Dockum Drug Store Sit-In: “Serve Them-I’m Losing Too Much Money”

The Dockum Drug Store sit-in happened in July 1958. Very few people heard about it but it was an important event to the students who set out to end segregation in Wichita, Kansas.

Like many other popular eateries in downtown Wichita, African-Americans were not allowed to eat at the counter. If they wanted something to eat, they would have to take it to go. Food to blacks was always served in disposable containers. Blacks did not know what it was like to sit down at a counter and have a meal.

Starting July 19, 1958, Walters and Parks-Haun, with other young students, began entering the drugstore every day and filling the stools at the counter. They asked only that they be served a soft drink. They were neat and quiet and caused no fuss. But the management continued to refuse service. The concept of peaceful resistance was fairly new at that time but would become common within a few years.

The students continued to visit the drug store on a daily basis. Some white patrons would curse them and others threatened them. But victory came on August 11, when the owner finally said “Serve them-I’m losing too much money.” This victory for the students became a victory for equality in Kansas. With one downtown store no longer practicing segregation, other retail establishments slowly began to change their policies in Wichita and throughout the Kansas.



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