebration in the Administration Building chapel.

At 2 p.m., dancers from Bethel College Academy of Performing Arts (BCAPA) will present “Sophisticated Phunk” by Olney Edmondson, a graduate student at Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas, and a former student of Jean Denney Grotewohl, BCAPA director of dance. Last December, Edmondson taught hip-hop choreography and technique master classes as part of BCAPA’s Guest Artist program, and put together an original four-minute piece, especially for BCAPA and local community dancers, that outlines the history of hip-hop, according to Grotewohl.

The dance performance will be followed by a screening of the 65-minute film Movement (R)evolution Africa, both in Krehbiel Auditorium.

Movement (R)evolution Africa premiered Jan. 5, 2007, at the Dance on Camera Festival at the Walter Reade Theater in New York City’s Lincoln Center, where it was nominated for the Jury Prize. It has since been screened at film festivals all over the world.

The film focuses on the dance and choreography of individuals and companies from Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Japan, Madagascar, Senegal, South Africa, the United States and Zimbabwe and, says Grotewohl, “reflects these artists’ responses to war, identity and the transformational processes of art making and performing.”

Movement (R)evolution Africa director and producer Joan Frosch is a colleague of Grotewohl’s, currently professor of dance and co-director of the award-winning Center for World Arts at the University of Florida. Frosch is a founding member of the The Africa Contemporary Arts Consortium and has spent the last 30 years making and directing dance theater and writing as a dance ethnographer and activist. Movement (R)evolution Africa is her first documentary feature.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Day events at Bethel College are free and open to the public. For more information, call 316-284-5324.

In addition, Bethel College’s Damascus Road Anti-Racism Team invites the public to watch the historic inauguration of Barack Obama as the first black president of the United States projected on the large screen in Krehbiel Auditorium Tuesday, Jan. 20, beginning at 9 a.m.

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and was the only Kansas private college to be ranked in Forbes.com’s listing of “America’s Best Colleges” for 2008 and one of only two Kansas colleges listed in Colleges of Distinction 2008-09. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at www.bethelks.edu.

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