Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Isn't The Equality State the proper place for civil rights activists and racists to meet?

The weekend's summit meeting in Casper between the NAACP and the KKK is kicking up a fuss.

The Independent in the UK gave it big play as did a slew of my fellow bloggers (go here and here).

Adding to the drama is the fact that NAACP higher-ups apparently did not approve of the meeting, which seems silly to me. My colleagues at the NAACP Casper branch came off looking cordial and knowledgeable in Jeremy Fugleberg's excellent Casper Star-Tribune article. KKK Kleagle John Abarr seemed a bit cluelesss, but redeemed himself by joining the NAACP and even kicking in an additional $20 donation. This is a good thing for an organization that has a tough time recruiting members and raising funds in a place that's subtitled "The Equality State" and often falls short of living up to that vaunted title.

The CST's Fugleberg is following the continuing drama on Twitter. You can too.

Lest you think that the KKK is the quaint little Christian social organization portrayed by Abarr, read deeper into the many media articles.

Not quite sure about the KKK's history in Wyoming (little help here, Phil Roberts!). But I do know a bit about the Klan in Colorado. It was a powerful organization in Denver during the 1920s. Unable to find enough blacks to torment, the KKK picked on Irish and Italians and Chicanos -- all Catholics targeted by the Nativist "100% American" elements in the KKK. Hooded Klansmen burned crosses in my Irish grandfather's South Denver neighborhood, in Italian Pueblo and throughout the state. Hipsters in Denver's pricey Wash Park may not know this, but people who once occupied their renovated houses used to avoid walking around their own neighborhood. My mom and her brother and sister were chased home from their Catholic school by protestant kids from South High. They threw rocks at them and called them "rednecks" because the Irish tended to have sunburned necks from working out in the sun all day. They labored on the railroad and on construction projects and on farms east of town.

The Klan elected a Governor and had the Denver mayor and a passel of Republican legislators in their pocket. But their power waned as people grew tired of their hateful, regressive agenda.

Hard to imagine solidly Democratic Denver as a Klan bastion. It's hard to believe that the Klan still exists in 2013. Let's hope the dialogue that started in Casper continues.


No comments: