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LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A filmmaker says he still considers Kansas journalist William Allen White as a modern figure, even though the award-winning writer died nearly three-quarters of a century ago.

The Lawrence Journal-World reports that filmmaker Kevin Willmott explores the life and legacy of William Allen White with the release of his new documentary, “William Allen White: What’s the Matter with Kansas?”

Willmott released the documentary on the 150th anniversary of White’s birth year. The filmmaker drew parallels between the current political climate and the country’s struggles that White wrote about during his career.

“The idea of civil liberties and the First Amendment, he was really right in the middle of those issues in the 1920s when those notions became connected to journalism,” Willmott said. “Even when those notions became values that Americans wanted to really fight (for) and hold on to, he was really one of the ones that really connected the First Amendment and civil liberties to journalism.”

The film came after members of the William Allen White Foundation approached Wilmott and producer Scott Richardson about creating the film. The documentary could serve as a means of preserving the legacy of someone who might not be as well-known as other famous Kansas figures, said Dave Seaton, a foundation trustee.

“I find that even with (other journalists), whom I thought might be acquainted with White, some even in Kansas, don’t even recognize the name,” Seaton said. “His memory has faded a lot.”

Willmott said there was a lot about the struggles White wrote about that people can identify with today.

“Younger people especially can relate to him in terms of the values and the fights that he had and how they connect to today and how we can learn from his life,” he said. “The things and issues and problems that we are dealing with today, White was dealing with those problems in his time. He has a lot to say to us today.”

The documentary will be screened April 25 at Wescoe Hall in Lawrence. The screening is free and open to the public.


Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World,