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Kenneth McFarland

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Kenneth McFarland

Dr. Kenneth McFarland
Born (1906-10-12)October 12, 1906
Caney, Kansas
Died March 6, 1985(1985-03-06) (aged 78)
Topeka, Kansas
Nationality American
Occupation Public Speaker
Educator - Superintendent of Topeka Schools during Brown v. Board of Education
Spouse(s) Margaret E. Thrall McFarland (m. 1927)
Children James W. McFarland,
Chief Justice of Kansas, the Honorable Kay McFarland

Dr. Kenneth W. McFarland (October 12, 1906 – March 6, 1985) born in Caney, Kansas was an educator, public speaker, author and conservative commentator. An early conservative, Kenneth McFarland was the public school superintendent for Coffeyville, Kansas where he founded the McFarland Trade School. Later he was hired as superintendent of the Topeka, Kansas school system,[1] the school system in the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education 347 U.S. 483 (1954),.[2] McFarland was reportedly a staunch supporter of the political and racial status quo of the time.[3]


Born in the small southeastern Kansas town of Caney, Kenneth McFarland received a bachelor’s degree from Pittsburg State College of Kansas in 1927. He received his Master’s degree at Columbia University in 1931 and a doctorate from Stanford University in 1940.

McFarland served as principal in Cherryvale, Kansas and then superintendent of schools in Coffeyville and Anthony, Kansas. He designed and built a trade school in Coffeyville, Kansas, named in his honor. The McFarland Trade School changed its name in 1965 to the Southeast Kansas Area Vocational-Technical School.)

Public speaker

From the 1950s McFarland was engaged as a public speaker and lecturer for the General Motors Corporation, and Readers Digest. He received numerous awards from politically conservative civic and business-oriented organizations for his support of free enterprise and salesmanship.


McFarland authored the speaking guide, “Eloquence in Public Speaking, How to Set Your Words on Fire” (1963). He also published 26 addresses recorded live. His speeches consistently used humor, as well as engaging speaking techniques of alliteration (“Take me to your ladder lady, I’ll see your leader later”) and vocal techniques to make for remarkable speeches such as his “Ropes of Gold,” “The Lamplighters,” “America’s Opportunity,” “Wake the Town and Tell the People,” “Selling America to Americans,” “The Eagle Has Landed,” and “America’s Opportunity.”

Along with Frank Emerson Harris, he produced a series of booklets on the preservation of “basic Americanism,” regarded as an expression of modern political conservatism.

Recorded speeches

  • America's Opportunity (Bicentennial - 1976-1989)
  • Are We Raising the Red Flag Over Ourselves?
  • Guarding America Tonight
  • Horse Sense
  • How is America Doing?
  • Ladder To Success
  • Leadership that Leads
  • Let's Sell Success
  • Liberty Under Law
  • Public Speaking - Part One
  • Public Speaking - Part Two
  • Ropes of Gold
  • Salesman Power
  • Selling America to Americans
  • Speak Up For America!
  • Sure-Fire Selling
  • The Best of McFarland's Humor, Vol I
  • The Best of McFarland's Humor, Vol II
  • The Best of McFarland on Insurance
  • The Best of McFarland for Salesmen
  • The Lamplighters
  • The PERSON in SalesPERSON
  • Wake The Town and Tell the People
  • Who Bites the Bountiful Hand
  • Who Will Succeed...?
  • You Better Believe It


According to his published obituary McFarland received many prestigious speaking awards:

  • Freedom Foundation’s National Leadership Award and Free Enterprise Exemplar Medal
  • American Academy of Achievement’s Golden Plate Award
  • Honorary Member: America’s Number One Rotary Club, Chicago
  • America’s Number One Air Passenger (for flying more than any other passenger on American Airlines)
  • Sales and Marketing Executives International’s Outstanding Salesman of America
  • Honorary Member, Fraternal Order of Police
  • Optimist International’s Highest Honor: The International President’s Award
  • Toastmaster International’s Golden Gavel Award for Excellence in Communications and Leadership
  • Named Quote Magazine’s list of 10 Most Quotable Public Speakers


External links

  • Brown v. Board of Education testimony
  • Dr. Charles Jarvis’ McFarland Project Home page
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