Peace Breaker: Edwana Collins and Desegregation in Wichita Public Schools


  • Erin LeBegue Wichita State University


African-Americans, civil rights, desegregation, Edwana Collins, Wichita Board of Education, Wichita School System


The fight for Civil Rights in the United States has been difficult and has largely been accomplished by people who have challenged the status quo. History shows that progress and people willing to break the peace go hand in hand. Edwana Collins was one such peace breaker. On June 8, 1970, she was duly sworn and took the stand ready to testify against the Wichita Board of Education, an institution she had been part of for nearly sixteen years. Throughout her tenure on the Board of Education, Collins was a needed advocate for desegregation in Wichita Public Schools and fought to give African American families a voice within the school system. Through a study of her personal papers, Board of Education documents, local newspapers, and the civil rights movement in Wichita as a whole, one can trace her efforts toward integration, from her early work as president of the Board, creating and serving on committees designed to research the underlying issues contributing to segregation, her commitment to advocating for the African American parents, and her ultimate act of peace breaking, testifying against the Board of Education. Though she was not alone in her fight against inequality, her efforts demonstrate that individuals can be agents of change within their communities.