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History program on April 19 to explore Kansas resistance to KKK in early 20th Century

Finney County Museum also offering presentation on April 13 about history of vigilante groups in state

Beverley Olson Buller will present “William Allen White and the Ku Klux Klan in Kansas” at 7 p.m. April 19 in the Mary Regan Conference Room of the Finney County Historical Museum, 403 S. Fourth St.

The free program is sponsored by the museum and Humanities Kansas, an independent, non-profit cultural organization, as part of the Finney County Historical Society Evening at the Museum series.  

Those attending should use the museum’s north entrance. Seating is limited to capacity.

Buller’s presentation will be preceded at noon on April 13 by a History at High Noon program offered by Johnetta Hebrlee, museum education coordinator, focusing on the history of vigilante groups in the state.

The 1920s brought the re-emergence of the KKK across the U.S., sparking fear and violence against African Americans and other minority groups, according to Buller, an author, educator, and leader of the William Allen White Book Awards selection committee.

As the editor of the Emporia Gazette, White was acutely aware of the KKK’s growth after World War I.  Finding no candidates free of Klan influence, White declared, “I want to be governor to free Kansas from the disgrace of the Ku Klux Klan.”  

Buller’s presentation follows the raucous two-month campaign in which White traveled over 2,700 miles to deliver 104 speeches, all directed at expelling the KKK.

“When anything is going to happen in this country, it happens first in Kansas,” White wrote in 1922.  

“Accordingly, Kansas became the first U.S. state to outlaw the KKK,” Buller said. “The story of White’s role in history is fascinating and one of which his fellow Kansans can be very proud.”

The presentations by Hebrlee and Buller will conclude the museum’s free public history lecture series for the spring of 2022 The fall schedule will be announced soon.

Buller is appearing as part of the Humanities Kansas Speakers Bureau, featuring presentations designed to share inspiring stories, spark conversations, and generate insights to strengthen civic engagement.