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Background Image car bumper with protest number sticker

Kansas 1972: Get Up, Stand Up!

In the early 1970s, Kansans advocated for change on campuses, in high schools, and in the grocery aisles through sit-in, protests, and boycotts. You’ll hear about the February Sisters at the University of Kansas and their 1972 sit-in in support of women’s equality. You’ll learn why many Kansans boycotted grapes in ’68 and lettuce in ‘72. And you’ll take a trip back to 1970 to learn about a high school walkout in Topeka and how it informed the Chicano movement of 1972 and beyond.




Go Deeper

Archival Audio Sources

Primary Sources

  • The Wichita Eagle, Feb. 5, 1972, “February Sisters Quietly Hold Hall at KU”
  • February Sisters’ Statement of Action, Feb. 3, 1972
  • The New York Times, 05-03-1972, “New Boycott of Lettuce Announced by Chavez”
  • The Wichita Eagle, September 26th, 1968, “Grape pickers seek local support”
  • Letter from Ruth H. of Hays, KS letter to the UFW, Hays KS (from the United Farm Workers of America archives at Wayne State University)
  • Letter from Jerry Brown, UFW Boycott Coordinator, to George Vega of Topeka, KS, October 02, 1968 (from the United Farm Workers of America archives at Wayne State University)
  • Topeka State Journal, April 16, 1970, “Mexican-American Students in Protest”
  • Topeka Messanger, June 21, 1969, “Local California grape boycotters to picket Safeway markets,” By Tony Campos and George Vega Jr.

Secondary Sources


  • Christine Smith and Jolene Anderson - Two of the February Sisters
  • Kathryn Tuttle - Former Associate Vice Provost for Student Success at KU
  • Valerie Mendoza - Washburn University staff; family history with UFW boycotts in Topeka
  • Miriam Pawel - Journalist, historian, and author of a biography of Cesar Chavez.
  • George Vega - One of the organizers of the Topeka High Chicano student walk-out
  • Neill Esquibel-Kennedy - Ph.D. candidate at KU in American Studies; studies the history of the Mexican-American community in Topeka.
  • David Robles - Assistant professor of American Ethnic Studies at K-State; studies the history of the Chicano Youth movement.


Intro, Outro, and background music by: Clelia Walking




woman standing a podium next to childView
Christine (Leonard) Smith and small child. Smith was one of the February Sisters at the University of Kansas. Image source: KU-University Archives.
woman holding hand outstretched to cameraView
Christine Leonard Smith "attacks" the camera after a Feb. 6, 1972 childcare meeting. According to "Sisters Act" on "...a University Daily Kansan photographer, tried to snap some quick shots after the meeting ended, but was attacked by numerous Sisters, one of whom observed that she did not wish to have her stipend from her father cut off, which could happen if he knew she was an activist on campus. A representative of the February Sisters later telephoned the Kansan and issued a formal apology that regretted the incident had occurred and explained that the intent was merely to expose the photographer’s film."
protest bumper sticker on carView
Grape Boycott bumper sticker. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Lettuce Boycott ImageView
Lettuce Boycott placard. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.
women marchingView
International Women's Day March at the University of Kansas, 1972. Image source: KU-University Archives.
page from a yearbookView
1972 Topeka High Yearbook. This pages features the Mexican-American Youth Organization and mentions that the group was born out of the 1970 walkout.
Letter from a resident of Hays to the UFW.
typed letterView
Letter from the UFW to Topeka resident George Vega.
booklet with drawing of  saladView
Source: Smithsonian Museum of American History. According to the website: "Salad for Boycotters features recipes for lettuce-free salads. This booklet with image of salad bowl with the United Farm Workers eagle was produced to support the boycott of non–union iceberg lettuce. Inside, suggestions include what other types of lettuce and greens to use in meal preparations, nutritional information, how to grow organic, foraging info, and wage info. This booklet was prepared in cooperation between the United Methodist Church in Kansas City, Missouri and the U.F.W."


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