BY DANYANG YUAN
Kansas Humanities Council, FHSU Diversity class, Forsyth Library and Student
Engagement Office jointly held a speech which was called “Four Horsemen and a Sage” on Wednesday, March 4th. It is the second part of Diversity in the U.S. Speaker Series event and featured John Burchill as the presenter. Burchill is an author and criminal justice historian professor at Kansas Wesleyan University
This speech was about the four horsemen of tolerance, Harry R. Richmond, William Michael Farrell, Samuel K. West, and John Henry Hornung, and one of Kansas’s greatest sages William Allen White, and how they fought racism and promoted diversity in Kansas when racism threatened their own reputation and physical safety.
“From that, we look for something we could use today when these sort of activities occur again,” Burchill said.
After the sinking of the Lusitania, the United State entered into World War 1 in 1917. In the same year, on the other side of the European continent, the Bolshevik Revolution was taking place. Meanwhile, the Ku Klux Klan began to flourish again and became the largest fraternal organization in the United States.
“They were against African-Americans, but they were also against any immigrants, Roman Catholics, Jewish people, a whole bunch of people,” Burchill said.
In 1926, there were at least 75 congressmen who were members of the Ku Klux Klan. With the economic unrest, social unrest, and entering World War 1, there are so many people joining in the Ku Klux Klan to promote nativism. For the Ku Klux Klan, Kansas was an essential state and they wanted to let Kansas become the power that supported them.
At that time, the sage, William Allen White stood out and realized it was the time that he should do something. Therefore, he entered the gubernatorial race. However, he lost in the race. White risked his life and fame to run for elections to oppose the KKK, which raised his status in the nation. Meanwhile, a new storm blew up in Germany.
“He said we need to get rid of the inferior people in our state and in our nation that is hurting our country,” White said.
There were many people gathered in his headquarters in Wichita to support him. On this occasion, the four horsemen who are from Wichita appeared. Richmond, Farrell, Samuel, and West went to each county in Kansas and explained why people should not support the hate-monger to represent the Kansas people.
“You don’t fight darkness with darkness, you fight it with light,” Burchill said.
Before this activity, Richmond, who was a rabbi, was engaging in helping German refugees.
“You see bodies floating down the river going in and pulling the bodies out and rendering first aid to those that are still alive, and caring for the dead. That is act of mercy. Justice, however, says you need to go upstream and find out why and stop the bodies going into the river,” Burchill said. He chose the latter and in the end, they succeeded
This story raises a question that when a hate group appears, what should we do? When we see inequality, racism, or discrimination, what should we do? According to Burchill, we cannot wait for salvation, we cannot wait for the presence of saints and wise men because we are not sure whether they will appear. Instead of waiting for them, let yourself be them. Do not refuse speaking for Catholics just because you are a Protestant, because when evil comes for you, there will be no one left to speak up for you.