About the Douglass Center

History of Yuma Street and the Douglass Center

Yuma Street in Manhattan is rich with Black history and culture. Beginning with the establishment of the Bethel A.M.E. Church by the Exodusters in 1879, and continuing through the new Douglass Activity Center expected to open in spring of 2021, the neighborhood's buildings and activities have brought together many generations of Black families. 

Founded in 1904, the Douglas School served several generations of Black students prior to desegregation. The building is now known as the Douglass Center Annex, offering community space for tutoring and mentoring programs, meetings, and public services. Built in the 1940s, the Douglass Community Center originally served as a United Service Organization for WWII soldiers. The only swimming pool open to Black residents at that time was located in Douglass Park, on the grounds where the new Douglass Activity Center is being constructed. Other notable structures are the Kaw Blue Masonic Lodge and the historic Pilgrim Baptist Church.

Today, the Douglass Center continues to be a vital and vibrant part of the Manhattan community. Its presence continues to be essential for Black students at KSU and soldiers stationed at Fort Riley, but it has evolved over the years to encompass education, recreation, fellowship, and kinship for all members of the community.  The construction of the new Douglass Activity Center provides the opportunity to represent, celebrate, and honor the rich history of the Black community within Manhattan.

Additional Information

Vision Statement

  • As a model community center, we:
    • Provide educational programs for all ages
    • Motivate our youth
    • Provide leisure programs for our seniors
    • Integrate community recreational programs based on need, desire, and customer focus/feedback
    • Embrace the diversity of the community by refining, developing, and expanding culturally diverse programs
    • Enhance existing facilities, and with financial resources, ensure the positive and successful future of the center
    • Foster the collective spirit of Manhattan and Kansas State University.
    • Improve business acumen and expand networking
    • Advocate for excellence