A spirit of unwavering dedication
Doris Kerr Larkins was the founding member of the 1st National Black Historical Society of Wichita. Doris Jean Larkins was born on September 5, 1937 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to Edward James and Verna M. Kerr, the oldest of four children. Her family moved to Wichita where she attended Wichita Public Schools and after graduation majored in music at Wichita State University. Her love of music- she was likely the last person to play the majestic pipe organ still standing in the old Calvary building- was only surpassed by her love of history.
When the Calvary congregation moved to a new building and the city announced plans to tear the old building down to make way for a parking lot, Doris launched a campaign to establish the building as black museum and cultural retreat to help preserve local black history.
She, her sisters and others, managed to place Calvary on the National Register of historic places and convince the city to let the building the museum of her dreams. It was founded in 1974 as the first national black historical society of Wichita.
Doris Kerr Larkins died February 17, 1994 at the age of 56 but left behind towering achievements.
Many credit with her with starting the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations back in the 1970's. She planned and directed them for years. TKAAM sponsors a King day program on the Sunday before the federal holiday. She also was instrumental in establishing local Juneteenth celebrations and also participated locally in Kwanzaa celebrations.
She is greatly missed, but her life lives on through TKAAM.