When I was a teenager working as a restaurant dishwasher, a few of the other teens carried “Klan membership cards” in their wallets. They didn’t seem like killers, just like ordinary redneck teens into Skoal and racist jokes. I tend to think these weren’t official membership cards, just novelty items copped from some rural memorabilia store. Still, I stayed clear of them. Novelty or not, that’s quite a statement to make.
I thought the thing about the Klan is that it was a secret society - hence the masks, strange titles, and weird passwords.
Membership cards would seem to run counter to this.
We had one kid in my high school who was rumored to be from a Klan family and a member himself. I never asked; we didn’t really run with the same crowd. I was always something of an outcast or one of the Weird Kids in school, but I was nothing compared to him.
To my recollection, he had started out spouting some nonsense and met with some pretty stony expressions. Later that week, he had the snot kicked out of him and shut up right quick from that point.
I went to a small-town Texas high school. There were one hundred people in my graduating class. Current population statistics for the town are:
I’d be surprised if the population was much different when I was going there. We had maybe six black kids in my high school, all of whom were fairly popular. That’s one of the things that always makes me grumble when people talk about how terrible Texas is – I saw more racism in Rhode Island.
(admittedly, I saw more racism in Mississippi than I could comfortably fathom, but that’s neither here nor there)
Not actually, depending on the time period. Besides, Masons have rings and bumper stickers.
There was a time they were pretty out in the open. I saw pictures of a youth baseball team once that was sponsored by the Klan.
This was not in Minneapolis, however, and I have never met a Klansman. I’ll bet there aren’t a lot of them in the south anymore either. Does anyone know how big the KKK is these days?
In fact, I imagine it’s something of an impediment to membership! Or at least, to full peer group acceptance.
Nowadays we think of the Klan as being almost exclusively anti-black, but sometimes forget that during its second incarnation (1920’s) it was virulently anti-Jewish and anti-Catholic as well. That’s why I never met a Klansman–where I grew up, most of the hard-core bigots (and there were plenty) were Catholic.
My dad’s friend has a membership card. I’m pretty sure they aren’t supposed to show it to people but he’s shown it to me.
There’s a cousin-in-law that’s a member of a white fundamentalist group in my extended family tree. Minorities are evil, damned by God & the women are to be subservient. The women have a uniform of sorts where they keep their hair covered, wear skirts, plain shoes, etc.
I’ve manged to avoid him so far at the funerals/weddings/etc where the whole family has gathered.
I have little tolerance for intolerance.
One who at least claimed membership. He was a kid I hung around with when we were young teens, who I ran into again years later. After spending time with him again, I came to find out he was seriously into the white power movement.
I distanced myself from him after that, but didn’t completely write him off. Maybe once every other year or so we’d get together for a beer or two. I kept in contact just for precautionary reasons: He was a guard at the state prison. I had no plans on ever being a guest there, but I figured you simply never knew what life was going to deal your way. If it ever happened that I fell that far, then I’d rather have him as an ally than an enemy.
Not knowingly, but the Kaisers, who lived down the street when I was a kid gave their sons first and middle names that started with a K (i.e., Karl K Kaiser.) Thinking about it now, they weren’t very well educated. It was like living down the street from Ted Nugent’s redneck cousins.
I lived (for a year) about half a mile from a Klan meeting house. The local cops kept an eye on it since they’d picked up a murderer there once, plus recovered some stolen goods.
It wasn’t hard to spot - a tiny little wooden shack (and I use the term “shack” generously) with a Confederate Flag (naval jack, whatever) on a pole sticking out of the roof.
It belonged to a member of the Empire Knights (the biggest local Klan group) but apparently it was a sort of “free-for-all (white supremacists)” type clubhouse.
ETA: It’s been bulldozed since; there’s a gas station there now.
When I was a junior in high school (so 12 or 13 years ago) there was some big time racial tensions going on in our school for a year or so and some goofballs came by and handed out Klan stickers with a Northern Indiana PO Box on them. Anyone who was caught with one was suspended on the spot. I saw the dudes who were passing them out, but I didn’t talk to them or anything. The looked like standard rednecks wearing RealTree patterened baseball caps and jeans, I’d say they were in their early 20’s or so.
This is all hearsay, but I was once told that the father of my mother’s second husband (I’m from her third husband–no idea what that made this guy to me, if anything–never met him) was not only in the Klan, but was actually one of the higher-ups from that part of the country. I don’t know whether to believe it or not, since my mom is often a bit sketchy on the “getting facts straight” scale, but if she can be believed she actually saw the guy’s fancy Klan robes.
This all took place in Virginia (I’m in California) and I never met anybody on that side of the family, so I don’t know how pervasive it was among them. I wouldn’t put it past them, though.
And every time they struck out an opposing batter, they’d mark KKK on the score card.
Growing up in mid-size town SE Indiana, I’ve never met someone who was out as a Klansman. When I was in Grad School (22 years ago! :smack: ), I met a guy who almost joined in his late teens, then backed out. He was “mildly” anti-Semitic & racist, but also recognized that he could be wrong & was open to discussing why.
Interestingly enough, that Grad School has a fantastic library which included the entire run of American Mercury, from the literary Mencken days to the racist Carto days, and Noontide Press racist, anti-Semitic & Holocaust-denial books, AS WELL AS the best book debunking The Protocols ever published (which included the entireity of the works it was plagiarized from, and an afterword noting that the agenda set forth in The Protocols seemed to be most-fully promoted by the then-incipient Nazi regime.)
None that I know of, but a handful I have suspected.
Yes. A total of three. Two malignant career criminals and one somewhat prominent attorney who lived and worked at that time (early 90’s) in central Indiana. Then, it was told that the Klan had a heavy presence there, (though it was an open secret) and by some accounts still does. Not sure I believe that, and even if it IS true, I’m not sure it matters.
Never met one (that I know of), but I handled a robe from one. Years ago I worked for a local history museum in a smallish Pennsylvania town and we found a brown paper bag on our doorstep one morning - inside was the robe (no hood and no identifying information).
I always imagined that’s what happened to get the stuff in our hands. Someone died and while going through his/her belongings the family found the robe, and for whatever reason, rather than destroying it, they handed it in anonymously to the museum.
I did once, but I was a newspaper reporter covering a Klan rally. Did an extensive phone interview with the Imperial Wizard, too. About what you’d expect. (There’s more than one Klan, by the way; extremists of all stripes tend to splinter – unlike mainstream political groups, they have little hope of greater success by sticking together.)
Yeah 2. My two absolute best friends from high school. They tried to bring me into it about two years after graduation. I had never had a clue they were like that. Haven’t spoken to them for about 30 years now.