Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Saving Our Land

While reading the morning paper (as long as there still is one, I'll read it) I came across a fascinating piece detailing a historic meeting between an official of the Ku Klux Klan and a local NAACP leader.  What made this encounter even more improbable was that it occurred in Casper, Wyoming.  Yes, there are African American people in Wyoming.  There is also a KKK chapter too.  The Klan official was from Great Falls, Montana.  Must be some kind of a regional leader.
In the photograph which accompanied the article, the NAACP president was smiling.  The Klan official was grinning too.  The latter carried an attache case and wore a business suit.
Apparently there have been some hate crimes in Casper and at the invitation of the NAACP, the Klan leader wanted to assure them that his organization is no longer committed to violence to further its ideals.

Who knows what to believe here.  I suppose it's a good thing that these two groups are talking to each other.  In an ironic twist, both are clearly of another century.  The Klan leader, according to the article, ended up joining the NAACP and even added a $20. contribution.  Membership in the KKK is only open to white people, so any reciprocal membership by the African American community was not possible.
The final paragraph of the article mentioned that the KKK's chief issue now is to achieve a separate white country in the Northwest.  (not gonna happen)  They are still all about race separation, just not using violent methods to attain it.  The last line referenced the slogan "Save Our Land, Join the Klan...
That gave me pause.  It took me back about 40 years ago, when as a VISTA Volunteer living in Houston, Texas I removed a small poster from a telephone pole in the heart of the city.  Same slogan.
Same Klan?
A few years ago, when I wrote a memoir of my VISTA experience, I told the story of how I got the poster.  I scanned it and included it in the text of the project. (
I remember thinking long and hard about whether I wanted to put that graphic online.  In the end, I did, hoping that it would never taken out of context, but knowing full-well I really couldn't control that.  I include it here, in the interest of preserving history for those who may not know.

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