OVERVIEW: Kansas Pulitzer Prize Centennial Campfires Activities

Presented by:
Humanities Kansas
Current Initiative: Centennial Campfires National Partner: The Pulitzer Prizes Local Partner: Colleges and Universities, Libraries, Museums, Other Subject: History, Journalism, Other, Varies Audience: All, Colleges and Universities, Young Adult, Youth/Teen

To celebrate the centennial of the Pulitzer Prizes, Humanities Kansas partnered with organizations, colleges, and museums around Kansas to create a series of events honoring the life and work of William Allen White, whose ardent defense of freedom of speech resulted in his becoming the first Kansan to win a Pulitzer Prize. The Pulitzer Project in Kansas: William Allen White and Freedom of Speech explored the critical role that freedom of speech serves in a democracy, and considered contemporary challenges to the First Amendment alongside those faced during White’s era. The project supported 41 events in communities across the state, with an audience of 1,754 people.

The Pulitzer Project in Kansas: Speakers Bureau

  • Free Speech in Times of Crises is a presentation by Stephen Wolgast, former New York Times editor and current journalism and digital media professor at Kansas State University that looks at the reasons free speech is protected and provides current examples of how people in authority dissuade the public from speaking up, Events can be connected to William Allen White’s famous editorial, the work of Joseph Pulitzer, and the history of journalism in the United States
  • Make Art, Not War explores the turbulent history of Kansas where people have worked within established systems as well as outside to affect change. These movements created a rich array of protest art – art made to draw attention to a topic of great concern in the hope of eliciting change or expanding the conversation. This presentation by Erika Nelson, creator and curator of the World’s Largest Collection of the World’s Smallest Versions of the World’s Largest Things Traveling Roadside Attraction and Museum, will look at how artists craft their messages.
  • Free Speech in an Information-Overloaded World is a presentation that provides an overview of information policy access and changes while raising critical questions to get people thinking. What do we know about how people use information? Do they have the right information, and enough of it, to make informed choices in their lives? With the federal government as both a collector and publisher of massive amounts of information, does the U.S. population take advantage of this content? Presented by Jim Walther, library and information management professor at Emporia State University

The Pulitzer Project in Kansas: Community Writing Workshops

The following trained instructors were available to nonprofits to facilitate writing workshops in communities in Kansas.

  • Anthony Funari teaches writing and literature at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park. A published author and scholar of Renaissance Studies, Anthony works to help writers articulate their thoughts and to understand their readers’ perspectives
  • Daniel Hoyt teaches fiction writing and literature, including the Literature of Rock and Roll, at Kansas State University. His short story collection, Then We Saw the Flames, won the Juniper Prize for Fiction. Dan asks his writers to rediscover the world, to see it through new and different points of view.
  • Paula Ripple taught English composition at Dodge City Community College and Dodge City High School and has served as a mentor to new writing teachers. In retirement she continues to explore writing and innovative techniques employed by contemporary writers.
  • Kim Stanley teaches courses in English and world literature, poetry, and beginning and advanced writing at McPherson College. She is interested in the ways in which literature can affect people’s lives and beliefs, and in using literature to help people talk about values.

The Pulitzer Prize project in Kansas: Short Film

KHC partnered with Flint Hills Design and produced a 4-minute short film featuring White’s essay and images of important free-speech moments in Kansas history. The film was screened at most Pulitzer Project in Kansas events statewide and is available online here.

The Pulitzer Project in Kansas: Other Events

  • William Allen White: The Kansas of His Time is an “informance” by University of Kansas professor emeritus Jack Wright who explores the life and times of the great editor of the Emporia Gazette. White was Kansas’ first winner of the Pulitzer Prize. (Sponsored in part by Friends of Baldwin City Library.)
  • The Challenge of Free Speech in Kansas: Then and Now is a program that considers the importance of free speech and a free press in times of turmoil. It is being held in conjunction with two exhibitions that explore the imprisonment of Japanese Americans during WWII and will feature a short documentary on William Allen White’s 1923 Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial, “To An Anxious Friend.” Panelists discussed the freedom of the press and its role in democracy. Held at Kansas State University.
  • Today’s Media in an Election Year: Information, Insight, and Finding Truth panel discussion featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist of the Philadelphia Enquirer Harold Jackson, KPR Statehouse Reporter Stephen Koranda, and Dave Helling of the Kansas City Star. The event was co-sponsored by Baker University and the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas.
  • Celebrating Centennials is a program designed to honor both the 100th anniversary of the Pulitzer Prizes as well as the 100th anniversary of Baldwin City Library. The library was selected to host Flying through the Alphabet: A Poet’s Tools led by Baker University assistant professor of English and writer-in-residence Marti Mihalyi.
  • The First Amendment: Speak Up, Speak Out is a discussion about the freedom of the press and its role in democracy in Kansas, past and present-day. Stephen Wolgast, former New York Times editor and Dion Lefler, a reporter covering government and politics for the Wichita Eagle will present.
  • William Allen White and the Russian Revolution is a presentation that explores White’s surprising interest in Russia and his diplomatic appointment to the Paris peace conference.


  • Baldwin City Library
  • Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art
  • Hotel at Old Town, Wichita
  • Emporia Public Library
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library & Museum
  • Ulrich Museum of Art
  • Kansas Press Association Convention


  • Harold Jackson (Editorial Writing – The Birmingham (AL) News, 1991)


  • Baldwin City, KS
  • Manhattan, KS
  • Wichita, KS
  • Abeline, KS
  • Overland Park, KS

To go back to the Pulitzer Prizes Centennial Campfires spotlight page, please click the button below.