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Presentation explores rich history of Mexican immigration to Kansas

Chad Frey
cfrey@thekansan.com
Gene T. Chávez, of Shawnee, will present "Flour Power/El Poder de la Harina" via Zoom and Facebook Live at 3 p.m. Sunday. This free event is sponsored by Humanities Kansas.

The first of several special programs in connection with “Crossroads: Change in Rural America” at Kauffman Museum will be held Sunday, hosted virtually in line with COVID-19 protocols.

Gene T. Chávez, of Shawnee, will present “Flour Power/El Poder de la Harina” via Zoom and Facebook Live at 3 p.m. Sunday. This free event is sponsored by Humanities Kansas.

“Hispanic culture has influenced our way of life in so many ways,” Chávez said. "It is important to understand the contributions Hispanics have made to Kansas and to the nation.”

Kauffman Museum is partnering with Humanities Kansas and the Smithsonian Institution to bring “Crossroads: Change in Rural America” to the museum through Jan. 17.

To get the Zoom link, go to the “Visit” tab on Kauffman Museum’s website, kauffmanmuseum.org, and click “Events.” Livestreaming on Dec. 13 will be through the Kauffman Museum Facebook page.

During the period of the Mexican Revolution, many immigrants made their way to Kansas to raise their families and work in the railroad, agricultural, industrial and hospitality sectors of the state.

A cultural offshoot of this new group of Mexican people settling in the Midwest was the search for the perfect tortilla, a staple of Mexican cuisine. Because corn tortillas were difficult to make by hand, many restaurants and home cooks substituted wheat flour tortillas for their signature dishes.

Gene Chávez is founder and president of Chávez and Associates, consulting with groups throughout the country on bilingual education and cultural diversity. He has also taught at the secondary and post-secondary levels in Kansas and other states.

Kauffman Museum has built on the photographs, hands-on activities and audio and video clips provided by the Smithsonian in the “Crossroads: Change in Rural America” to tell the history and culture of local rural life and to spark conversations using its own companion exhibit, “Of Land and People: Our Community at the Crossroads of Change.”

The local exhibit encourages visitors to celebrate the land where Kauffman Museum and the community are located, to honor those who have lived and worked here, and to reflect on the profound changes that have occurred over time.

The companion exhibit, “Of Land and People: Our Community at the Crossroads of Change,” will stay open until Feb. 7, three weeks longer than the main “Crossroads” exhibit.

The “Crossroads” Kansas tour is sponsored by Humanities Kansas through the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street program.

For more information about “Crossroads” and “Of Land and People,” contact Kauffman Museum, kauffman@bethelks.edu or 316-283-1612, or visit www.kauffmanmuseum.org

Regular Kauffman Museum hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 pm. Tuesdays through Fridays and 1:30 to 4:30 pm. Saturdays and Sundays. The museum is closed Mondays and major holidays (Friday, Dec. 25, Friday, Jan. 1). Non-museum members pay a small entrance fee; the special exhibit is free on Saturdays. With ever-changing COVID protocols, please check the museum website or Facebook page or call 316-283-1612 before planning a visit.