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K-State Today

July 20, 2020

'Dawn of Day' documentary surpasses a million views

Submitted by Patrice Scott

A College of Education documentary on the Underground Railroad has hit 1 million views on YouTube.

"Dawn of Day: Stories from the Underground Railroad" is a historical documentary produced in 2016 about the Underground Railroad in neighboring Wabaunsee County and tells the stories of the unsung heroes who traversed one of the most turbulent times in our nation's history. Faith, family and politics united community members who lived — and sometimes died — to ensure Kansas was a free state.

Debbie Mercer, dean of the College of Education, said the intent behind this documentary — and others produced by the college — was to develop useful resources for teachers.

"We have the opportunity and expertise to create documentaries that provide powerful resources for teachers and enrich students' educational experiences," Mercer said. "History comes alive on screen, and we are grateful to everyone who contributed to this ambitious project."

The late Richard Pitts, director of the Wonder Workshop Children's Museum in Manhattan, narrated the film and interviewed educators and descendants of abolitionists whose shared heritage lives on in the freedom we enjoy today. His interview with historian Michael Stubbs in the famed Beecher Bible and Rifle church inspired the most comments.

Rusty Earl, the college's video producer, said there was a resurgence in interest from the film that coincided with Pitt's passing.

"It has been amazing to hear from teachers and people from around the world who have been touched by the film's message of hope during troubled times," Earl said. "That message is needed now — once again — and Richard's voice has joined the chorus of voices from the past that are reminding us our work is not complete." 

Stubbs said history can help Americans find their way and there is no greater example than what happened in Wabaunsee County.  

"Everybody put aside petty differences and came together to fight a common cause," Stubbs said. "They came together as Americans. In their minds, they were fulfilling what the founding fathers said was the promise of this country, and they felt very tied to that revolutionary spirit. I think we are at another inflection point as Americans where we need to come together and face this unfinished business. If they could do it 106 years ago, why not do it today?"