The fact that we are here and that I speak these words is an attempt to break that silence and bridge some of those differences between us, for it is not difference which immobilizes us, but silence. And there are so many silences to be broken.

– Audre Lorde

For the North End residents, the phenomenological history of their neighborhood is rife with the remnants of wage slavery, poor living conditions, and racial discrimination. Conversely, some religious institutions and family owned business remain in operation today, illustrating a strong desire from those mostly Mexican immigrants to integrate into the fabric of Wichita, fostering a sense of belonging through food, the arts, and religiosity.

Dating back over 100 years, rail yards and meat packing companies actively recruited migrant Mexican workers with promises of transportation and housing. However, provisions for the workers and their families were insufficient. As worker colonies grew, new immigrants moved into North Wichita in search of better living conditions and more viable employment, they were met with opposition from labor unions that wanted to exclude Mexicans from working in Wichita.

Many of the residents of Northeast Wichita historically were African-American migrants from the South. Due to the lack of resources and means of access, their spatial experiences were inherently dictated by real estate agents, federal government housing agencies, white neighborhood councils, and banks.

The Home Owners’ Land Corporation created a system that rates urban neighborhoods by defining risks to lending organizations. African-American residents were the most ‘at-risk’ demographic and were victims of a process called redlining. This allowed banks to deny loans for commercial or personal property for Northeast residents. Blocking progress, pushing African-Americans out white neighborhoods, and causing the deterioration of their already geographically scarred community. Decimated by the construction of an interstate highway.

The preservation and celebration of the cultural history of both neighborhoods have never been as important or relevant as in today’s socio-political climate.

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NORTHEAST: McAdams Park • Dunbar Theatre
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13th St. Train Bridge: Kamela Eaton + Connie Fiorella-Fitzpatrick
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13th St. Train Bridge
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