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Nicodemus Annie character to teach kids about black history in the Old West

Gazette staff April 1st, 2010

Nicodemus AnnieNational Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum1700 N.E. 63rd10 a.m., Saturday478-2250, www.nationalcowboymuseum.orgfreeOn Saturday, kids will be transported to the old Western town of Ni...

Nicodemus Annie
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 N.E. 63rd
10 a.m., Saturday

On Saturday, kids will be transported to the old Western town of Nicodemus, Kan., with Nicodemus Annie as their guide. Starting at 10 a.m., Annie's history trunk will be brought to life at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, 1700 N.E. 63rd, by her author, Kansas native Angela Bates.

The old town, which is now a part of the National Park Service, was an all-black community. Being a descendant of the people who lived in Nicodemus, Bates has made it her life's mission to share with others the town's history.

She is releasing her second Nicodemus Annie story this June. The character is based on her life and her journey researching, exploring and documenting all things Nicodemus. In the story, Annie is transported to the town with her great cousin in her dreams, during which she sees Nicodemus throughout its history. Annie collects special items in the dreams and returns with stories stored in her "history trunk."

"Growing up in Pasadena, California, my mother would cook for John Wayne, and we would all get excited about how The Duke ate our mother's cooking," Bates said. "We would watch him growing up and watch all these other Westerns, but we'd notice how there were never any black cowboys. We knew that was wrong, because we came from an all-black Western town, and I have tried to teach others about this history."

Bates uses the trunk to discuss pivotal moments in black history, from the Underground Railroad and buffalo soldiers to black women's cultural roles and Stagecoach Mary. She also teaches songs to the attending children.

She said kids will also learn about quilt blocks and might make a medicine bag in which to put all their history treasures. This event is free. For more information, call 478-2250 or visit "LeighAnne Manwarren
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