The Klan in Madison County


KKK Rally, near Wolf Laurel, Madison County, NC 1976

With the arrest this week of the racist, anti-Semite, Frazier Glenn Miller, for the murder of three innocents in Overland Park, MO, I was reminded of a Klan rally in Madison County many years ago. I had originally thought I had photographs of Miller at the rally, but I was wrong. He was not in any of my images, but my memory of the language used that night was consistent with the vitriol Miller espoused throughout his life.

KKK Rally, near Wolf Laurel, Madison County, NC 1976

It was a scary night. My friend, John Rountree, and I had driven deep into the mountains, hoping for photographs, but not expecting to be let into the rally. We were, and at first, it gave the appearance of a church supper with chicken dinners being sold by a klan auxiliary group. When it began raining, everyone moved inside a barn for the toxic message. The barn turned out to be a permanent cock-fighting arena, complete with bleachers and a concession stand.

The words were what we expected. At one point the klan chaplain (a laughable title if there ever was one) from Greensboro brought children into the ring with him to illustrate the reasons we should resist "the Jewish media conspiracy and their nigger shock troops." Those words have stayed with me for all these years, as his glare was fixed on us as he spoke them.  

Madison County, 1976

As we were leaving we overheard talk of "dealing with" an interracial couple living in Mars Hill and we parked our car close to the people's house in hopes of producing evidence. But the Klan, ever consistent in their cowardice, never showed up. 

Now, almost forty years after that event in Madison, one would like to believe that people like Miller and his ilk have passed into history, that we would have realized that hatred and ignorance should play no role in our society, or any society. Sadly, what I realize is my own naivety.