Three Ku Klux Klan members standing at a 1922 parade.
Picture credit: Public Domain, Library of Congress
Yesterday on our news was the story of a person who had been run out of office in one small town near us, only to show up in another.
He left and moved to a place just down the road a bit.
The causation for this furor was over his association and/or membership in the Ku Klux Klan.
This same group has made the news here repeatedly in the past few years.
We came here in 2004 and had a friend who unknown at first to us, was the son of a former Grand Dragon of the Florida Klan.
This man was gentle, kind and sweet and had many friends.
It was hard to learn about his father.
We both have very strong feelings about the Klan, who even today still throw flyers into yard’s in mostly Black neighborhoods here in Central Florida, encouraging people to join them.
The papers are put into plastic bags with rocks in them.
Years ago in a College class about silent films, my instructor showed a film, The Birth of a Nation and implied that the Klan was, in the beginning, not just about hate, murders and hangings.
It was more about doing good for those in the South who had been ravaged by the Civil War.
As I read about it now, I can see that this is not the case, at all.
When it began in the 1860’s, it may indeed have had more altruistic ideas, but as the years went on, these quickly faded and were replaced with those closer to what we now know as the Klan today.
On another personal note, years ago my best friend in California moved to Mississippi.
We were both pretty unhappy about this.
It was not her choice, her husband was from there and wanted to go back home.
To say that she was upset about the radical cultural changes in her life, was an understatement.
She was from California and the difference between the two states in so far as racism and race relations was/is huge, actually, it was more like a chasm.
On my first trip there to see her years later, I was shocked, dismayed and appalled at what I saw.
It was like the Civil War had never happened.
Too many of the local people looked as if all of their hope had been taken away and they were simply trying to just get through life, day by day.
There is one film that for me, best defines what it is like for many African-Americans living there, or what the state has been like for entirely too many years: Mississippi Burning.
Think you know the Klan?
Think it is gone?
As long as there is hate and fear of the differences between color and race, they will always be here, in fact they will flourish.
Those who belong to the Klan are cowards and their hate is what binds them together.
Only education, understanding and acceptance can change this.
These are the things that the Klan are most afraid of, and it is how we can change and defeat them forever.
Places to learn more:
Former Florida cop fired for KKK ties got a new job working in a Florida elementary school
Police in Fla.’s “Friendly City” were KKK members