William Dulin and his brother had to sit in the bus in the 1950s while their Lecompton High School basketball or football teammates would eat in northeast Kansas restaurants.
"There wasn't no sign hanging on the door that said 'no blacks allowed'; it was just understood," Dulin said. "The other guys would bring us back something, but it's still not like going in with the team."
Dulin, now 62, is pastor of Calvary Church of God in Christ, 646 Ala., and president of a group of historically black Lawrence churches that is putting on the 20th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration. The events begin Thursday and wrap up on Monday.
"Thank God that Dr. King passed this way," said Reginald Bachus, pastor of the First Regular Missionary Baptist Church, 1646 Vt. "It's difficult for a country to realize its full potential when you have a people who are oppressed."
Bachus' church is a member of the group of historically black churches in the city sponsoring the celebration.
The events include a gospel music night, a banquet and two keynote speakers, Carl Boyd and Terrence Roberts.
Boyd will offer a first-hand account of race relations from the perspective of an educator. Roberts is one of the nine black students who were integrated into Little Rock (Ark.) Central High School in 1957 against the will of many protesters.
Dulin recalled missing the Lecompton High School class of 1960's senior trip to Branson, Mo., because there wasn't a hotel he could stay in.
He also remembered sitting in the bus with his brother while their teammates ate in restaurants when the team played away games.
"The coach would say, 'I'm not sure, Bill and Bob, whether you can eat here or not,'" Dulin said. "When I look back now, if that coach had any backbone he would have said, 'We all go or none of us goes.'"
Dulin said he didn't want to bad-mouth the man who coached him.
"I'm not going to despise the coach for the way he did it," Dulin said. "He was trying to survive. When I look at it as a grown-up, he could have done it differently."