Archive for the ‘Ku Klux Klan’ Category

Wisconsin Saw Its First Ku Klux Klan Activity In 1920s – Wisconsin Public Radio News


Wisconsin Public Radio News
Wisconsin Saw Its First Ku Klux Klan Activity In 1920s
Wisconsin Public Radio News
Recent white nationalist events in Charlottesville, Virginia, and elsewhere have led many states, cities and institutions to reevaluate their own history, including the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which was once home to Ku Klux Klan student groups.
Ku Klux Klan leader warns there could be more violence in USSky News
Ku Klux Klan leader Thomas Robb says there could be more violence after CharlottesvilleInternational Business Times UK

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Wisconsin Saw Its First Ku Klux Klan Activity In 1920s – Wisconsin Public Radio News

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Spreckels Theatre Company cancels play with a Ku Klux Klan theme – Santa Rosa Press Democrat

(1 of ) Spreckels Performing Arts Center in Rohnert Park (SPRECKELS PERFOMING ARTS CENTER/ FACEBOOK) (2 of ) Sheri Lee Miller (COURTESY PHOTO)

DAN TAYLOR

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT | August 22, 2017, 1:31PM

| Updated 11 minutes ago.

The repercussions following the Aug. 12 clash between white nationalist protesters and counterdemonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia, have reached the Spreckels Performing Arts Center in Rohnert Park.

The theaters season-opening production of The Foreigner, a 1984 farce by the late Larry Shue featuring actors in Ku Klux Klan robes and hoods has been canceled by Sheri Lee Miller, the recently appointed new supervisor of the center and director of the Spreckels Theatre Company.

The show, originally scheduled to open Sept. 8, already had been cast and the production was in rehearsals when Miller decided to pull the show from the theaters schedule. There was no outside pressure, and only one person from the community had voiced concern about the production, Miller said.

My whole decision is based on my own feelings. It was my decision alone, she said. The whole climax of the play is these actors coming onstage in Klan robes. I felt this was not the time to treat domestic terrorism lightly.

I heard from absolutely no one in the city government of Rohnert Park prior to my decision, other than for them to say, Its completely up to you. Thats why they hired me is to make these decisions.

Comments posted on the Spreckels Performing Arts Center Facebook page were overwhelmingly supportive of her decision, she said.

Sebastopol actor Tice Allison, who was cast as a Klan leader in the play, said he was disappointed by the cancellation, which he termed a concession to the grievance industry, political correctness and selective moral outrage.

After four weeks of rehearsal the cast should have been allowed to portray the characters they were bringing to life from the playwrights script, he said. To deal with possible controversy, the theater could have written advisories warning the audience about the plays content, or hosted audience discussions before or after performances.

Had the show been canceled before our first rehearsal that would have been one thing, but we were right in the middle of it, Allison said. The rug was pulled out from under us. Why not let this play happen?

Miller said she consulted local theater critic Harry Duke, who reviews theater for the Sonoma County Gazette, the forallevents.com website, and KSRO and KRCB radio. Duke had expressed discomfort after seeing a Cloverdale Center for the Performing Arts production of The Foreigner, which ended its scheduled run the weekend of the Charlottesville rally, in which a 32-year-old woman was killed and two Virginia State Police officers died in a helicopter crash. Duke said he had enjoyed a Contra Costa production of The Foreigner two years ago, but found the play disturbing now in light of the Charlottesville events.

The Foreigner is a light, airy comedy, but after what happened in Charlottesville, I was stunned when the stage was overrun with actors in the robes and hoods of the Klan, he said. It just felt wrong to me.

Duke said discussion of the cancellation on several local theater websites and Facebook pages has been generally civil.

The Foreigner, and the rest of the Spreckels 2017-2018 theater season, had already been scheduled by Millers predecessor, supervisor and director Gene Abravaya, before his retirement last June. In the play, an Englishman staying at a resort in rural Georgia becomes aware of a plot to turn the lodge into a meeting place for the Klan.

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Spreckels Theatre Company cancels play with a Ku Klux Klan theme – Santa Rosa Press Democrat

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Priest takes leave after disclosing past in the Ku Klux Klan – Paradise Post

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) A Virginia priest is taking a leave of absence after disclosing he once was a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

Father William Aitcheson, a priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Arlington, wrote about his past Klan affiliation Monday in The Arlington Catholic Herald, the diocese’s newspaper.

The 62-year-old Aitcheson said that 40 years have passed since he was in the Klan.

He apologized for his participation and said the images from this month’s white nationalist rally in Charlottesville reminded him of a period in his life he’d prefer to forget.

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In a statement, Arlington Bishop Michael Burbidge called Aitcheson’s past with the Klan troubling, but said he hopes his story will help others turn away from hate.

Aitcheson had been serving at St. Leo the Great in Fairfax.

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‘My actions were despicable’: Catholic priest steps down after revealing he was a Ku Klux Klan member decades ago – Washington Post

A Catholic priest in Arlington, Va., is temporarily stepping down after revealing he was a member of the Ku Klux Klan and burned crosses more than 40 years ago before joining the clergy.

In an editorial published Monday in the Arlington Catholic Herald, the Rev. William Aitcheson describedhimself as an impressionable young man when he became a member of the hate group. He wrote that images from the deadly white supremacist and white nationalist rally in Charlottesville brought back memories of a bleak period in my life that I would have preferred to forget.

My actions were despicable, wrote Aitcheson, 62. When I think back on burning crosses, a threatening letter, and so on, I feel as though I am speaking of somebody else. Its hard to believe that was me.

In a statement, Catholic Diocese of Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge called Aitchesons past with the Ku Klux Klan sad and deeply troubling.

Aitcheson served with the Catholic church in Nevadabefore being transferred to Arlington, where he is originally from, church officials said in a statement. He was ordained in 1988 and has served in a variety of positions at parishes in Nevada; Arlington; Fredericksburg, Va.; and Woodstock, Md. His latest assignment was as parochial vicar, or assistant to the pastor, at St. Leo the Great in Fairfax City.

The Arlington diocese said Aitcheson would not be available for comment. Attempts to reach him Tuesday were unsuccessful.

According to a March 1977 story in The Washington Post, Aitcheson, then a 23-year-old University of Maryland student, was identified as an exalted cyclops of a KKK lodge. He was charged in several cross-burnings in Prince Georges County, Md., and other counts, including making bomb threats and manufacturing pipe bombs.

[From 1977: Maryland student charged in 6 cross burnings]

According to the 1977 Post story, state police in Maryland said Aitcheson was a leader of the Robert E. Lee Lodge of the Maryland Knights of the KKK, which had planned to recruit people to blow up facilities at Fort Meade near Laurel.

When officers searched his home in the 1970s,they found nine pounds of black powder, weapons and bomb parts in Aitchesons bedroom and basement. His parents told authorities they didnt know the explosives and weapons were in their home.

At the time of his arrest, Aitchesons father, William W. Aitcheson, said his son was a member of the hate group, adding, My son, along with others, are just caught up in it. I dont know what their thoughts are.

Aitcheson pleaded guilty to several cross burnings, including one in the front yard of an African American family in the College Park Woods neighborhood and others at Bnai Brith Hillel at the University of Maryland and the Beth Torah Congregation in Hyattsville. He was convicted and sentenced to 90 days, and ordered to pay a judgment of about$20,000.

The African American couple, who were newlyweds at the time of the incident, declined to talk Tuesday about the burning cross from 40 years ago. A woman who answered the door at their Silver Spring home said it was so long ago, and thinking about it would bring backdifficult memories.

Five years after Aitchesons involvement in the cross-burning incident at their home, President Ronald Reagan visited the couple and their young daughter, saying the incident is not something that should have happened in America, according to a May 4, 1982, article in the Post.

[A Familys Long Ordeal]

Aitcheson also pleaded guilty to charges that hethreatened to kill Coretta King, the widow of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Hetold a U.S. District Court judge that he wrote to King in February 1976, telling her to stay off the University of Maryland campus or you will die. According to a Post story, investigators said he wroteAfrica or death by lynching, take your pick, the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Hewas a U-Md.student studying broadcasting at the time.

Aitcheson was described in a 1977 Post article as speaking calmly, with his head bowed slightly at a hearing on the King case. He told a judge he was pleading guilty because well, ah, because Im guilty. He also faced charges in Marylands Howard and Carroll counties of illegal possession of firearms and manufacturing explosives.

He was convicted in U.S. District Court in Baltimore of mailing threatening communications. A judge sentenced him to 60 days in prison and four years of probation.

In his editorial published this week, Aitcheson apologized and said the recent violence in Charlottesville prompted him to share information abouthis past. Hecalled the images from Charlottesville embarrassing, adding that for those who have repented from a damaging and destructive past, the images should bring us to our knees in prayer.

[Recounting a day of rage, hate, violence and death]

Aitcheson went on: Racists have polluted minds, twisted by an ideology that reinforces the false belief that they are superior to others. Aitcheson alsowrote that the irony that he left an anti-Catholic hate group to rejoin the Catholic Church is not lost on me.

It is a reminder of the radical transformation possible through Jesus Christ in his mercy, he wrote.

Billy Atwell, a spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, said the diocese had received information about Aitchesons history when he was accepted for ministry under Bishop John Keating. He didnt provide details on what information was known.

Aitcheson attended seminary at the North American College in Rome from 1984 to 1988, according to the diocese.

Atwell said he didnt know if a criminal-background check wasconducted when Aitcheson came to the Arlington diocese in 1993, although he said more in-depth background reviews have been done routinely on staff and priests since the mid-2000s.

Since the mid-2000s all staff and clergy have had in-depth background checks under policies of the Virginia State Police, according to Atwell. The checks are also done using a national criminal check system of the FBI and fingerprinting tracking databases. It wasnt clear if his criminal record would have eliminated his ability to become a priest, either in Nevada or Virginia.

Atwell said Tuesday that Aitchesons story of repentance is authentic.

Al Leightley, head usher at Saint Leo the Great, said Aitcheson never discussed his past involvement with the KKK. Leightley found out about hispast Tuesday morning, but saidAitchesonrepented appropriately in his Monday letter.

He is a very good priest, very dedicated to his profession, he said. Its hard to see all the commotion going on with the gentleman.

Some public Catholic figures began speaking out on Aitcheson on Tuesday, including conservative legal scholar Matthew Franck, a Princeton University lecturer.

I hope this evidently good man returns to active ministry, Franck tweeted. He could do important work, especially with his history.

On the dioceses Facebook page, multiple supporters of the priest praised his decision to go public, and called him a gifted pastor. A true story of redemption. May God continue to work in and through Fr. Aitcheson, one wrote.

In a phone interview, Franck said, Sometimes people get involved in a hate group and then have been reborn, and have an interesting story to tell It would be a loss for him to just vanish.

A note at the bottom of Aitchesons editorial on Monday said he had voluntarily asked to step away from public ministry, for the well being of the Church and parish community.

Burbidge said there have been no accusations of racism or bigotry against [Aitcheson] at the Arlington diocese during his time. He said Aitchesons request to step away from public ministry was approved.

Peter Hermann, Ellie Silverman, Justin Jouvenal and Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.

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‘My actions were despicable’: Catholic priest steps down after revealing he was a Ku Klux Klan member decades ago – Washington Post

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NEW: Ku Klux Klan’s profile in Palm Beach County shrank through years – Palm Beach Post

The governor of Florida had no patience for the Ku Klux Klan. He called them covered cowards, hooded hoodlums, sheeted jerks.

Fuller Warren could afford to go after the shadowy group. It was 1951, and Florida didnt need the Klan to press Jim Crow. It was the law of the land.

With this months events in Charlottesville, Va., placing the spotlight on extremist groups nationwide, people at times are surprised to learn that Florida, the place that now is the most northern of the southern states, once was a hotbed of racism. Many will argue theres still plenty of it between Pensacola and Key West including in Palm Beach County.

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NEW: Ku Klux Klan’s profile in Palm Beach County shrank through years – Palm Beach Post

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Rebecca Blank: UW-Madison group will research Ku Klux Klan’s history on campus – Madison.com

Just over a week after a gathering of white supremacy groups in Charlottesville, Virginia, left three dead and led to the quick removal of Confederate memorials across the country, University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank announced Monday she has formed a committee to examine the history of student groups affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan.

In the 1924 edition of the Badger yearbook, a student organization called the Ku Klux Klan’s roster included actor Fredric March (then Fred Bickel) and longtime Memorial Union director Porter Butts, who are memorialized today with the Fredric March Play Circle and Porter Butts Gallery at the Union. Other members of UW’s KKK included Thomas E. Brittingham Jr., who would become a financier and co-founder of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, the patent and licensing organization of UW-Madison; and Philip Falk, later a long-time Madison schools superintendent.

Stories of the groups existence in the early 1920s have cropped up from time to time in the intervening decades, stirring controversy over whether it was affiliated with the notorious white-sheeted Invisible Empire of the Ku Klux Klan out of Georgia.

“In the wake of the tragedy in Charlottesville, it is time to take a fresh look at our history to ensure that we fully understand and appropriately acknowledge the activities of members of the campus community during this time period,” Blank said a statement Monday. “To that end, I am asking an ad-hoc study group to research the history of these student organizations, including the extent to which they were affiliated with the national KKK movement, their actions and legacies. ”

The group will be co-chaired by history professor Stephen Kantrowitz, who has been involved in the Justified Anger Coalition’s African-American history courses, and Floyd Rose, president of 100 Black Men of Madison. In the statement, Blank said she will ask the group to advise “how best the campus can acknowledge and respond to this history” by Dec. 1.

“In addition, I am asking the leadership of the Wisconsin Union to begin to identify space within the renovated Memorial Union building that could be used to document the history of these student ogranizations on campus, using the knowledge produced by this study group,” Blank said.

As a UW-Madison graduate student, Timothy Messer-Kruse wrote in a 1993 article published by the State Historical Society of Wisconsin that he could find no evidence of a direct link between the KKK at UW-Madison and the Invisible Empire, but found the organization shared many of the racist and nativist attitudes of the other, more dangerous Ku Klux Klan.

The story of the UW campus Klan is historically instructive, because it serves well as a barometer of the cultural and ideological climate of Madison and the university campus in the 1920s, Messer-Kruse wrote for the Wisconsin Magazine of History. He is now a professor at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

The UW KKK was founded and quickly became prominent at a time when the Invisible Empire was organizing in many cities, including Madison, where it had considerable if brief success.

The campus Klan was an interfraternity honorary society, an all-white, all-male group officially chartered in January, 1920, and made up of the most accomplished representatives from campus fraternities.

Members of the campus Klan served in or on the student senate, student court, alumni committee, prom and homecoming committees and were directors of the Daily Cardinal board of control, athletic board, the YMCA cabinet, Student Union board, and Memorial Union fund-raising committee, local historian Stuart Levitan wrote in Madison: The Illustrated Sesquicentennial History, Volume 1, published in 2006.

Levitan posted an image from his book last week on Facebook, noting the Memorial Union facilities named for members of the group. But Levitan said he is not suggesting the names of the facilities be changed.

The rooms were named in their honor for what they did as grown men, not for who they were as students,” he said. “I believe in growth and redemption.”

In his book, Levitan noted that the “honorary” Klan was diminished when the “authentic” Klan began recruiting on campus in 1922. While the former was made up primarily of out-of-state liberal arts majors, the latter recruited engineering majors from Wisconsin.

“The members of the honorary Klan didn’t so much object to the philosophy or activities of the new group as disdain them on a class basis,” Levitan wrote.

While the UW campus Klan may not have been affiliated with the national Klan, its members likely knew of the growing national group and the associations the name insinuated, Messer-Kruse argued.

The Invisible Empire of the Ku Klux Klan was formed in Georgia in 1915, the year of the premier of D.W. Griffiths popular film The Birth of a Nation, which synthesized a number of racist and nationalistic stereotypes in depicting the heroic riders of the Ku Klux Klan saving the South, white womanhood and the nation.

A page from the 1923 edition of the Badger yearbook dedicated to a campus organization called the Ku Klux Klan.

By adopting the name Ku Klux Klan in such a climate, students draped themselves in the flag, Messer-Kruse wrote. Approval of a group calling itself the Ku Klux Klan raised not a ripple of concern on campus, he said. Yet there is evidence of broad familiarity with Klan imagery from the earliest days of the honorary society. A Daily Cardinal item on an October 1919 meeting of the group wondered wryly what the members wore: Dya spose that they attend in sheet with eyes cut outMasquerades ought to be easy for that crowd.

Hinted associations between the groups raised no concern at the time, as a culture of intolerance permeated the UW campus, the Madison community and white America generally, Messer-Kruse wrote.

For example, the 1920 homecoming celebration included a regular old-fashioned n—– Jubilee, according to a souvenir program, featuring white performers smeared in burnt cork. The honorary Klan played a central role in producing the program, according to Messer-Kruse.

There were almost no African-American students enrolled at UW at the time; three in the freshman class of 1923 and a total of six enrolled in 1927. There were at least 550 Jewish students on campus in 1926, although they were shut out of many campus activities. For example, fraternities at UW, like many others across the country, restricted membership to males who were white or not Semitic.

The charters of fraternities at UW were approved by the dean of students and student senate, which was dominated by the honorary Ku Klux Klan, according to Messer-Kruse.

The issue of the UW KKK was raised in December 1953 during anti-Communist hearings convened by Sen. Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin. The Capital Times reproduced the Ku Klux Klan’s 1924 yearbook page under the headline U.W. Had Ku Klux Klan in 1920s! The story noted that Madison superintendent Philip Falk and UW athletic director Guy Sundt had been members.

But Dont Get Too Excited, Because It Was Just In Fun, read the headline of an accompanying story that explained that while such news could be damaging in these days of fear and guilt by association, the campus Klan existed to volunteer for campus projects. The reason the group took the name KKK is lost in the annals of the University and in the memories of its surviving members, reads the newspaper clip included in a file on the campus KKK at the UW-Madison Archives at Steenbock Library on campus.

The authentic KKK fraternity, Kappa Beta Lambda whose initials stood for Klans-men Be Loyal chartered in 1924, drew heavily from the army cadet corps. Less influential, unsocial and secretive, its members also ranked low academically. The elite of the interfraternity group had no wish to share the name of Ku Klux Klan with the hoi poloi, Messer-Kruse wrote. The KKKs Kappa Beta Lambda, in turn, changed its name in early 1927, after its application to use the Field House for a Klan rally had been rejected by the Board of Regents the prior semester.

The historical existence of the UW KKK was publicized again in 1970, during a time of sometimes violent protests against the Vietnam War culminating in the Aug. 24 bombing of Sterling Hall that killed a physics researcher.

Six weeks later, the Daily Cardinal reprinted the campus Klans 1924 yearbook page, with the remark: The Good Old Days, No Strikes, No Riots, No Dope: The Board of Regents would have loved it. Just good wholesome fun with only the occasional flaming cross.

The inference was obvious, replied Earl Settlemyer, then coordinator for fraternity affairs, in a tart press release that chided the Cardinal for not researching the issue.

The KKK was one of several interfraternity social and leadership societies of the era, Settlemyer wrote. It was not part of the national Klan and had entirely different purposes and beliefs. The men in those societies played a major part in a fund-raising project to build the Union, which produced donations of $50 from one out of every two undergraduates on campus, Settlemyer said.

The campus honorary KKK made the news again in 1992, when Isthmus reported on it, challenging UW officials assertion that the group was not affiliated with the national white supremacist group.

The Madison School District told the Wisconsin State Journal then that Falk, who had been superintendent for 1939 to 1962, was not tied to the national KKK.

News editor Bill Lueders and J. Frank Cook, then director of the UW Archives, argued over a connection between the campus and national groups in correspondence preserved in the archives.

Wrote Lueders: I still think the weight of the evidence and rationality support the conclusion that the students who formed and affiliated with the campus Ku Klux Klan must have known about, and not been uncomfortable with, the groups white supremacist bias.

Cook argued at length that there was no affiliation, but also stated: Racism and hatred of certain ethnic and religious groups was rampant in the U.S. in the 1920s and there is no reason to assume that this climate did not exist on the campus of the University of Wisconsin.

Messer-Kruse made a similar observation.

“The same conditions of rapid social, cultural and economic change in America that had bred an atmosphere of fear, distrust and xenophobia,” and led to a resurgence of KKK in towns across America also affected students on the UW campus, he wrote.

Nearly a century later, communities facing a new wave of fear, distrust and xenophobia are grappling with how to deal with their histories.

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Rebecca Blank: UW-Madison group will research Ku Klux Klan’s history on campus – Madison.com

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How One Man Convinced 200 Ku Klux Klan Members To Give Up Their Robes – NPR

For 30 years, Daryl Davis has spent time befriending members of the Ku Klux Klan. He says 200 Klansmen have given up their robes after talking with him. Courtesy of Daryl Davis hide caption

For 30 years, Daryl Davis has spent time befriending members of the Ku Klux Klan. He says 200 Klansmen have given up their robes after talking with him.

Daryl Davis is a blues musician, but he also has what some might call an interesting hobby. For the past 30 years, Davis, a black man, has spent time befriending members of the Ku Klux Klan.

He says once the friendship blossoms, the Klansmen realize that their hate may be misguided. Since Davis started talking with these members, he says 200 Klansmen have given up their robes. When that happens, Davis collects the robes and keeps them in his home as a reminder of the dent he has made in racism by simply sitting down and having dinner with people.

On the first time he befriended a member of the Ku Klux Klan

I was playing music it was my first time playing in this particular bar called the Silver Dollar Lounge and this white gentleman approached me and he says, “I really enjoy you all’s music.” I thanked him, shook his hand and he says, “You know this is the first time I ever heard a black man play piano like Jerry Lee Lewis.” I was kind of surprised that he did not know the origin of that kind of music and I said, “Well, where do you think Jerry Lee Lewis learned how to play that kind of style?” He’s like, “Well, I don’t know.” I said, “He learned it from the same place I did. Black, blues, and boogie-woogie piano players.” That’s what that rockabilly, rock ‘n roll style came from.” He said, “Oh, no! Jerry Lee invented that. I ain’t ever heard no black man except for you play like that.” So I’m thinking this guy has never heard Fats Domino or Little Richard and then he says, “You know, this is the first time I ever sat down and had a drink with a black man?”

Daryl Davis first befriended a member of the Ku Klux Klan in a bar where he was performing. He says they bonded over liking the same type of music. Courtesy of Jonathan Timmes hide caption

Daryl Davis first befriended a member of the Ku Klux Klan in a bar where he was performing. He says they bonded over liking the same type of music.

Well, now I’m getting curious. I’m trying to figure out, now how is it that in my 25 years on the face of this earth that I have sat down, literally, with thousands of white people, had a beverage, a meal, a conversation or anybody else, and this guy is 15 to 20 years older than me and he’s never sat down with a black guy before and had a drink. I said, “How is that? Why?” At first, he didn’t answer me and he had a friend sitting next to him and he elbowed him and said, “Tell him, tell him, tell him,” and he finally said, “I’m a member of the Ku Klux Klan.”

On his reaction on hearing he was talking a member of the Klan

I just burst out laughing because I really did not believe him. I thought he was pulling my leg. As I was laughing, he pulled out his wallet, flipped through his credit cards and pictures and produced his Klan card and handed it to me. Immediately, I stopped laughing. I recognized the logo on there, the Klan symbol and I realized this was for real, this guy wasn’t joking. And now I’m wondering, why am I sitting by a Klansman?

But he was very friendly, it was the music that brought us together. He wanted me to call him and let him know anytime I was to return to this bar with this band. The fact that a Klansman and black person could sit down at the same table and enjoy the same music, that was a seed planted. So what do you do when you plant a seed? You nourish it. That was the impetus for me to write a book. I decided to go around the country and sit down with Klan leaders and Klan members to find out: How can you hate me when you don’t even know me?

On what he says to a Klansman

The best thing you do is you study up on the subject as much as you can. I went in armed, not with a weapon, but with knowledge. I knew as much about the Klan, if not more than many of the Klan people that I interviewed. When they see that you know about their organization, their belief system, they respect you. Whether they like you or not, they respect the fact that you’ve done your homework. Just like any good salesman, you want a return visit and they recognized that I’d done my homework, which allowed me to come back again.

That began to chip away at their ideology because when two enemies are talking, they’re not fighting. It’s when the talking ceases that the ground becomes fertile for violence. If you spend five minutes with your worst enemy it doesn’t have to be about race, it could be about anything…you will find that you both have something in common. As you build upon those commonalities, you’re forming a relationship and as you build about that relationship, you’re forming a friendship. That’s what would happen. I didn’t convert anybody. They saw the light and converted themselves.

On what the Klansmen thought when he asked them why they hated him

Initially, they feel that if you’re not white, you are inferior. [They believe] that black people have smaller brains, we’re incapable of higher achievement. I’ll give you an example of one. This guy was an exalted cyclops sitting in my car in my passenger seat. He made the statement, which I’d heard before, “Well we all know that all black people have within them a gene that makes them violent.” I turned to him and I’m driving and I said, “Wait a minute. I’m as black as anybody you’ve ever seen. I have never done a carjacking or a driveby, how do you explain that?” He didn’t even pause to think about it. He said, “Your gene is latent. It hasn’t come out yet.”

So how do you argue with somebody who is that far out in left field? I was dumbfounded. I’m just driving along. He’s sitting over here all smug and secure, like “See you have no response?” And I thought about it for a minute. Then I used his point of reference. I said, “Well, we all know that all white people have a gene within them that makes them a serial killer.” He says, “What do you mean?” And I said,”Well, name me three black serial killers.” He thought about it he could not do it. I said, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy. All whites. I said, “Son, you are a serial killer.” He says “Daryl, I’ve never killed anybody.” I said, “Your gene is latent. It hasn’t come out yet.” He goes, “Well, that’s stupid!” I said, “Well, duh. Yes, but you know what, you’re right. What I said was stupid, but no more stupid than what you said you me.” Then he got very, very quiet and changed the subject. Five months later, based on that conversation he left the Klan. His robe was the first robe I ever got.

Matthew Schwartz produced the audio for this story. Wynne Davis adapted it for web.

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How One Man Convinced 200 Ku Klux Klan Members To Give Up Their Robes – NPR

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KKK leader threatens to ‘burn’ Latina journalist, the first black person on his property – Washington Post

A leader of the Ku Klux Klan in Pelham, N.C., called Univision reporter Ilia Caldern the n-word and threatened to “burn” her while she conducted an interview. (Univision)

Christopher Barker, a leader of a Ku Klux Klan chapter in North Carolina, agreed to meet for an interview at his homelate last month with Ilia Caldern, a Colombian news anchor for Univision based in Miami. He was told the interview would be conducted by a Hispanic woman of color.

But when Barker saw Caldern step out of a car and onto his property near Yanceyville, N.C., the KKK leader appeared taken aback, according toCaldern and her producer,Mara Martnez-Guzmn. Hehad expected someone like the rest of the predominately Hispanic, lighter-skinned news crew, theysaid.

ButCaldern isblack.Barker told her she was the first black person to step on his landin his 20 years of living there.

Barker is the imperial wizard of the Loyal White Knights of the KKK in Pelham, N.C., a group that would later participate in a deadlywhite supremacist rally in Charlottesville. Caldern isa U.S. citizen and Colombian immigrant.

Univision planned the interview with Barker and his wife, Amanda Barker,months in advanceto provide viewers with an up-close look into a white supremacists views, Caldern told The Washington Post.

It was an interview that quickly turned hostile.

AsCaldern pressed Barker on his views, he called herthe n-word and told her to go back to her country. He also appeared to threaten her.

Why dont you go back? Barker said in the interview, which Univisionaired Sunday night. We have nothing here in America, yall keep flooding it. Were going to chase you out of here.

Are you going to chase me out of here?Caldern responded.

No, were going to burn you out, he said.

How are you gonna do it? she retorted.

At one point, she asked him how he would burn outthe 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the country.

Dont matter, Barker said. We killed sixmillion Jews the last time. Elevenmillion is nothing.

Youre telling me youre going to burn me, Caldern also said, to which he responded: Yeah, youre sitting on my property now.

At times, Caldern said she feared for her safety, though Barker never followed through with any of his threats.

The program, broadcastin Spanish on Univisions Aqui y Ahora, spurred a slew of reactions on social media. Many viewers praisedCaldern for her courage and professionalism, and commended the Spanish-language media companyfor shedding light on the KKKs disgusting views. But others criticized Univision for the interview, calling it sensationalized and claiming the network madeCaldern appear a victim in an attempt to get ratings.

Last week,Randy Falco, chief executiveof Univision Communications,wrote a memo to staffers calling for stronger leadership in light of the violence in Charlottesville, and Trumps muted responses to it. Falcocondemned attacks on immigrants, the LGBT community, the media and those who espouse racist and hateful views, Variety reported.

Caldern told The Postshe had volunteered to do the interview, in order to show her Latino viewers that these groups are alive. She had been nervous to meet Barker, but she had never expected to feel as insulted and threatened as she did during the encounter.

I represent the things that they hate: I am black, I am Hispanic, I am an immigrant, she said. Her own family reflects a merging of cultures. The Colombian native moved to the U.S. 16 years ago, and has since married a Korean American physical therapist. Their young daughter, Anna, is multiracial.

Caldern told The Post she struggled at times to understandBarker, partly becauseEnglish is her second language and because of his accent. She didnt initially understand one of the terms he called her: mongrel.

Ive been here over 20 years and weve never had a black person or whatever you want to call yourself, youre a mongrel to me, Barker said. Weve never had one. We dont let them around.

Caldern frequently pushed back on his views, and told himshe found his language offensive. My skin color doesnt define me, she said.

Im way more superior than youll ever be, Barker said.

As the Univision crew filmed, othermembers of the Loyal White Knights joined the Barkers to perform a cross-burning ceremony. They held torches and circled a cross, chanting For race, for God, for nation, for the Ku Klux Klan.

At one point during the interview, Caldern asked him if, hypothetically, he would be willing to accept an organ donation from her to one of his children, if she was deemed a match. He told her it was not possible, Caldern recalled, claimingthat his blood was not the same as hers because of their different races.

Barker denied that he led a hate group. Both he and his wife said they dont hate anyone, werenot racist and do notcondone violence.

A few weeks after the interview, the Barkers confirmed to Univision that they attended the Charlottesville rally. In an interview with North Carolina television station WBTV, the couple praised the man accused ofdriving a carinto crowds, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others.

I really hate that that girl died, but she had a choice to be there that day, Amanda Barker told WBTV.

Her husband disagreed: I dont hate that she died, because shes a Communist, Christopher Barker said. He blamed the violence on the antifascists and on the lack of security at the protests.

When a couple of them die, it doesnt bother us, hetold the station. Theyre always attacking and messing with our rallies.

More from Morning Mix

Former Philly mayor Frank Rizzo was no Confederate. But its open season on his statue.

Robert E. Lee discouraged monuments. They keep open the sores of war, he wrote.

Tina Fey urges Americans: Stay home from neo-Nazi rallies. Eat a sheet cake instead.

Foxs James Murdoch blasts Trump on Charlottesville: There are no good Nazis

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KKK leader threatens to ‘burn’ Latina journalist, the first black person on his property – Washington Post

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Madge Oberholtzer: The murder that brought down the Ku Klux Klan – WRTV Indianapolis


WRTV Indianapolis
Madge Oberholtzer: The murder that brought down the Ku Klux Klan
WRTV Indianapolis
He was the former Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan in Indiana an organization he had grown from a membership of just a few thousand to one, by 1925, that had swelled in some estimates to more than half a million Hoosiers. In the previous election, …

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Madge Oberholtzer: The murder that brought down the Ku Klux Klan – WRTV Indianapolis

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Wisconsin Saw Its First Ku Klux Klan Activity In 1920s – Wisconsin Public Radio News

Wisconsin Public Radio News Wisconsin Saw Its First Ku Klux Klan Activity In 1920s Wisconsin Public Radio News Recent white nationalist events in Charlottesville, Virginia, and elsewhere have led many states, cities and institutions to reevaluate their own history, including the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which was once home to Ku Klux Klan student groups. Ku Klux Klan leader warns there could be more violence in US Sky News Ku Klux Klan leader Thomas Robb says there could be more violence after Charlottesville International Business Times UK all 11 news articles »

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Spreckels Theatre Company cancels play with a Ku Klux Klan theme – Santa Rosa Press Democrat

(1 of ) Spreckels Performing Arts Center in Rohnert Park (SPRECKELS PERFOMING ARTS CENTER/ FACEBOOK) (2 of ) Sheri Lee Miller (COURTESY PHOTO) DAN TAYLOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT | August 22, 2017, 1:31PM | Updated 11 minutes ago. The repercussions following the Aug. 12 clash between white nationalist protesters and counterdemonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia, have reached the Spreckels Performing Arts Center in Rohnert Park. The theaters season-opening production of The Foreigner, a 1984 farce by the late Larry Shue featuring actors in Ku Klux Klan robes and hoods has been canceled by Sheri Lee Miller, the recently appointed new supervisor of the center and director of the Spreckels Theatre Company. The show, originally scheduled to open Sept. 8, already had been cast and the production was in rehearsals when Miller decided to pull the show from the theaters schedule. There was no outside pressure, and only one person from the community had voiced concern about the production, Miller said. My whole decision is based on my own feelings. It was my decision alone, she said. The whole climax of the play is these actors coming onstage in Klan robes. I felt this was not the time to treat domestic terrorism lightly. I heard from absolutely no one in the city government of Rohnert Park prior to my decision, other than for them to say, Its completely up to you. Thats why they hired me is to make these decisions. Comments posted on the Spreckels Performing Arts Center Facebook page were overwhelmingly supportive of her decision, she said. Sebastopol actor Tice Allison, who was cast as a Klan leader in the play, said he was disappointed by the cancellation, which he termed a concession to the grievance industry, political correctness and selective moral outrage. After four weeks of rehearsal the cast should have been allowed to portray the characters they were bringing to life from the playwrights script, he said. To deal with possible controversy, the theater could have written advisories warning the audience about the plays content, or hosted audience discussions before or after performances. Had the show been canceled before our first rehearsal that would have been one thing, but we were right in the middle of it, Allison said. The rug was pulled out from under us. Why not let this play happen? Miller said she consulted local theater critic Harry Duke, who reviews theater for the Sonoma County Gazette, the forallevents.com website, and KSRO and KRCB radio. Duke had expressed discomfort after seeing a Cloverdale Center for the Performing Arts production of The Foreigner, which ended its scheduled run the weekend of the Charlottesville rally, in which a 32-year-old woman was killed and two Virginia State Police officers died in a helicopter crash. Duke said he had enjoyed a Contra Costa production of The Foreigner two years ago, but found the play disturbing now in light of the Charlottesville events. The Foreigner is a light, airy comedy, but after what happened in Charlottesville, I was stunned when the stage was overrun with actors in the robes and hoods of the Klan, he said. It just felt wrong to me. Duke said discussion of the cancellation on several local theater websites and Facebook pages has been generally civil. The Foreigner, and the rest of the Spreckels 2017-2018 theater season, had already been scheduled by Millers predecessor, supervisor and director Gene Abravaya, before his retirement last June. In the play, an Englishman staying at a resort in rural Georgia becomes aware of a plot to turn the lodge into a meeting place for the Klan.

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Priest takes leave after disclosing past in the Ku Klux Klan – Paradise Post

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) A Virginia priest is taking a leave of absence after disclosing he once was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Father William Aitcheson, a priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Arlington, wrote about his past Klan affiliation Monday in The Arlington Catholic Herald, the diocese’s newspaper. The 62-year-old Aitcheson said that 40 years have passed since he was in the Klan. He apologized for his participation and said the images from this month’s white nationalist rally in Charlottesville reminded him of a period in his life he’d prefer to forget. Advertisement In a statement, Arlington Bishop Michael Burbidge called Aitcheson’s past with the Klan troubling, but said he hopes his story will help others turn away from hate. Aitcheson had been serving at St. Leo the Great in Fairfax.

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‘My actions were despicable’: Catholic priest steps down after revealing he was a Ku Klux Klan member decades ago – Washington Post

A Catholic priest in Arlington, Va., is temporarily stepping down after revealing he was a member of the Ku Klux Klan and burned crosses more than 40 years ago before joining the clergy. In an editorial published Monday in the Arlington Catholic Herald, the Rev. William Aitcheson describedhimself as an impressionable young man when he became a member of the hate group. He wrote that images from the deadly white supremacist and white nationalist rally in Charlottesville brought back memories of a bleak period in my life that I would have preferred to forget. My actions were despicable, wrote Aitcheson, 62. When I think back on burning crosses, a threatening letter, and so on, I feel as though I am speaking of somebody else. Its hard to believe that was me. In a statement, Catholic Diocese of Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge called Aitchesons past with the Ku Klux Klan sad and deeply troubling. Aitcheson served with the Catholic church in Nevadabefore being transferred to Arlington, where he is originally from, church officials said in a statement. He was ordained in 1988 and has served in a variety of positions at parishes in Nevada; Arlington; Fredericksburg, Va.; and Woodstock, Md. His latest assignment was as parochial vicar, or assistant to the pastor, at St. Leo the Great in Fairfax City. The Arlington diocese said Aitcheson would not be available for comment. Attempts to reach him Tuesday were unsuccessful. According to a March 1977 story in The Washington Post, Aitcheson, then a 23-year-old University of Maryland student, was identified as an exalted cyclops of a KKK lodge. He was charged in several cross-burnings in Prince Georges County, Md., and other counts, including making bomb threats and manufacturing pipe bombs. [From 1977: Maryland student charged in 6 cross burnings] According to the 1977 Post story, state police in Maryland said Aitcheson was a leader of the Robert E. Lee Lodge of the Maryland Knights of the KKK, which had planned to recruit people to blow up facilities at Fort Meade near Laurel. When officers searched his home in the 1970s,they found nine pounds of black powder, weapons and bomb parts in Aitchesons bedroom and basement. His parents told authorities they didnt know the explosives and weapons were in their home. At the time of his arrest, Aitchesons father, William W. Aitcheson, said his son was a member of the hate group, adding, My son, along with others, are just caught up in it. I dont know what their thoughts are. Aitcheson pleaded guilty to several cross burnings, including one in the front yard of an African American family in the College Park Woods neighborhood and others at Bnai Brith Hillel at the University of Maryland and the Beth Torah Congregation in Hyattsville. He was convicted and sentenced to 90 days, and ordered to pay a judgment of about$20,000. The African American couple, who were newlyweds at the time of the incident, declined to talk Tuesday about the burning cross from 40 years ago. A woman who answered the door at their Silver Spring home said it was so long ago, and thinking about it would bring backdifficult memories. Five years after Aitchesons involvement in the cross-burning incident at their home, President Ronald Reagan visited the couple and their young daughter, saying the incident is not something that should have happened in America, according to a May 4, 1982, article in the Post. [A Familys Long Ordeal] Aitcheson also pleaded guilty to charges that hethreatened to kill Coretta King, the widow of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Hetold a U.S. District Court judge that he wrote to King in February 1976, telling her to stay off the University of Maryland campus or you will die. According to a Post story, investigators said he wroteAfrica or death by lynching, take your pick, the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Hewas a U-Md.student studying broadcasting at the time. Aitcheson was described in a 1977 Post article as speaking calmly, with his head bowed slightly at a hearing on the King case. He told a judge he was pleading guilty because well, ah, because Im guilty. He also faced charges in Marylands Howard and Carroll counties of illegal possession of firearms and manufacturing explosives. He was convicted in U.S. District Court in Baltimore of mailing threatening communications. A judge sentenced him to 60 days in prison and four years of probation. In his editorial published this week, Aitcheson apologized and said the recent violence in Charlottesville prompted him to share information abouthis past. Hecalled the images from Charlottesville embarrassing, adding that for those who have repented from a damaging and destructive past, the images should bring us to our knees in prayer. [Recounting a day of rage, hate, violence and death] Aitcheson went on: Racists have polluted minds, twisted by an ideology that reinforces the false belief that they are superior to others. Aitcheson alsowrote that the irony that he left an anti-Catholic hate group to rejoin the Catholic Church is not lost on me. It is a reminder of the radical transformation possible through Jesus Christ in his mercy, he wrote. Billy Atwell, a spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, said the diocese had received information about Aitchesons history when he was accepted for ministry under Bishop John Keating. He didnt provide details on what information was known. Aitcheson attended seminary at the North American College in Rome from 1984 to 1988, according to the diocese. Atwell said he didnt know if a criminal-background check wasconducted when Aitcheson came to the Arlington diocese in 1993, although he said more in-depth background reviews have been done routinely on staff and priests since the mid-2000s. Since the mid-2000s all staff and clergy have had in-depth background checks under policies of the Virginia State Police, according to Atwell. The checks are also done using a national criminal check system of the FBI and fingerprinting tracking databases. It wasnt clear if his criminal record would have eliminated his ability to become a priest, either in Nevada or Virginia. Atwell said Tuesday that Aitchesons story of repentance is authentic. Al Leightley, head usher at Saint Leo the Great, said Aitcheson never discussed his past involvement with the KKK. Leightley found out about hispast Tuesday morning, but saidAitchesonrepented appropriately in his Monday letter. He is a very good priest, very dedicated to his profession, he said. Its hard to see all the commotion going on with the gentleman. Some public Catholic figures began speaking out on Aitcheson on Tuesday, including conservative legal scholar Matthew Franck, a Princeton University lecturer. I hope this evidently good man returns to active ministry, Franck tweeted. He could do important work, especially with his history. On the dioceses Facebook page, multiple supporters of the priest praised his decision to go public, and called him a gifted pastor. A true story of redemption. May God continue to work in and through Fr. Aitcheson, one wrote. In a phone interview, Franck said, Sometimes people get involved in a hate group and then have been reborn, and have an interesting story to tell It would be a loss for him to just vanish. A note at the bottom of Aitchesons editorial on Monday said he had voluntarily asked to step away from public ministry, for the well being of the Church and parish community. Burbidge said there have been no accusations of racism or bigotry against [Aitcheson] at the Arlington diocese during his time. He said Aitchesons request to step away from public ministry was approved. Peter Hermann, Ellie Silverman, Justin Jouvenal and Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.

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NEW: Ku Klux Klan’s profile in Palm Beach County shrank through years – Palm Beach Post

The governor of Florida had no patience for the Ku Klux Klan. He called them covered cowards, hooded hoodlums, sheeted jerks. Fuller Warren could afford to go after the shadowy group. It was 1951, and Florida didnt need the Klan to press Jim Crow. It was the law of the land. With this months events in Charlottesville, Va., placing the spotlight on extremist groups nationwide, people at times are surprised to learn that Florida, the place that now is the most northern of the southern states, once was a hotbed of racism. Many will argue theres still plenty of it between Pensacola and Key West including in Palm Beach County.

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Rebecca Blank: UW-Madison group will research Ku Klux Klan’s history on campus – Madison.com

Just over a week after a gathering of white supremacy groups in Charlottesville, Virginia, left three dead and led to the quick removal of Confederate memorials across the country, University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank announced Monday she has formed a committee to examine the history of student groups affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan. In the 1924 edition of the Badger yearbook, a student organization called the Ku Klux Klan’s roster included actor Fredric March (then Fred Bickel) and longtime Memorial Union director Porter Butts, who are memorialized today with the Fredric March Play Circle and Porter Butts Gallery at the Union. Other members of UW’s KKK included Thomas E. Brittingham Jr., who would become a financier and co-founder of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, the patent and licensing organization of UW-Madison; and Philip Falk, later a long-time Madison schools superintendent. Stories of the groups existence in the early 1920s have cropped up from time to time in the intervening decades, stirring controversy over whether it was affiliated with the notorious white-sheeted Invisible Empire of the Ku Klux Klan out of Georgia. “In the wake of the tragedy in Charlottesville, it is time to take a fresh look at our history to ensure that we fully understand and appropriately acknowledge the activities of members of the campus community during this time period,” Blank said a statement Monday. “To that end, I am asking an ad-hoc study group to research the history of these student organizations, including the extent to which they were affiliated with the national KKK movement, their actions and legacies. ” The group will be co-chaired by history professor Stephen Kantrowitz, who has been involved in the Justified Anger Coalition’s African-American history courses, and Floyd Rose, president of 100 Black Men of Madison. In the statement, Blank said she will ask the group to advise “how best the campus can acknowledge and respond to this history” by Dec. 1. “In addition, I am asking the leadership of the Wisconsin Union to begin to identify space within the renovated Memorial Union building that could be used to document the history of these student ogranizations on campus, using the knowledge produced by this study group,” Blank said. As a UW-Madison graduate student, Timothy Messer-Kruse wrote in a 1993 article published by the State Historical Society of Wisconsin that he could find no evidence of a direct link between the KKK at UW-Madison and the Invisible Empire, but found the organization shared many of the racist and nativist attitudes of the other, more dangerous Ku Klux Klan. The story of the UW campus Klan is historically instructive, because it serves well as a barometer of the cultural and ideological climate of Madison and the university campus in the 1920s, Messer-Kruse wrote for the Wisconsin Magazine of History. He is now a professor at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. The UW KKK was founded and quickly became prominent at a time when the Invisible Empire was organizing in many cities, including Madison, where it had considerable if brief success. The campus Klan was an interfraternity honorary society, an all-white, all-male group officially chartered in January, 1920, and made up of the most accomplished representatives from campus fraternities. Members of the campus Klan served in or on the student senate, student court, alumni committee, prom and homecoming committees and were directors of the Daily Cardinal board of control, athletic board, the YMCA cabinet, Student Union board, and Memorial Union fund-raising committee, local historian Stuart Levitan wrote in Madison: The Illustrated Sesquicentennial History, Volume 1, published in 2006. Levitan posted an image from his book last week on Facebook, noting the Memorial Union facilities named for members of the group. But Levitan said he is not suggesting the names of the facilities be changed. The rooms were named in their honor for what they did as grown men, not for who they were as students,” he said. “I believe in growth and redemption.” In his book, Levitan noted that the “honorary” Klan was diminished when the “authentic” Klan began recruiting on campus in 1922. While the former was made up primarily of out-of-state liberal arts majors, the latter recruited engineering majors from Wisconsin. “The members of the honorary Klan didn’t so much object to the philosophy or activities of the new group as disdain them on a class basis,” Levitan wrote. While the UW campus Klan may not have been affiliated with the national Klan, its members likely knew of the growing national group and the associations the name insinuated, Messer-Kruse argued. The Invisible Empire of the Ku Klux Klan was formed in Georgia in 1915, the year of the premier of D.W. Griffiths popular film The Birth of a Nation, which synthesized a number of racist and nationalistic stereotypes in depicting the heroic riders of the Ku Klux Klan saving the South, white womanhood and the nation. A page from the 1923 edition of the Badger yearbook dedicated to a campus organization called the Ku Klux Klan. By adopting the name Ku Klux Klan in such a climate, students draped themselves in the flag, Messer-Kruse wrote. Approval of a group calling itself the Ku Klux Klan raised not a ripple of concern on campus, he said. Yet there is evidence of broad familiarity with Klan imagery from the earliest days of the honorary society. A Daily Cardinal item on an October 1919 meeting of the group wondered wryly what the members wore: Dya spose that they attend in sheet with eyes cut outMasquerades ought to be easy for that crowd. Hinted associations between the groups raised no concern at the time, as a culture of intolerance permeated the UW campus, the Madison community and white America generally, Messer-Kruse wrote. For example, the 1920 homecoming celebration included a regular old-fashioned n—– Jubilee, according to a souvenir program, featuring white performers smeared in burnt cork. The honorary Klan played a central role in producing the program, according to Messer-Kruse. There were almost no African-American students enrolled at UW at the time; three in the freshman class of 1923 and a total of six enrolled in 1927. There were at least 550 Jewish students on campus in 1926, although they were shut out of many campus activities. For example, fraternities at UW, like many others across the country, restricted membership to males who were white or not Semitic. The charters of fraternities at UW were approved by the dean of students and student senate, which was dominated by the honorary Ku Klux Klan, according to Messer-Kruse. The issue of the UW KKK was raised in December 1953 during anti-Communist hearings convened by Sen. Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin. The Capital Times reproduced the Ku Klux Klan’s 1924 yearbook page under the headline U.W. Had Ku Klux Klan in 1920s! The story noted that Madison superintendent Philip Falk and UW athletic director Guy Sundt had been members. But Dont Get Too Excited, Because It Was Just In Fun, read the headline of an accompanying story that explained that while such news could be damaging in these days of fear and guilt by association, the campus Klan existed to volunteer for campus projects. The reason the group took the name KKK is lost in the annals of the University and in the memories of its surviving members, reads the newspaper clip included in a file on the campus KKK at the UW-Madison Archives at Steenbock Library on campus. The authentic KKK fraternity, Kappa Beta Lambda whose initials stood for Klans-men Be Loyal chartered in 1924, drew heavily from the army cadet corps. Less influential, unsocial and secretive, its members also ranked low academically. The elite of the interfraternity group had no wish to share the name of Ku Klux Klan with the hoi poloi, Messer-Kruse wrote. The KKKs Kappa Beta Lambda, in turn, changed its name in early 1927, after its application to use the Field House for a Klan rally had been rejected by the Board of Regents the prior semester. The historical existence of the UW KKK was publicized again in 1970, during a time of sometimes violent protests against the Vietnam War culminating in the Aug. 24 bombing of Sterling Hall that killed a physics researcher. Six weeks later, the Daily Cardinal reprinted the campus Klans 1924 yearbook page, with the remark: The Good Old Days, No Strikes, No Riots, No Dope: The Board of Regents would have loved it. Just good wholesome fun with only the occasional flaming cross. The inference was obvious, replied Earl Settlemyer, then coordinator for fraternity affairs, in a tart press release that chided the Cardinal for not researching the issue. The KKK was one of several interfraternity social and leadership societies of the era, Settlemyer wrote. It was not part of the national Klan and had entirely different purposes and beliefs. The men in those societies played a major part in a fund-raising project to build the Union, which produced donations of $50 from one out of every two undergraduates on campus, Settlemyer said. The campus honorary KKK made the news again in 1992, when Isthmus reported on it, challenging UW officials assertion that the group was not affiliated with the national white supremacist group. The Madison School District told the Wisconsin State Journal then that Falk, who had been superintendent for 1939 to 1962, was not tied to the national KKK. News editor Bill Lueders and J. Frank Cook, then director of the UW Archives, argued over a connection between the campus and national groups in correspondence preserved in the archives. Wrote Lueders: I still think the weight of the evidence and rationality support the conclusion that the students who formed and affiliated with the campus Ku Klux Klan must have known about, and not been uncomfortable with, the groups white supremacist bias. Cook argued at length that there was no affiliation, but also stated: Racism and hatred of certain ethnic and religious groups was rampant in the U.S. in the 1920s and there is no reason to assume that this climate did not exist on the campus of the University of Wisconsin. Messer-Kruse made a similar observation. “The same conditions of rapid social, cultural and economic change in America that had bred an atmosphere of fear, distrust and xenophobia,” and led to a resurgence of KKK in towns across America also affected students on the UW campus, he wrote. Nearly a century later, communities facing a new wave of fear, distrust and xenophobia are grappling with how to deal with their histories.

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How One Man Convinced 200 Ku Klux Klan Members To Give Up Their Robes – NPR

For 30 years, Daryl Davis has spent time befriending members of the Ku Klux Klan. He says 200 Klansmen have given up their robes after talking with him. Courtesy of Daryl Davis hide caption For 30 years, Daryl Davis has spent time befriending members of the Ku Klux Klan. He says 200 Klansmen have given up their robes after talking with him. Daryl Davis is a blues musician, but he also has what some might call an interesting hobby. For the past 30 years, Davis, a black man, has spent time befriending members of the Ku Klux Klan. He says once the friendship blossoms, the Klansmen realize that their hate may be misguided. Since Davis started talking with these members, he says 200 Klansmen have given up their robes. When that happens, Davis collects the robes and keeps them in his home as a reminder of the dent he has made in racism by simply sitting down and having dinner with people. On the first time he befriended a member of the Ku Klux Klan I was playing music it was my first time playing in this particular bar called the Silver Dollar Lounge and this white gentleman approached me and he says, “I really enjoy you all’s music.” I thanked him, shook his hand and he says, “You know this is the first time I ever heard a black man play piano like Jerry Lee Lewis.” I was kind of surprised that he did not know the origin of that kind of music and I said, “Well, where do you think Jerry Lee Lewis learned how to play that kind of style?” He’s like, “Well, I don’t know.” I said, “He learned it from the same place I did. Black, blues, and boogie-woogie piano players.” That’s what that rockabilly, rock ‘n roll style came from.” He said, “Oh, no! Jerry Lee invented that. I ain’t ever heard no black man except for you play like that.” So I’m thinking this guy has never heard Fats Domino or Little Richard and then he says, “You know, this is the first time I ever sat down and had a drink with a black man?” Daryl Davis first befriended a member of the Ku Klux Klan in a bar where he was performing. He says they bonded over liking the same type of music. Courtesy of Jonathan Timmes hide caption Daryl Davis first befriended a member of the Ku Klux Klan in a bar where he was performing. He says they bonded over liking the same type of music. Well, now I’m getting curious. I’m trying to figure out, now how is it that in my 25 years on the face of this earth that I have sat down, literally, with thousands of white people, had a beverage, a meal, a conversation or anybody else, and this guy is 15 to 20 years older than me and he’s never sat down with a black guy before and had a drink. I said, “How is that? Why?” At first, he didn’t answer me and he had a friend sitting next to him and he elbowed him and said, “Tell him, tell him, tell him,” and he finally said, “I’m a member of the Ku Klux Klan.” On his reaction on hearing he was talking a member of the Klan I just burst out laughing because I really did not believe him. I thought he was pulling my leg. As I was laughing, he pulled out his wallet, flipped through his credit cards and pictures and produced his Klan card and handed it to me. Immediately, I stopped laughing. I recognized the logo on there, the Klan symbol and I realized this was for real, this guy wasn’t joking. And now I’m wondering, why am I sitting by a Klansman? But he was very friendly, it was the music that brought us together. He wanted me to call him and let him know anytime I was to return to this bar with this band. The fact that a Klansman and black person could sit down at the same table and enjoy the same music, that was a seed planted. So what do you do when you plant a seed? You nourish it. That was the impetus for me to write a book. I decided to go around the country and sit down with Klan leaders and Klan members to find out: How can you hate me when you don’t even know me? On what he says to a Klansman The best thing you do is you study up on the subject as much as you can. I went in armed, not with a weapon, but with knowledge. I knew as much about the Klan, if not more than many of the Klan people that I interviewed. When they see that you know about their organization, their belief system, they respect you. Whether they like you or not, they respect the fact that you’ve done your homework. Just like any good salesman, you want a return visit and they recognized that I’d done my homework, which allowed me to come back again. That began to chip away at their ideology because when two enemies are talking, they’re not fighting. It’s when the talking ceases that the ground becomes fertile for violence. If you spend five minutes with your worst enemy it doesn’t have to be about race, it could be about anything…you will find that you both have something in common. As you build upon those commonalities, you’re forming a relationship and as you build about that relationship, you’re forming a friendship. That’s what would happen. I didn’t convert anybody. They saw the light and converted themselves. On what the Klansmen thought when he asked them why they hated him Initially, they feel that if you’re not white, you are inferior. [They believe] that black people have smaller brains, we’re incapable of higher achievement. I’ll give you an example of one. This guy was an exalted cyclops sitting in my car in my passenger seat. He made the statement, which I’d heard before, “Well we all know that all black people have within them a gene that makes them violent.” I turned to him and I’m driving and I said, “Wait a minute. I’m as black as anybody you’ve ever seen. I have never done a carjacking or a driveby, how do you explain that?” He didn’t even pause to think about it. He said, “Your gene is latent. It hasn’t come out yet.” So how do you argue with somebody who is that far out in left field? I was dumbfounded. I’m just driving along. He’s sitting over here all smug and secure, like “See you have no response?” And I thought about it for a minute. Then I used his point of reference. I said, “Well, we all know that all white people have a gene within them that makes them a serial killer.” He says, “What do you mean?” And I said,”Well, name me three black serial killers.” He thought about it he could not do it. I said, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy. All whites. I said, “Son, you are a serial killer.” He says “Daryl, I’ve never killed anybody.” I said, “Your gene is latent. It hasn’t come out yet.” He goes, “Well, that’s stupid!” I said, “Well, duh. Yes, but you know what, you’re right. What I said was stupid, but no more stupid than what you said you me.” Then he got very, very quiet and changed the subject. Five months later, based on that conversation he left the Klan. His robe was the first robe I ever got. Matthew Schwartz produced the audio for this story. Wynne Davis adapted it for web.

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KKK leader threatens to ‘burn’ Latina journalist, the first black person on his property – Washington Post

A leader of the Ku Klux Klan in Pelham, N.C., called Univision reporter Ilia Caldern the n-word and threatened to “burn” her while she conducted an interview. (Univision) Christopher Barker, a leader of a Ku Klux Klan chapter in North Carolina, agreed to meet for an interview at his homelate last month with Ilia Caldern, a Colombian news anchor for Univision based in Miami. He was told the interview would be conducted by a Hispanic woman of color. But when Barker saw Caldern step out of a car and onto his property near Yanceyville, N.C., the KKK leader appeared taken aback, according toCaldern and her producer,Mara Martnez-Guzmn. Hehad expected someone like the rest of the predominately Hispanic, lighter-skinned news crew, theysaid. ButCaldern isblack.Barker told her she was the first black person to step on his landin his 20 years of living there. Barker is the imperial wizard of the Loyal White Knights of the KKK in Pelham, N.C., a group that would later participate in a deadlywhite supremacist rally in Charlottesville. Caldern isa U.S. citizen and Colombian immigrant. Univision planned the interview with Barker and his wife, Amanda Barker,months in advanceto provide viewers with an up-close look into a white supremacists views, Caldern told The Washington Post. It was an interview that quickly turned hostile. AsCaldern pressed Barker on his views, he called herthe n-word and told her to go back to her country. He also appeared to threaten her. Why dont you go back? Barker said in the interview, which Univisionaired Sunday night. We have nothing here in America, yall keep flooding it. Were going to chase you out of here. Are you going to chase me out of here?Caldern responded. No, were going to burn you out, he said. How are you gonna do it? she retorted. At one point, she asked him how he would burn outthe 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the country. Dont matter, Barker said. We killed sixmillion Jews the last time. Elevenmillion is nothing. Youre telling me youre going to burn me, Caldern also said, to which he responded: Yeah, youre sitting on my property now. At times, Caldern said she feared for her safety, though Barker never followed through with any of his threats. The program, broadcastin Spanish on Univisions Aqui y Ahora, spurred a slew of reactions on social media. Many viewers praisedCaldern for her courage and professionalism, and commended the Spanish-language media companyfor shedding light on the KKKs disgusting views. But others criticized Univision for the interview, calling it sensationalized and claiming the network madeCaldern appear a victim in an attempt to get ratings. Last week,Randy Falco, chief executiveof Univision Communications,wrote a memo to staffers calling for stronger leadership in light of the violence in Charlottesville, and Trumps muted responses to it. Falcocondemned attacks on immigrants, the LGBT community, the media and those who espouse racist and hateful views, Variety reported. Caldern told The Postshe had volunteered to do the interview, in order to show her Latino viewers that these groups are alive. She had been nervous to meet Barker, but she had never expected to feel as insulted and threatened as she did during the encounter. I represent the things that they hate: I am black, I am Hispanic, I am an immigrant, she said. Her own family reflects a merging of cultures. The Colombian native moved to the U.S. 16 years ago, and has since married a Korean American physical therapist. Their young daughter, Anna, is multiracial. Caldern told The Post she struggled at times to understandBarker, partly becauseEnglish is her second language and because of his accent. She didnt initially understand one of the terms he called her: mongrel. Ive been here over 20 years and weve never had a black person or whatever you want to call yourself, youre a mongrel to me, Barker said. Weve never had one. We dont let them around. Caldern frequently pushed back on his views, and told himshe found his language offensive. My skin color doesnt define me, she said. Im way more superior than youll ever be, Barker said. As the Univision crew filmed, othermembers of the Loyal White Knights joined the Barkers to perform a cross-burning ceremony. They held torches and circled a cross, chanting For race, for God, for nation, for the Ku Klux Klan. At one point during the interview, Caldern asked him if, hypothetically, he would be willing to accept an organ donation from her to one of his children, if she was deemed a match. He told her it was not possible, Caldern recalled, claimingthat his blood was not the same as hers because of their different races. Barker denied that he led a hate group. Both he and his wife said they dont hate anyone, werenot racist and do notcondone violence. A few weeks after the interview, the Barkers confirmed to Univision that they attended the Charlottesville rally. In an interview with North Carolina television station WBTV, the couple praised the man accused ofdriving a carinto crowds, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. I really hate that that girl died, but she had a choice to be there that day, Amanda Barker told WBTV. Her husband disagreed: I dont hate that she died, because shes a Communist, Christopher Barker said. He blamed the violence on the antifascists and on the lack of security at the protests. When a couple of them die, it doesnt bother us, hetold the station. Theyre always attacking and messing with our rallies. More from Morning Mix Former Philly mayor Frank Rizzo was no Confederate. But its open season on his statue. Robert E. Lee discouraged monuments. They keep open the sores of war, he wrote. Tina Fey urges Americans: Stay home from neo-Nazi rallies. Eat a sheet cake instead. Foxs James Murdoch blasts Trump on Charlottesville: There are no good Nazis

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Madge Oberholtzer: The murder that brought down the Ku Klux Klan – WRTV Indianapolis

WRTV Indianapolis Madge Oberholtzer: The murder that brought down the Ku Klux Klan WRTV Indianapolis He was the former Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan in Indiana an organization he had grown from a membership of just a few thousand to one, by 1925, that had swelled in some estimates to more than half a million Hoosiers. In the previous election, …

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