Yearlong project will commemorate Lawrence in 1970 with events, exhibits

photo by: Contributed Graphic

The Watkins Museum of History is commemorating the 50th anniversary of 1970 and the era’s influence with a yearlong program of events called The Lawrence 1970 Project.

The project is a communitywide endeavor that will explore important aspects of the era relating to civil rights, race, war, feminism and counterculture.

“The reason why I call it a project is because I like to think of it as sort of a living, breathing thing,” said Will Hickox, the public engagement coordinator with Watkins. “It’s constantly changing. There’s always new events that are populating the calendar.”

Watkins is partnering with numerous organizations such as the Lawrence Public Library, the Lawrence Arts Center and the University of Kansas to widen its scope of events and get more community members involved.

“Our mission is not just, ‘Hey, did you know this cool fact from 1970?’ Our mission is to foster civic engagement by illuminating how what happened in the past affects us today,” Hickox said. “And by bringing people together for these events that’s part of what we’re doing — and that’s a big motivation for this project.”

The next event in the project is on Feb. 28 and is called “Opening Doors: Accessibility in Lawrence.” Two local experts will speak about accessibility issues in Lawrence, followed by a screening of “Leo Beuerman,” a 1969 short documentary that tells the story of a disabled man who sold pencils on the downtown sidewalks of Lawrence in the 1950s and 1960s.

Hickox is especially looking forward to two events: “When Veterans Come Home” and “Nick Rice and July 20: Reconstructing What Happened.” The first event will feature a lecture from John Musgrave, a Baldwin City Vietnam War veteran, who will discuss his experiences returning home after the war. Kaye McIntyre, with Kansas Public Radio, will then talk about her oral history project in which she documented veterans’ stories.

The second event, “Nick Rice and July 20,” will be a sort of “true crime story,” Hickox said. Nick Rice was an 18-year-old KU student who was shot and killed in 1970, and his brother, Chris Rice, will discuss what he has uncovered about the incident.

“Chris Rice has spent several years researching what happened that night and has uncovered a lot of new details about it,” Hickox said.

In addition to individual events, the project also has a Facebook page that hosts a “Lawrence 1970 Timeline,” which includes information about events that happened 50 years ago to the date.

Hickox said Watkins was “ideally situated” to help commemorate the events.

“We are a local history museum, and local history is really where history is impactful for most people,” he said.

Here’s a list of 1970 Project events on the calendar for 2020:

Past Presence

Exhibition at the Spencer Museum of Art

Feb. 8-June 21

Opening Doors: Accessibility in Lawrence

Watkins Museum of History

Feb. 28

7-8:30 p.m.

Watkins 50th Earth Day Celebration

Watkins Museum of History

April 18

Time to be determined

Words of Pain & Progress: Poetry on the 60s & 70s

Watkins Museum of History

April 24

5-6:30 p.m.

Days of Rage: Lawrence Under the 1970 Curfew

Exhibit at the Watkins Museum of History

April 24-Aug. 2

When Veterans Come Home

Carnegie Building

April 30

6-8 p.m.

Lawrence 1970s Walking Tour

Watkins Museum of History

May 1

6-7 p.m.

Nick Rice and July 20: Reconstructing What Happened

Lawrence Public Library

July 20

7-8:30 p.m.


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