Rick Sheridan knows Lawrence has a significant historical past.
Throughout the city’s history, different social movements have taken root, and political figures have occasionally used Lawrence and Kansas University as a stop along the way to drum up support.
Now Sheridan, an assistant communications professor at Wilberforce University in Ohio, wants to ensure those moments don’t escape the memories of current Lawrence residents.
“There are so many events that never got full recognition, and my idea was to create these simple mementos and use that as an opportunity to really get the word out,” said Sheridan, who grew up in Lawrence.
He’s spending this summer back in town visiting family — and creating small historical markers of significant Lawrence events.
The markers are inexpensive laminated color printouts that he designed. He hopes to seek permission to display the markers at certain locations in the city and distribute them for free to local businesses.
Here are some examples of his work:
• John Brown in Lawrence — Brown gave a speech in downtown Lawrence on Sept. 14, 1856, as tensions escalated between anti- and pro-slavery settlers.
• William Saunders Crowdy — The preacher founded the Church of God and Saints of Christ religious movement in Lawrence in 1896. Crowdy worked for the railroad, and Sheridan wants to place a marker inside the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Depot near Seventh and New Jersey streets.
• Langston Hughes in Lawrence — The legendary poet spent his childhood years in Lawrence and attended church and Sunday school at St. Luke’s A.M.E. Church, 900 N.Y.
• Kennedys in Lawrence — On Nov. 7, 1957, the future president and then-Sen. John F. Kennedy spoke to a large crowd at KU’s Hoch Auditorium. His brother, Robert F. Kennedy, as a senator and presidential candidate, spoke to a capacity crowd March 18, 1968, at Allen Fieldhouse.
“Lots of people consider Lawrence to really be the birthplace of so many different social and political movements,” Sheridan said. “Everybody’s knows about the (KU) basketball team, but there’s really a lot more to be discovered.”