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Topic: Juvenile justice

Darlene Cornfield, Kansas

Interview of Darlene Cornfield, October 9, 2020

Interviewed by Patty Clark
Former State Representative Darlene Cornfield reflects on her six sessions in the Kansas House representing the 90th House District (Sedgwick Co.). She describes the issues that come back year after year and the challenges faced by a new legislator. She identifies the difficulties faced by conservatives at a time when the Republican party was undergoing an ideological change. Cornfield observes that the citizen legislature is most effective but did not favor term limits.

Interview of Ben Scott, January 14, 2022

Interviewed by Joan Wagnon
Ben Scott describes his life of service as an activist for schools and the community as well as his church. Scott's early experiences with segregation and racism informed his later activities as a member of the Board of Education in Topeka as the district sought to achieve racial balance in its public schools. The desegregation plans he and Sherman Parks Jr. developed in 1990's were instrumental in dismissing the federal lawsuit against the district. Scott was a leader in the Topeka and Kansas NAACP. He pointed out their priorities were finding enough Black teachers as Show Morewell as improving housing. Racial profiling was another NAACP concern that he carried to the Kansas legislature along with his concerns about student achievement and teachers having enough resources. In his interview, Rep. Scott talks candidly about racism in the juvenile justice system, racial profiling, Critical Race Theory (CRT), and the role of the church in dealing with racism. His hopes for continued legislative service were derailed by loss of election in 2016; however, he still pushes for developing standards for teaching Black history. Show Less

Interview of Melody McCray-Miller, April 21, 2022

Interviewed by Frances Jackson
Melody McCray-Miller describes her job as speaking truth to issues that were relevant at that time, and representing a group of people who were marginalized. Rep. Miller was not the "status quo." She doesn't consider herself a "politician" but instead, a public servant. Her concept of public policy or public service was influenced by the fact that she is a Black woman who was raised in a Black family. She is the daughter of Billy Q. McCray, the first African American Commissioner in Sedgwick County who also served as a state Senator. Show More One of her mentors described her as "tough as leather." Miller was in business with her husband, and also taught school prior to running for office. She detailed how she handled conflicts or incidents of racial discrimination by "pushing forward." The latter part of the interview deals with a variety of legislative issues McCray-Miller initiated or followed. Those issues ranged from early childhood education, to payday lending, juvenile justice and health policy. Show Less
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