Kansas’ statehood to be celebrated on Thursday

Brandon Bills

The 148th anniversary of Kansas’ statehood will be celebrated with a special presentation of “The Underground Railroad in Bleeding Kansas.”

Historian Anne Hawkins will give a performance as Topeka abolitionist Mary Jane Ritchie, telling the story of the Underground Railroad in Kansas. The performance will take place at 7 p.m. on Jan. 29 in Henderson Learning Resources Center, room 208.

Mary Jane Ritchie was the wife of John Ritchie, one of the original founders of Lincoln College, which would later become Washburn University. The couple’s house, which still stands at 1116 S.E. Madison St., was a stop on the Underground Railroad.

“I think it will highlight Kansas’ rich heritage,” said Bruce Mactavish, Washburn University associate dean, College of Arts and Sciences and assistant professor of history.

Mactavish said Hawkin’s performance will highlight Ritchie’s efforts and bring to light the early struggle for equality in America.

“In the mid-19th century, there were many Americans interested in banning slavery and in complete equality,” said Mactavish.

After Hawkin’s performance, Mactivish will facilitate a follow-up discussion.

Mactavish said the discussion will touch on a range of issues related to the abolition movement, from comparisons to current situations with illegal immigration, to acting on one’s faith while violating the law.

“The Underground Railroad in Bleeding Kansas” is sponsored by Washburn University’s History Department and the Shawnee County Historical Society.