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Grandaddy Was a Klansman

The recent news from the North Shore, about an initiation into the Ku Klux Klan that turned into murder, holds a certain sick fascination for me. I mentioned only last week how I went to school with Klansmen. But there’s more to it than that. The victim was a from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where I was born. But there’s more to it than that.

You see, my grandfather was a Klansman. I never knew that, growing up. Neither, I believe, did his kids. But when he died, they found a Klan robe amongst his belongings.


So what? What does that mean? I don’t know. I do know that my parents were very explicit in teaching me to never, never judge a person solely by race. And this wisdom was in part received through higher education. And now here I am, working at an historically black university. (Which might be construed as the quintessential rejection of white supremacy. Would that it were. But that’s a subject for another much more difficult post.) And now we have a black man elected president. Obama made inroads with white voters across the board, except, it must be noted, in the Deep South, in states such as Louisiana.

Bush Blvd Banksy 2I don’t know. It adds up to something, I’m sure. But I’m not sure what.

Photo by Dystopos.

Published inFamily


  1. Anthony Anthony

    I think in many ways it represents the ways in which we have moved forward by lightyears from the times of our grandparents and greatgrandparents. Though, to be fair, in his later years, my grandfather preached a tolerance to me not found in many members of my family. It seemed to me, at the heart of it, reading the stories about the Klan killing on the northshore, that the people who take up racism as a calling are more worried about other people than they have concern for themselves. That they credit external factors for things that are probably their own failings. At heart it is a failure by them to take responsibility for their own lives. Much in the way they would probably complain about a minority welfare recipient.

  2. […] others. I won’t repeat that in detail here, as I’ve written about all this before: How my grandfather was a Klansman, how I went to high school with Klansmen. Despite growing up north of the Mason-Dixon line, I grew […]

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