William Allen White

Meet the Past
Meet the Past: William Allen White
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
8:30 pm
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William Allen White

Production for the Meet the Past television series continues in May with two programs filmed before a live audience at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St. Additional episodes will be filmed in June and July. The series will air during prime-time on KCPT (channel 19) in fall 2009.

Meet the Past features Library Director Crosby Kemper III interviewing prominent historical figures (as portrayed by veteran Chautauqua performers) with Kansas City-area connections.

On Tuesday, May 19, at 6:30 p.m., Fred Krebs portrays William Allen White, the famous newspaper editor who gained political prominence after writing an editorial in 1896 titled "What's the Matter With Kansas?"

White was a close friend of President Theodore Roosevelt, and the two were instrumental in forming the Progressive (Bull Moose) Party in 1912 after Roosevelt lost the Republican nomination to William Howard Taft. The Progressive Party's platform promoted efforts "to destroy this invisible Government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics..."

White—whose family still runs the Emporia Gazette in Emporia, Kansas—won a Pulitzer Prize in 1923 for an editorial titled "To an Anxious Friend," which illustrated the importance of free speech even during "times of stress." He made an unsuccessful run for Kansas Governor in 1924. His autobiography was published posthumously and won the 1946 Pulitzer Prize.

Krebs teaches history at Johnson County Community College. He has taught American history, Kansas history, and many courses in the humanities and social sciences. He is a veteran Chautauqua performer, having portrayed White and other historical figures in 20 different states.  He has been portraying William Allen White since 1985.

Major funding for Meet the Past has been provided by a grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Admission to all Meet the Past programs is free. A 6 p.m. reception precedes each event. Click here or call 816.701.3407 to RSVP. Free parking is available in the Library District Parking Garage at 10th and Baltimore.