Most Kansans can trace their heritage to another part of the world. Some came in search of a better life for themselves or their children—many came to join families or friends. This is the unique story told in Americans by Choice: The Story of Immigration & Citizenship in Kansas, a new exhibit now on display at Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site. The exhibit is free and open to the public daily through Feb. 28, 2014.
The exhibit illustrates the paths to citizenship taken by Kansas settlers from around the world over the past 150 years, and personalizes the story of immigration and citizenship—who came, where they came from, why they came to Kansas, and why they chose to become U.S. citizens. It features photographs, documents, quotes, and interactive books describing major laws affecting immigration and naturalization over the past 150 years, the consequences of those laws and how they directly affected the lives of Kansans.
The exhibit was commissioned by the U.S. District Court, District of Kansas to highlight the Court's role in the naturalization process. The Honorable Kathryn H. Vratil, Chief Judge, stated, "I speak for every one of the judges on this court when I say that participating in naturalization ceremonies is one of the highlights of our professional life. It helps us reaffirm and refocus ourselves on the values that we hold very dear to our hearts as American citizens." Each year, the U.S. District Court, District of Kansas hosts more than 20 naturalization ceremonies where individuals take the Oath of Allegiance and become United States citizens. The court will host three naturalization ceremonies at the Brown v. Board Education site in 2014. The first ceremony will be January 31 at 10:30 a.m.